The ultimate guide to event budgeting 

A budget will help you to plan for the event and make sure you have enough money to cover all of the costs. Let’s look…

November 28, 2022

- 4 minutes

Every event needs a budget. A budget will help you to plan for the event and make sure you have enough money to cover all of the costs. It also helps you decide how much to charge for the event, how much revenue you need to generate, and how many tickets you need to sell, among other things. 

It is important to think about all of the different aspects of an event when creating a budget, including food, entertainment, decorations, and more. By having a budget, you can ensure that your event is well-planned and organized

Let’s look at how you can create a realistic event budget with confidence. 

Event strategy  

First things first: a lot of your budgeting will take place in the strategy phase of planning. This is because a lot of your earliest decisions will set the tone for the event, including its size, location,  attendees, and activities. Here’s how to start.

Establish goals for the event 

Setting and achieving goals can be a helpful way to budget for an event. By knowing how much money you need to accomplish a goal, you can better plan your spending. Additionally, setting goals can help you stay on track with your budget and avoid overspending. 

Evaluate past events 

If you’ve hosted similar events in the past, last year’s budget is a great place to start planning this year’s budget. See how much money you needed for the last event and how much certain items cost. See if you can do without some of those things or whether you need to allocate more spending on others. 

Understand the industry 

Setting an event budget takes a good understanding of the event industry. Those outside of event planning might experience sticker shock at just how much basic things like chair rentals or linens cost.  

Plus, with the costs of goods rising in the past year, it’s a good idea to estimate more than you paid for the same items last year. Do some research between vendors to establish new baselines costs in case things have gotten more expensive. 

Create a high-level plan 

Start creating spending categories for your event budget. These are broad, high-level categories that will help you navigate the various costs. From there, you’ll start breaking down each category into more specific costs.  

For example, a high-level category would be something like food, facility, staff, etc. As you get more granular, you can start listing out the individual items and what they cost, such as drinks, ice, cups, entrees, snacks, etc. under the Food category. 

Creating this high-level plan first can help you brainstorm your most important event costs and allocate a percentage of the budget to each one. 

Get buy-in from stakeholders 

Before moving too deep into the budgeting side of things, run your high-level plan by stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page. They may be able to add categories or items that you have not yet thought of, which will impact your overall budget.  

Once you have their seal of approval, you can start building out your budget in more detail and doing deeper research.  

Estimating costs 

Planning an event can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to estimating costs for the budget. Not having enough wiggle room to do the things you want to do can send an event planner into a tailspin. And if you do need to appeal to stakeholders for more funds, you need to be able to demonstrate a real need and support your suggestions. 

That’s why estimating costs is such an important step in the process. By accurately estimating what everything will cost, you can keep your event on track and on budget. 

There are a few key things to keep in mind when estimating costs for an event budget. 

Create your budget sheet 

Using a budgeting sheet is a good way to stay organized and ensure that your event runs smoothly. By keeping track of your expenses, you can avoid any last-minute surprises that could throw off your event. See at a glance where your money is going and make sure you’re not overspending. 

A budgeting sheet can also help you compare prices from different vendors and find the best deals. This can save you money on your overall event costs. 


Marketing is one area where you don’t want to skimp. Your marketing will be responsible for getting people into seats and helping to fund your event

To start, you’ll need to determine what kind of marketing tactics you will use. There are many options available, including print and online advertising, social media campaigns, and email marketing. You will need to decide which method or combination of methods will work best for your event. 

Having an idea of what each type of marketing will cost can also factor into your event marketing decisions. In addition to the costs of ads, you’ll also want to factor in any payroll or professional fees to execute your marketing strategy. 



Every event needs a home. If you’re hosting hybrid events or in-person events, you will need to allocate room in your budget for a venue. If you’re doing virtual events, the venue is less of an expense because you can use smaller spaces, such as your existing office. 

For in-person events, you’ll need to consider the size of your event. A small gathering will obviously need a smaller venue than a large convention. Once you have an idea of the size of your event, you can start to look at specific venues and get an idea of their costs. 


