Creating a budget is one of the first tasks to complete when planning any kind of event, mainly because it will drive just about every other decision (venue choice / location, catering, programming, decor, etc.). This is what makes creating an accurate budget so critical to the success of each of your events.
After quizzing hundreds of our wedding and event planner customer, here are the top 5 best practices they follow.
1. First have the client sign off on an overall budget number as well as deliverables
This is where the talent of “budget ballparking” comes into play. Your client probably already has a number in mind, but that number may not mesh with all the deliverables and services they may want for their event.
So you should sit down and go through each of their needs so you can come up with an outline of deliverables and services that will be required to achieve their event goals. Once this is done, you can use your past knowledge of similar events to give them an idea of what all those deliverables will cost.
Once you have settled on deliverables and an overall budget, have the client sign off on it.
2. Account for budget overages (and, if applicable, revenue shortages)
Most events go over budget in some areas, so you should build into each event budget a 10% to 15% cushion to account for these unknowns.
Also, if you are planning an event that is intended to generate revenues, it’s best to conservatively estimate your revenues at 50% to 60% of maximum revenues/attendance.
3. Estimate a maximum and minimum of attendance
You will need to provide counts to many vendors, so you will need to determine the maximum number of attendees or guests. In addition, if you are planning a for-profit event, you will also want to determine the minimum number of attendees that is your profitability cutoff point.
Coming up with these counts will help you estimate fixed and variable costs for the separate budget line items.
4. Identify reliable, trusted vendors
Work with vendors whom you trust and who you know will look out for your clients’ best interests. This includes those vendors that will:
Meet all deadlines; deliver products/services on time and as described; and stay within all predetermined budgets.
Offer value-adds and discounts as well as help you identify ways in which you can get more bang for your buck.
5. Get up-to-date quotes from vendors
Costs can change quickly for some services and items (like for food catering, to name an example), so don’t rely on old numbers but instead send a list of specific expectations/deliverables to each vendor so you can get a new, current estimate.
Once you receive each estimate, double-check it to make sure all requested requirements/deliverables are included as well as to familiarize yourself with any deadlines, late charges and cancellation fees.
Best luck planning your next budget and event!
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