Just about everything planned for a class reunion is going to have a cost attached to it.
In order to have a successful class reunion, expenses have to be budgeted, managed and paid for.
Planning for expenses in a detailed manner (i.e creating a budget) is the only way to get an idea of what the actual costs will be.
Knowing this will determine whether the per person cost will be manageable for your class reunion attendees. (Read: How Much Does A Class Reunion Cost Per Person)
The following expense categories are the most common ones used for a budget:
Accommodations For Class Reunion
Deposit For Hotel Room Block
In most cases, you will be asked to place a deposit when you block hotel rooms for the class reunion (Read: How To Reserve Hotel Rooms For A Class Reunion). If you happen to be a skilled negotiator, then you should try to get rid of the deposit altogether, especially of you need less than 30 rooms per night (in which case, you would try to get a courtesy room block)
If you cannot negotiate the deposit out of the contract, then budget for it under the Location category. The deposit is usually 10-20% of the entire room block. It is refundable so long as your classmates block enough rooms at the hotel.
Complimentary Hotel Rooms
In some cases, hotels will offer a complimentary room for every twenty or thirty hotel rooms reserved. Should this be the case, provide the room to an honorary guest.
Class Reunion Headquarters Expense/Hospitality Suite
In most cases, the class reunion headquarters or Hospitality suite at a hotel are both free for class reunions. What isn’t free is the snacks, drinks, and supplies. Have a small budget allocated to this
Include catering charges for all meals, tips, and gratuities. Don’t forget to budget for any set up fees, linen, and utensils. If you are having more than one catering event (Like a BBQ lunch and banquet dinner), then create two separate subcategories. Its easier to budget for and track each event separately than as a whole.
When planning meals, make sure to include any deposit you will have to give ahead of time, and adjust for any cost increases for last minute changes.
Many class reunions will send the reunion chair to the class reunion prior to theirs. Doing so provides some valuable experience for the reunion chair as he/she gets to witness a live event. If you plan on doing this, then add it to your catering budget.
Many class reunion planners forget to budget for any honorary guests that are attending. For example, if you invited some teachers, the principal, or anyone else to speak at the class reunion, you will have to pay for their meals. Make sure to budget for their expenses as well.
Most class reunions don’t go overboard with decorations as most people are there to catch up and not to look at the decor. However, some decorations are still necessary to create a festive atmosphere. When approving decorations, make sure to not go overboard. Common decorations are balloons, streamers, and centerpieces.
This category of expenses encompasses all mailers (Save the dates, registration forms, invitations etc.), phone calls, faxes and anything else related to communicating with classmates. If you are creating physical pieces like class reunion invitations, registration packets, and welcome packets, then you have to account for paper, copies, ink, envelopes, and postage.
In most cases, you can purchase and mail invitations for $1-2 each. Registration packets can be sent out for $3-5 each. Remember to check with the alumni office to see if they will create these for you. Also, many schools will even mail them at their own cost.
A common practice recently is to replace all physical mailers with online forms. Class reunion invitations have been replaced with evites and class reunion registrations can be done online (see website section below). Welcome packets, class lists, and reunion updates can all be emailed instead of printed. Not only is this cost efficient, it also saves the environment.
Newsletters are easy to create and send online. The days of sending class reunion newsletters by mail are over. Companies like Constant Contact, AWeber, and MailChimp offer free templates that you can use to send out email newsletters that are far most cost effective. As of this writing, MailChimp offered the first 2000 emails for free every month.
Class reunion of yesteryears used to allocate a huge budget for printing costs since everything had to be printed, copied, collated, and mailed. This has changed drastically with the advent of the internet. As mentioned earlier, email is a class reunion planners best friend.
Despite email, there are two things that you have to budget for. Directional signs and name tags. Both of these costs can vary greatly depending on how elaborate you want them. Many class reunions will make their own signs and name tags to save costs. Self made name tags and signs will run you around fifty cents each.
If you want professionally designed name tags with pictures of your classmates, the cost will range from $1 or more.
A class reunion website is absolutely essential nowadays. They are easy to create and don’t cost much at all (Around $15/month to maintain). Not only can you use a website to convey essential information, you can also post class reunion surveys, polls, and even let people register online
By far, the biggest benefit is that you can accept credit cards as a form of payment for the class reunion right on the website. Being able to accept credit cards actually increases attendance as it is the preferred method of payment for most people nowadays (Does anyone still write checks?). If you want to learn more, read our articles on creating a class reunion website.
If you are hiring a photographer or a videographer, make sure to get multiple quotes. The quality of work and professionalism is very important and should be taken into account when hiring them. While pricing can be all over the place, most charge a minimum fee plus a per print price.
Another recommendation is that you should look for class reunion photographers that specialize in creating memory books. The advantage is that they will attend the class reunion at no cost and will only charge for memory books ordered. There is no cost to the class reunion at all and memory books are purchased directly from the photographer.
Entertainment is another variable that has to be budgeted for. Most entertainment (singers, DJ’s, Comedians) can be had for less than $500 a night including tax and tip. When signing the contract, pay only half up front and the rest at the end of the show.
Many schools provide tables, chairs, linen and AV equipment for free to the class reunion. If your event is not at the school, then you may have to rent some of these from the banquet facility or hotel that is hosting the class reunion.
There are many small fees that come up every day when planning a class reunion. Things like bank fees, tolls paid, and fax costs are unpredictable but necessary. It is best to add a 10% miscellaneous fees section when creating a budget.
As you can see, there are many expense categories that need to be budgeted for when planning a class reunion. Get things started by asking everyone on your planning committee to give you a list of expenses that they expect to incur. Once you have an idea of what is being planned for, you can start to make a preliminary budget that is realistic and has the right categories to reflect expenses.
What should you read next?
Speaking of expenses, learn how to save money at your next class reunion by reading “How to make your class reunion more affordable“.