Are you planning an event? Whether your budget is big or small, costs can add up fast so it’s important to start with a plan and stick to it. Here are some tips to help you stick to your budget and pull off a great event:

1) How much can you afford? Identifying a budget is the first step to planning a successful event. Being realistic about how much money you have to spend from the beginning will help keep you grounded and your spending in check. If you can, set aside a small percentage of your budget as a buffer for any unexpected expenses that may arise.

2) Research and plan it out. What type of event are you planning?  Date, location, and the scale of your event are all things that can affect cost. If your budget is minimal, consider booking a venue during its off-season, not peak, times. If you have a longer lead, start researching and book early to get the best deals.

3) Prioritize. Identify the necessities. These can be things such as venue, food, and seating for your guests.  At a minimum, you’re likely to need these things, so consider those your non-negotiables. Then, think of those things that would be nice to have but aren’t necessary. For example, hiring a DJ instead of a band can provide big cost savings. Finally, what’s on your wish list? What would be a dream to have, but that you can live without? Is it a red carpet, videographer, or valet? Save those things for last and splurge only if you still have money after you’ve addressed your necessities.

4) Obtain multiple quotes. Perhaps one of the most important tips I can give you is to obtain multiple quotes from several vendors before booking anything. In addition, check out references, Yelp reviews, sales, etc. You can save yourself a lot of money (and headaches) just by doing your due diligence.

5) Keep track of your spending. Track, track, track! I can’t say this enough. Start a spreadsheet and track your spending, no matter how minimal the item. Small things add up quickly and can heavily impact your budget if you’re not careful.

6) Promote your event. There are many ways to promote your event. If you have the budget to hire a consultant, professional services such as paid social media and media relations tactics can greatly boost awareness and attendance for your event.  If your budget is on the smaller side and you’re unable to outsource promotion, regular social media posts or listing your event on community calendars can help, too.

For those of you that do have sufficient budget but just don’t have the time and energy to plan an event, or if other factors prevent you from executing your vision, I highly recommend hiring a consultant to plan and execute it all for you. Relying on them for their contacts, resources and experience could end up saving money in the long run. By keeping these simple tips in mind, planning an event on a budget should be less stressful. Good luck!