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How to Charge for Event Planning Services


charge for event planning services

How to charge for event planning services is an important decision to make when starting your event planning career.

Rates too High or Too Low?

Set your rates too low and you’ll lose money; set your rates too high and you’ll price yourself out of the opportunity and getting hired for event planning jobs.

Knowing how to charge for your event planning services is a struggle many planners experience because there are many variables that affect your rates.

Determining how to charge for event planning services is one of the hardest parts to starting your business, so spend time considering:

  1. The market in your area
  2. Your startup costs and,
  3. Whether you’ll charge a flat fee or an hourly rate.

How Much To Charge For Event Planning Services

When I started my event planning career, I charged an hourly rate ($75 was suitable for the year, start up costs, my location and my experience) and I took a retainer that I used against the time spent on the event.

When Payments Are Due

My minimum retainer (or deposit) was $2500 (roughly 33hr of work). Full payments were due 21 days prior to the event, and everything was outlined in a contract that a lawyer create for me (if you don’t know a lawyer or paralegal go to Upwork.com to find one) or use this event planner contract that’s already done for you.

For each event, my intern tracked my hours and sent an invoice to the client at the beginning of each month, which was due at time of receipt.

After 6 months of planning corporate events I took all the invoices and looked at the hours it took to plan each event, which allowed me to give my clients an estimated budget.

4 Things to Consider First

In this week’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV, learn 4 critical things to consider before you determine how to charge for event planning services.

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  • Alisha says:

    Excellent – thank you for posting this!

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      It’s our pleasure!

      • I charge a flat rate service based on how many guests and I charge 15% of their budget. For example, 1-50 has a service charge of 250.00 but I don’t calculate that on the 15%, I only calculate 15% of the vendor fee. Is that an ideal way?

        • Event Planning Blueprint says:

          Hey Sherreece, I’d recommend you take the suggestions in the article and keep your payments simple for you and your vendors and clients.

  • Marla says:

    My name is Marla. I have a BA in Communications from PSU and an Event Planning certification from NYIAD.
    I really want to start a personal event planning business for showers/parties. My drive and attitude to do this is to the moon and back, but my wallet to start is very dry. Do you have any tips on my next steps?

  • kristina says:

    Hey great post ! Me and my partner are doing event planning and event décor part-time right now. We are in a very small city , not a lot of steady business or parties over $5k. Right now we are doing a flat rate that covers consultation , research, set and breakdown, plus the cost of supplies ( dependent on size of event). So we are basically charging for our time/work and for the supplies are we doing this backwards ?

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Hi Kristina, This works but you have to know exactly how much time it’ll take you otherwise you’ll lose money on each event. You can either charge hourly for your services or add a clause to your contract that includes 10 hrs, for example, and anything over is at your hourly rate. Either way, for every event you plan, track you time so you know how long it takes to do each task (planning, managing, etc). Good luck!

  • Dayn says:

    I am starting to book an event space that is for about 300 people and it’s a very artistic gallery space, but we rent it out for a ton of different events from sweet 16 birthday’s to art showcases and brand reveals.
    Is it fair to charge the same rate per client?
    I like the idea of doing a $50 hrly rate that includes 30 hours, and charging for a deposit of %50 of that upfront at contract signing to get started with the rest due before the event. Including in my contract that any additional misc expenses along the way. Logging my hours, and then charging a flat on site day rate of $400. Do you think this is weird?

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Hi Dayn,
      Always follow the simple KISS (keep it simple silly) rule. It shouldn’t matter who the client is, the rate should be the same . You may charge a different rate for different days of the year, but not for different people. That’s illegal in most countries! If you’re going to start booking venue space, do your research and see what other venues do in your area. As for the rate, there’s no way to say until you know your costs. Choosing an arbitrary number (ie: $50) may not work and you may lose money and go out of business quickly. Know your costs before you decide anything. But again, KISS. It’s OK to have an hourly rate but stick to one type of rate – either hourly or daily. Makes life A LOT easier for you and your clients. I’d recommend you check out our course to learn how to be an event planner, which covers how to determine your costs, what your exact rate should be, and more. Learn more here: http://howtobeaneventplanner.com/
      Good luck!

