Whether you’re new to event planning or a seasoned pro, every event planner uses this budget to stay organized and prepared for any client inquiry, and an event budget helps you from over spending.

Event Planning Budgets

Before you start, ask yourself:

  1. How much time do I have to plan the event?
  2. What is my event objective?
  3. How will I accomplish this objective?
  4. How much will the event cost?
  5. Who will pay for the event?

Creating Event Planning Budgets

If you’re not using event software for your event planning budgets, an Excel spreadsheet works well. For a basic budget use this guideline: Listing four categories along the top:

  • Item
  • Projected Expense
  • Actual Expense
  • Details

Then, categorize and track the expense items as follows:

  1. Event venue rental costs. Meet with the venue sales manager to get the most current costs and negotiate better rates, then track all projected rental fees for the event and function space, including housekeeping and baggage handling.
  2. Estimate catering costs. This includes all food and beverage charges, including tips and gratuities, which can often account for up to 30% of the event budget.
  3. Document transportation charges. Include shuttles, buses, and event transfers.
  4. Event decor expenses. Most events require expenses for decor, such as centerpieces, floral arrangements and tent rentals.
  5. Event entertainment and equipment fees. A common expense in this category includes A/V equipment, but it’s also a good spot to list honorariums (recognition payment) for speakers or hired entertainers.
  6. Printing charges. There could be several items charged in this category, including invitations, name badges, program booklets, event signage and banners.
  7. Gifts. It’s a great idea give your event guest and/or entertainment a gift. Whatever gifts you provide, track the cost for them separately.
  8. Activities expenses. If your event includes activities such as golfing, tennis, spa, rafting, or even biking note the cost of these fees separately. In The Event Toolkit, I’ve included a complete, professional event budget to help you summarize each item and the totals for those event items.
  9. Miscellaneous expenses. If an expense doesn’t fall into any of the above categories, list them as a miscellaneous expense item.
  10. Contingency fund. Depending on the size or complexity of your event, you may want to allocate 10-20% of the event budget for any “just-in-case” scenarios because even the best laid plans can exceed your projections; This keeps you from going over budget every time.
  11. Summarize projected expenses. As you build your event program, start to project the total expenses. This is the information that I share with my event client to make sure they are aware of the event budget so that there aren’t any surprises later.
  12. Summarize actual expenses. This happens after the event has concluded. I subtotal the invoices into the above categories and document the actual budget. If extremely favorable, I will identify savings in actual budget vs. the projected budget, demonstrating the value of my role.

Making payments – know and negotiate payment terms. I typically have cheques (checks for our American friends!) ready for each vendor and pay them when they arrived at the event site to set up, provided they brought an invoice!

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