How to Manage an Event Budget

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Planners have a lot to juggle when it comes to planning, organizing, and producing an event. This includes handling and managing vendors, timelines, bosses, caterers, production teams, and last but not least, the all-important BUDGET.

You have to create one, then estimate your costs, and gasp — stay within the numbers. It might seem intimidating at first, but with a little practice, it’s actually pretty easy. After all, event planners are the kings and queens of negotiation. So managing a budget should be a piece of cake.

Creating a Budget

These tips will help give you the confidence you need to create an organized and focused budget.

1. Use Excel
Excel is hands down better than any other program. Calculating complex numbers and staying organized has never been so easy.

2. Include Every Detail
Add line items for anything that might cost money — no matter how big or small.

3. Estimate vs. Actual
Create “estimate” and “actual” columns, and fill in the actual numbers as you go. The estimated column will be a reference for you as you try to stay within your limits.

4. Inflate Line Items
Pad each and every estimated cost. It’ll help avoid surprise costs like taxes, rush fees, and unexpected increases.

5. Always a Misc. Line
In addition to padding estimates, add a Misc. line…and pad that. This always comes in handy for emergencies and day-of event costs.

Typical Line Items

Even though each event is different, there are typical costs associated with the simplest or most lavish events. Try to envision costs that will be incurred from the start of planning to the end of an event. We’ve listed a few line items, as well as questions to ask, to assist in determining your estimates.

1. Food and Beverage
Is there a required minimum to pay based on number of guests?
Will alcohol be served?
How much staff do you need to pay?
Will you be providing the staff with uniforms?

2. Entertainment
Do you need to hire a band or DJ?
How long will they be performing?
Do you need to hire an A/V team?

3. Travel
Will you be providing airfare, bus, or hotel accommodations for guests or team members?

4. Production
Will you need to hire a team to build displays, stages, or step and repeats?
Does the event require a photographer or videographer?
Is there a fee associated with owning the footage or imagery after the event?

5. Venue
Do you need to rent an entire restaurant or hotel ballroom?
Does the venue charge insurance?
Do you need to hire security through the venue?

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