The first step in event planning is coming up with a budget. There are several ways to approach and create a budget, but a budget must be created. This sets the tone for your event, can help keep stress levels down, and will help decide which vendors and features you can plug into your event. Below are a few things to keep in mind when creating your budget:
1. How much money do you have to spend on this event? This may change as things progress, but if you know you can't spend a penny more than $20,000, you need to know that up front. If you don't know the answer, this can be revisited later.
2. Is your event dependent on ticket sales or sponsorships (or another source of revenue)? If so, you should assume expenses high and revenues low.
3. Do you have to use a specific venue based on the type of event, date or season? If the answer is yes, does that venue have an in-house provider for food and beverage? If they do, this is the first item on your budget, as it will be less flexible than other areas.
4. Needs versus wants. There are things you will need in order to produce your event, then there are things that you want to have but aren't crucial to the event logistics. Make a list of these needs and wants, budget the needs first, and then revisit the wants once you see where things land.
5. Miscellaneous. You should always have an "uh-oh" line item. Depending on the event, this line item is anywhere from $1500-$5000. A last minute insurance rider you need, a replacement vendor, an extra ad, more staff because ticket sales are high, whatever the reason - it's better to have this worked into your budget beforehand.
6. What do you care most about? Once you've worked through the items above, go through and think about what you care about most. Are you a big flower person? Love to dance? Is this a corporate event and you need your brand to be BIG? These things matter, so if something is more important to you, give that area some more attention in the budget.
7. Be flexible. Your budget helps you stay on track in regards to what you can spend. Have an "actual" versus "projected" category and know that things may come in higher or lower than expected. Event planning is a process, you don't book everything at once. Keep this in mind, and know that you may have to adjust some things later if/when something comes in higher or lower than expected.