How to Plan an Event in Two Weeks

Chances are if you’re on this page, you probably have an event in the very near future (no shame to our last minute party people!). There are two very different ways to go about planning an event in such a short amount of time. One is to hire an event planner and the other is to plan the event yourself. The benefit of hiring a planner, of course, is for their knowledge of the best venues and vendors to quickly achieve your vision. This blog post hits close to home as we were recently hired by a client to -quite literally- plan an event in two weeks. Read more to see how we did it, and though we don’t encourage last minute planning, here’s our advice to do it like a pro.

Story Time

At the beginning of the month, ATBM was hired to plan a corporate cocktail party that was in the very preliminary planning stages, with only a venue secured. Luckily for us, the venue was the Rainbow Room, which made for a very turnkey experience.

The first thing we told our clients is to be cool, calm, and collected. Planning an event in a short amount of time is very doable and can be executed marvelously. Especially since they had a planner on their side!

A white chic flower bouquet sitting on a bar covered with white candles at the Rainbow Room.

First Step: Guest Count, Venue & Catering

If you’re thinking about planning the event yourself, make sure you have the right amount of time to source a venue, gather resources, and everything in between. Be realistic about the amount of time you have and if you need to hire a planner, bring them on as early as possible.

The first step in the planning process is to determine the guest count. This will aid in narrowing down the search for a venue. Keep in mind that not everyone you invite will be able to attend.

The next step? You guessed it! Find, secure, and finalize a venue. After you’ve determined your guest count, search for a venue that will fit the occasion. Maybe you already have a local spot in mind. It can be incredibly helpful to find a venue that does catering and beverage in-house, which avoids jumping through hoops to bring in outside catering and rentals.

Pro Tip: Given the short notice, you may have more luck finding a venue that is available on a weeknight, since weekends are the most popular time for events. If possible, picking a weeknight may help expedite your venue search and give you more options for availability.

A chic and modern bar with crystal chandeliers hanging above it. Photographed at the Rainbow Room.

Step Two: Flow, Decor, Rentals & Stationery

Now, do you want the event to be seated or standing? This is something to consider when you’re putting the pieces together. Having the event seated or standing will determine the flow of the event, the capacity limit, and the furniture rentals. It will also dictate if stationery is needed, such as: menu cards, escort cards, and place cards.

Next, you’ll want to determine any design elements for the event. It helps to create a mood board with your desired aesthetic which can make sourcing rentals a more design driven process. Rental companies are booking out very quickly (given the increased demand for events), so aim to get your rental order confirmed ASAP. Maximize your design with the use of linens, upgraded tabletop rentals, and signage that supports the vibe. This would also be the time to secure a florist to provide arrangements and additional decor. Many florists will have candles available for rent, and sometimes other rentals, so be sure to ask upon booking!

The dance floor at the Rainbow Room. The ceiling is lit up with purple lights and a crystal chandeliers.

Next Up: Entertainment & Audio/Visual

Consider which entertainment option is appropriate for your event, and reach out as soon as you’ve determined what you want. For a dance party, a DJ or live band is your best bet. For an upscale, mellow cocktail event, a string ensemble will work well.

Pro Tip: Ensembles with fewer musicians will cost less than larger ensembles. If you are on a budget, consider hiring a duo or trio over a quartet.

Next, check with your venue if they provide enhanced lighting packages, which can completely change the look and feel of the event. Some spaces go from harsh floodlights to an ambient event environment, that is totally worth the additional cost.

The band On the Move, preforming on a stage. The members are singing and playing instruments at the Rainbow Room.

Final Touches: Branding, Activations & Personalization

Finally, incorporate personal touches that turn the event into your event.

A fun way to make your event unique is to add a branded component. Our client opted for a custom ice luge activation, which was very popular amongst espresso martini lovers.

Pro Tip: Other ways to easily brand an event include photo booth backdrops, custom cocktail napkins, branded signage, branded ice cubes….the options are endless!

An event planner can help streamline this process as we have extensive knowledge of the vendors that are local to your area, and can easily identify the best fit for the budget and aesthetic. A planner eliminates the search whereas if you plan it yourself, then you have to navigate the entire search and planning process solo. Additionally, having an event planner is crucial for the setup and breakdown of your event. A planner will coordinate with your vendors so that you can enjoy your event fully.

A large ice luge that spells Disco. Next to the ice luge is a chic and modern self stocked with coupe glasses and candle lights. Event at the Rainbow Room.

If you’re planning it yourself, here are some great resources to check out!

♡ Party Slate

♡ Wedding Wire

♡ The Knot

♡ BizBash

♡ Venue Report

The Empire State Building lit up at night in New York City. The skyline surrounds the Empire State Building.


Photography: Angelene Nina Photography

Venue: Rainbow Room

Rentals: Taylor Creative

Ice Luge: Okamoto Studio

Linen: Nuage Design

Floral: Blade Floral Design

Band: On the Move

AV: Bentley Meeker

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more Event Planning advice.