How to Budget Your Event Like A Pro

We've interviewed a host of party planners who've spent years organizing complex events for both corporations and individuals, in the U.S. and abroad: weddings, B Mitzvahs, conferences, celebrity-chocked golf retreats, you name it. What follows below are their top tips below for creating pro-style B Mitzvah budgets, then sticking to them.

1. First, devise a rough estimate of how much you can comfortably spend without borrowing from outside sources.

2. Review a list of forseeable expenses, checking off the ones that apply to your event. Check out eMitz's complete list of possible expenses.

3. Next, plug all the relevant expense categories you've selected into a spreadsheet such as Excel or Lotus 123.

4. Gather estimates from all the vendors you're considering. It's easiest when you solicit bids from about three different vendors per category. Also, professionals know to be firm about accepting only written estimates rather than verbal; staff turnover can be quite high and you don't want to get caught planning for one price only to have it altered by the new hire. Similarly, pros always make certain to clarify exactly what is and what isn't included in each estimate. Who's responsible for transporting the special glassware from the rental company to the venue? Is the DJ bringing that disco-style lighting system or are you responsible? (By the way, this step is where hiring a professional party planner can be a life-saver; they know which questions to ask and can often negotiate better deals.)

5. Take a moment now to review your larger objectives for the event. Clearly, the main one is to celebrate your child's acccomplishments during the service and new station in the Jewish community. But discuss with your child whether you want to include any other objectives. Examples might be:
  • Provide guests new information about your mitzvah project
  • Enlist the guests' support of or participation in your mitzvah project
  • Create a tribute to each guest
  • Enhance a sense of cohesion and community among the guests

    Such objectives will determine how you plan and budget your party. For instance, if your goal is to provide information about your mitzvah project, say, a home for Jewish elderly, you might give each guest one of four different useful items hand-crafted by the residents of the home. These can be used to identify different teams or groups during games or dances at the party. Even better, they will serve as take-away favors afterward. This allows you to fulfill several of your objectives as well as delete the line item for favors from your spreadsheet.

    6. Now create a sample, preliminary budget by inserting your mid-range estimates into your spreadsheet. Be sure to separate your must-haves, such as invitations, from your optionals, such as the twirling, fireworks-emitting chocolate fountain.

    7. Compare your total for all mid-range must-haves to your initial budget. If you find you need extra cash, try inputting the lower priced estimates. If you're still short, now's the time to consider revising your party concept or architecture. Perhaps you'll opt for a luncheon after all and skip the gala dinner. Alternatively, consider these options for borrowing money.

    Should you be in the more preferable situation of having cash left to spend, you can adjust your budget to include some of the items that were previously in the optional category.

    8. Throughout the planning process, new expenses and new ideas will constantly be popping up. You need to remain vigilant about inputting any revisions or additions while keeping your eye on their impact on your budget. This way, you'll be able to give an accurate answer when your child bursts through the door one day and says, "I've changed my mind. Can we invite the entire grade?"