Event planning usually holds a top spot on lists of low-cost business ideas. That’s because overhead costs are minimal and you can launch your startup from home until you build a client base. Still, a great event company name, an abundance of creativity, and top-notch organizational skills alone aren’t enough to get started in event planning. You need tools and supplies to help you stay organized and bring your ideas to life.
Read on to learn the must-have equipment you need to launch an event planning business, and the approximate cost of these essential items.
The essential equipment for an event planning business startup (and its cost!):
1. Cell phone and cellular service
Estimated cost: + $600 to $1,200 for a flagship phone | + 150/month for cellular service
Your cell phone is mission control for your event planning business. Many of your interactions with clients—prospective and current—will take place over the phone. Voice-to-voice is where you’ll make your first impression.
You’ll also use your phone to get important details from vendors, discuss changes to orders, cope with unexpected problems, and communicate with your team while you run last-minute errands before an event. You can also download helpful scores of event planning apps that help keep you organized when you’re out meeting clients or visiting venues.
When choosing a cell phone for your business, prioritize battery life—you don’t want your phone cutting out mid-call with a valued client. Beyond that, your phone should be a newer model and include a high-quality camera so you can capture crisp images of your event designs for your portfolio.
2. Laptop computer
Estimated cost: + $1,500 to $2,500
You may wonder: Why not a desktop? Because event planning is a mobile business by nature. As the head of an event planning business, your office needs to be wherever you are. Choose a lightweight laptop and a protective laptop bag or backpack and try not to overload it—heavy bags can contribute to back, shoulder, and neck pain.
Like your cell phone, your laptop should be a recent model, with a long battery life, plenty of storage space, and a high-resolution screen. When starting out, many event planners meet clients in coffee shops to discuss inspiration and goals. Your laptop is where you’ll share your portfolio, Pinterest image boards, and possible venues.
Your laptop is also your primary connection to your event planning software. You’ll be able to update your event table layouts, add to your to-do list, and share notes and priority tasks with your event planning team as your business grows. To make it a truly mobile event planning office, your cloud software capabilities should include:
- Event diagramming
- Event element customization
- Contact lists
- Floor Plan layouts
- Guest tracking
- Special requests
- Shareable calendar
Bonus tip: Put a customized sticker on your laptop that showcases your business name and branding. It demonstrates an eye for detail, and may even attract business when you are working at a local coffee shop!
3. Business cards
Estimated cost: + $400 for 500 cards
This two- by three-inch piece of cardstock is a powerful tool for your business. Generating new clients is an essential part of your efforts, and you never know when or where you will meet people who need an event planner, or know someone who needs one. You’ll also share them with peers during networking gatherings and event industry conferences.
You can design your own business cards or customize existing templates through printing companies like Moo or Vistaprint. Of course, triple check your spelling and contact information, and feature your brand logo if you have one.
Keep your business cards on hand wherever you go, and pass them out during conversations online at the coffee shop, at social gatherings, and networking cocktail hours. Just remember giving out business cards is an art that takes some practice so you don’t come across as pushy or make people uncomfortable.
4. Fast and reliable router and WiFi
Estimated cost: + $100 to $400 for business router | + $90 to $250 for high-speed internet
Your event planning software is cloud-based—you need fast, dependable WiFi so you can share updates and ideas with your clients and your team. Talk to other small business owners in your area to find out which company provides the best local service. You’ll also need a reliable small business router that’s powerful and secure. This device supports essential tasks, such as sourcing event venues, making financial transactions, and downloading and sharing event floor plans.
If you’re starting your event planning business at home, upgrade your WiFi capabilities—that way other people in your household can use the system without interrupting your connection.
Estimated cost: + $25,000 to $35,000 for new mid-size sedan
Unless you live in a big city with a reliable public transportation system, you’ll need a car to scout venues, meet with clients, and search for show-stopping decor elements for your next event.
That’s it! You can get started in event planning with these tools plus your top-notch organizational skills and boundless creativity. But we’re not going to stop there. Soon enough, you won’t be a one-person operation handling small business meetings and one wedding at a time. Next, let’s take a look at what you might need then.
Discover essential event planning office equipment
As your business grows, you’ll need more equipment to juggle multiple events, RFPs, and client meetings. Large event firms have an office where clients can visit, and your team can gather to brainstorm and strategize.
Estimated cost: + $300 to $1,000
With so much business going fully digital, printers are starting to feel old school. However, they remain a requirement for your event planning office. You still need hard copies of contracts for clients and vendors alike. And some people are simply not tech-savvy, or they absorb information better from paper rather than screens. They will appreciate the hard-copies of event floorplans and photos of your inspiration.
Estimated cost: + $500 to $1,700
Tablets are portable and practical tools for client meetings and inspiration sharing. You can bring them along to meetings at venues or coffee shops—no need to boot up the laptop. For a nice touch, order a customized cover with your event company name.
