Special Events Guide

Getting started

Setting objectives

Your team

Event planning questionnaire

Planning timeline and task chart

Timeline checklist

Selecting a date for your event


Event planning checklist

Important contact information for event planning at Memorial

Food services

Audiovisual services

Cleaning and furniture setup

On-campus accommodation



Liquor services






Additional information

Housing, food and conference services

Meeting facilities, St. John’s campus

Major food service facilities

Other room bookings:



Getting started

Planning a special event of any size can be a challenge whether you are a novice or a pro. To make life easier, this Special Events Kit will provide some essential guidelines for planning an event and identifying the resources that will lead to a successful outcome.

 Many special events take place every year at Memorial University; ranging from elaborate ceremonies involving hundreds of people (such as Convocation) to small meetings and receptions specific to one department or unit. While all events should be well organized and executed, events that involve an advancement opportunity for Memorial, providing exposure to external audiences, require attention to ensure a high quality event.


Setting objectives

Before planning any event, it is important to clearly understand why you are having the event. Be sure to have a thoughtful response for ‘why are we holding this event?’. This will help you stay focused on the task and motivated to see the objective fulfilled. Key points to keep in mind as you proceed:

  • Have clearly identified objectives for holding the event.
  • Set objectives that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
  • Objectives may vary, based on the nature of your event. Examples include:

    • Increasing attendance by 5% at the Galbraith Lecture over previous year
    • Raise $10,000 for new scholarship fund
    • Generate media coverage of new research project


Tip: Be sure to measure the event results, identifying what was done well and what could be done more effectively in the future.

Your team

A successful event is often the result of a group effort. Here are some tips for pulling together your team:

  • Be clear on identifying the team leader, whose main role is to keep the team organized, motivated and focused on the event objectives.
  • The team should include members who will bring something unique to the group and will add positively to the event. Consider the major elements required to make your event a success and include people with expertise in those areas (security, marketing, protocol, communications etc.) on your planning committee/team.
  • Hold meetings well in advance of your event and on a regular basis.
  • Set an agenda for each meeting and stick to it.
  • Keep meeting notes and circulate them to each team member identifying tasks and deadlines.

Tip: Identify critical points in the planning process where input from your event team is most useful (early and mid-way through the planning stages, one week out from the event, two days before, etc.).

Event planning questionnaire

Whether you are a novice or a professional event planner, the following questionnaire is useful in identifying elements of the planning process.


  • is the event being held


  • type of event will this be
  • is the agenda
  • will you serve
  • will the entertainment be
  • equipment is required (audiovisual, microphone, podiums, banners, etc.)
  • costs are there


  • is the event
  • are the planning meetings
  • are the pre/post parties
  • should things be set up
  • should staff/volunteers be there


  • will the event be
  • will the head table and podium be
  • will people sit (is there a seating plan/do you need place cards)
  • will the entertainment play
  • will people park


  • many people are invited
  • many people will likely attend
  • can we get the addresses of the invited guests
  • will the event be promoted


  • will be invited
  • will coordinate the function
  • will order and plan the decorations
  • will clean up (pre/post event)
  • will greet or register guests
  • will do the coat check
  • will sell tickets
  • will be in charge of the menu
  • will be a sponsor

Planning timeline and task chart

Successful events just don’t happen; they take weeks or months of planning and preparation. Preparing a timeline and sticking to it is an essential component of planning a successful event. While larger and more complex events require more preparation than others, most events take longer to plan than you expect. Here are some tips to creating a timeline to keep you on schedule.

  • Use a work-back schedule (which starts from the event and works backwards) to help to identify many vital components of the preparation before you have too many distractions and deadlines to meet.
  • Organize your timeline in chart form with the tasks entered down the side.


In the ideal world, we would all have plenty of advance notice and be able to dedicate 100 percent of our time to planning the event. In reality, event planning is often an add-on to our already busy schedules and can be sprung on us with very little warning.

While every event is different and elements to be considered will vary accordingly, the following check lists and recommended timelines will assist you in your planning process. Feel free to adapt these to meet your own needs.


