How to plan an event budget

Creating a budget for any event is extremely important. Being in control of the finances throughout the organising process means you’ll get everything you want while minimising the chances of sleepless nights over unexpected costs. Whether you’ve been running the same event for years or are hosting a function for the first time, read on to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep on top of your budget.

First things first

Whatever budget you’ve been given for your event, deduct 10% and hold that amount of money back for any surprise costs or special touches you decide on last minute. Even the most experienced organisers can fall victim to an unexpected expense, especially when dealing with a new venue or supplier.

Begin your list

Sit down with your team and list every single possible cost you might incur. Don’t hold back even if you’re 99% sure it comes included (cutlery, table linen, furniture hire etc.) or if you think you can’t afford it (live music, Champagne reception, goodie bags etc.).

The venue

This will probably be your largest, single expense. With all venues you speak to or visit, take along your list of costs and negotiate what you might be able to get included with your room hire fee. The staff at any venue will have run dozens of events like yours and should be more than happy to help you with your financial planning.


Your venue will be able to put you in touch with a lists of trusted suppliers, but don’t be afraid to find new ones by doing your own research. As well as getting quotes from several companies, make sure you speak to other organisers who’ve used them before to ensure you’re going to get the level of service and quality of product you’re after.

Thinking long-term

When you’re looking at costs, consider buying rather than hiring. Graphics, furniture, AV equipment… there are lots of ways an investment now will save money in the future. If whoever holds the purse-strings in your office agrees to this, you might see an increase your budget allowing you to splash out.

Have you included?

Every event is unique, but we’ve pulled together a list of possible expenses as a starting point for your budget spreadsheet.
Venue (room hire), cutlery, furniture, table linen, catering (food and drink), flowers, DJ, live music, entertainment, invitations, registration, badges, waiting staff, insurance, transport, parking, accommodation, graphics, AV equipment, AV support, speakers, outdoor tents, theming, set up and break down costs, marketing fees, WiFi charges and deposits.


Even if everything’s coming in on budget, always negotiate the first price you’ve been quoted. You might not get a discount, but it’s always worth asking as every penny you save can be put towards something you thought you couldn’t afford. It’s the little things that make an event memorable and with a few savings along the way you’ll be able to deliver just this.

Pay your bills

As well as being on top of your costs, you also need to be on top of your invoices. Create a timeline of when you need to pay for things as you might incur a penalty for late payment which will impact on your budget.

Ask for help

If you don’t have time to manage the budget yourself, or even organise the event, speak to your venue about the help they can offer you.

W12 Conferences offers a complete planning and budgeting service for any clients, and you can pick and choose which bits you go for. Give Tony Steedman, our Conference Manager, a call on + 44 (0) 20 3313 1606 to discuss W12 Conferences’ Event Management service.