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Managing an Event Budget

No idea where to start when putting together an event budget?

The creative elements of putting an event together are always the most fun to plan and execute but there's a real skill in being able to produce an engaging event that fits within the given budget.

Tess Hodgkinson from Sydney events and floral design studio The Style Maison joins me to talk through the various elements you should consider when planning an event budget.

“Feeling overwhelmed with keeping track of event supplier quotes? Consider outsourcing this to an event stylist. That way you can focus on the things you enjoy and they can be responsible for bringing an amazing event in on budget”

Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more tips and insight on creating event budgets. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".

What are the different elements of an event I should consider when creating an event budget?

Each event has different requirements so there's no set list of what you should have at your event, but here's a few to consider:

  • AV/lighting/staging: If you plan on having an MC or entertainment then you're going to need to create a space they can be seen and heard from. Additionally, the ambiance of an event can be affected by the lighting so you might want to bring in particular lights to help create the atmosphere you're after. You should be able to find companies that can manage all of your AV, lighting and staging requirements for you

  • Entertainment/MC: Whether you have a DJ, four-piece band or a huge ensemble, they will usually advise if they are bringing all their own equipment or if they need you to hire them additional production elements. If they don't specify that, ask the question. As for an MC, often there may be someone in the company that is a great fit but if you want a notable person to host proceedings, you'll need to allow budget for their fee.

  • Catering (food and beverages): This is often a per head amount based on the number of guests attending. The event location or a catering company will be really clear on what the cost are. If you are hosting an event in a pop-up space or somewhere with no existing kitchen then there will be extra costs for the caterer to bring in that equipment, so bear that in mind.

  • Location: Most of the time venues will charge a venue hire fee but if it's a smaller event at a restaurant, they may just charge you a minimum spend which can often be met from the food and drink costs. Which means you don't end up paying anything extra for the event space itself.

  • Security: Check what's included in the venue hire fee as security sometimes is. If it's not, ask the venue if it's a requirement for you to have security present and if it is, they'll provide you with the cost.

  • Styling (can include florals, furniture, crockery, cutlery, props etc): An event stylist will break down the costs associated with each element of their styling proposal which means if you need to reduce your budget, you can cherry-pick which items to take out and how that will affect the costs. The event stylist should also let you know what their fee is, which is separate from the styling elements. Their fee includes coming up with a styling theme (and how they envisage executing that theme), researching and sourcing the props/florals/furniture etc, bumping in the event and then bumping out. There's a number of hours involved in them doing the work to make your event spectacular but they're the experts so use them if you can.

  • Transport/transfers: If there are certain guests you need to ensure are at the event or require transfers to attend the event, you'll need to organise cars to get them to and from there.

  • Invitations (including graphic designer): The more intricate your invite, the more expensive it is likely to be to produce. Also, keep in mind there will be costs for the envelopes and stamps and potentially a calligrapher if you are using one.

  • Gift bags: If you'd like your guests to walk away with something special or memorable from the event, consider the fact you'll need to buy the gift bags themselves. There may also be costs for the products inside them, if you want something specific and you are unable to get it provided as sponsored stock.

Budgeting tips from event experts

  • Source 2 - 3 quotes from suppliers for each element of your budget and get them in writing.

  • Provide a clear brief to suppliers when requesting a quote. Here's some of the things they'll want to know: how much is your budget for that particular element of the event, what do you require them to provide, what is the date/time of the event, when do you need their quote by, are there any event location accessibility restrictions.

  • Not sure how much to set aside for each budget item? Ask a colleague for a guide or just be honest with your supplier. Let them know you're new to organising events and are unsure of costs so need a guide from them.

  • Always include a line for 'miscellaneous' costs, about 5% of the total budget. Things always pop up you haven't planned for so you'll be grateful to have some money set aside to cover those costs. If that doesn't happen, you've delivered an event under budget and your manager/client will be very happy!

  • Location/venue costs can increase dramatically on Friday and Saturday nights. There's two main reasons for this. The first is that they're the most in demand times of the week to host an event, so they're more competitively priced. The second is that restaurants and bars are generally very busy, irrespective of event bookings, on Friday and Saturday nights. So, if you want to book a whole restaurant out on a Friday night, consider the fact they'll be turning away a lot of customers that normally would have dined. Therefore, they need to cover those lost costs to make it worth their while, financially.

  • Suppliers generally need to be paid upfront or at the very least, receive a deposit in advance of the event. So, make sure your manager/client/accounts team are aware as you'll find suppliers won't deliver items if they're not paid.

  • Double check your budget and ensure if you're using autosum in Excel, it's picking up every cell. You may have inserted an extra line and the formula hasn't picked it up so just double check every cell has been accounted for in the total sum.

Feel on top of event budgets but need to get your head around event invitations? Take a look at this episode which provides insight on the different types of invitations you could create for your next event, and how to execute them.


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