Planning elements to consider

6 months – 1 year ahead



















· Select a theme

· Select the date

· Determine available budget for this event

· Compile draft invitation list

· Select and reserve a facility

· Develop a rain plan if the event is to be held outdoors

· Reserve a block of hotel rooms, if necessary

· Select and order recognition items and get them engraved

· Order favors, souvenirs, printed folders, and other giveaway items

· Reserve special equipment such as vans, buses, tables, chairs, tents, podiums

· Develop a program and confirm a master of ceremonies and the program speakers

· Audition and select entertainment

· Make preliminary security arrangements

· Obtain appropriate insurance coverage

· Obtain all necessary administrative approvals

· Plan promotion and publicity



Planning elements to consider

3 months – 6 months ahead

· Schedule and conduct a planning committee meeting with key stakeholders

· Draft and obtain approval of printed invitations and all other printed materials

· Finalize and obtain approval of the invitation list

· Select menus and submit them for approval

· Print tickets, if applicable, and obtain parking permits

· Make contact with the event participants, collect their biographical information and, if applicable, supply suggested talking points for their remarks

· Confirm entertainment bookings, if applicable

· Plan the decorations and color scheme

· Order props, special napkins, foods, or other unusual needs

· Begin publicity, if appropriate

· Send advance announcements to invitation list, if appropriate

2 months ahead

· Address invitations and set a mailing date

· Finalize decorations and facility arrangements

· Make hotel and transportation arrangements for out of town dignitaries

· Mail an itinerary to dignitaries; include a reminder about bringing academic dress, if needed

· Secure hosts and hostesses and other university representatives to assist

· Confirm the staffing needs, including: ushers, checkroom attendants, greeters, registration table staff, and troubleshooters

· Make direction and welcome signs/banners

· Draft and print the program and menu cards (if needed)

· Get place cards prepared for everyone on the guest list

· Check that any ceremonial items needed such as flags, the university mace, medals, toasting goblets, podium banners, flags and the like can be located and that all are clean and in good repair

· Check that flagpoles and stands are in working condition, and easels for displaying awards or seating charts are available and work properly

· Inspect the facility and request repairs to hazards that could cause an accident such as loose edges on stairs and upturned carpeting

Continue publicity on schedule


Planning elements to consider

2 weeks – 4 weeks ahead

· Record and acknowledge invitation replies as they are received; send tickets, parking permits, and maps by return mail

· Take delivery on all printed materials

· Finalize the audio-visual presentations

· Stuff registration packets (if needed). If your event is taking place in another city, ship printed materials and other items to the event site. Call your contact person and ask how to label shipment so that it will be accepted.

· Double-check publicity progress with communications staff

· Draft event scenario

· Revise and update plans if necessary

· Send detailed final instructions to all dignitaries with all tickets, parking permits, and maps. Supply them with the names and phone numbers of university officials and other VIPs who will be attending. Remember to include the first name of each VIP’s spouse, if attending

· Notify the caterer if the count seems to be significantly higher or lower than previously discussed

· Write speeches and introductions and obtain approval

· Take delivery on favors or mementos. Double-check for correct amount

Selecting a date for your event

  • Clear the date with important participants (e.g. President, VPs, Deans/Directors, department heads etc.)
  • Double-check for conflicts with the university academic calendar, the Division of Marketing and Communications’ Advancement Calendar of events, athletic events calendar, School of Music concerts, online university event (www.gazette.mun.ca) calendar, major city/community functions, and religious/civil holidays.
  • Consider the time of the year for weather conditions or other demands on people’s time (holidays, summer vacations, the start of school, etc.) that may make the date inconvenient.


