How To Estimate Your Event Budget

There is a reason budgeting skills has been emphasized so much. You must have a rough budget for your event before you even decide on whether or not to hold the event.  If you don’t calculate a rough budget you may hit trouble breaking even, let alone making profit.

There are some specific needs that certain event types require and here we’ll try to cover the most common costs that can occur at events such as seminars, conferences, dinners and others.

The two general categories of any event’s budget are the expenses and income. If your expenses seem to be beyond your income, ask yourself, is it worth it?

Expenses should cover any cost that you may encounter during planning and include a contingency of at least 10-20% of the budget. Income will come mainly from registrations or tickets, sponsorships and merchandise sales.

In order to project your expenses, you will have to categorize all possible costs.

Let’s start with venue costs. Here you should include:

– Venue rental fees
– Cloak room staff fees
– Housekeeping staff fees

For the equipment consider:

– Audio hire + staff fees
– Visuals rental + staff fees
– Lighting rental + staff fees
– Set design and stage rental + any additional setup fees
– Supplies
– Transport


– Food cost
– Beverage cost
– Staff fees
– Tips (should you wish to give any)

Other professionals

– Entertainers
– Security
– Photographers
– Filming


– Fees
– Transport costs
– Gifts


– Centerpieces
– Flowers
– Balloons
– Carpets
– Chairs

The decorations category is highly individual, so let’s not go in-depth here.

If might be necessary to print materials, consider these:

– Schedules – you always need some
– Invitations
– Tickets
– Posters
– Flyers


– Having an extra pen available is always useful
– Paper, always have paper ready!
– and, of course, duct tape, it can fix almost anything (maybe not marriages though)


– Bus hire fee
– Driver fee
– Number of hours of engagement (drivers and vehicles)
– Gas
– Deposit


– List team members and their respective salaries


– Highly individual, depends on whether you already have insurance, the type of event in question, the event location and others


– Gift bags, swag, goodies (optional)

Miscellaneous is probably everyone’s nightmare category. Various and usually unpredictable items and services can be included here

– Plastic cups

Bear in mind, you might be asked for a deposit in almost every single category mentioned above. It’s always good to add a category “deposit” to keep track.

Lastly, do not forget to include your marketing budget!

Budgets can be a real headache both for small and big teams. Make sure everyone in your team accounts for their expenses and payments so that you always have the most accurate calculations. Once you have an estimate of your expenses you can calculate them against you income and get an overview of the profit you will make at the end.

Your income would normally consist of

– Paid registrations
– Sponsorships
– Merchandise sales

Estimate paid registrations and product sales according to previous event statistics, however, do take into consideration attendance may differ from event to event.

Image credits: Ryan McGuire | CC0 License