What Can You Do If Your Event Goes Over Budget?

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Where exceeding your event budget is concerned, the general rule is “don’t.” However, sometimes things happen that are out of your control – maybe a piece of equipment breaks down and you need to replace it in a hurry. Maybe you didn’t sell enough tickets to break even, or maybe the materials and supplies you’re using simply turned out to be more expensive than you expected.

Either way, it’s something that needs to be addressed immediately.

That’s our topic in today’s piece. What can you do if you end up exceeding your initial budget for the event? How can you avoid an event that breaks the bank?

Figure Out What You’re Overspending On

Your first step is working out precisely where you went over your intended spending amount – and whether or not there’s anything in your plans that can be removed and/or substituted without having an adverse effect on the experience of attendees.  For example, look at the decorations for your event. Will attendees really notice if you use slightly cheaper carpeting or slightly lower-quality cattle gating?

Don’t skimp on anything people will notice – you want to reduce your spending, not ruin the event.

Negotiation Is Your Friend

If you can’t see anything that you can safely eliminate from your event budget – or you’re still over even after securing some cheaper alternatives – your next step is to contact the vendors you’ve gotten involved with your team. See if you can somehow negotiate a price that’s lower than their initial quote. Unfortunately, the problem here is that if you’ve already signed on with your vendors and venue, you’re pretty much stuck.

“The key to negotiating a better price is to do so before booking,” explains Constant Contact’s Mary Crogan. “Know what your needs will be from that vendor and get a quote from them, as well as a competitor.”  Although Crogan’s quote primarily applies to in-house vendors (vendors that are tied to your venue), it could feasibly be applied to any vendor you’ve signed on with.

Now, during negotiations, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If it’s prime event season, you probably aren’t getting a discount – most vendors will be able to easily go elsewhere with their business.
  • Newer vendors are likelier to offer discounts than established vendors who already have a dedicated following.
  • Don’t be too incessant – you don’t want to wind up with a reputation as someone who never pays full price for services. Vendors might start avoiding you at that point.
  • Know when negotiations are over. It’s important that you be able to recognize when someone’s digging their heels in.


Get Creative

Every event manager has an event that goes over budget at least once in their career. The key is tackling the issue quickly, efficiently, and skillfully. If you can do that, then you needn’t worry about falling into the red.