When preparing a budget be sure to include:

  • Print items and mail (invitations, signs, programs, postage, design fees, printing cost, etc.)
  • Environment (flowers, plants, lighting/sound, stage, materials)
  • Food and beverages (food, beverages, ice, catering, service rentals, linens, etc.)
  • Equipment (audiovisual, podium, photography)
  • Publicity (posters, advertising, media)
  • Miscellaneous (custodial, security, incidentals, gifts)

Tip: Review your budget periodically to ensure that you are keeping on track and that unexpected costs are added. Reconciling your budget with the actual costs once the event is concluded will help provide a guideline when planning your next event.

Event planning checklist

A checklist is the key to keeping track of the myriad of details involved in event planning; it helps you keep track of things that can easily get overlooked. The following list covers the main points of staging a successful event – you may wish to customize it to your specific organization or event.

What to do before the event:

  • Complete all components of the Event Planning Questionnaire (see above)
  • Determine program, activities, agenda, participants
  • Invite/book/confirm guest speakers, presenters
  • Make an event scenario, which is a complete description of the occurrences of events as they should happen. It is a good idea to send out an event scenario to individuals who are partaking in major roles at the event (i.e. guest speakers).
  • Circulate scenario to shose with a role in the execution of the event
  • Arrange for facilities (based on estimated numbers and set-up needs)
  • Compile mailing list
  • Arrange for mailing services (collating, inserting, labeling, sorting, etc.), be sure to meet your deadlines and get the invitations out in time for timely replies- typically one month to one week, depending on the event.
  • Arrange for food/refreshment needs; be sure to address special needs of guests (i.e. Special or vegetarian diets, ethnic or religious restrictions etc.) with the caterer ahead of time. 
  • Send hosting chart to caterers, outlining the event, date, time, location, and number of guests, menu, liquor services, table set up, decorations, and any other important notes.
  • Verify the order, if using Aramark on Catertrax, 709-864-8124 or cateringmun@aramark.ca
  • Arrange for other logistics: custodial service before and after the event, waste management, giveaway items, banners, podiums, parking arrangements, audiovisual needs
  • Prepare day-of-event materials: program, name tags, final event scenario, signage and any materials that can be prepared before hand.
  • On the day of the event have an event walkthrough; take your clipboard and pretend you’re a guest and do what guests will do step by step. Make sure everything is in place and ready to go.
  • Have an accurate contact list with cell phone numbers for last minute details and for speakers/VIPs (security re. building access, facilities management re. cleaning etc.)
  • Put in place a measurement for event evaluation. Will you contact some guests by telephone after the event to get their remarks on the event or will you have an evaluation card at the event for immediate guest feedback. If you plan to do this, please identify what you need. (i.e. guest telephone numbers, the evaluation cards printed in time for the event, etc.).

Tip: Assemble an event kit bag with essential items to help you handle any unexpected occurrences. For example: black markers, pens, scissors, scotch and masking tape, blank name tags and place cards, paper clips, a small sewing kit, safety pins, tissues, wipes, and a label maker, etc.

What to do at the event:

  • Set up welcoming area
  • Ensure all suppliers/contractors arrive at pre-determined time
  • Make sure tables are set up, seating assignments made, place cards and/or name tags are ready
  • Make sure all signage is up, equipment is working
  • Monitor food service
  • Make sure all speakers/presenters are present, and aware of the agenda
  • Monitor program; make sure timeline is met
  • If something goes wrong at the event, please be sure to maintain calmness. Be sure to use the resources you have available to try to solve the problem effectively and efficiently away from the bulk of the guests.

What to do after the event:

  • Make sure food service is cleared
  • Make sure custodial service arrives for clean up
  • Pack up and return all materials (banner, equipment, leftover print material)
  • Send thank you notes to those who provided special services and those who volunteered
  • Arrange and prepare any post event publicity (i.e. photos)
  • Evaluate the event (did the event fulfill its goals and objectives - why or why not? Identify what worked and what needs to be fine-tuned, what items were missing on the checklist?) Follow up on the evaluation of the event, what were the guests’ comments, etc.

Tip: Always be sure to keep very clear, concise records and keep a paper trail of your event. Whenever possible, get written quotes and confirmations of your orders, or keep a record of the time, date and persons you spoke with via telephone. When ordering services, be sure to list the exact of type of arrangements, timing and setup requirements (i.e. plastic or china service). You can never be too clear in your instructions!