  • christal says:

    I’m trying to set up my event planning business and I don’t know if I should charge for consultation or how much? If I set an hourly rate for the planning of $50/hr should that be the price for the consultation as well?

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Use the guidelines listed in this article to determine how much to charge. We do recommend that you stick to one hourly rate for all the work you personally do. Once you have a team, you may want to charge less for junior team members, but until then, keep it simple!

  • Andi Ableman says:

    Dear Event Planning Blueprint, Thank you for the helpful information. I have been a meeting planner for about 12 years (the first 6 I volunteered for this non for profit). Now, I am charging them 15% of the total costs of the 5 day meeting. I book everything for them – hotel, main meeting, breakout sessions, AV, organize F&B, social events, tours, photographer, exhibition boards, book 20-30 sleeping rooms for faculty and staff, research everything, compose welcome letters and other communiques. I travel to the meeting for about a week- 10 days (upcoming meeting is in Asia – I am in the US) and so much more. My question is: should i be charging 15% of everything i book including the sleeping rooms, exhibition board rentals, AV costs, etc? Everything takes so much time! I surely want to be fair to this non-profit. Thank you for any guidance. Andi A.

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Hi Andi, it’s important to know and understand your costs too, for example, how much time and money does it take you to plan the event? Are your expenses being covered? It’s possible you need to charge more and based on your experience I’d say you probably can charge 20-25%, but you need to know all your numbers first. It may be better to charge an hourly rate, if this is a lower budget event so you’re not losing money (or time!).

  • Hi, my name is Corlis. Thank you for sharing your advice and tips. I live in the Atlanta area and I am in the process of starting my event planning business. Event planning is huge in Atlanta and it is very competitive. Currently I am working on my fee schedule and I would like to charge a flat fee for small events (100 people or less) but its also based on the # of guests. Then for large/complex events (not weddings) to charge a flat fee plus a % of the total costs for vendor services. Is this ideal? I haven’t thought about the supplies that I may have to purchase for the event. How do I include my supply costs?

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      You’re welcome, Corlis. If you’re just getting started then we recommend you use an hourly rate and track all your time. Flat fee is good for planners who have been in business a while and know how long it takes to plan each event, and who have large event budgets. Any event supplies should be paid for by the client and included in the event budget you provide them. To learn How to Be an Event Planner, visit: https://eventplanningblueprint.com/howtobeaneventplanner

  • Justine says:

    Hi Melanie,
    Great tips, thanks! I’ve recently started up a full-service event management company and typically charge a % of the total event budget as my mgmt fee. I have one client that we have now operated their event and we came in under budget! I’m now unsure if I should still have them pay me the agreed upon mgmt fee or if I credit them back as we came in under budget and my fee was a % of the estimated program cost? Any suggestions?

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Great question and problem to have Justine!

      Yes, if you have money left over then give it back to your client because it’s proof of your value and they’ll want to hire you again, it’s the right thing to do, and it’s also info that you can use in your marketing or in a case study. Well done.

      • Justine says:

        Thanks so much for the quick repy! Yes, I agree and definitely plan to give them back the $ not spent, but you suggest I also reflect a decrease in my mgmt fee as well due to the under spending? I don’t feel my team put in any less work, so it seems like a grey area…For example, if in contract they agreed to pay $20k (12% of estimated budget) and now only pay $15k mgmt fee (based off 12% of actual spend)? Also something to note, they did decrease their agreed upon attendee count which I have a clause stating I can enforce a fee for reduction in attendee count which I wasn’t going to enforce that fee.

        • Event Planning Blueprint says:

          You’re welcome Justine.
          We didn’t suggest that you decrease your fee. We suggested that you give back the extra money, that you mentioned in your original post, that is outside of your management fee. Don’t complicate the process. It’s important to value your clients and not nickle and dime them so they hire you again. You saved them money — that’s a good thing!

  • Justine says:

    Great, thanks! I think we are on the same page.

  • Grayleen says:

    How do I find out what event planners are charging in my area?

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Hi G, most event planners secret shop other event planners or you go to industry events and ask.

  • Amy Drum says:

    I am starting as an event planner for a very small venue (50 seated) with majority events being birthday parties, baby/wedding showers and occasional small corporate events. This venue is going to be used for other things (classes, workspace, etc.), so I don’t anticipate being overwhelmed with work. Also, budgets for these events are not huge, in most cases. I have o idea what method to go with as far as charging for my services. My services are basically there as an added option. Any tips?

