There are a lot of little items that you need to account for in creating a Bar or Bat Mitzvah budget. We’ve talked about average costs, but what about all of the little things included in each category? Below is a list broken down by category that includes items that you may not have thought of. Keep in mind that some of these Mitzvah budget categories may also include additional fees (like delivery, disposal, damage deposits, etc.), taxes or gratuities which will add to your bottom line. And hey, there might not be exactly 101 items here, but it was a catchy title and there could be 101. I didn’t actually count.
- Deluxe set up with dance floor lights, plasmas, dance cubes, etc.
- Additional cocktail music
Decor + Rental
- Tables and chairs
- Dishes, glassware, silverware and serving ware
- Lounge furniture
Paper Goods/Graphic Design
- Cocktail napkins
- Escort cards/seating chart
- Day of printed materials (menu cards, place cards, signs, table numbers, etc.)
- Invitations, rsvp cards, enclosures
- Save the dates
- Thank you cards
- Sign in board/book/object
- Busses (for kids or out of town guests)
- Valet parking
- Guest parking (Some of my clients choose to pay for guest parking at their events. Not necessary, but a nice touch)
- Talit and bag
- Synagogue + tutoring fees
- Kippot, clips and basket
- Candy for throwing
- Mitzvah child’s dress/suit for service and party
- Parent’s dress/suit for service and party
- Siblings dress/suit for service and party
- Shoes/accessories for service and party
- Hair, makeup and manicures
- Socks + container
- Table numbers
- Bathroom baskets
- Gift bags for out of town guests
- Card box
- Candles and candelabra for candle lighting ceremony
Other Weekend Events
A former client of mine introduced me to Hedy Gold, Personal Stylist and Shopper, of Styled by Hedy and I was so impressed! Hedy works with clients in the DC and NYC metro area and has an extensive background in the fashion industry. She works with her clients to ensure they feel comfortable and confident, and put together for special occasions (like a Bar or Bat Mitzvah) or simply their everyday life. Her method helps her to identify her clients best qualities and while creating a signature image style that makes them look great and feel great based on budget, body type and lifestyle. Here’s Hedy to tell you more!
How did you get started with Styled by Hedy?
I grew up obsessed with fashion and I loved reading and fashion magazines while dreaming of moving to NYC and becoming a fashion editor at a young age. Two weeks after I graduated from college, I moved to NYC and got a job interning at Mademoiselle magazine and luckily was recommended for an Assistant Position at another magazine two weeks after that. Two hours after my interview and after two weeks of living in NYC I was hired as the Accessories Assistant at Mirabella magazine. My journey began and I worked and moved up the ranks of the magazine world becoming a Fashion Director at Cosmo, Glamour and SELF magazines. I styled some of the biggest movie stars and super models on photo shoots and attended fashion shows around the world, and worked with the best photographers in the business. Once the climate changed and everyone was focused on technology for their fashion information I left the magazines and started my own blog. Styled by Hedy, my personal styling business, was formed shortly after once the word got out about the blog. My friends would ask me to help them pick outfits for them and then I began to work for myself!
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I get to do things that I’m passionate about, I get to tell people my stories, and I get to make people happy. I change their lives dramatically! And it’s an empowering feeling. I also love the feedback I receive from my clients when they tell me “I walk into my closet, get ready in two minutes, and I have everything I need for my lifestyle!”
What’s your pop color–that something special that makes you, you?
I’m a “people person” and love engaging with my clients and getting to know them. The better I know them, the better I can serve their needs. My clients always tell me they have fun when we work together and that’s the best compliment!
What’s your favorite moment of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
Hands down when the DJ starts playing the beats, because I love music and I love to dance!!!
What questions should parents ask someone in your field?
First, they should ask what are your credentials? Next, they should ask who is your clientele? What services do you provide and what is the process? Where are your go-to places to shop? How much do you charge? And what is your style philosophy?
Need help with what to wear for your child’s Mitzvah (or your daily life)? Style by Hedy can help! Check her out on Facebook or Instagram for fashion inspiration.
If you follow me over on Instagram, you know how much I LOVE escort cards. There’s something about orderly, straight lines that get me all heart eyed.
