Decks provide visual reference for event concepting, design, layout, form and function. They’re an extremely useful tool to curate how an event will look and feel.
What is an Event Deck?
After I’ve surfed through Pinterest, mulled over different designs, and have a skeletal plan for an event, I launch Powerpoint and begin working on a deck.
The deck serves two purposes; representing inspiration and actualized ideas. It flushes out concepts, serves as a hub of information and is ultimately a decision-making platform.
When I build a deck, I like to think in terms of event flow, with a beginning, middle and end. I start by choosing a cover photo that best represents the vibe I’m after.
In the early stages of a deck, the next 10-20 slides are filled with inspiration images ranging from stationery ideas, to welcome moments, decor, activities, food and beverage, and guest gifts.
There could be as many as 3-5 different themes shown in these initial images. Think of this step as a jumping off point to guide you towards a final theme direction that best accomplishes the goals you’re after.
Read more about the importance of defining goals for your event here and the role they play during the planning process.
Looking at Logistics
As the deck is populated with inspiration, consider the following for each concept shown:
- How does this support the overarching goals of the event?
- Is this feasible in accordance with the event budget?
- What labor will this realistically require for set up, during the event itself and strike?
All of these questions will prompt you to play out scenarios for each design.
Finalizing the Theme
Look for patterns in the inspiration photos that make you most excited, and identify exactly which parts of those images you are drawn to and why. Research the marketplace for the concepts shown, it may become clear that certain themes are out of budget, or lacking in availability.
At this stage, you will have fully flushed out the design, compared pricing to the event budget and confirmed availability. Check the box for due diligence!
Once the theme is selected, deep dive into design. Remove any inspiration images that no longer fit the scope and scale of the event.
It’s totally fine to mix and match inspiration images that showcase different themes. The point is that the deck makes sense to you. It doesn’t need to represent one continuous design plan just yet.
Pro-Tip: Lean into the design by creating vignettes for each phase of the event. Consider the presentation of everything; treat all vessels, activities, food & beverage, and decor as a decision. Be thorough here, anything within the event environment should be on-brand and represent the theme.
Planning for Purchases
While sourcing materials for the event, add product links and pricing to the notes section of the Powerpoint slide that houses the items you’re considering.
Look for multiple suppliers of those products – don’t just purchase the first one you see. Starting far enough in advance of the event will position you to purchase items when they’re on sale.
When your first purchase has been made, separate the event deck into two sections: Inspiration and Purchased. Reference and compare the two sections against future purchases to stay on theme. This is also when an Inventory List will come into play.
It’s All Coming Together
At this stage, the deck is no longer a shell of a design, but instead a cohesive lookbook of actualized purchases.
Populate your deck in real-time, as purchases are made and orders are confirmed, to account for each piece of the puzzle.
Don’t forget to include stationery, like the save the date!
Once all purchases are reflected in the deck, play the presentation on full screen a few times, and organize slides in a cohesive way; mirroring the beginning, middle and end of the event.
It’s super helpful if the items on each slide make up the vignette being produced on the event day. Then, it can be easily translated to a visual checklist of items to account for once you or any staff hired starts to set up.
Final edits solidify the vision and goals for the event, and demonstrate how to properly execute those moments in a turnkey way.
The Completed Deck
Toss the confetti, the deck is complete!
Download the presentation to your phone for quick reference on the event day. This step-by-step guide is such a helpful resource to identify where every item will live, so be sure to share with anyone assisting with set up on the event day.
To view an example of a final event deck, click the Download button below. This deck shows the plans for my twenty fifth birthday celebration that took place over the summer of 2020 (I had a blast with this one). To read more about that party and how it came to fruition, click here.