When it comes to creating an event budget, there are many questions that have to be asked, what type of event you are planning, who is setting the budget, will there be sponsors, and whether or not it’s a one-time event or an annual event.

And while all of those questions matter, there are some basic guidelines that apply to almost any event budget. 

Events can be incredibly expensive, especially if it includes food, so one of the most critical parts of event planning is creating a good event budget.

You don’t want to be known as the event that always goes over budget, but you also don’t want to be known as the event that constantly cuts corners to save a penny. 

Reasons not to have a penny-pinching event:

  1. An event that is cheap, feels cheap.
  2. Vendors and venues won’t want to work with you if you are constantly trying to squeeze them.

6 Steps to Create the Perfect Event Budget

It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to create the event budget plus you need to be honest and open to make sure you create one that is realistic, flexible, and all-encompassing. 

1. Create the Budget Early 

Create an event budget early on, if not first. The budget will act as a guideline for every single decision you make, from which venue you book to what level of marketing you can afford.

In order to accomplish this, it’s important to do your research first, either work with a planner to help or start calling a few catering companies, venues, entertainers, etc. for quotes. 

Once you have a better understanding of what things cost, creating an initial event budget is much easier.

And even though creating the budget first might seem unrealistic because, as we all know, events often change and grow as they evolve, that’s okay. The budget can easily change, as long as you start by listing and estimating every single expense you and your team can think of.

2. Include Every Single Expense

From venue rentals to printing, and catering to gratuities, you should absolutely account for every single expense.

In fact, sometimes it’s the little things adding up that can eat the biggest chunk of your budget. So don’t forget taxes!

Not only do you want to make sure you record every single expense, but you also want to make sure that you are tracking each expense as they change. 

Updating the changes as they happen will also help flag areas where you need to cut back, or highlight areas where you might be able to spend a little more to make the event even more memorable.

Making the event something that people remember and talk about for years to come is no easy task. It requires digging deep and figuring out how to make people feel special.

Sometimes finding that “extra touch” won’t happen until the event has evolved, allowing you to have a better understanding of the attendees.

But “that extra touch” won’t be free, which is one of the many reasons padding your budget from the start is imperative. 

3. Pad the Budget

It’s a good idea to pad your event budget with about 10-15% wiggle room.

Creating this extra room will mean that you have a budget range instead of an inflexible budget.

4. Past Events

Making the event feel cheap is an especially undesired outcome if it’s a corporate event that’s run for a few years. 

It will have people wondering if the company is in financial trouble.

This is why it’s critical to look at every single detail of the event from previous years.  A good planner will always ask about the past 2 years of an event to get a better handle on how to help your company. 

But looking at past events will help to create the initial budget, and you can go from there. This is especially helpful if you are using the same venues and vendors.

5. Record Projections vs. Actual 

As discussed, when you’re creating the initial budget, you might not have all the exact numbers, but that’s okay. Adding an educated estimate is better than nothing.

Once you have all the actual numbers, make sure to add them to the spreadsheet so you have an accurate budget, not just for accounting purposes, but as a reference point for future event planning.

This will make post-event settling and evaluation a breeze.

6. Post-event evaluation

After everything is said and done, you want to make sure you stayed within your budget, and that everything and everyone got paid.

This happens after the event is over. The best way to go about doing this is to subtotal the invoices, and document the actual budget. 

The best-case scenario will be that you’re able to highlight and identify savings in the actual budget vs. the projected budget, demonstrating the monetary value you brought to the event.

Because, while people love a feel-good event, they also like knowing they saved money, and that can’t happen without the facts and figures to back you up.

So, as long as you create a budget early on, be realistic, and stay on top of it, creating an event budget can be fairly stress-free.

Need help planning your next event and keeping to your budget?

Our team at Blue Wings Events has years of experience and knowledge in managing budgets so let us help you. Contact us and let’s chat.