Before I share some of my favorites, I wanted to talk about the difference between escort cards and place cards. It’s common for people to refer to place cards when they really mean escort cards. Escort cards tell guests at which table to sit and place cards tell guests at which place at the table to sit. The vast majority of Bar Mitzvahs do not have place cards because they are not assigning their guests to specific places at each table.
These starry night escort cards from Daniel’s Bar Mitzvah had the table number assignments on the inside.
A lovely way to accent your escort card display is with photos of the guest of honor like from Shoshana’s Bat Mitzvah.
Don’t feel like you have to display the escort cards on a table! A vertical display like the one from Olivia’s Bat Mitzvah is unexpected and fun!
Is there a way for your escort cards to be on-theme? These bookmark escort cards were a perfect fit for Lindsey’s book-themed Bat Mitzvah party.
And these bone-shaped escort cards were on-theme for Lexi’s dog-themed Bat Mitzvah party.
How cool are these bandana wrapped escort cards from Ilene’s Color War-themed Bat Mitzvah? Each of the bandanas assigned guests to their color war team.
And if you want a place card? These caligraphied paint sets tell all of Talia’s friends where to sit.
Get creative with your escort cards! They don’t have to just be plain, folded tent cards on a table, they can be on-theme, displayed in a creative way or in interesting shapes.
There are a ton of great Mitzvah planning timelines out there for when you should book each of your vendors, but the thing is, they’re all just a little bit different. One says you should do X, 6 months out and another says you should do it 3 months out. Do those 3 months really make a difference? In my opinion, nope!
I’ve planned Mitzvahs in 5 months and I’ve planned them in 2 years. The tasks naturally space themselves out based on the amount of time that you have to plan. The main difference is that if you start early, you have the most vendor options.
Mitzvah planning tasks
I find the list below to be the most common Mitzvah planning tasks/vendors that must be hired. I’ve listed the tasks in the order that I recommend completing them.
- Make your guest list (You need to know how many people you’ll likely have. This affects everything!)
- Hire a Planner (The earlier I’m hired in the process, the more help I can provide!)
- Find your venue (They book fast during popular times of year)
- Select your MC/DJ (Entertainment will keep your party rolling along.)
- Find a Photographer/Videographer (These are the memories that you’ll cherish after the event is over)
- Decide on a Caterer (if your venue doesn’t have an in-house option)
- Figure out and hire someone for design/decor (this includes logos, lighting, rental items/furniture, centerpieces and print materials like invitations) or DIY
- Add in the fun stuff–novelties or extra entertainment (photobooths, green screens, games, roving magicians…)
- If you’ll be providing any sort of transportation for guests, reseverve busses, valet or parking.
- Put the finishing touches on your Candle lighting or Montage
- Final details (floor plans, production schedule/timeline, assigning seating, purchasing final odds and ends, and all of the things that your planner will make sure that you remember)
Once you get started contacting and contracting your vendors, you will build momentum. Experienced vendors will help you through the process and make sure that your event is perfect!
What is a floor plan?
A floor plan is a diagram of the layout of your event venue complete with tables, chairs, dance floor, lounge furniture, bars, buffets and anything else that needs to go into the space. It shows you where everything goes–from the number of chairs per table, to table numbers or names, to where the cocktail space will be. Ideally, it shows a scale version of where everything fits best so that there are no surprises on the event day. Note that some, less tech-savvy vendors still draw floor plans by hand, so they’re hoping and praying that everything fits on the event day. I don’t do that!
Who should create your floor plan?
A great floor plan is a collaboration between your planner, caterer/venue, and decorator. Each has their own unique needs, so failure to consult with one may result in problems the day of the event. It’s important to ensure that each vendor has space for the exact equipment that they will need onsite.
Some common items that can be overlooked when creating a floor plan are: a table for gifts, a small table for wine and challah for the Kiddush, table for your DJ, a table for the photo booth and a table for escort cards. If you don’t have the right number of tables in advance, you won’t have the correct number of table linens on the event day, so be careful! Double check your contracts or with your vendors to ensure that they have the tables/chairs necessary to do their job.
Why is a floor plan so important?
