How to budget an event

Budgeting an event is one of the most important aspects in the planning process. In fact, knowing how much you can spend is the key when it comes to picking out what you want your guests to eat, how you want them to be entertained, and where you want to host your event.

There are basically three things that you can potentially plan to spend a good chunk of money on when you're hosting an event: the venue, the food, and the entertainment. The good news is that you will generally have some wiggle room in all three areas.

If you know the location that you want to have your event at and you're not interested in having it anywhere else then you'll need to figure out the price of having it there before you do anything else. You might be able to get it cheaper by booking it in the off-season or on a Thursday night instead of a Friday or Saturday night but if it's a popular venue then you'll probably be stuck with the standard price. Of course, if you're having it in your house then it will be free!

Next, you should think about entertainment. Live bands can sometimes be cheaper than a popular DJ, but it helps to call around and compare prices. If you're having a big event then you'll want a professional providing the entertainment-don't think you can do it all on your own.

The last thing you really want to consider is food. An event on a budget can normally get by with finger foods instead of a sit-down dinner. Decide whether you want to have the food catered by a source that you can pick the food up from (like a local restaurant) or by a catering company that comes in and sets up for you. An open bar with a bartender is going to cost you a lot more than a bar than a cash bar. Of course, if your guests bring their own then you won't have to worry about alcohol at all!

Some foods are cheaper than others as well. For instance, chicken is going to be cheaper than steak, community drinks (like punch) will be cheaper than individual sodas, and a cake is going to be cheaper than delicate pastries that take a lot of time to make.

If you think you'll have any money left over then you can think about decorations. Keep in mind, however, that many venues offer tables, tablecloths, and basic decorations as part of their price. In addition, most catering companies will provide cutlery and even some centerpieces. It's important to ask when you are negotiating the price.

When you're planning your budget for your event, don't forget to leave some extra cash set aside for tipping. This is particularly important as far as the caterers go since most depend on tips for good service, just as servers do in restaurants.

You always want to over-budget rather than under-budget. Just when you think you've allowed for all the expenses, something else is bound to pop up.