“Need a professional florist to provide centerpieces for our conference. Must be cheap.”
“In search of a photographer for 6 hours. I can pay $500.
I participate in several event forums. The above are examples of some of the requests posted. Though the person making the request is serious, she/he has most likely not spent time researching costs to learn what the local market considers a reasonable charge for a florist or a photographer. The person asking for a cheap florist may end up with very old flowers poorly arranged and possibly an astronomical delivery fee. The person seeking a photographer on such a limited budget may get someone who has never photographed an event and the photos could be a disaster.
Florists, photographers, event planners, musicians, bakers, caterers and others are professionals. They have spent years perfecting their craft and may have completed years of specialized training. They deserve to be compensated for their work (and their knowledge), much of which may occur before or after the event. A baker may spend two days or more creating an elaborate cake or baking and decorating dozens of cupcakes or cookies. A photographer can spend days editing your photos to provide a quality product on which he/she will be proud to put their name. A DJ who plays music at a bar will not provide the same level of service as one who regularly performs at social events.
Bottom line – you get what you pay for. Think long term when planning an event. In 10 years will you be happy with the results or will you have regrets about something you can’t undo? Will your boss, your spouse, the guest of honor or another important person be happy with the results? If not, your future could be at stake. If your budget is set in stone, then its time to compromise by choosing a less expensive venue, eliminating alcohol (always a budget breaker), reducing the guest list, choosing simpler centerpieces (maybe not flowers), reducing the number of hours you need a photographer or choosing a simpler menu. With a bit of planning, there is a way to create a classy event with no later regrets or stacks of bills.