Event speakers or presenters that aren’t part of your company usually speak at events for a fee. How much you’ll need to spend depends on a number of factors, including the prominence of the speaker and the length of the event. 

For a high-profile speaker, you can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. For a more moderately priced speaker, fees can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. And keep in mind that prices may go up if you’re booking well in advance or requesting a popular speaker who is in high demand. 


    Event staffing budgets can vary, depending on the size, scope, and location of the event. For example, many venues include staffing in their event packages, which means you won’t have to contract additional help. 

    Hybrid events tend to require the most staffing. This is because hybrid events require two separate but equally important production setups: one for the in-person audience and one for the virtual audience. Each setup will need its own dedicated team of staff to manage audio/visual, registration, customer service, and more. In addition, there should be staff assigned specifically to monitor and engage with the virtual audience throughout the event. 

    Event technology 

    Event technology includes a range of smaller costs, including A/V equipment, presentation software, digital signage, mobile event app, and event management platform. Again, the actual cost will vary depending on the nature of your event.  

    Canapii mobile app

    One way to save money is by consolidating some of these needs into a single event platform, like Canapii. Canapii’s all-in-one event management software handles multiple functions before, during, and after your event. Integrate your mobile event app, registration, gamification, translation, live streaming, and event content into a single interface. This gives you more for your money while simplifying your budgeting. 


    When budgeting for an event, it is important to consider contingencies. These are unexpected costs that can occur during the event planning process or on the day of the event itself. Common event contingencies include weather-related costs, venue changes, and last-minute additions or subtractions to the guest list. 

    To avoid being caught off guard by these expenses, event planners should build a contingency fund into their budget. This fund can be used to cover unexpected costs as they arise. When determining how much to set aside for contingencies, planners should consider the size and scope of their event, as well as any known risks that could lead to additional expenses.  

    Finalizing the budget 

    In the days and weeks and months leading up to the event, you’ll need to finalize the budget and start spending it. You’ll also need to keep track of all your deposits and expenditures and know when any remaining balances must be paid. This will help you to avoid late fees, which will eat into your final budget. 

    Let’s look at some other opportunities to finalize a budget that works: 

    Sources of revenue  

    Ideally, when you’re planning an event, you won’t have to pay for the whole thing yourself. Things like sponsorships, ticket sales, and merchandise should help to fund your event dreams. 

    Take stock of all of the various sources of revenue and how much you expect to make from each of them. This may help you to beef up your budget and afford some of the things that might otherwise be out of your reach.  

    Cash flow for your event 

    Don’t forget to save some room in your budget for cash flow. Know when funds are available and when payments are due. If you miss a payment or deposit, you might have to pay extra fees or forfeit your reservations. 

    How to make budget cuts if needed 

    Spent too much? Didn’t get enough early bird sales? You might need to cut some things from the budget.  

    It’s helpful to divide your budget into two columns: must-haves and wants. This way, when you need to make cutbacks, you’ll have some ideas at a glance that won’t affect the overall event. 

    Post event evaluation 

    At the end of every event, it’s always a good idea to look back over your budget and compare your estimated numbers to the actual numbers. This will help you to budget better for your next event. 

    Review analytics 


    If you are using events software, check your event analytics to see how you fared financially. Your analytics will help you to see things like how many total tickets you sold, the average spend per person, and other factors.

    Identify savings 

    Did you save money by booking your Venue early? What about consolidating your event technology into a single software solution? Go back through your event spending to identify areas of savings so you can build on those successes for future events.  

    Identify over-spending 

    Overspending on an event can happen even to the most experienced event planners. As you’re looking for areas of savings, also check to see where you may have spent too much.  

    How event management software can help 

    All in one event management software like Canapii can be an event budgeter’s best friend. Keep all of your budgeting information in a single place, along with receipts, payment schedules, vendors, and other fine details. You can also keep your budget histories in a single place for easy future reference.  

    Get started with a free demo today! 


    Rita Chaher

    Co-Founder at Canapii

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