In the world of Pinterest and D.I.Y blogs, tips, tricks and how-tos exist for just about everything, and organizing an event is no exception. It seems that there is a mountain of information to wade through, and there are probably a ton of questions swirling through your mind: do you hand-make those invitations your friend linked on her Facebook page or do you go to the local dollar store and just use those? Should you order a cake from a local bakery or chose to go out and get the ingredients for one of your own?
There are a lot of things that go into throwing a successful event, but the two factors that should be at the top of your mind are the venue and the budget. Follow these simple guidelines to make sure you’re doing everything in your power to save your hard earned dough while not cutting back on quality, appearance, or venue.
Why A Budget Is So Important
Before you do anything else, you need to decide on a budget for your event. It might be tempting to dive right into menu planning or digging online for fabulous decorations, but if you start getting your heart set on specifics before you know how much you have to spend, things can get out of hand very quickly. If you already know how much you have to spend, great! If not, think about how much you are willing to invest, and what is realistic.
Once you’ve determined a budget, it’s of the utmost importance to stick to it. Anyone who’s organized an event knows that the days, and especially hours, leading up to it can get crazy, and that something always goes wrong and needs to be handled. This will happen no matter what you do, but making and sticking to a budget will definitely ease the chaos. If you’re having trouble sticking to your budget, consider looking for similar offerings online to compare prices, or start saving coupons for the big event. The last thing you want is to find out at the last minute that you can’t afford to feed everyone, or that you don’t have enough money to transport important elements of your party.
Starting with a good budget is the very first key to ensuring that your event doesn’t suffer, and that is successful from start to finish. Now that you know why budget is so important, here are some great tips on how to handle said budget effectively.
Once you’ve got your budget set, you’ll need to itemize it. In order to do that, you need to come up with a list of everything that your event will require. Keep in mind that this list shouldn’t just contain things, but also services, that will be needed to pull everything off. Each event is unique, but here’s a pretty thorough checklist of possible items you’ll need to add to your budget list.
Once you know what you’ll need, you can start allotting portions of your budget to each item on the list. There are a lot of ways to do this, but creating and maintaining an event budget spreadsheet is the best way. Keep in mind that as you actually get into planning the event and booking and buying, things will change, so be reasonable yet flexible on each item. Catering may cost more than you initially intended, so maybe you’ll have to take a bit off the decor or alcohol budget. It’s also a good idea to keep 7-8% of your budget up in the air for unknowns or last minute issues.
Why The Venue Is So Important
The second most important part of organizing an event is setting the proper venue. I think it’s safe to say that you really can’t really go much farther without this step, and knowing when and where you’ll be will make it much easier to plan the party.
In fact, if you don’t get your venue lined up before you begin planning, you can run into a whole host of problems. For instance, not every venue allows alcohol, or candles with flames, or loud music, or live animals, or any number of things you may want to have at your party. If you invest money in something only to find out down the road that it’s not allowed at your venue, you’ve just wasted a bunch of money.
On top of that, finding a venue at the last minute can be tricky. It’s often more expensive because there’s less availability, and you may be forced to have an event you planned to be indoors in an outdoor venue, or maybe you won’t be able to find one that’s big enough or that has the stage you need.
The best way to avoid all of these problems is to get your venue hashed out after your budget is set, but before you start any other aspects of your planning. Now that you know why finding a venue is so important to throwing a successful event, here are a few tips on finding the perfect venue for your budget.
The first thing to consider when searching for a venue is size. How much room will you need? Well, that depends on how many people you plan on being in attendance. The last thing you want is to have everyone be crowded and crammed, or to waste money on a larger venue than you needed. Here are some great guidelines for estimating venue size for your event:
- Cocktail party: 8 sq ft/person
- Round tables: 14 sq ft/person
- Classroom: 24 sq ft/person
- Theater: 14 sq ft/person
If saving money is what you are after you might have to compromise on the time and place. Many venues rent out their locations at a cheaper or reduced rate on non-traditional days and times of the year. Consider suggesting to move that Saturday afternoon party to a Thursday evening to cut back on some cost. Many venues charge up to 50% more on Saturdays or during their busy season. Maybe that July wedding isn’t feasible but one in November or December is; just like days of the week, months fluctuate in cost as well.
If you don’t want to fudge on the date, start to think outside of the box. A number of different venues exist that you might not have thought of immediately. Inquire with a local art gallery, contact a Bed n’ Breakfast or even look into your local parks and recreations department’s guidelines on public park usage. Many “non-traditional” venues could potentially offer you a better rate than those that are more commonly sought after for the event that you have in mind.
I hope your event planning goes as smoothly and effortlessly as possible, and I hope these tips on budgeting and venue are a great help.