When tasked with planning an event, your budget is the most important thing you have to consider. You’re never going to have an unlimited budget, so you have to be smart about selecting vendors and supplies, and cutting out unnecessary costs in order to make the most of your financial resources.
Listed below are ten ways to maximize every dollar of your budget while still putting on an amazing event.
1. Look for package deals.
Your natural instinct when trying to save money may be to get separate bids for each expense associated with the event. Instead, you should ask each prospective vendor if they provide additional services and if you’ll get a discount for hiring them for multiple services or purchasing more supplies. For example, if a caterer will also throw in tables and chairs for less than you can get them for separately, that’s a good opportunity to save some money.
2. Get three quotes for every service and all supplies.
Securing affordable vendors may provide the biggest source of savings. The best way to ensure you’re getting a good price is to vet at least three vendors for each service you’re seeking or supplies you’re planning to purchase. That means gathering quotes from three caterers, three photographers, three equipment suppliers, three entertainers and any other vendor you talk to. Just be sure you’re reaching out to quality vendors; one bad vendor can ruin an event.
3. Limit how far you need to travel.
Cutting out travel expenses is an easy way to lower the cost of an event. Driving is almost always cheaper than flying, so if it’s possible to hold the event within driving distance, avoid expensive air fares and take cars. In the case of work conferences, everyone will likely spend most of their time in hotel conference rooms, so the surrounding locale does not need to a remote, exotic place. For non-work-related events, such as weddings, think about everything that has to be transported to the event location; it is much cheaper to transport items by car. Also, everyone hoping to attend the event will thank you for having it nearby.
4. Consider booking your event during an off season.
There are typically peak seasons when everything cost more for events due to higher demand. But you can save some money by holding your event during a less-demanding time of the year. For weddings, you may get discounts from vendors if you set the date for January or February since those months are the least popular times for people to get married. But be cautious, because there are good reasons some events are not held at certain times of the year. For example, scheduling a business conference during the last couple weeks of summer is likely not the best time because many potential attendees may be on vacation.
5. Don’t spend money on unnecessary extras.
You probably have been to an event where the organizers put together a bag of goodies for each attendee to take home with them. This can be a good idea to keep the message and memory of your event alive after attendees leave, but lots of people may not use what’s in their gift bag or end up throwing it away. You’re better off cutting out the gift bags altogether if it frees up funds for more food, furniture or better entertainment. For business events where one of the goals is to bring in new clients, opt for an inexpensive and informative printed leave behind over promotional merchandise.
6. Use the Internet to reduce printing costs.
One of the best ways to cut down on costs is to use the Internet to promote the event and invite people to it. In addition to email and social media, there are several online platforms made specifically for sending electronic invites, such as Evite, Paperless Post and Punchbowl. Most of these platforms also allow you to import contacts, and track RSVPs, which will free up time for you to focus on other aspects of planning the event.
7. Consider all your catering options.
Catering is another area where you can save a lot of money, and there are a few way to do it. The first one is to purchase food and alcohol from the same vendor; you may get a discount for doing so. At The Shapiro Ballroom, we allow outside alcohol to be brought in, but not all venues allow that. It may also be cheaper to do a buffet-style meal than having a sit-down meal, which requires additional servers. Buffets also gives guests the freedom to eat as much as they want throughout the event.
8. Negotiate with vendors as much as possible.
If you’re getting great deals and coming in under budget for every line item, it doesn’t hurt to try and get even better deals. If you’re going with the most affordable vendors, they may still have some room to negotiate. Cutting costs on some items may also make room for something else. For example, if you get a good enough deal on food, you may be able to afford a band instead of a DJ, or offer top-shelf liquors instead of well drinks at the bar.
9. Keep track of all expenses.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s extremely important. It’s hard to know how much money you’re saving if you don’t keep track of what you’re spending. Be sure all vendors charge only what was signed for, and refute any costs for items you did not agree to. It’s also good to set a little money aside in case any unexpected expenses come up.
10. Be resourceful, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Do you know someone who DJs on the side, or someone who has catering experience? Do you have experience with one of the services you know will be needed at your event? Are there fairly simple jobs, such as handing out programs or materials, that you could assign to a friend or family member at no cost? These are questions you should ask yourself when you start planning your event. You can significantly reduce the cost of your event by coming up with free ways to accomplish tasks or fulfill services.
Many of the tips on this list can be used to plan any kind of event, including weddings, holiday parties, business conferences and family gatherings. Using these tips will help you to get the most out of your budget without sacrificing quality services and supplies, allowing you to organize a memorable event that all guests will enjoy.