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Spend or Save: Our Top Tips To Achieve a Cost Effective Event

When it comes to planning an event, whether it's a corporate celebration, golf tournament, or even a birthday party, there's always one burning question: is spending this much on “____” worth it?

It's a classic dilemma and it can be really difficult to figure out what is truly worth the splurge and what isn’t. We too can sometimes struggle reigning ourselves in when we hear about a new service or item that we’re dying to include at an event. But we’ve been practicing and we’re getting pretty good at knowing when spending the big bucks is worth it and when it probably isn’t necessary. Here are our top three recommendations for areas to save and our top three areas where you could get a little spendy. 

Save: Printing Service

Let's start with the basics: printing. In today's digital age, paper invitations and handouts are becoming less necessary. Save some cash (and the environment) by opting for digital invitations, QR codes, and online event registration, or if your event absolutely must have printed materials, there are plenty of budget-friendly options that can do the trick. We love to send our basic printing needs to Staples. They offer a decent selection of items so if you don’t need a ton of printing done, this is definitely a go-to. We also love DC Signs and find their pricing extremely reasonable. Plus, they are quick and efficient so when we have more complex needs, like coroplast signs or roll up banners, they are the perfect choice. 

Save: Activities

Next up, activities. While it might be tempting to book an expensive entertainment act or plan a jam-packed schedule of activities, sometimes less is more. Get creative with low-cost entertainment options like DIY photo booths, bubbles, face painting, or themed scavenger hunts. Not only will your guests have a blast, but you'll also save a bundle on entertainment expenses. We’ve gotten creative a few times and we find it quite easy to create a DIY photo backdrop - plus attendees love taking pictures and it's a great way to promote the event. For networking events, try icebreaker bingo to give folks a chance to find out interesting information about one another and skip out on the always awkward, “so…what do you do?”

Save: Venue

Now, let's talk about venues. While it's true that the right venue can set the tone for your event, you don't have to break the bank to find it. Consider non-traditional venues like cafes, social enterprises (like Cushing House in the YWCA), local post-secondary institutions, or even car dealerships. With a little imagination and some clever décor, you can transform any space into a memorable venue without blowing your budget. Here’s a tip! If you’re planning to serve food and beverages at your event, consider using a cafe or restaurant as your venue as they may have a minimum F&B spend which, when met, may waive the cost of the rental making it much more affordable. An example of this is Terminal City Club in Vancouver where we recently held a client event. 

Spend: Food & Beverage

When it comes to splurging, there's one area where it pays to invest: food & beverage. Whether you're hosting a casual cocktail party or a formal sit-down dinner, delicious food and beverages are always a crowd-pleaser. Consider hiring a catering company that offers immersive, interactive food experiences to really wow guests. You could also include unique, one-of-a-kind bartending services, or if your event is alcohol-free, incorporate a gourmet coffee station that is sure to leave your guests happily caffeinated. We also think it’s worth it to splurge on a signature cocktail or mocktail. It’s such a nice way to welcome guests and have them try something unique. 

Spend: Photography

Another area where it's worth spending a little extra is photography. While it might be tempting to rely on a phone to capture the moments, investing in professional photography can really make all the difference. A skilled photographer will capture the essence of your event with great detail, providing you with cherished memories to treasure for years. For corporate style events, we love working with Chan at Vivid Ribbon. He has a great eye and photography style which lends well to these types of events and always asks for a shot list to ensure he is delivering exactly what the client needs. Vivid Ribbon also offers videography and we’d definitely recommend a splurge on this to get an amazing video recap of the event that can be used in a ton of different ways. We’ve also worked with Bri at Captured by Bri who is a talented photographer and a fun presence at events. She also offers sneak peeks within 24 hours - such a great service to keep the excitement going immediately following the event!

Spend: Decor

Last but not least, don't skimp on decor. Trust us when we say that integration of thoughtful decor can elevate even the simplest of events. Good decor and design sets the tone of an event, immediately capturing the attention of guests, and communicating the event's ambience, enhancing the guest experience. We touched on photography above, but it’s important to emphasize that thoughtful use of decor encourages guests to share their experiences by photo or video which then promotes your event and your brand. Spending on decor may seem like just another expense but its impact on the success can be substantial and we believe that investment in this area leads to longevity. 

As always, our recommendations are guidelines and event-dependent. When you have a strong understanding of your event’s vision and goals, you’ll have an easier time deciding where to spend and where to save. So go ahead and start planning that perfect event, and remember: with a little creativity and a lot of savvy budgeting, anything is possible.


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