When I’m helping someone plan an event, one of the very first things I ask a new client about is their budget. Trust me, this isn’t one of those sensitive topics we need to dance around like politics or religion at the dinner table. I’m not going to price gouging you and I’m not scoffing at you if it’s on the more modest side.
It’s actually really helpful information for me, as a planner, so that I know what I’m working with. Everyone comes into an event planning scenario with different means and there’s a vast array of expectations also.
One bride can begin planning a wedding that’s simple and not full of all the details and decor that another bride might want. The latter may have a larger bill, in her case, because of all the extras that she desires. This is the same case for events both big and small such as a private corporate dinner or even a movie premier.
When I know what budget a client is working with up front, it can help me steer them in the right direction if what they want is something they can realistically afford. If it’s not, then I may need to advise that they look at perhaps a smaller venue or a more non-traditional type of celebration.
For example, a 2-hour standing cocktail reception is going to be a lot more affordable than a 3-course seated meal for a rehearsal dinner. But just because it’s a wedding rehearsal, doesn’t mean it needs to be seated. One would still accomplish the purpose by practicing the ceremony details and getting the whole wedding party and immediate family together the night before the wedding to celebrate and get to know each other. One style of event is definitely going to cost more, but if you have a smaller budget there’s still ways to have your celebration without breaking the bank.
Knowing a realisitic budget can also help me build up the menu and bar package to be up to par with the budget that a client has for their event. If you have $250 per person, this might get you a more formal 4-course seated meal and a premium open bar instead of just passed hors d’oeuvres and beer or wine only.
The only thing that can happen if you don’t tell a planner your budget up front, is that they might give you a proposal that far exceeds or is even far simpler than the event you planned to have. If you have $5,000 to plan a baby shower, you may want to let the venue know that so they don’t send you a proposal for a massive $25,000 event because they didn’t know what your ballpark expectations are. They might also send you a proposal for a quick brunch that costs $2,000 when you really wanted the space for 4 hours with champagne, a buffet, a dessert bar, plus a DJ.
I always recommend being honest about this financial info. More often than not, it actually can’t hurt.