Whether it’s a wedding, Bar Mitzvah or retirement party, entertainment is the centerpiece of your event and you want things to run as smoothly as possible.  Circumvent last-minute confusion by getting the answers to these questions :

Where do we load and unload? This is a critical question, especially when your vendors could be toting heavy, costly equipment.  Most venues have very specific rules about loading areas and freight elevators, so make sure that your site manager and entertainment are on the same page.

Where do you want us? If an event site has a bandstand then it’s a no-brainer, but things are rarely that transparent.  Get a list of your vendor’s needs in terms of electrical outlets, lighting and space in order to make an informed decision in consultation with your venue contact.

When can we start setting up? If you’re having a weekend wedding at a popular wedding then you might not be the only event of the day.  Find out what else is going on in your party space and the earliest your vendor can gain entry.

Who is our point person? The last thing you want are questions from the vendor to disrupt your hosting duties.  If you have an event coordinator, a site manager or a catering captain who is running the show then make sure that they are identified for your entertainment.  This could be as easy as a text message to your vendor on the day of the event saying, “look for the guy in the red shirt with the clipboard.”

Where can we park? A parking ticket isn’t exactly the souvenir that your vendor has in mind for your event.  Make sure that the venue manager lets your entertainment know about legal and secure parking options.

Where can we get ready, store our stuff and take our breaks? If your vendor needs a spot to don a costume or put on makeup then it’s nice to know in advance and have a changing area with a mirror and good lighting.  If their only option is the same public bathroom that your guests will be using then they can plan accordingly for speed and privacy. Let vendors know where they can take breaks and stash their stuff for safekeeping.

Who turns on the lights (and off, and up, and down)? Lighting is a huge factor in establishing the mood at any event.  If you have a lighting company then let the vendor know, otherwise point out the person who will be manning the switches, spotlights and dimmers.

Are there any special rules we need to know about? Anyone who has ever seen a standard event venue contract knows that there are all kinds of rules, some of them far from obvious.  If any of these policies might affect your vendor then make sure that they are aware of them.

When, where and what do we eat? It may not occur to you as the host, but vendors with a 5+ hour contract that coincides with dinner time might get hungry.  Unless you envision your entertainment sitting down to dinner with your great aunt or CEO, be sure to make provisions.  Many venues provide reasonably priced vendor meals.  Data point: don’t forget about your photographer(s) and anyone else who might need a meal during your event.

When do we wrap? There are many possible factors that play into this answer, including venue policy and city ordinances.  Be sure that the vendor knows.  Better to have the last dance to the song of your choice than have the plug pulled and the lights turned on.

Asking the right questions in advance assures smooth sailing on the day of your big event.  Good luck and have fun!