Confessions of an Eventologist: How to Cut Costs at Your Next Party
Our penchant for gatherings and celebrations mean big business for party suppliers. While you might have accepted the fact that you will be spending big in the name of merriment, there are still ways to save some of your hard-earned pesos if you know where to look.
We talked to expert event planners Jon Sunico of Kiddie Party and Jeo Odulio of Empire Weddings for their top tips on cutting costs without hampering the celebratory spirit.
Mind Your Budget
The cornerstone of any practical event planning is your budget. The budget will set the tone of the event’s details, and organizers like Jon and Jeo work to match the client’s vision with the defined financial allotments.
According to Jon, a lot of his clients are often blindsided by how their decor preferences impact their budget. “They see ideas on the Internet and they get pegs but after we quote how much it would cost, they would be surprised,” he shares.
Small details like table centerpieces and satin bows are often romanticized on Pinterest, but real-life execution means adding a few thousand pesos to your decorating allowance. If you’re working on a tight budget, it means you’d have to scrimp on other items.
Children’s parties can go anywhere from ₱25,000 to ₱80,000. “It’s the decors that add up. The more decorative the client wants, the higher the package,” Jon adds.
On weddings, the bulk of a couple’s budget usually goes to caterers, photographers, and videographers. People will remember your wedding through the photos, videos, and whether the food was great, so these things are the most important. A great photographer will be able to capture beautiful moments even if you feel your venue decor looks a little sparse.
Jeo shares that a budget of ₱1 million will give you a standard wedding these days. A third of that budget goes to catering and reception, while photo and video coverage eats up to ₱200,000 combined. Musicians, sound systems, and lights would cost around ₱30,000 each. Couturiers can go from ₱50,000 to ₱100,000.
Keep the Guest List Within Budget
There are cases where sacrifices will have to be made in order to maintain the budget. It’s a balancing act for both client and event organizer. “The key is to prioritize which supplier you want to splurge on,” Jeo says.
One way to keep costs down is to trim the guest list. We Filipinos like to extend invites out of courtesy to people we barely know. A smaller headcount would mean a smaller fee to pay the caterer, and with prices ranging from ₱300 to ₱1,200 per plate, the savings cannot be ignored.
Do DIY efforts really save you money?
Both our experts agree that taking on some DIY projects for your event often minimize costs, especially for those small, personal details that many event hosts like to include. An example is designing and printing your own invitation. The same goes for other small printed items like misalettes, table numbers, and menus. Printing them at home will cost less and give you more room for customization.
Professional designers and printers will do a more polished job, but if you have the creative chops or even an artsy friend who is willing to design it for free or a nominal amount, then you instantly have less to spend on.
It’s also worth noting that some aesthetic elements that fall under DIY end up being more expensive than typical decor. Sometimes we think painting a piece of driftwood is a cheap way to decorate a dessert table, but it’s hard to find driftwood in Manila! It will end up costing you more to upcycle it.
As for the verdict on DIY, our veteran party planners believe that you should pick your battles. While it’s great to take an active role in polishing really small details, time and effort are also things that can be traded for cash. A cheap deal might work better if it means you stress less.
Score the Best Deals
Suppliers’ prices tend to go up every year, and both our experts agree that booking suppliers early will save you a good amount, as well as give you time to canvass and choose something that really works for your event.
Bridal trade shows or fairs are chockful of packages and discounts. You get to meet your suppliers face-to-face and gauge the vibes way before your event. Jeo’s top tip for couples is to book during off-peak season (March to October) because you can communicate better with suppliers and have an opportunity to haggle.
Even suppliers themselves insist that booking at trade shows would give you rock-bottom prices as opposed to booking in another time and place. We think it’s negligible, but going to a bridal fair and booking as many suppliers as you can all in one go will save you precious time, effort, and gas money.
So is it possible to save big and still celebrate big?
You bet! Be diligent in keeping track of the budget and make sure you book suppliers early. We recommend using a credit card when it’s allowed, this way you can spread payments over a longer period. Doing this will also help you manage expenditures and be better prepared for any surprise expenses such as incidentals that come with big events, keep your cash for these instances. So go on and take on some DIY work to make your party look and feel the way you want it.
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