Planning an Event

Learn about event planning timelines at UWM, how to reserve space, catering policies, event publicity and so much more!

Event Planning Timeline
  1. Starting 6 months before your event date, focus on…
    • Brainstorming (work with Student Involvement)
      • Identify challenges to overcome
      • Create planning timeline
      • Gather Funding – or –
      • Arrange Funding Plan
    •  Securing space allocations (work with Event Services)
      • Secure spaces and services
      • Identifying early logistical needs
    • Securing funding, including applying for SAC grants (work with Student Involvement and/or SAC)
      • Attend SAC Grant training
      • Submit SAC Grant requests
      • Attend SAC Grant hearings
  2. Starting 16 weeks before your event date, focus on…
    • Confirming any talent, entertainment, speakers, etc. that will require additional planning (work with Student Involvement and Event Services)
      • Broadly communicate contract obligations of the host or facility
      • Understand UWM/ Non-UWM contracting processes
      • Negotiate terms with talent
      • Settle on final terms
  3. Starting 8 weeks before your event date, focus on…
    • Sorting through your event logistics and marketing plan (work with Event Services and Union Marketing)
      • Event planning/diagramming
      • A/V planning/coordination
      • Signage and traffic flow plans
      • Police and security arrangements
      • Contracting service providers
      • Marketing design and proofing
      • Dining/food arrangements
  4. Starting 4 weeks before your event date, focus on…
    • Walking/talking through final details/arrangements
      • Finalize your volunteer/staffing plan
      • Hold weekly meetings with significant stakeholders
      • Communicating any changes/needs
  5. Have a great event!

A step-by-step event planning timeline can be found HERE.


Planning, Budgeting, and Marketing: A PDF version of the video below.

Event Budget Brainstorming: Uses this worksheet to develop a budget for your event.

Marketing Checklist Example: An example of one way to ensure you have all your marketing covered.

Event Planning Day of and Follow Up: A PDF version of the video below.

Day of Event Details Form: A form used to keep track of all the details of day of the event and ensure it proceeds smoothly.

Production Plan Example: Use this example as a template for creating your day of production plan.

Evaluation: This form can be given to those who helped with the event or performed at the event to give you a better idea of how things went from other viewpoints.

Event Spaces


Only the four primary officers of a registered student organization are eligible to reserve event spaces. Event spaces are allocated on a first come, first served basis. Requests for UWM Student Union event spaces and meeting rooms can be reserved through Union Event Services’ WebApp. They are also located in Union Suite 300 and can be reached via phone at 414-229-4828 or email at

Updated policies can be found on Event Services website: HERE.


Any questions related to University Housing policies regarding advertising or political campaigning should be directed to the Outreach Coordinator.

Any questions related to room/space reservations or tabling should be directed to the Residential Guest Services Staff in Kenilworth Square Apartments, via phone 414-229-6588 or email You may also access the facility reservation request form at


The facilities of the University are to be used primarily for the fulfillment of the University’s missions of teaching, research, and public service. University facilities are not available for unrestricted use for other purposes. Student organizations currently registered with the University and in good standing are eligible to use campus space, subject to the rules and policies governing the space. The status of being eligible for space does not qualify the student organization to sponsor non-University groups or unqualified groups for the use of University space, except in the Union Building.

Groups wishing to schedule space other than the UWM Union must contact Union Event Services in order to secure other University space except for the:

Facility and Contacts
Hefter Center (3271 N. Lake Drive); 414-227-3265
Library (conference rooms) Golda Meir Library; 414-229-6206
Planetarium Planetarium Reservations; 414-229-4961
Recreational (Klotsche Center & Engelmann Gym) Klotsche Center; 414-229-5287
University Center – Downtown (conference center) Conference Services Department; 414-227-3195

Lobby Booths

The use of lobby booth space by eligible groups and organizations is limited to:

  • The sales of home-baked goods,
  • Ticket sales for student organization or University-sponsored events,
  • Literature/Information distribution,
  • Informational services including booths reserved to explain an organization’s purpose,
  • Sale of items by student organizations containing – in visible print – the sponsoring organizations name or logo may be sold by registering a list of the items with Union Event Services (shirts, buttons, bumper stickers etc.). Sales must be for the sole purpose of fund raising for the student organization.

