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  • Writer's pictureBryce Barker

Essential budgeting tips for every event planner

Developing a thorough event budget is essential for maximizing the success of any event. It acts as a financial guide, offering a detailed overview of all expenses and revenue related to the event. Putting the budget together is a meticulous task, but with a detailed event budget, organizers can maintain financial oversight and attain optimal returns on their investments. Here are a few tips to help when it comes to the budgeting process.

  1. Identify your event goals  Before diving into the budget, it’s important to take some time to define your event goals and envision what you want your event to be. What are you aiming to achieve? Your event goals should directly influence your budgeting with spending priorities aligned to support these objectives.

  2. Learn from event history Reviewing past events can offer valuable insights and data for formulating your budget. Analyze past events to see in what areas you may have come out under budget or over budget and make notes so you can adjust your budget accordingly. Your previous budget also gives you a good starting point for what items should be considered.

  3. Break down the costs In every event, there are certain expenses that must be included in your budget. These could include items such as venue rental, food and beverage, audio visual, accommodations, speaker fees, staff and security. Establishing a preliminary figure for your “must-haves” will help identify an initial estimate that you can refine as you gather more specific details about your expenses. I also like to include a list of “wishes” indicating items that would be nice to have but are not 100% necessary; if you have money leftover, you can circle back to these items to see what can be added. At the end of the day, you should be investing in aspects of the event that will maximize your key performance indicators (KPI) and, consequently, your return on investment (ROI).

  4. Seek multiple vendor quotes Once you have a budget outlined, the research to secure your vendors begins. Make sure the vendor understands your needs as well as your budget. Obtain quotes from multiple vendors and do not settle on the first quote you receive! Getting multiple quotes is invaluable for understanding the market rate and gaining leverage for negotiation.

  5. Make sure revenue and expenses balance Your event’s success is measured not just by attendee experience but also by its profitability. Detail your revenue sources, whether through ticket sales, sponsorships or merchandising, and weigh them against your expenses to achieve an ideal balance.

  6. Prepare for the unforeseen Always add a contingency for incidentals and emergencies. Events are complex and unpredictable, and unexpected costs arise even with the most thorough planning. A good rule of thumb is to add an extra 15-30% of your total budget to a rainy-day fund.

  7. Keep your budget dynamic Your budget document should be practical and adaptive. Incorporate aspects such as payment deadlines, actual costs and notes about dependencies between costs. Think of your budget as a living document that matures and evolves alongside your planning.


Events create experiences that can propel brands, foster connections and ignite innovations. These experiences depend on the seamless execution of numerous details with budgeting at the core. Event budgeting does not need to be a dread-inducing task. By adopting these tips, planners can achieve both fiscal control and creative freedom. Whether you are orchestrating a corporate function, an educational seminar or a vibrant community gathering, a well-structured, forward-thinking budget is the blueprint from which event excellence is constructed. Need help developing your budget? AOE is here to help!


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