Important contact information for event planning at Memorial

With almost 18,000 students and four locations, Memorial is a large, full service university that can provide most services required for a successful event. Catering, accommodations, graphic design, printing and video production are just some of the services available in-house at Memorial. However, those same services can be in very high demand and it is important to understand exactly what is available on campus, and what the necessary and appropriate steps are to utilize them. While not exhaustive, the following is an overview of some of the services you may require when planning your event.

Food services


Memorial University of Newfoundland has a contract with Aramark for provision of food services for on campus functions. No food may be ordered from any other caterers for events that take place in Gushue Hall or any food service venues (Arts Cafe, Science cafe, etc) on campus. Aramark can prepare a wide variety of selections from snacks and coffee breaks to high-end receptions and fine dining. 

For Aramark catering inquiries visit the Aramark at MUN catering website call 709-864-3569 or email cateringmun@aramark.ca

There are selected areas on campus that are excluded from the food service contract with Aramark and where you can host an event with alternate food service, if you wish. For further details on catering requirments please inquire with Food and Conference Services when booking your event. 

Bitters Pub

The Graduate Students Union operates a restaurant-style pub that is open to the general university community. Whether you are seeking a quiet area for a light lunch for small groups or a place for an evening reception, the staff at Bitters Pub will be happy to accommodate. While Bitters operates during regular business hours, it is also available for rentals and private parties at other times.

Contact info:

Tip: When planning food services for your event, whether snacks or a multi-course dinner, it is important to be aware of special dietary needs of your guests. Food allergies, sensitivities and ethnic preferences are very common, and while it would be great if all guests self-identified these requirements to the event planner in advance, this is not always the case. To encourage this it is helpful to remind guests to identify such preferences when submitting their reply, or on their registration forms, etc. Your caterer can usually accommodate most requests with advance notice. For large group events, it is always a safe practice to order a variety of items that could meet the most common special requests (vegetarian options, sandwiches without mayo, diet drinks, peanut-free desserts, etc.)

Audiovisual services

Depending on the size, type and scope of your event, you may require some type of audiovisual equipment (computers, projectors, PA systems etc.) While each situation is unique, it is important to remember that if your guests cannot adequately hear your keynote speaker, or clearly see your PowerPoint presentation, all of your other preparations for a successful event will be in vain!

Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support

Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) offers a variety of audiovisual services including digital video production, web casting and satellite transmission, technical support for classrooms and events, and video and DVD production and copying services.

Manager, Media Services 864-4061

Certain buildings and classrooms on the St. John’s campus are equipped with their own audio visual equipment. To determine available resources for the following locations please refer to the following contacts:

Education Building 

Science, Chemistry, Arts & Administration Buildings

Engineering Building

  • Adam Taylor, Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science 864-3441
  • ajtaylor@mun.ca Room: EN1007

Business Building

  • Brian Tiller, Media Production Technician 864-4707
  • btiller@mun.ca Room: BN3038

Music Building

  • Concert and Facilities Coordinator: 864-4700
  • Room: MU2034

R. Gushue Hall

For more advanced technical requirements or outside equipment rentals, there are several external companies available. Please consult the local yellow pages or contact the events office in the Division of Marketing and Communications for advice and recommendations.

864-3990 or paulaes@mun.ca

Cleaning and furniture setup

For all types of furniture setup or moving, as well as cleaning and janitorial services, please contact Work Control at Facilities Management.

Tip: Work orders must be placed at least 48 to 72 hours in advance of your event. For more complex requests (weekends, evenings or large events), please allow even more time to ensure the work can be scheduled and completed on time.

On-campus accommodations

Memorial offers a number of on-campus accommodation options when planning an event. Contact the Conference and Summer Accomodations Office for room suitability in a student residence or apartment and for room availability.


