24 Feb Planning a fabulous event on a budget
Budget is most definitely one of the top concerns planning an event of any type. It is often miscalculated resulting on extra stress during the lead up to it. Estimating an accurate budget and keeping at it can have its challenges, especially when you DIY. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of tight funds without compromising on a dazzling party.
That number 1 expense in many cases can take drive your spending through the roof in no time! Consider what is most important for you and your guests: accessibility, parking, driving distance, outdoor space etc…
Location, location, location… Chances are venues in your neighbourhood are much more budget-friendly than big-name hotels in your CBD. Book local and book a small family-owned place rather than a chain. Your budget and the locals will thank you! A plus is that venues away from the centre tend to have more parking spots available, free of charge.
Timing is key as for everything. Off-peak season is your friend and often not necessarily neglected for the right reasons. You can definitely have a winter baby shower in the park when you live in Brisbane! You may also want to consider avoiding the heat of summer for a beach wedding ceremony. If you can, organise your party for a weekday. Prices tend to be much lower during the week as most people book for the weekend. Bonus: the availability will be much greater! You would be quite surprised to find how many of your friends are keen to take a Friday off and treat themselves to a long weekend with adequate notice.
For outdoor events, consider making the most of someone’s backyard – be it a friend, relative or a private rental. If you do go through an individual to hire out their acres unused, be sure to visit first and have the terms in writing. The simplest backyard can turn into a fabulous event place with the right setup and lightning. Concerned about the weather? A marquee or a bell tent will provide shelter from a blasting afternoon sun or a sudden shower.
Venue-hunting for indoor event can be a minefield with sometimes only a single catering option or added fees for the use of outdoor spaces. Make sure you get the full picture of what you are getting for what price and do your maths. Look towards the homesteads which offer more flexibility or hunt private rentals such as properties listed on Airbnb (check with the host that your type of event is accepted first!). With the right research you could get a villa with a swimming pool over a weekend for the price of an evening of venue hire.
In our era of technology and communication, the snail mail might not be needed for your event. Whilst it still remains traditional to send wedding invitations by post, this might not be especially meaningful to you. You can also manage your guest list in a much easier way with an online system. It can be as simple as a Facebook page or you could create a free website through Wordpress for example. Not only electronic save the dates and invitations make it easier to track your RSVPs, they also are eco-friendly and much more sustainable. Unsure about a suitable date or time? Offer a poll so your guests can have their say!
Self-catering on a tight budget is the most obvious choice. Do take into account the amount of effort required, from preparation to clean-up through service. If you are confident that you can manage it, a cold buffet or a grazing table are often easy options. You could also have a potluck to get your guests involved – why not for a themed party with a friendly competition for the best dish? If you would rather leave the catering to the professionals, look for buffet offers, spit roasts or food trucks. On top of being trendy and giving a lovely boho vibe, it gives the guests enough to eat at their leisure at a reduced cost for you. Not keen on a sit-down formal event? Opt for canapes to cut your costs down and provide a nice selection. Is choosing a wedding cake feeling like committing to a mortgage? Go for single tier cake(s) or a cake with assorted cupcakes, a donut wall or simply your favourite dessert: your day your rules!
Champagne dreams but cannot afford champagne? Look out for sales from the bottle store, you would be surprised how much you can save. Sign up for notifications and buy by the carton/case to lower the price. Otherwise, get a decent bubbly (prosecco or crémant), add some crème de cassis (or raspberry), add a frozen berry in the glass and voilà, you have a beautiful Kir (almost) royal. The guests will be wowed by your sophistication and pink drinks make super Insta-worthy photos! Kir is traditionally made with white wine – it makes for a great aperitif if you would like something a little different without requiring extensive bartending skills or a hefty price tag. Think Pimm’s carafe for a garden party, Sangria variants (white, red or rosé wine) or a nice Punch to get your refreshments last a little longer and look stylish. Hosting a baby shower or catering for kids/designated drivers/breastfeeding mums? Pour your cocktail mix without the alcohol in your drink dispenser and offer the alcohol as an add-on on the side, allowing everyone to put as much or as little as they want. Garnish goes a long way with drinks! A simple slice of cucumber in a G&T can make an otherwise bland-looking drink look much fancier. Let your imagination run wild and sprinkle flower petals, flavour the rims of glasses with salt or sugar, use fruit skewers or decorated ice cubes (frozen with a mint leaf, a berry, juice… The world is your oyster!).
You may want nice memories but not be able to afford a photographer for a full day. Leave the photographer out and either get a mobile photo booth or even cheaper, hang a Polaroid and frames and let your guests have fun. Polaroid pictures have that lovely vintage glow and make wonderful keepsakes.
Whether it is for decorations or how to make the most of your limited budget, be creative. Think about what you can reuse or repurpose. Use your favourite pair of curtains, ribbons, or origami to make a lovely photo backdrop which reflects your event’s style. Make a stand-out menu on a chalkboard, wood or a vintage window rather than spending on individual menus’ printing. Collect plates from your family and host a mix and match dinner rather than purchase extra plates you will never use again. If you need huge quantities, shop second-hand where applicable to have a more sustainable and cheaper alternative. Be careful with purchases though: many people bulk buy heaps of items to avoid hiring costs. It can certainly work out cheaper, but be sure to consider the fact that you need someone to set everything up and clean up afterwards, which can be a very stressful job for a loved one or yourself. After wedding season, you can find the second-hand market flooded with Kmart or Ikea items which unfortunately do not sell as promptly as their owner would have wished due to their initial low prices and saturation. Consider the cost of the item + the cost of preparation + cost of transport logistics + cost of setup + cost of pack down and cleaning + storage afterwards + time to list items/communicate/meeting with potential buyers. If all up it is still cheaper than hiring and you have time: DIY – if not, get it all sorted for you. You can also forgo fresh flowers for silk ones which you can use afterwards to decorate your home – or as a gift to your bridesmaids for example. You can also eliminate the cost of getting furniture by organising a boho picnic with rugs and cushions if you are planning a small event.
The above are a good starting point, but they are so many useful tips still to be uncovered! Feel free to share your tips for an event on a budget with the community. If you would like some extra help, you are more than welcome to get in touch for a chat – remember we do offer planning of just a few elements as well to make the help of a planner affordable for all.
If you are wedding planning on a budget, you can read more in this article where our director’s advice has been featured.