8. High-Quality Camera
Estimated cost: + $500 to $2,000
You could use your cell phone, but as your business grows, you’ll want to share glamour shots of your stand-out events. Getting those great shots requires a quality DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera. You’ll use this camera for:
- Event portfolio photos
- Event website photos
- Backup if your event photographer is late
- Videos for your website and clients
9. Furniture and decor
Estimated cost: $100 to $3,000
You need a place to sit with existing and prospective clients, as well as your team. Take some time with your choices; your office should reflect your event planning style. Are your events known for bold designs, add some eye-catching elements to your office. If you’re known for sophistication, make sure your seating conveys refinement. Place your favorite sources of inspiration, such as photography, art, and architecture books near seating areas—these are great conversation starters.
10. Inspiration wall
Estimated cost: + $100 to $400 for cork boards or magnet boards
This is a spot to gather your latest inspiration and ideas for the events you are designing. Consider a chalkboard paint wall with large cork boards or magnet boards for attaching pictures and color swatches. If you have several events in the works at once, write the event name above each board in chalk. You can also create ‘boards’ with large, colorful squares painted on the walls where you can hang photos with tape or poster tack.
11. Office F&B Equipment and Stock
Estimated cost: + 150/month for water cooler delivery and snacks
You know F&B is one of the keys to happy event guests. Don’t forget to show your hospitality to visiting clients and your staff as well. Things to keep on hand:
- Coffee maker
- Water dispenser
- Healthy snacks (granola bars, nuts, yogurt)
- Plates, glasses, and mugs (for cake tastings, water, and coffee)
Get your event planning emergency kit
The unexpected is expected in event planning. You need to be prepared for emergencies before and during any event.
12. See-through plastic banker’s or file box
Estimated cost: + $20 to $40
Make sure it’s see-through so you can tell at a glance what you’ve got and when your supplies are running low. Look for a carry-all that closes securely and has a handle for easy transport, if possible.
13. Name tags
Estimated cost: + $80 for 100 plastic holders and 500 stickers
Event registration should be seamless, so ensure your event’s website makes it that way! Your event check-in software will prompt print-outs of official name tags as event guests arrive. But you’ll likely need to create last-minute name tags for attendees who register on the event day, or request changes to their title. Get a supply of sticker name tags, as well as plastic name tag holders with pins to attach them to shirts.
14. Permanent markers
Estimated cost: + $50 for 2 packs (fine-point and king size)
Keep a handful of bold permanent markers in black and a few other colors on hand. You’ll find yourself grabbing the markers to create signs to direct crowds at unforeseen bottlenecks, or for those last-minute name tags.
15. Mini sewing kit
Estimated cost: + $10
These are easy enough to put together yourself, or you can buy a pre-made sewing kit with thread, needles, a needle threader, fabric tape, and small scissors.
16. First-aid kit
Estimated cost: + $25
You can find fully stocked first-aid kids in any drug store. They should include antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages for every skin tone, tweezers, ace bandages, safety scissors, and instant cold packs.
17. Makeup kit
Estimated cost: + $150
Whether your event is an intimate wedding reception, a gala fundraiser for a museum, or a professional conference, your team and your clients may have left their faves at home and require a touch up. Stock up with eyeshadow palettes in neutral shades, concealers for light, medium, and dark skin colors, and a few lipsticks and glosses. Keep cotton balls, cotton swabs, and tissues on hand—for sanitary reasons, no one should touch any of the makeup with their fingers.
18. AV Equipment
Estimated cost: + $400 for Catchbox microphone
Though you’ll work with AV vendors on large-scale events, it’s smart to have some AV equipment on hand. Consider a meeting of 100 sales representatives from a global company. Instead of hiring AV equipment, you can offer Catchbox tossable microphones to encourage participation.
19. Extension cords and floor cord covers
Estimated cost: + $200 for 3 cords and covers
Outlets aren’t always where you need them at events. Extension cords of varying sizes give you the flexibility you need when setting up the podium for a keynote speaker or your check-in desk. Just be sure to get floor cord covers as well so the extra wires don’t become trip hazards.
20. Backup portable chargers
Estimated cost: + $200 to 300 for 4 to 5 chargers
We’ve all been there. Our phone is on 2 percent battery power and our charger is on the kitchen counter at home. Be the hero for yourself, your team, and your clients by purchasing backup chargers. Get several multi-chargers you can plug into a wall outlet, a USB port, and one that has a battery pack.
Apply these event planning equipment money-saving ideas
Especially when you’re just starting out, you’ll want to stick to a budget. Big-box stores are excellent places to stock up on high-volume, low-cost office supplies and tech accessories, such as phone chargers and extension cords. Or, you can wait until there’s a sale at your local office supply store.
When you’re ready to rent office space, other cost-saving strategies include:
- Visiting thrift stores for furniture
- DIY painting and decor
- Gently used office supplies
These choices can help you splurge on your phone and computer, which are at the heart of your business.
Whether you’re launching an event planning biz or growing your business beyond your home office, you’ll deliver event designs clients love with these supplies at the ready!
Next, discover up-to-the-minute event industry trends and find out the best event Facebook groups to join to learn and grow. Or, find out how Social Tables’ event planning software can take your business to the next level.