Event planning: how to plan a budget for your event

As an event planner, seasoned or beginner, there are a few crucial steps you need to consider while planning and delivering your event. Most of this revolves around your event budget and your ability to manage it. You need to be able to deliver an event, not just on time, but also on budget.  In this article, we look at the elements that may impact whether you can stick to your event budget.

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Event focus

The focus and goal of your event are really the most important thing you need to decide before you even consider a budget. Without knowing who your event is targeted at, how many people you want to attend, and the outcome you want, it is difficult to plan. Consider:

1. Is this a small intimate event such as a networking event or something larger like an Expo with multiple vendors and speakers?
2. Is it a free or paid-for event?
3. Is it a local or national event?
4. Is this an exposure event or a profit-making event?
5. How many people do you want to attend?
6. Is it a few hours, a single day or a multi-day event?
7. Do you already have people to invite, or do you need to market to attract attendees?
8. What kind of refreshments are you providing? Do you need to arrange caterers?
9. Will this event be run online as well as the physical event?
10. Have you already been given a budget that you need to work within?

As you can see, these are just a few questions you should be asking.  Hiring a room in a hotel needs a very different budget and planning to, say, hiring Wembley stadium. You need to do this first before you ever consider building or opening your event budget template.

Event budget

Once you have decided on the focus for your event, you can start thinking about a budget. While a budget is not set in stone, it needs to be accurate enough that you can get an understanding of what it will cost and what you need for it to deliver. 

At this point you can start getting ideas for venue quotes, the cost for speakers, marketing spend for the event, and other items you will need to run an event.  Here are a few ideas for what you need to consider. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.

1. Venue
2. Speakers / Host costs
3. Staffing – Paid or Volunteer
4. Equipment – AV Equipment
5. Food and Beverages
6. Event Marketing
7. Furniture – for stands, stage chairs or breakout areas … and much more.

The spreadsheet – your event budget template

How you collate and manage all of this comes down to a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet or event budget template can help you list all the costs you need. It can allow you to add a budget for each line item you consider you will need to run the event. 

Once you have your spreadsheet it will be easier to see what elements you have missed – or you can readily share it with colleagues to look at and add their own items if required. Remember your budgeted costs are not your actual costs, but good planning at this stage can mean these two numbers are close to each other! 

You can add a suggested budget per item and that will give you an overall budget required.  It would also be prudent to overestimate rather than underestimate those costs. Experienced event planners would also add a percentage of the overall budget as a contingency fund on top.


Budgeting for an event is something you need to work on before you start to book anything. The success of your event can come down to how well you manage and update your budget spreadsheet. Finally, having a detailed event plan with a well-defined budget that covers as much as possible – as well as a clear set of objectives of what you want from your event – will help you deliver an event that is a success and works for everyone involved.

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