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Show Me The Money: Budgeting for Your Event (Show Notes: Season 2, Episode 1)



Welcome back for Season 2 of the How To Event Podcast. This season is themed and focuses on The Basics of event planning. I’ll be talking about everything from vendor and venue selection, to design and menu creation - and we’ll even discuss how you decide when you need some extra help and might want to consider hiring an event or wedding planner to support your efforts.


This first episode of Season 2 focuses on budgeting. This may be the single most important part of event planning because your budget will help determine the scope of your event. I can’t tell you how many clients I work with who come to me with zero idea of a realistic budget to host their event. While I, of course, help them through the process regardless - this is a big mistake! Doing your research and understanding what kind of budget you have to work with is imperative as you are helping create a framework for efficient spending, and you might even save yourself valuable time given you could avoid spending unnecessary time researching venues or vendors that will be outside of your budget.


What elements of an event should be included in my budget?

All of the things! Any projected financial expenditures should be accounted for. Invitations, a venue, food & beverage costs, vendors, speakers or talent, marketing, decor, or even staff! It is important to be aware of all possible costs, so create an exhaustive list of elements you might spend money on in order to get the most accurate picture of your out-of-pocket total.


Are there any elements that I should be aware of that aren’t obvious to be included in the budget?

Always ask about extra fees! Service Fees are one aspect that many event hosts forget to consider. Many venues and caterers apply a service fee to their service offerings, which may or may not be taxable and can range anywhere from 15% to over 25% depending on the location or vendor. While this line item cost doesn’t pay for a specific physical item - it is a hard cost that must be accounted for in the budget. Another fee to account for would be taxes. You’ll likely need to pay taxes on the majority of services and physical products you arrange for your event - so don’t forget to ask your contact about how this factors into the pricing you are given. Another aspect not frequently considered is that of contingency costs. If you’re hosting an outdoor event (especially open-air), you should be factoring in the cost of any contingency plans that may need to be in place - such as a backup tent, or a heating/cooling system for an outdoor tented venue during unfavorable weather.


How can I save money and ensure I maintain an economical budget for my event?

There are several things you can do to keep your budget in check!

  • Understand that the number of guests will be one of the elements that can have the largest effect on your expenditures. If you’re able to cut your guest list, you can often cut your budget, too.

  • Choose a setting for your event that has natural beauty. This allows you to reduce your decor budget because you don’t have to do as much to enhance the venue and can focus on other aspects of the event.

  • If you’re going to utilize floral decor - try to incorporate it sparingly as fresh flowers can be costly. If this is unavoidable due to your style or preference, then try your best to select blooms that are in-season. Off-season flowers can significantly increase your budget as they must be special ordered.

  • When scheduling your event, consider days of the week that are less popular. Weekend dates are prime for special events and you will pay a premium to book one of these dates. If you could choose an off-peak day like a Wednesday - or even a Thursday - you could secure bigtime savings!

  • Do your research! Event hosts who have shopped around and identified all relevant information are more likely to find the best value.


Budgeting sets the tone and scope of your event and ensures that you don’t break the bank - or at least not more than you want to. Remember to exhaust your list of services or products as you craft your budget so that you include every possible aspect that you might spend money on. As you gather your quotes and build the actual budget, don’t forget to ask yourself “Is this really important”? This is a crucial question to ask of each line item, especially if your initial draft of your budget exceeds an amount you can afford comfortably. Once you have created a solid budget, you have an excellent framework to build the rest of your event on as you continue through the planning process.


Continue the conversation and ask your questions by joining the How To Event Facebook Group.

Or you can keep up with us on Instagram by following @HowToEvent.


Season 2, Episode 2 will debut on July 30th, 2020! This season we are focusing on Event Basics and each week I will review a new foundational event topic to help you get started with your planning process.


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