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A Guide to Charging for Event Planning

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Last editedJun 20233 min read

Event planning services can be a significant help to both individuals and businesses. They are not just worth their fees but invaluable. Managing event planner pay is, arguably, part of the overall service experience. It ensures that clients understand what their costs are and when/how they should be paid. Done properly, it can also minimise the administrative burden on the event planner(s). 

Factors to consider when setting event planner pay

Your baseline for setting event planner pay is your own costs. These will typically include a combination of overheads and per-event costs. You will therefore need to decide how you are going to average out overheads amongst your various clients. Your per-event costs can be allocated to the relevant clients.

Once you’ve established your minimum price, your next step is to establish how much profit you can make on top of this. This will be primarily influenced by two main factors. Firstly, the overall dynamics of supply and demand (which may fluctuate). Secondly, the specific value that you deliver.

Generally, the value you deliver will be assessed in terms of your experience, your expertise and your network, particularly your relationship with suppliers.

Ways to charge your event planner pay

The two main ways to charge for event-planning services are per hour and per event. For some events, it may also be possible to charge commission.  

Charging per hour arguably gives the most accurate reflection of the time planners spend on the event. It can therefore be seen as the safest model for the vendor since it ensures that any unexpected work they do will be fairly compensated. It may also appeal to clients who are particularly budget-conscious.

On the other hand, charging a fixed fee can be much more convenient for the event planner. It means they do not have to justify the use of their time as they do when they charge hourly rates. It can also be more reassuring for clients (and make it easier for them to budget).

In the real world, often the most effective approach is to use a hybrid pricing model. This means charging the client a flat fee for (clearly) specified work. Anything extra is then charged separately. This could be on an hourly rate or on additional fixed fee.

Creating effective contracts

All work you do should be backed by a contract. If you’re a small event-planning service running small-scale events, this may be as simple as a single sheet of paper with key details. If you’re a larger service running large events, then it is likely to be a multipage, highly detailed document. In either case, all contracts should cover the following 10 points.

Parties involved: Clearly state the names and contact information of all parties involved in the agreement, including the event planner and the client.

Scope of services: Define the specific services you will provide, such as event planning, coordination, or additional services like vendor management or venue selection.

Event details: Include the date, time, and location of the event, as well as any specific requirements or expectations.

Pricing and payment terms: Clearly outline the agreed-upon pricing structure, including fees, deposits, and payment schedules.

Cancellation and refund policies: Specify the conditions under which either party can cancel the agreement and the associated refund or penalty policies.

Liability and insurance: Define each party's responsibilities and liabilities, including any necessary insurance coverage.

Intellectual property rights: Address ownership of event concepts, designs, or other intellectual property created during the planning process.

Termination clause: Include provisions outlining the circumstances and procedures for terminating the contract.

Dispute resolution: Specify the preferred method of resolving any disputes, such as mediation or arbitration.

Governing law: Indicate the jurisdiction and applicable laws that will govern the contract.

When and how to charge your event planner pay

When you charge your event planner, pay is likely to depend largely on the nature of the event. For smaller events, you may simply take a retainer fee and charge the balance after the event. For larger ones, you may want a retainer fee and milestone payments or instalments. Either way, you need to balance your security with your client’s.  

Your main options for taking payment are bank debits and payment cards. If you’re working purely in the consumer market, ewallets may also be an option. Their fees do, however, tend to be expensive. Card fees also tend to be more expensive than bank debit fees (especially for credit cards). This means that bank debit tends to be the most practical option.

Using bank debit makes it easy to collect invoice payments because all your customer has to do is give you the initial authorisation. After that, you set up the invoice and the invoice payment is charged automatically. If, however, you need particularly fast payment, then you have the option to use Instant Bank Pay.

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