How To Budget for an Event – Sample Template Included!

Recently I discussed how making and keeping a budget can help reduce stress when planning an event. It’s so important that it deserves mentioning again. The budget functions as your to-do list and shopping list. Also, keeping a budget helps control the urge to add last-minute “ideas” that usually lead to added stress. Now, how to actually do this. Assuming you’ve chosen your theme (e.g. rustic chic or pink and blue or nautical), follow these 7 basic steps. 
Follow these 7 basic steps to set up and follow an event budget. |

  1. Set a Maximum Spending Limit. Either you can decide on a per person amount or a fixed ceiling regardless of the number of guests attending. Have this number in mind as you work your way through the budget.
  2. Estimate Your Guest Count and Be realistic. This could be based on the max number that can comfortably fit in the venue, the max number of guests if everyone you invite attends, or how many you think you can afford.
  3. Separate expenses into categories. Break them into sections that make sense for you. I prefer grouping expenses that are similar (e.g.all food & beverage and associated costs together, all stationery and printing together, all decor together, etc.).
  4. Brainstorm Your Theme. What do you want to provide based on your theme? What will your decor look like? What food will you offer? Go on Pinterest, Instagram, Google. There is a lot out there for inspiration. You can even jot down some rough costs if you feel like it.
  5. Estimate Your Expenses. Now that you’ve done all this preparation and research, start inputting your estimated expenses. You will quickly see how much (or little) money you actually have. Yes, it might get depressing, but this will help you identify what is a “must-have” versus a “nice-to-have.” Prioritizing how you spend your money will also help you make decisions down the road. You can decide to invite fewer guests or —–
  6. Revisit Your Budget OFTEN. Whenever you think of something you want to incorporate, make sure you include it in your budget. Whenever you receive a quote from a vendor or you start checking out Etsy or Oriental Trading or the Party Store, update your estimated costs if you think they’re going to increase (or decrease, Yay!).  The more you use it and the more specifics you add, the more it will help you.
  7. Track Your Costs. Once you start spending money, include them in your Actual column. This will help keep you on track and you will always know whether you can add that new idea or not.

And there you have it. I know tracking spending isn’t fun (but aren’t spreadsheets??), but it’s a very necessary part of hosting a successful event, and no one (your new baby, your best friend, your sister) wants to see you in the poor house, so track those expenses!

And just because I love my readers (and spreadsheets) so much, I’ve included a sample template you can use below. You’re welcome. 🙂 To thank me, leave me some love in the comments or let me know what other budgeting tips or questions you have.

Free download: {Sample Template Budget}


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