Event Guidelines

Events are an important component of the university’s outreach efforts and must be conducted in a way that represents UNC Charlotte in a first-class manner.  The information below is intended as a guide for planning a university event to which external guests will be invited.

PLEASE NOTE: The guidelines for in-person events were developed before the pandemic, and planners should follow guidance of campus officials and follow rules on gatherings.

Invitation and Save the Date

When appropriate, send a save the date 6-8 weeks prior to the event. Typically this is done for events that have a large external audience. Invitations should be sent 4-6 weeks prior to the event. Whether you are sending an electronic or printed invitation, always identify who, what, when, where, and why. See this sample invitation for guidance.

Directions and Parking

Guests should be provided the address to the specific location of the event and clear parking instructions. Work with Parking and Transportation Services to determine an appropriate parking plan for your event. If it’s within your budget, provide your guests with parking vouchers when having them in paid parking locations.

Event Venues

Consideration should be given to the size of audience anticipated to avoid having a room either too large or too small for the event. Six square feet per person is typically allotted for a standing reception. Spaces need to be well-ventilated and air conditioned. Avoid holding events in small conference rooms, hallways, etc. Check with Conferences, Reservations and Event Services for available spaces.


Nametags should be pre-printed in a sufficiently large and bolded font (36 pt. or larger) to be read from some distance away. Avoid peel and stick nametags whenever possible. Nametags should also be worn by wait staff and employees assisting with the event.


Generally, pre-program receptions should not exceed 45 minutes. The entire event should not last longer than two hours.


If a speaking program is planned during a reception or other event, it is important for invitations to separately list the time of the program (e.g., if an event is from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. but the formal program will not start until 7:30 p.m., list both times on the invitation).

Program Length

If guests are standing, a program should not exceed 30 minutes.


Room lighting should be adjusted or dimmed to encourage a more intimate atmosphere. Darkness is not necessary, but neither should every light in the room be fully illuminated.


If a stage is required, it should be proportionate to the room and appropriate for the need. In small gatherings, a podium may be sufficient. Contact Facilities Management to request staging items.


Depending upon the program to be delivered and the size of the room, audio amplification may or may not be needed. Audio equipment should be tested prior to the event. A technician or experienced staff member should be on hand for the event to provide technical support.

Bar Service

A sufficient number of bar stations and bartenders should be provided to reduce waiting times. Bar locations should be well distributed to encourage distribution of guests to multiple stations. Do not place a bar station near the entrance to the event to avoid having a crowd form at that location. 

A good formula for estimating alcohol consumption is one drink per hour per person—2 hour reception x 100 people = 200 drinks. This is not an absolute formula and can change depending on the time of day and type of event. It is always best to purchase more than you need and return the leftovers after the event. 

Please visit the Office of Legal Affairs website for the University’s policy on Alcohol Beverages.

Food Service

Buffet lines should, whenever possible, be “two-sided” to let guests obtain their food without waiting in long lines. A sufficient number of buffet stations should also be considered to distribute guests to different places in the venue.

Reception Food Choices

Bite-sized hors d’oeuvres are often a good choice, whether passed or available at a food station. Food options that appeal to a variety of people are also strongly recommended, i.e. red meat, poultry, seafood, vegetarian and gluten free options. Make sure your food items are labeled properly using a small tent card.

Silverware and Glassware

Wherever possible, avoid plastic utensils, glasses, and flatware. Glass is always the preferred choice.


Some events may call for a photographer to memorialize special awards and recognition of special guests. Creating a shot list ahead of time will ensure that the proper photos are taken. (i.e., a photo of a faculty retiree with family members or the recognition of a major donor by the dean of the college). Particularly good photos should be shared with donors or special guests after the event. A hand-written note to accompany the photo(s) is a nice touch.