5 Ways to Add Touches of Luxe to Your Event (Without Extra Bucks)

Add a dose of elegance to any event--even on a budget

For event planners, managing (and planning with) a measly budget is an all too common occurrence. And while we instinctively seek ways to spend each nickel and dime creatively, losing out on luxury and presentation might seem inevitable with a shallow piggy bank. 

But as with clothing, beauty products, and home furnishings, there are ways to emit a high-class façade without spending a fortune. Here, we list five ways to add subtly impactful touches of opulence to your event without extra spending. 

1. Focus on One Flamboyant Cocktail 

From garnishes to exotic liquors, all the fixings at a bar station can add up quickly at a Celebrate or Network event--which leads many planners to opt for standard beer and wine options instead. But just because you're on a budget doesn't necessarily mean you need to eschew fun, fancy cocktails altogether. You just need to pick one--and make it dramatic. 

To keep things simple (and crowd-pleasing), pick a fruity drink that contains herb garnish for subtle decoration. An article from Buzzfeed lists a selection of cocktails with intriguing, colorful fruit-and-herb pairings, like grapefruit and thyme, strawberry and mint, and cherries and champagne. If your client is celebrating a particular occasion or holiday, don't be afraid to tap into the brand colors or flavors it's associated with.  

2. Control the Portioning

With waitstaff, linens, and serving pieces, on paper a sit-down meal seems like a more extravagant and expensive option than a buffet. But when you consider all the food guests might be throwing out when they don't appropriately size their portions, the supposed benefits of self-serve dining are negated. 

And it's wasteful for the environment, too. Brad Nelson, VP of culinary discipline and global corporate chef for Marriott International, explains: "Proper menu planning and proper menu portioning are key to minimizing any post-event waste. The most environmentally friendly option is obviously to plan out individual portions and small plates as opposed to buffets." With Nelson's leadership, Marriott plans to reduce food waste 50 percent by 2025. 

Yes, you'll likely have to foot the bill for (sometimes) costly waitstaff and serving pieces. But considering all the times workers would need to replenish and reorganize buffet trays, the amount of staff hours required likely isn't much less. 

3. Slash Unnecessary Clutter 

As we've discussed many times before, on top of being pegged as "millennial" and of-the-moment in terms of design trends, minimalism doubles as a mood-altering mechanism, allowing individuals to focus on the task at hand and declutter their minds. To boot, it's also cost-effective. 

The key, of course, is picking the right pieces to furnish your event. As an article from Elle Décor stated, minimalism relies heavily on industrial surfaces like stainless steel, chrome and lacquered plastics--materials that, unlike certain wood, woven and hemp furnishings, aren't likely to bring your design bill through the roof. 

4. Opt for Eye-Catching Statement Pieces 

As an article from Forbes highlighted, a single statement pendant light hanging from the ceiling allows you to position a visually intriguing piece directly in everyone's line of sight. And whether you pick a chandelier or a pendant, and regardless of how plain the rest of the furniture looks, you'll be adding a touch of class that naturally emanates to all corners of the room. As for pieces you could probably save on, think dining or work tables (which can be easily done up with a delicately folded napkin or touch of greenery, as we will discuss below). 

5. Add Some Greenery 

Simple, eco-friendly and, most importantly, cost-effective, adding touches of greenery to your meeting décor is one of the quickest ways to transform event dining tables, walkways or work spaces from ho-hum to expensive-looking (and delightfully fragrant). As for vases, don't worry too much about detailed ceramics--the greenery itself can (and should) be the main show.