The Complete Guide to Event Budgeting

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Balancing an event budget is one the major challenges planners face, and the root of most money problems can be traced back to the initial discussion stages. It is always best to begin designing an event around the amount of financial resources available and not vice versa. The information below will help you estimate costs and identify areas where you can trim them.

Outline Event Planning Expenses

Expenses can come from a wide array of sources once you think about all of the components involved in staging a function. The most obvious ones are catering and venue rental expenses, but the list only grows from there. The thing is, overlooking even one expense category can have a disastrous impact your per person spending. 

Questions to Ask Your Clients

As the event planner, your role is to provide expert assistance with both the coordination and financial management of the event. Keep in mind that your clients are dreaming of perfection, and this can easily cloud their judgment on what is fiscally possible. The time to bridge the gap between their budget and expectations is right from the beginning. Often times it is as simple as asking the right questions and drafting a budget during your first meeting.

Build a Basic Event Budget

Once you have a vision of the event and an estimate of how much money you have to work with, it is finally time to structure the budget. An important step here is telling your clients that event budgets are “working drafts” that are likely to change as more details come in. Remember, very few clients have experience with the costs and fees associated with attendance fluctuations, so it is best to build in a buffer zone of 10% to avoid running out of funds

Event Planner Fees

Of course, you need to incorporate your planning fees into the budget, and this can be a touchy subject for some. Event planners have several ways to charge for their services, ranging from straight fees to percentage commissions. In the end, it is all about finding a medium both sides can agree on. Be sure that your fee structure is documented in a contract, and include it as an expense in all drafts of the budget. 

Trimming Event Costs

Rarely will you work on an event that has an unlimited budget. More than likely you will reach a point in the planning process where decisions about cutting costs must be made. This is where an experienced event planner can really shine in helping their clients. The goal is to identify which options have the biggest impression on guests. For example, should you spend less on centerpieces in order to preserve the gourmet dessert? In some cases, a planner can go through the expenses and renegotiate or cut back in areas where the guests will never notice.


Controlling Audio/Visual Expenses

Lighting and sound equipment makes a big impact on the presentation of your event, but it also tends to have a big impact on the budget. When you factor in other A/V expenses like projectors, internet access, and video services it doesn’t take long for this category to become one of the largest numbers on your budget. 

Finding Low-Cost Marketing Options Online

Marketing is another expense that can grow exponentially if you don’t get results right away. The catch, of course, is that unless you market effectively there won’t be enough attendees to support the costs of the event. This is why it makes sense to utilize as many free or low-cost options to spread the initial word about an upcoming occasion

Planning a Big Wedding on a Small Budget

Weddings are a prime example of events where budgets can be challenged by expenses. Behind every wedding is a family of real people who have other financial obligations to consider before spending lavishly on their big day. Most wedding coordinators understand this, but the best ones know how to maximize each dollar of a wedding budget. Although corporate event planners work in a different environment than wedding planners, there is a lot to be learned about how wedding professionals manage their budgets.