The School of Music

The MUN Drama Club


Most all areas on campus have regulated parking, either by meter or permit only access. For specific information on the best areas for guests to park, contact the Parking Office, Campus Enforcement and Patrol well in advance of your event.

Liquor services

If you wish to serve alcohol at your event (outside of services provided by your caterer), you must first arrange liquor service through Ancillary Operations. Please note that in accordance with the universities liquor license, all liquor purchases must be made through Ancillary Operations and no alcohol may be brought on campus. If you have any questions please contact Liquor Services.


In accordance with university policy, all printing must be coordinated by Printing Services. They can assist with all your printing needs such as stationary, nametags, programs, posters and invitations. They can also provide stock and templates for overprinting, and can assist with custom designed items.


If you wish to have photos taken at your event, please contact the photographer with the Division of Marketing and Communications, to reserve the time. On-site photography is charged on an hourly basis and overtime rates apply after 5 p.m. (4:30 from June to September)


Gazette, Memorial University's online news site

If you would like to request or have a function covered for the University online news site, please contact:

  • Mandy Cook, Division of Marketing and Communications 
  • mandyc@mun.ca Phone: 864-2142


If you wish to have an e-mail message sent out to faculty and staff and your event profiled on the Gazette, please submit your event here. Events submitted through the Gazette will be sent out to faculty and staff via email on a weekly basis. 

The Muse

For story coverage or advertising in the universities’ student newspaper, please contact:

CHMR 93.5 FM, MUN Radio

CHMR offers free air-time to non-profit groups within the community. If you have an event or cause to which you would like to draw attention, please email in a copy of your announcement. Your event will be posted onto the online community events webpage, and be heard on the Around Town Report every weekday morning as a part of CHMR's morning show.


For any information on protocol or proper procedures for inviting and entertaining distinguished or honorary guests (i.e. Premier, Lieutenant-Governor), Marketing & Communications would be pleased to answer your questions and advise you on the appropriate measures to take:

  • Paula Eddy-Shea, Events Coordinator 864-3990
  • paulaes@mun.ca
  • Room: A-1032A


In the event of an emergency, please phone 911.

Depending on the nature of the emergency, please contact Campus Enforcement at 4100, or pick up any blue emergency phone on campus.

Additional information

Be sure to place a work order from Facilities Management at least three days in advance, if a room needs to be cleaned before your event.

If you require Canadian, Memorial or Newfoundland flags and flag stands or Word templates for invitations and name tags.

  • Divison of Marketing and Communications 864-8663
  • marcomm@mun.ca
  • Room: A1024

The events team in Divison of Marketing and Communications will be pleased to answer questions you may have while planning your event.

Housing, food and conference services

Meeting facilities, St. John's campus:



Rental Rate (+ HST)


30 – 70


Seminar Rooms

25 – 40


Classrooms (MM)

50 – 70

$150/session **

Lecture Theatres (MM)

120 – 330

$250/session ** $400/day

* Classroom seating style varies from moveable desks, fixed seating or tables and chairs, other charges may apply depending on requirements

** Session refers to a time block of 1 – 4 hours

Multimedia MM Room

† Current rates - subject to change

Major food service facilities:



Rental Rate (+ HST)

R. Gushue Hall, Main Dining Hall



R. Gushue Hall, Junior Common Room

70 – seating

150 - standing

80 - meeting with A/V


$300/full day

Engineering Café



For meeting facilities, contact:

  • Theresa Doyle, Conference Office
  • Memorial University
  • St. John’s, NL, A1B 3P7
  • Phone: (709) 864-7657 Fax: (709) 864-3520
  • E-mail: facilitybooking@mun.ca

For food services, contact: 

  • Catering Manager, Aramark
  • Memorial University
  • St. John's NL A1B-3P7
  • Phone: 709-864-8124 Fax: 709-864-2580
  • E-mail: cateringmun@aramark.ca



Other room bookings


Business Building

Board Room, Dining Room, Atrium.

