Okay, I hear this a lot, I mean a lot and here is my two cents in the debate.
The truth is most people don't know how much it REALLY cost to throw a party. Excluding the backyard BBQs and little Justin's birthday pool party, throwing a party can get very expensive. Couple of months back, I got two referrals for a small wedding and a birthday party. Both clients had small budgets where if they wanted to do everything themselves, it may not be so overwhelming. By small I mean 50 to 100 people. But it's all in the DETAILS and this is where it may end up costing more. As I start with each client, we sit down to go over the who, what, when, where of the their parties. We talked about things from decor to music to food, with each of these things having a great deal of smaller details. Once I got a "general" idea of what each client is looking for then I go back to my work space and start working on the "actual" cost which can be very different from the client's "budget." So let's explore these little details further.
As a planner, it is my job to find the most cost effective way for you to host your event. Most planners have their to-go vendors that they used and already know what it would cost to rent certain things from them. In some cases, we may have to go outside of our list and reach out to another company for let's say an LED lit table or vintage furniture and are not sure what the item will cost. By the way I know of one company that offers an LED lit table for $150, which may not be worth it to you depending on your budget.
First, Location is very important. You can host a party at your home, if so desired, as long as there is enough room to accommodate your guests. But most events are held either at a banquet hall, a city's rental facility, or specialty location like a museum or a beautiful private park, or a church's hall. The average cost to rent a hall in Broward County, Florida ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 depending on the hours and days, with weekend hours costing the most. And that is just the small to medium size halls. This are bigger locations, which may cost more. The venue is a big chunk of the budget. I keep a list of different halls in for quick references, but the city is chock full of rental facilities.
Second is decor. Now with some halls you have little or next to nothing more to add as they already include beautiful decorations and views. For example the Vizcaya in Miami is one of those locations. Between the scenery and the romance feel of it, your guests will be in awe, if the rental fees are within your budget. But most halls, require a little more work to spruce them up for your event. There's a hall in Hollywood, Florida that is very spacious and equip with a newly remodeled bar, but needs a little bit more to work to transform the space for a wedding or a quince, which tends to be more elaborate in decorating. Your option for that type of hall may be ceiling and/or stage draping, up-lighting, and table and chair covers as those two things are provided. And again, we go back to the size of your party, more people, more chairs and tables. You may only need five round tables with ten chairs each which will make a big difference then having to cover twenty round tables with two-hundred chairs. This is also where we get into the type of covers for the table and whether or not it hangs half way down or all the way to the floor, runners, or overlay. That is something I explain at length to my clients because each detail changes the budget. In some cases, we have to accommodate according to the weather conditions if this is going to be an outside even, then you will need a tent and they come in different sizes and prices and for some walking around in heels on grass is not their idea of a good time, so a client may request flooring if not on concrete grounds. Don't forget the flower budget. Whether real or silk flowers, with prices slightly different, that's important. Some people want the place to look like an oasis, while others just want a touch of flowers here and there. This part of the planning process along, with food, takes the most time and that's where you can go from having a $3,000 party to a $10,000 party. Are you with me so far.
Another big chunk is food. Yes don't forget you have to feed your guests. Now another big difference is whether you are offering a sit-down dinner or buffet style meals. Sit-downs cost more as you are having servers served your guests. And again, depending on the size of your party, this could start at $92 per person NOT including any beverages you may plan to serve. Oh yeah, are you having an open bar or cash bar. Open bar means, you have an unlimited amount of alcohol serve to your guests. A cash bar, you may choose to offer two free drinks and the rest your guests have to pay for. Either way you need to offer a variety of drinks. Your head spinning yet? well there's more.
Music and everything else tends to be easier to deal with. I have an in-house DJ, who gets great reviews and I don't have to worry about finding a DJ that knows how to play music and not just press the play button. Music although easier is very important, you want your guests to have a good time and bad song selections can put a damper on the festivities. The DJ should work closely with the lighting vendor to ensure that the best lighting is use. Lighting can go from very simple up-lighting to extravagant displays of lights.
Now in some cases, a client might request a planner to be present the day and throughout the event to make sure there are no emergencies and to also keep watch of time. After all, time flies when you're having a good time. Remember the whole thing with renting halls for certain hours, you don't want to check your watch and find out that you only have thirty minutes to cut a cake and pass it out. There are extra cost for that type of demand.
This is just a short list covering the basics. At another post, I will highlight the different type of tablecloth you can incorporate in your event and lighting. So to answer the question, if your are willing AND ready to deal with the big and small details (and you will be busy), you can take on the task but if you want to enjoy yourself hire a planner and let them deal with the headaches. I love to help plan an event and watch it all come together and everyone had a good time, but again, you go the route that is comfortable for you and your guests. The fees paid to a planner is nothing compare to the headaches you can have trying to plan a party by yourself. I would hate for you to forget to pick up the flowers and/or the cake. I have very honest conversations with my clients throughout the process. We have to come to a mutual understanding between their budget and the "actual" cost of hosting event. That may take several meetings but with great research and realistic expectations, there is no reason for your event not to be a great success and for you in the corporate world you can add travel and hotel costs if you are hosting a convention. More on that at another post.
Hope I help clear this for you. Remember just because you hire a planner, that doesn't mean you relinquish all powers to them. I like to have my clients input on decisions that I make regarding their event. It's just easier to answer questions as oppose to you driving around town meeting with vendors. Wouldn't you rather be dress and shoes shopping. You are having a party!