Every event has a budget, and our job as planners is to stretch each dollar to create the best possible experience for our guests. It is never an easy job because there are always unforeseen expenses that occur in the planning process. This is why it is good to identify a few cost cutting targets when reviewing the first draft of your banquet check. Making a short list of potential cuts in the early stages will eliminate stress and enable you to make quick decisions. Here are some suggestions on where to begin...
Snacks or Apps?
When you consider that most hors d'oeuvres cost between $2 and $7 each, this is one category where you can trim significant costs quickly. One idea is to forgo appetizers all together and replace them with a mix of dry snacks. Presentation is always important, and you can add a touch of elegance to this strategy by setting glass bowls of Chex Mix on all the cocktail rounds in the reception area. Another inexpensive substitute for hors d’oeuvres are warm dips served with sourdough bread pieces.
You can easily save $3 to $5 per person by emailing invitations instead of sending them through the postal service. The only issue here is that you’ll need to identify this savings opportunity well in advance of your event. Nonetheless, email is a perfectly acceptable substitute for paper invitations, and going paperless adds an eco-friendly feature to your event. As a bonus, many evite applications will save you time by allowing you to import and export data across multiple programs.
Hosting an “open bar” might be a nice treat for your guests, but it can be a budget-busting nightmare for planners. Not only does the cost of each drink add up quickly when multiplied by hundreds of guests, but the final tab is virtually impossible to forecast since you don’t know how many drinks will be consumed. The better way to handle this unpredictability is to provide each guest with one or two drink tickets at registration. If a guest wants an additional drink then they’ll need to pay cash, or network for unused tickets.
When it comes to tableside wine service, guests rarely see the brand that is being served. In most cases the server simply asks if they would like red or white. The point here is to think twice before upgrading over the cheaper house wine choices. Between your featured presentation and conversations going on at the table, no one is going to remember what brand of wine you served. If you have any reservations about quality then you can always taste the wine before the event.
It is always disappointing to see hundreds of dollars worth of flowers discarded after an event, which is reason enough to examine your expenditures in this category. Centerpieces are another example where going green can also save money. Instead of ordering cut flower arrangements, use potted plants to decorate your tables and encourage attendees to take them home to plant in their gardens. This simple strategy will save you $15 to $30 per table.
Consolidate Your Audio Visual
Some planners take a passive approach to A/V negotiations because they don’t understand how all the components work together. This can be a costly approach if you aren’t working with a company you trust completely. Spend the time to learn the ins and outs of your technological needs. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions like: do I really need two screens and projectors? Even if you don’t uncover unnecessary equipment, you might be able to talk your speaker down from their hefty technological requests.
You never know when your boss is going to walk in and drop a “budget bomb” on your project, so it makes sense to keep a few details on the chopping block. In a perfect world you won’t have to worry about making tough decisions, but if money does get tight you’ll be able to make your cuts swiftly and move on to other matters.