How To Stay Within Your Event Budget

Planning a wedding or another major event can be expensive. The average cost of a wedding is moving closer and closer to $30,000. Even large parties like an anniversary or graduation party can cost thousands of dollars. If you plan a corporate event, the cost can go up exponentially.

As a party planner, it’s important to work with your clients to stay on budget while also planning the event of their dreams.

5 tips to help you stay on budget

Research Costs

Before you can create a budget, you need to have a good idea of what things cost. You may be shocked to learn what catering costs, or you may have had no idea that a photographer could cost so much. Call around to get a few estimates based on some standard details, or do an online search to get a ballpark for what others have paid in your area. Once you have that information, you can get a rough idea of what you might like to spend for each item on your party planning checklist.

Create an Overall Budget Amount

Start by determining how much you can afford for your event. Create a couple of amounts: Set the amount you’d like to spend, and set the amount that you could spend if you stretched things a bit. By having a budget range, you will have some wiggle room for unexpected expenses. You’ll also give yourself some flexibility to indulge if you find a more expensive caterer that you love or you decide you want to spring for a nicer venue.

Create Estimates for Each Category

Break down your budget into categories for each item you will need for your event. For example, a typical event planning checklist for a wedding would include things like catering, venue, wedding cake, the officiant, flowers and wedding attire. Create a range for each budget item, ensuring that the total still falls within your overall budget range.

Don’t Overlook Small Costs

When you are shopping for service providers, you might think their costs fall within your budget, but you might overlook the smaller costs than can push you over. For example, if you have $5,000 budgeted for catering and you find a caterer that gives you an estimate of $4,800, you might think you will be saving some money. However, after tax is added and you pay the tip, you could be well over your budget. Be sure to include these smaller expenses when calculating your budget. Create a Contingency Category Once you start planning your event, you might find that there are things you need that you did not expect. Or you might interview a provider who is far over your budget and you decide you want to splurge. By creating a contingency category, you will build some flexibility in your budget so that you can get everything you want without going over. As with any budget planning, you’ll also want to identify some must haves versus some nice to haves. You’ll be ready to sacrifice certain items to make room for others so you don’t go over your budget. Follow these tips and your party planning will go smoothly without tipping your budget. You’ll plan an event to remember, but you won’t go into debt in the process. Working within your budget also ensures that you stay on track and that you find ways to cut corners without sacrificing on quality.

I’d love to hear from you…

In the comments below share what tips or strategies you use to stay within your event budget.

As always, thanks for joining me each week, for your comments and for sharing these posts with other party planners.


  1. Henry at10:18 am

    In our experience, the simplest way to save costs is to hire an all-inclusive service for your event. That turns your “per event” budget into a “per person” cost, regardless to what attendants eat, drink or spend. It’s quite convenient, in my humble opinion.

    1. Melanie at1:16 pm

      A good an interesting option for event planners to consider.

  2. VP at3:15 am

    I agree, you really need to exhaust your research, and not just pick the first thing that you see for your event options, who knows if you can find a better deal down the line

    1. Melanie at1:15 pm

      Thanks for sharing!


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