19 Mar

Outlining Your Event Budget

We understand that planning a large-scale event can easily become overwhelming. It can be difficult to recognize what can be considered a reasonable cost for event expenses if you’ve never planned an event before. However, it’s most difficult to prepare if potential expected expenses are unknown. To be sure you’re creating a well-rounded budget, below is an outline of the most common event expenses. Your event may require additional expense categories based on what you want your event to include, or because of the type of the event you’re hosting (such as a wedding). The goal of this budget outline is to help you find a starting point when dividing your total event budget between.

There are generally two types of event expenses to consider. On-site expenses, which are typically those assessed by the venue, tend to be the more expensive and predictable. The second type are third-party vendor expenses, which are for items or services not provided by the venue. These vendors would be contracted independently for your event. Some venues require specific vendors are used for certain event needs like specialized audio-visual equipment. Many times the venue will assist with making arrangements if required vendors are needed.

Photo by Jessika Feltz

Photo by Jessika Feltz

On-Site Expenses
Venue: Venue rental cost may vary at different times of year, they are otherwise set. Most often venue expenses are comprised of four main costs, although this can vary by venue.

  • Room Rental
  • Security
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Parking

Catering: Venue and catering expenses can tally upwards of 40% of most event budgets. While it might seem drastic, it’s very realistic. The catering total is directly dependent on guest count. Put simply: the higher the guest count, the higher the catering costs. Remember, there is tax and service charge on food, beverage and rental items which can add an additional 25% or more (depending on caterer) to your base pricing. Yet, while that might give you a bit of sticker-shock, remember that your service charge should include all the labor needed for your event.

  • Food & Beverage
  • China, Glass & Silver
  • Linens
  • Upgraded Chairs and Tables

Audio Visual: Many venues will have a basic built-in system that can handle meetings and basic presentations. There are typically rental fees for it. If your event needs more than what is available, the venue might require you to use a specific vendor or will give you the option to choose your own.

  • Microphones
  • Screens & Projectors

Third-party Vendors
Audio-Visual: When your venue doesn’t have the equipment you need, an additional vendor is necessary. If your venue gives you a list of their preferred vendors, take it into strong consideration because these vendors will be more familiar with your venue that someone else.

  • Specialized Audio Equipment
  • Staging
  • Event Stage Lighting

Décor Rentals: This part of the budget is one where many find it easiest to overspend. Every décor idea has a cost because if it cannot be rented it has to be made.

  • Décor Furniture (such as soft seating, ceremony arbors, etc.)
  • Accent Lighting
  • Flowers & Centerpieces
  • Pipe & Drape

Entertainment: For most events this will mean music entertainment, but your event might require different entertainment like casino activities or a photo booth. Regardless, be mindful of your vendor contract to be aware of all aspects that you’ll be financially responsible for like day-of meals or staging.

  • Musician or DJ
  • Contract Riders (food, staging, lighting, etc.)

Event Materials: Every event will require invitations at a minimum, but the event materials are mostly dependent on the type of event being hosted. The printed materials for a corporate event will include name tags, programs, and event signage for example. While a wedding may require an escort board, table numbers, and a card box.

  • Invitations
  • Printed Materials (such as programs, menus, signage, etc.)

Professional Services: When considering vendors for these services, your venue will be able to recommend those that know their venue best. This can be very helpful when selecting who you want to work with.

  • Event Photography
  • Event Planner

Photo by Jessika Feltz

Remember, Always Have a Contingency Plan.
Setting some of the budget aside to cover cost overages will allow your event to move forward without having to modify your plans too heavily. It’s important to review proposals in the beginning of your event planning to determine if your budget is right for the event you’re hosting. This is the best way to avoid unexpected costs. Every event is unique, so your event may include more or less than what our outline includes. The important thing is to understand where your costs will come from so that you can better expect and divide your budget accordingly.

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