Planning a simcha for our children should be one of life’s greatest joys. Reaching those milestones in life and being able to share it with your friends and family are the moments that you will always remember. A wedding and a Bar/Bat Mitzvah are the two most celebrated events in our lives. But of course, with every joyful upcoming event, there are also headaches: all the stuff that no one enjoys dealing with.
For many people, budgeting a simcha is the most difficult part. On one hand you want to have the greatest party ever that everyone will be talking about for years, but on the other hand there is the challenge of paying for it without going broke.
The balance between doing what you think is right and the pressure of keeping up with the “Goldbergs” is the most difficult part, especially when it comes to Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. When classmates have a lavish party, you don’t want to hurt your child’s feelings. So what is the solution and how do we survive the process without arriving at the date with a lot of extra gray hair? The answer is quite simple: Setting priorities. The first thing you have to do is think: What are the most important things for me? Having a five-piece band and a singer instead of a one-man band that sings? Having a lavish shmorg or a lighting company to up-light the place? Once you have made a list from top to bottom of all the things that are important to you the most, that’s the time to plan your simcha backwards.
Instead of adding up the cost of each vendor only to find out at the end of the research that there is no way you can afford a party like that, start from the amount of money that you are willing to spend and work your way from there. For example, if you are planning a Bar Mitzvah and the most you are willing or able to spend is $10,000, then you know that you can’t spend $40 a person for 200 people otherwise you won’t have music, photography or video. Planning your simcha backwards will help you stay in budget and spend the most on the most important things for you.
Having a party planner can take a big portion of your burden and a good party planner will help you make the right decisions, but the first thing the planner will want to know is your specific budget.
Once you have an established budget, it’s time to start shopping. As a photographer I can tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than receiving a call from a potential customer that starts by asking, “How much do you charge for a wedding?”
It’s frustrating because I know that they are shopping for price only. Basically they are assuming that all photographers are the same but the prices are not, so my uniqueness and style as a photographer are irrelevant as long as I charge the right amount. In my view, the best way to evaluate a vendor is to ask for a meeting, evaluate the work, check references, build a relationship. One of the last questions should be the price. Most photographers will be willing to work with you if you are honest about what you can and can’t afford.
Keep in mind that planning backwards it’s actually the right way when you are on a budget.
Always, it’s important to remember that you are planning a simcha. Keep smiling and remember what a blessing is to plan a simcha for a loved one.
Eliezer Blejer is the CEO and founder of Simcha Connections.
By Eliezer Blejer