First floor booth spaces will be limited to information distribution and bake sales only (more information on food/bake sales found under the fundraising section HERE). Audiovisual equipment will not be allowed in the booth area on the first floor. No amplified sound. Groups have to display student organization name and set up in the space they reserved.

All eligible groups and organizations are limited to 4 half-day booth reservations (8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. constitute half days) or 2 full-day reservations per week. Requests for time that overlaps either morning or afternoon hours will be considered a full-day reservation and will be limited to 2 per week. Organizations are required to notify Union Reservations & Event Planning of any cancellations two business days in advance of the reservations.

Lobby booth space may be requested a maximum of one month in advance. If available, additional space may be granted at the discretion of the Union Event Services. Lobby booths must be staffed by at least one student member of the organization at all times during the registered time of use. When more than one table is reserved, the sponsoring organization must staff each table.

Event Publicity


Union Marketing Services offers a variety of services to assist student organizations in their planning and marketing of events. Those forms of assistance include: Banners, Display Cases, Flyers, Posters for Events and more. Since each avenue of promotion has specific guidelines to be followed, please contact the Union Marketing Services Office 414-229-5538 for directions on how to proceed. Most important, the key to promoting any student organization event is to plan ahead by allowing 4-6 weeks’ minimum to advertise. Payment for services from Union Marketing Services must be made in advance unless the group has segregated university fees.


The University Communications and Media Relations Department distributes information about University events, people, programs and developments to local, regional and national print and broadcast media.

This office will advise student organizations on how to prepare and distribute information releases to appropriate media. However, the office will not prepare and distribute releases for any event that is not sponsored or cosponsored by any UWM academic or administrative unit. Visit there website (HERE) for more information.


The departments within Creative Services provide the UWM campus community with a full range of support services for graphics, photography, video and web design needs on a charge-back basis. The skilled professional staff delivers high-quality products to meet your specific needs.

For additional information on the services provided by the departments within Creative Services please visit their website HERE.


All printing for student organizations using segregated university fees will be done in Union Marketing (WG50). No other form of printing or binding order is authorized. Persons will be individually liable for any purchases not made through the prescribed procedures. Please see Union Marketing for student organization pricing and a full list of services.

For more information, you can visit the website HERE.

Print and Copy Services provides free EdTech-funded large format poster printing for students for class assignments & research projects. This is the only service that is provided to students free of charge. The following guidelines must be adhered to when submitting a project for printing:

  • An authorization form, located on the Web site must be filled out, signed by your instructor or advisor and submitted with your electronic file and an 8.5×11 color laser printout, to Print and Copy Services.
  • EdTech funded large format printouts are limited to one printout per student per project (24 square feet maximum).
  • Allow 3 business days’ turnaround time. The service is not available on weekends.

For more information regarding poster printing contact

Food Options

There are a limited number of ways that food may be brought to and served on campus. Please read the information below and consider your options.

  • UWM 20/20 Catering

20/20 Catering is required when events take place in the UWM Union (see one-time exceptions below) in accordance with the Policy on Catering for Campus Events No: S-10.25. Wisconsin Health Regulations prohibit user groups from preparing and/or bringing in their own food; see Exception A. The use of non-University caterers must meet criteria listed in Exception B., a-f. To comply with the University and UWM Union guidelines, all alcoholic beverages must be supplied by 20/20 Catering. The following options are outlined below:

EXCEPTION A: Bringing own food on campus for a meeting or event. For closed events that are not open to the general public, permission may be granted to registered student organizations to provide their own food for non-catered events if the following conditions are met:

1. The event is restricted to Union meeting rooms or Fireside Lounge.
2. Attendance is restricted to 150 or less.
3. No food will be prepared or cooked on site.
4. The organization will furnish their own equipment, serving utensils, warming trays, etc.
5. The organization will be responsible for cleanup and garbage disposal.
6. Outside businesses may not cater events in the UWM Union.
7. Alcohol is not allowed.