  • Phone: 864-8854

Reid Theatre, Arts and Administration Building

  • Currently unavailable for rentals

Education boardroom, Faculty of Education

  • Dean's Office, 864-3404

School of Music

D.F. Cook Hall, Petro-Canada Hall, seminar rooms, instrumental room and smart classrooms.

Marine Institute Meeting and Conference Facilities

The Marine Institute (MI) offers a variety of room settings to individuals or groups planning a meeting, seminar or a conference. A number of groups hold meetings and public lectures at MI each month.  Many industrial clients and external groups have found the facilities provide the ideal location for small working groups and seminars and are ideal for breakout sessions. 

The Marine Institute can accommodate catering requests ranging from a luncheon meeting for 10 people to a waited dinner for 60 people in the dining room or 250 people in the cafeteria. Receptions for groups of 500 can be accomodated in the cafeteria. 

There is a panoramic view of the city of St. John's from the cafeteria. Costs associated with events are as diverse as the events themselves. Costs for facilities and events are based on factors including menu, number of guests, room requirements, decorating, equipment requirements, and tours and presentations. 

Additional meeting and conference facilities include:

  • Hampton Hall lecture theatre
  • classrooms and mini-lecture room
  • industry seminar room


The Works

If you would like to plan an event that may include swimming, recreation or athletic activity, contact Janet O’Connor at The Works for more information. The Field House has a large gymnasium, running and walking tracks, swimming pools and lots of multi-purpose space that can accommodate large numbers. The Field House also has a meeting room equipped with a kitchenette for smaller functions.

  • Janet Crane, Manager of Aquatics and Recreation - 864-3781
  • janetc@mun.ca
  • Coordinator of Events & Services - 864-3078

Medical student lounge, HSC

Please note this site cannot be booked between 12- 2 p.m.

Botanical Garden conference room, Mt. Scio Road

The MUN Botanical Garden conference room is a unique, scenic environment, ideal for holding meetings, workshops, conferences, receptions and private parties. It is located at 306 Mount Scio Road, and free parking is available. The rental rate is $75 +HST per session (1-4 hrs).


  • 37 people sitting theatre-style
  • 20 people sitting board room-style
  • 70 people standing

The following equipment may be reserved when booking the conference room:

  • Screen (6’X7’)
  • Overhead projector
  • Slide projector
  • TV/ VCR
  • Whiteboard
  • Tables and chairs arranged to your specifications.


Catering is available through The Garden Cafe, located within the field centre.



General St. John’s campus tour

The Office of Student Recruitment offers several types of campus tours, including:

Standardized tour

The general tour of Memorial’s St. John’s campus will show visitors around the university’s academic facilities, food court, recreational complex, and more!

Custom tour

Are you interested showing visitors a specific department or aspect of the university? Arrangements can be made to highlight an area of campus by contacting recruitment one week in advance. 

Book ahead: Allow us time to prepare for your visit, so you will receive the proper attention to detail you deserve.

Special needs: Please inform us of any special needs when you book your tour.

Parking: Parking permits are necessary and can be provided at your request.

Large Groups: Groups of 20 or more may be divided for your maximum tour experience.

Supervision: Certain age groups may require chaperones. Please inform us of visitors’ ages when booking.

  • Toll free: 1-866-354-8896
  • Phone: 864-8896
  • Fax: 864-8611
  • tours@mun.ca

MUN Botanical Gardens tour,Mt. Scio Road

Groups of 10 or more people are invited to book a tour or education program at the Garden. A wide variety of programs are available to groups of all ages and interests including: curriculum-based school programs, tea and tours, pre-school programs, nature hikes, garden visits for seniors, plus much more. The conference and tea rooms are available upon request for refreshments.

Special rates are available for non-profit organizations. All group tours must be booked in advance. Minimum group size is 10 people.


Marine Institute tour,Ridge Road

Please contact information contact:

MemorialUniversity OceanSciences Centre

Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook

Campus tours are approximately one hour in length and are given by senior students who can answer questions about life at Grenfell.
To set up your personal tour of Grenfell Campus, call or email us at:


Marketing & Communications

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000