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Event Planning Course Sample: The Budget Breakdown

Clients expect the event planner they hire to be able to work with any event budget—big or small. But when expectations are high and budgets are low, not all event planners are prepared for the challenge.

Those who don’t have any formal event planning training will struggle the most. After all, planning a children’s birthday party is very different from planning a wedding. Not to mention how everything turns upside down once you enter the public events sphere.

Event planning courses teach you how to make the most out of any budget. You’ll learn how to prioritize event components, source affordable vendor options, and track spend. Continue reading for a sample of the budget breakdown lesson in QC’s Event Planning Course!

woman making a budget on her mobile device

Setting the event budget

Most of your clients won’t have bottomless budgets. What you won’t expect are clients who have no idea how much they should spend. It makes sense, though. If you were a client who’s throwing a large bash for the first time, how could you know how much everything’s supposed to cost? In these cases, your clients will need your professional guidance on setting a realistic budget.

Staying current with industry costs is one of the best things you can do for your event planning career and clients. Potential clients rely on you to provide accurate price estimates that are close to the final spend amount. You don’t want to underestimate costs and upset your clients down the road. During the client consultation, you’ll gain a good idea of the type of event they want. Take this information and research vendors and services that meet their needs. Never be afraid to ask for time to get the budget together—they’ll thank you later!

If your clients have set a budget for their event but their expectations aren’t in line with current industry costs, you’ll have a challenge on your hands. During the follow up meeting, inform them of what their dream event would actually cost. Having real cost estimates is critical at this point—they’ll be able to see just how quickly the budget is divided. And hopefully, you can suggest a more realistic budget or provide ideas on how to cut costs.

bride and mother

Dealing with clients and payers

Your client and the event’s payer are not always the same person. Oftentimes, funding will come from more than one person. The client will likely be more detail and vision-oriented than the payer. The payers are always more concerned about sticking to the budget!

The more people involved, the trickier the event budgeting and planning process becomes. But don’t worry, there are ways to make it work! Always establish a main contact—they’re usually quick to volunteer! Make sure everyone else involved supports this person to be the main person you consult with. Then, summarize expectations with everyone involved. The last thing you want is to have the client approve spending decisions the payer has no clue about. Have in-person meetings to iron out the main decisions and then follow up with summary emails about any smaller decisions so everyone’s in the loop.

Cost factors

Discuss cost factors with your client in the beginning of the planning stage. This way, your client will be aware of how much specific elements cost, and prioritize accordingly. The more informed your client is, the easier they will be to work with.

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The number of guests invited to any event directly influences the cost. Regardless of whether you are catering a full meal to every person, you will still need a large amount of space as well as number of serving staff to accommodate them. This can quickly become expensive.

Food and drink costs are usually priced on a per person basis. So, this ties into your guest list count. The less you can spend on these areas, the more of your budget you can save. Consider whether a fully catered meal is necessary or whether a buffet or spread will suffice.

Event decor is also an important cost factor to consider. The easiest way to handle decorating a space is to hire professionals, but this can be expensive. Consider sourcing decorations yourself or even become a certified event decorator. Wherever you can save on your client’s budget is an added bonus.

Entertainment is one of the best ways to encourage event attendance. Unfortunately, hiring professional musicians, entertainers, and audio-visual professionals isn’t free. This is where your priorities list can come in handy. Work closely with your client as well as your vendor connections to source creative alternatives. You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to help out!

Prioritizing primary and secondary event components

Like we said earlier, event budgets may not be as large as planners would like. And if you’re throwing a charity gala with multiple stakeholders and funders, you’ll also have multiple sets of expectations! These differences require some prioritizing.

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A great place to start is by listing all the elements that the client wants included in the event. Categorize these elements by priority level, such as “necessary” or “nice to have.” Having this list will be a great reference point as you move forward.

Some of the biggest budget busters for events are photography, open bars, and venue hire. These costs can quickly add up and will eat a large part of the budget. This is where you, the event planner, can get creative!

For photography, your clients may encourage attendees to take photos using their own devices. Providing cheap photobooth props is just the tip of the iceberg. How about integrating the newest tech in the events industry? From custom Twitter hashtags to Snapchat geo filters, you’ll create an online space that promotes people to take candid photos for free!

As far as the open bar goes, speak to your clients about drink ticket options to keep costs low. Another option would be to just provide a single bottle of table wine for free, with additional drinks for purchase at a cash bar.

Finally, when sourcing a venue, remember that even simple spaces can become beautiful. Go over these costs with your client to show them how much they can save if they opt for slightly less splurge-worthy choices.


Raising additional funds

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Not every client likes the idea of prioritizing and cost-cutting. Be prepared for this! Know that you may have to source additional funds to bring the event to life. As an event planner, this is a major opportunity to show off your value and creativity!

Funding can come from anywhere. You can source funds internally through the event and its participants. Common ways to do this are by selling tickets, asking participants to fundraise, auctions, and pay-to-participate activities. Externally sourced sponsors are also an option, depending on the event. It difficult to foresee whether the funds raised would be worth the effort, but any new source of funds will definitely offset some of the total cost.

The most important thing to remember is to be creative and always keep an eye out for potential funding leads. We promise your clients will thank you!

Planning an event budget is no small task. You’ll need to be prepared to get creative and work hard to find solutions. This may not be the most exciting part of event planning, but it is important nevertheless. Your clients may adore your work during the event, but if it costs them an additional $7000, those feelings will quickly disappear. Tread carefully, and remember to communicate, communicate, communicate!

Do you like what you’ve learned so far? Check out QC’s Event Planning Course to fully prepare yourself for your dream career!


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