Sticking to a budget is easier said that done. But what actually makes up a budget? Continue reading for insight on the budget breakdown.

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Event Planning Course Sample: The Budget Breakdown

As an event planner, there’s an expectation that you can work with any client’s budget. This means that regardless of the amount they are willing to spend, you are able to bring their vision to life. This can be one of the most challenging parts of event planning – especially when budgets are low and expectations are high.

Event planning courses teach you how to work with budgets effectively. This includes sourcing affordable options, prioritizing event components, and allocating sums of the budget to different areas.

Continue reading for a sample of the budget breakdown lesson in QC’s Event Planning Course!

woman making a budget on her mobile device

Setting the budget

Most of your clients won’t have bottomless budgets. Sometimes they will know how much they want to spend, but others may need guidance on setting a budget.

Have these conversations early on in the business relationship. Otherwise you risk upsetting the client.

Staying current with industry costs is one of the best things you can do for you career and clients. This knowledge will allow you to give realistic quotes and guidance on setting budgets. Never be afraid to ask for some time to get the budget together. It shouldn’t be a quick decision.

If your clients have set a budget for their event but their expectations aren’t in line with current costs, you have a challenge on your hands. Dealing with this in the budgeting phase is key. At this point you can inform them of what their dream event would actually cost. And hopefully, you can suggest either a larger budget or eliminating some elements.

bride and mother

Dealing with clients and payers

Your client and the event payer are not always the same person. Oftentimes, funding will come from more than one person. The client will likely be more detail and vision oriented than the payer. The payers are always more concerned about sticking to the budget!

The more people involved the trickier planning an event becomes. But don’t worry – there are ways to make it work! The important thing to remember is to keep everyone in the loop, and always have a main contact. Usually it’s easy to find a volunteer. After all, event planning is a lot of fun!
Once you figure out your main contact, summarize the expectations with everyone involved. It’s much easier to do this when you all meet together. You can also send summary emails about decisions that have been made so no one is in the dark.

business woman thinking


Like we said earlier, event budgets may not be as large as planners would like. Not to mention that multiple funders means multiple sets of expectations! These differences require some prioritizing.

A great place to start is by listing all the elements that the client wants included in the event. You can categorize these elements by priority level, such as “necessary” or “nice to have.” Having this list will be a great reference point as you move forward.

Some of the most major budget busters for events are photography, a bar and the venue. These costs can quickly add up and will eat up a large part of the budget. This is where you, as the event planner, can get creative! Consider social media walls and invite participants to share their mobile snaps instantly. Or how about handing around a few instant Polaroid cameras?

As far as the open bar goes, speak with your clients about drink ticket options to keep costs low. Or have table wine or punch! When sourcing a venue, remember that even simple spaces can become beautiful. Go over these costs with your client to show them how much they can save if they opt for slightly less splurge-worthy choices.

office and paper work at desk

Raising additional funds

Not every client likes the idea of prioritizing and cost-cutting. Be prepared for this! Know that you may have to source additional funds to bring the event to life. As an event planner, this is a major opportunity to show off your value and creativity!

This funding can really come from anywhere. You can source funds internally through the event and its participants. Common ways to do this are by selling tickets, asking participants to fundraise, auctions, and pay-to-participate activities. While it is hard to know whether or not these funds will cover all that they need to, it will definitely offset some of the total cost.

Externally sourced sponsors are also an option. Featuring advertisements in event materials is a great way to raise funds. The most important thing to remember is to be creative and always keep an eye out for potential funding lead. We promise your clients will thank you!

butler with appetizers at event

Cost factors

Discuss cost factors with your client in the beginning of the planning stage. This way, your client will be aware of how much specific elements cost, and prioritize accordingly. The more informed your client is, the easier they will be to work with.

The number of guests invited to any event directly influences the cost. Regardless of whether you are catering a full meal to every person, you will still need a large enough space to accommodate them. This can quickly become expensive.

Food and drink costs are usually priced on a per person basis. So, this ties into your guest list count. The less you can spend on these areas, the more of your budget you can save. Consider whether a fully catered meal is necessary or whether a buffet or spread will suffice.

And don’t forget all the staff required to serve food and drink. Costs can quickly add up, so be weary.

Decor is also an important cost factor to consider. The easiest way to handle decorating a space is to hire professionals, but this can be expensive. Consider sourcing decorations yourself or even become a certified event decorator. Wherever you can save your client’s budget is an added bonus.

Entertainment is one of the best ways to encourage event attendance. Hiring professionals isn’t free. You may be shocked at the cost of a DJ or lighting alone! This is where your priorities list can come in handy. Work together and utilize both of your connections to source creative alternatives. You’ll be surprised by how many people are willing to help out!

female photographer

Planning an event budget is no small task. You need to be prepared to get creative and work hard to find solutions. This may not be the part of event planning you enjoy most, but it is important nevertheless. Your clients may adore your work during the event, but if it came at a cost of $7000 extra, those feelings will quickly disappear.Tread carefully, and remember to communicate, communicate, communicate!

Do you like what you’ve learned so far? Check out QC’s Event Planning Course to fully prepare yourself for your dream career!

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