Why “Champagne Taste On A Beer Budget” Doesn’t Work


champagne-beer-budget2There are certain phrases professional event planners strongly dislike.  “Champagne taste on a beer budget” is one of them.  First, it’s mathematically impossible.  Focusing solely on price, the price points referenced in this statement will not yield the same quality, quantity, and type of event details.  Secondly, such a phrase combined with TV shows showcasing high-end events, creates a disconnect between the desired high-end event, and an actual affordable event.  Thirdly, unrealistic event expectations creates a false sense of value and how it relates to event costs.  The fact is, clients can have a beautiful, memorable event on a tight budget.  The key is knowing how to realistically utilize your budget to get the biggest bang for your buck.  Here are some tips to follow:

  1. Be honest.  Before any plans are made, be honest about what you can truly afford.  Facing the monetary truth now will save you avoidable frustrations later.  The best approach to working within a budget is to start backwards, and create an itemized budget.  Start with a set budget amount. List all of the event details you want.  Then, subtract the total cost of each event detail from the set budget.  Can’t afford the type of event you want for $3,000?  That’s okay.  You have 2 choices:  a) Wait until you have the money, or b) re-visit the budget and “trim the fat” where you can.  
  2. Know what’s important.  So, you’ve accepted it:  Working with a tight budget means you can’t do everything you want.  Now’s the time to decide the best way to distribute the money for the event.  Ask the question, what’s most important to you and the event:  food, entertainment, decor, etc.?  The answer will present the hierarchy for your budget.
  3. Guest list.  You’ve got a tight budget.  No matter what event you are planning, this is not the time to invite everyone you’ve ever known.  The best way to control your budget expenses is to control your guest list. 
  4. Stay focused.  Decorating a space with a limited budget is a challenge.  I’d suggest having a display that is the focal point of the space, and have smaller decor accents around the room to bring the look together.
  5. Avoid the perfect picture.  Getting ideas from TV shows, magazines, or various online resources is a great idea.  However, it can also be the death of any budget.  The total cost of duplicating that perfect picture can be misleading.  Also, attempts to create a cheaper version can be disappointing (and at times heart breaking) when compared to that perfect picture.  Remember, any event is about creating memories that speaks to the personality of the guest of honor, or the purpose of the event.  These memories should be genuine to the event, and not someone else’s perfect picture.   
  6. Consult a professional.  Don’t assume hiring an event planner isn’t an affordable option.  Some of the biggest misconceptions about event planners are a) they’re expensive, b) aren’t affordable for a tight budget, and c) only needed for big events.  This is not true at all!  Event planners can offer affordable a la carte services that will meet your specific needs.  Before this option is discarded, simply ask to find out what they can offer.  You may be pleasantly surprised!

BONUS TIP:  The idea of turning your invitations, centerpieces, party favors, etc. into DIY (Do It Yourself) projects sounds like a great way to save money.  The reality of DIY projects is the total cost of supplies and assemble time can add up quickly!  Keep the DIY projects to a minimum.  Also, make sure you have the man hours (include your time and the event fairies’ time i.e. family and friends), patience, and room in your budget to complete the task.

What money saving tips have you used to plan an event?

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