EXCEPTION B: Non-university caterers may be used under the following conditions:

1. Caterer is appropriately licensed by local authorities.
2. The caterer is able to provide a certificate of insurance as required by the UW System Risk Management Policy and Procedure Manual.
3. If university funds are used, state purchasing procedures must be followed.
4. If alcoholic beverages are to be served at such events, UWM Restaurant Operations must have exclusive authority to dispense them.
5. The university sponsor/host of the catered event makes adequate arrangements for the safe and sanitary disposal of food refuse as well as any general clean-up that is required after the event.
6. If the facilities of either the UWM Union or Residence Halls are used, all catering arrangements (including those with a specialty caterer) will be handled by UWM Restaurant Operations.

  • Food Sales Permit/Policy

To be issued a permit, a student group must show that it will follow the guidelines and procedures associated with a food sale. All student organization food sales must be held in a manner consistent with the health and safety standards of the City of Milwaukee. All such sales are subject to site inspection. If sales violate standards, they are subject to immediate closure. The student organizations are solely liable for the food they sell. Each student organization is limited to 5 food sales per semester. Only one food sale per day may be scheduled. Requests will be handled on a first come, first serve basis. Forms must be turned in at least 10 days prior to the intended event and no more than six (6) weeks in advance.

  • Off-Campus Food Vendors
    1. The organization must meet with the Catering Manager – with caterer’s name – two weeks prior to the event to allow for processing all paperwork.
    2. UWM Restaurant Operations will contact the caterer and make all event arrangements including menu, licensing, insurance, purchasing requisition.
    3. Outside caterers cannot use any Restaurant Operations space: kitchens, coolers, freezers, etc.; cannot use any Restaurant Operations equipment: china, utensils, tables, linens, etc.; cannot use any Dining Services personnel; will not have access to water or ice from any Restaurant Operations space.
    4. A pre-event walk-though will be scheduled with the caterer to define their responsibilities. Failure to participate in this walk-through does not waive the caterer’s responsibilities for the event.
    5. UWM Restaurant Operations will bill the organization for all services by the caterer plus a 25% service fee.
    6. The event sponsor is responsible for securing the space for the event and for any associated charges or fees for the space.
    7. All arrangements must be completed a minimum of three business days prior to the event


Guest Speaker Events are those with a speaker who is not a UWM student, faculty or staff member. The rights of students to invite guest speakers:

1. Registered student organizations may invite to campus any person of their own choosing, but must schedule the appearance in accordance with procedures contained in this manual and other applicable university regulations.

2. The views and opinions expressed by a guest speaker should not be construed as approved or endorsed by the sponsoring group or by the University.

3. The University does not regulate the content of speeches.

4. Duties of student organizations when sponsoring guest speakers:

    • A student organization sponsoring a speaker should choose the person freely, without control by an outside group, and be satisfied that the speaker is qualified to address a University audience on the proposed subject.
    • A University Contract must be filled out at least four weeks prior to the event (if no compensation is being requested, use the Non Paid Performer Contract) and submitted to Student Involvement in Union 355.
    • Members of an audience should be given a reasonable opportunity, if appropriate, to ask questions at the end of the presentation.

Student organizations that wish to arrange for a guest speaker event that includes a book signing/sales component should contact the Union Event Services office (414)229-4828 to make these arrangements.


If an organization is planning an event and is looking to bring in a paid speaker or performer, the organization must arrange a meeting with a Student Involvement professional.

Please schedule a meeting with your Student Organization Liaison 5-6 weeks in advance of the event, or it may not be possible to process the contract paperwork in time for the event. Contracts and related documents must be completed, signed and turned in to Student Involvement no less than 30 days prior to the event date. Student organizations are not authorized to sign contracts or make verbal commitments when using segregated university fees.

Unpaid Guest Speaker

In the event that the guest will be providing a service (lecture, musical performance, etc.) but will not be paid from any University accounts, an “unpaid contract” is required. This document works like a waiver regarding the guest’s performance on campus.

UWM Unpaid Contracts must be completed and submitted no less than 14 days prior to the event date.

Helpful Event Planning Video Tutorials:

How to Use the EMS WebApp

Goal-Setting for Your Event

Planning, Marketing & Budgeting for Your Event

Day-Of Event & Follow-Up