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Hi Amy, if you’re getting started and are working with lower budgets, charge an hourly rate. Most planners who use a flat fee – especially when they’re getting started – never make any money from their events. In fact, most will lose money because they don’t know what to include in the flat rate or how long it actually takes to plan an event. It’s important to also track all your time, expenses (not to be confused with client expenses), etc. Good luck!

  • Dahlia says:

    Nice article! I also try to understand as much as possible about the client’s needs and budget before drafting a proposal. I find it effective being able to show perspective for my cost in relation to to their overall budget.

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Absolutely Dahlia, it’s important to understand the client’s need and budget before you get started. That doesn’t mean you cut your rates though — like many seem to think they need to do 🙂

  • Sara says:

    We are anew wedding planning company and are working out some details of our fees. Can you please advise me on how to charge for overnight stays at a hotel for wedding planning? For example, the wedding is far enough that we (2 planners) will be staying at the hotel/venue overnight for the walkthrough and again for 2 nights the weekend of the wedding. Is this something we should be incorporating in our contract, should we charge the bride separately for this? Should it be a conditional clause in the contract? Is this a business expense that we would just pay for through the business? Any advice is appreciated!
    Thank you!

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Hi Sara, you absolutely should have this in your contract and be charging the client since it’s work you’re doing for their event. This should be part of your conversation before you sign any agreements with clients so they know and understand why they’re hiring you and what they’re paying for. Never should any client expenses come out of your pocket. If you do that, you’ll have a hard time making any money from your events. Hope this helps. Good luck with the wedding!

  • Leon Wilding says:

    Hi Melanie.
    I watch your YouTube videos and they have been very helpful. I am starting an events planning business in the UK but I still have much to learn. As I will be self employed, working from home (to keep overhead down) I would like to know from your professional expertise, how I take payments? I will mainly be using vendors to supply catering, entertainment, sound & lighting etc.. but I’m struggling to determine a link between how the vendor is paid (based on their terms of payment) and how I am paid for my services. For example: A client approaches me to help with a 21st birthday party. Their requirements are a DJ, catering and a venue. The DJ charges let’s say £200 for their services and they take a £50 deposit and the rest 1 week before the event. How does that vendor get the deposit and who from?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you – From Leon.

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Hi Leon, if we understand you correctly you’d like to know how to accept payments from clients and how to pay vendors. It’s pretty straightforward really…There are many electronic payment processors available now (like PayPal) so you can send clients invoices and they can easily and quickly pay electronically. For vendors, it’ll depend on their terms, conditions and preferences but have all invoices go directly to your clients. You can act as the intermediary for your clients and vendors but clients should sign the vendor contracts and be responsible for paying them.

  • Darlene says:

    Hi Melanie,
    I am a visual artist who provides Children’s Art Parties in Brooklyn, NY. I was recently asked
    by an Event Coordinator of a Private Membership Club in Brooklyn if I would create in the Fall/Winter
    fun Events for Kids of this Club to attended. I would be brainstorming and presenting my idea’s. It is different
    then me just providing Art Birthday Parties with Parents, were they pay per Child for the project. The Event Person would
    be buying/covering cost of supplies rather then me and each child is charged a fee to attend Event to this Private Club.
    So I was thinking with my wealth of experience as an Art Educator over 18 yrs of teaching my hourly rate to charge
    would be $75 per hour to do Events at this Private Club. Would love your feedback if you feel this is reasonable?

  • Hello Melanie,
    I was hoping you could direct me on where to go for event insurance…. I have been trying to scope the internet for places that advertise event insurance, but most of the companies I haven’t heard of before.
    Is it better to insure each event individually or is it better to license and bond my LLC company as a whole for all events?
    Please advise me in which is the better option and/or what insurance companies you recommend.
    Thank you so much for your time 🙂

    • Event Planning Blueprint says:

      Hi Kelly, we’re no affiliated with any insurance companies and it’s best to speak with an agent locally. Often companies will allow you to insure each event vs. buying business insurance, but you’d need a licensed broker’s advice regarding the specifics of your event and business.

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