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Confirm Your Event Budget Before You Create A Moodboard

December 04, 2019

We frequently see clients come to us with a moodboard of what they want to achieve.

In what seems like a case of The Chicken Or The Egg, you must set your budget before you put a moodboard together - and especially before it gets approved!

Clearly you can have a theme in mind.

But it's disappointing for your client and time-wasting for you, your client and your suppliers when you've given them a fantastic collage to depict their upcoming event, yet there is no way you can actually achieve that with the budget available. They'll be disappointed - and think you can't deliver. What you actually couldn't deliver was their (unrealistic) expectations.

Here's how you do it.

Request up to two weeks before your priced, moodboard presentation
You'll need at least one week, preferably two weeks to contact a wide range of suppliers and receive their prices before you send or present your event moodboard to your client for look and costing approval.

Some event suppliers pick up the phone immediately, others will give you a canned email response that they can take up to 48 hours to respond. In other cases, you may need to allow time for overseas suppliers to give you a quote. See our blog post on how to get the fastest responses.

If you have a long lead time you have the time to do research as well as to find the best price for certain items.

Planning a party in two weeks' time means you run being disappointed that what you'd love to include isn't available, or won't arrive in time.

Think about the space to be decorated
If you're requesting your business premises to be decorated, what room/s do you most - and least - want guests to see? Simply: the bigger the area, the higher the cost.

Do people need to sit down? Do you have enough seating? Do you need to hire chairs? Chairs can help you achieve a certain style to match your moodboard.

Depending on the weather, you could limit it to the outdoor deck, a rainstorm might mean you do something creative with the lobby.

If you're booking a venue, check the guest capacity and select one which is 90% of your guest list. So if it can fit 200 people, invite 220 guests, knowing that not all attendees will be there at the same time, while other guests will RSVP but not end up attending. Creating a bit of a squeeze actually creates a lot more atmosphere!
 
Check if you can cordon off areas either with sliding doors to reduce room size.

Be aware of typical prices
Be aware of the typical price ranges for elements in your design. For example, fancy cutlery usually costs around $10 per guest while bentwood chairs cost around $15 each to hire. This means that hiring fancy cutlery and a bentwood chair alone will add $25 per guest to your budget. For a 100-person guest list that's $2,500 for cutlery and seating.

Use the "bait-and-switch" technique to retain your look as much as possible
When you've slaved over a beautiful moodboard there's nothing worse than clients loving your idea but not being able to afford it. So let them know you will specify some items which are readily available in a variety of quality levels to give the look without the expense.

This means you choose a few items which resemble others in height, texture and/or colour if the original one is booked out or to give yourself room to move in your budget.

For example, a black resin Tiffany chair looks the same as a black wooden one on your moodboard but it's generally cheaper. A velvet napkin looks similar to a cotton one on your moodboard but it will cost twice as much so if your client loves the colour but not the price you can choose the cotton one. Your clients' guests won't know if the white candy cart at the venue is 10cm shorter than the one on the moodboard.

Secret insider tip: if you're serving sweets or cake, cut your costs in half by serving enough only for 50% of your guest list. Most men don't like cake, many women are on diets, others have diabetes. See our blog post on creating a successful desserts bar.

Allow up to $1,000 minimum for delivery and installation fees in your rough budget
Hiring items requires them to be delivered, installed and then packed down and removed. This cost is not included in hire fees.

If the party has to be cleared out at night, event staff have to be paid overtime to dismantle and carry out the props at 1.00am, for example. See our blog post on understanding delivery fees.

Be creative
How can you achieve the look you want? Start with Pinterest and gather some images together. If you've got the budget, hire a few large statement pieces or keep it restricted to amazing tablescapes.

Colour is a very quick way to create the mood from red, white and blue for a French, British, or American event to wild oranges, purples and blues for an Indian themed party.

Texture also offers clues: velvet is luxurious, faux fur can be wildly glamorous, wood and burnished metal is rustic, mirrored anything seems super-bling, feathers create fantasy, and so on.

See our blog post on 7 ways to make massive visual impact.

Create a few looks
Give your client a choice - although not too much. Create three distinctively different looks which still answer your client's original theme request. This gives you room to move if a special piece isn't available or if your client reduces your budget.

For example a Rio party could be wildly flamboyant like the carnivale, beach-themed, or a rustic cantina.

See how a "beach" theme could be interpreted correctly in four different looks.






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