Prior planning prevents problems onsite. A floor plan is the best way to ensure everything has its place onsite, that the event has a good flow and that your guests have the environment for a rockin party. When your vendor teams knows whose stuff goes where and they’ve approved the floor plan ahead of the event, the set up will go smoothly and eveyone will be ready to party for your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
I had a blast working Gabriela’s family for her globally inspired travel-themed Bat Mitzvah party at VisArts in Rockville. Her family wanted a rustic, vintage look that still felt fresh and feminine. Gabriela loves books and loves to travel, so we worked with DaVinci to combine everything into one incredible look. Not only did VisArts look amazing, but the family and their guests arrived ready to party. If you want even more images of the special day, check out the full portfolio.
For her candle lighting, Gabriela used Moroccan-style lanterns.
Guest sat at farm tables which were filled with globes, books, flowers and greenery. Gabriela’s dad handmade the incredible directional sign which included many places special to the family and their guests.
Guests also sat at wine barrels with a glass top decorated with flower and globes.
Each centerpiece was a little bit different. These centerpieces included a vintage suitcase with floral, moss and a passport.
The evening finished up with lots of treats to feed Gabriela’s sweet tooth including make your own s’mores. Delish!
It was a pleasure to work with this family for Gabriela’s Bat Mitzvah party and they were pretty happy too:
“Brynne made this process feel very manageable and methodical. She was also never stressed out and rolled with many of our crazy questions and ideas in a very patient and open-minded way. She was ready to work with any eventuality that came up. We had some last minute switches on the day of the event and she was unflappable with letting us know she would take care of things. I could really enjoy the party because I knew Brynne had everything under control.”
– Gabriela’s Mom
Thanks to the awesome vendors who helped make it happen and mazel tov to Gabriela and her family!
Photographer: Michael Temchine Photography
Venue: VisArts (Rockville, MD)
Entertainment: Washington Talent
Catering: Catering by Seasons
Invitations: Event Prints
When you’re in the last 4 to 6 weeks or planning your mitzvah, everything should really be coming together nicely. It’s the time to consider your Mitzvah timeline and Mitzvah production schedule, who will create these and what should be included. What is the difference between a Mitzvah timeline and a Mitzvah production schedule and what are some things that need to be included?
Your Mitzvah Timeline includes what is going to happen during your party. Generally this is something that your MC (in conjunction with your planner) will put together. It’s basically just an outline for your party and what your guests will experience.
Mitzvah Production Schedule
Production schedule is the big picture view of the entire day. It includes all of the information that your vendors will need to know to be successful at their job and the “behind the scenes” details that your vendors will need to take care of. Your planner should create this since they will be coordinating with your vendor team and will know what each vendor needs.
Questions to consider for your Mitzvah Timeline
- Do you want cocktail hour to be a full hour or shorter/longer?
- What sort of meal will you be serving? Plated? Buffets? Stations? When will each course go out?
- Will you be introducing the Mitzvah child or their family?
- Will there be a welcome speech? Toasts? A candle lighting? Blessings over wine and challah? Who will do each?
- Will there be any special dances? A parent/child dance? Hora (if so, who is going up on chairs)?
- Is there a montage? A speech from the guest of honor or their sibling?
Questions to consider for your Mitzvah Production Schedule
- What time will each vendor arrive?
- How long will it take for each vendor to set up? When does that set up need to happen?
- What time will the event space be available for load in? What time do vendor need to be loaded out?
- Will there be photos taken prior to the party?
- What items need to be set up and when? Favors? A candy bar?
Each event is a little bit different and may need more or different information than listed above. Working with an experienced planner will help you to map out all of the contingencies and ensure a smooth, flawless event where your vendor team will know exactly what needs to happen and when.
I hear it time and again, the RSVP deadline is 2 days away and I still need to hear from 30 people! If the first thing you need to do to plan for your child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah is to make the list, the last thing you need to do for the finishing touches is to know the final number of guests to expect. And there are a lot of things that you can’t do until you have a darn close to final guest count.
1. Order Favors
Not only do you need to know how many to order, but you may also need to know sizes. When each item can run $20 a pop, you don’t want to wind up with too many extras or that’s just money down the drain. You don’t want to order too late or you’ll incur rush charges.
2. Seat guests
When placing guests at tables, you need to have a good sense of who is coming so you can seat the right people together. You want to ensure that no table is too crowded and no table is too empty. How can you do that if you’re still waiting to hear from your guests?!
3. Order Rental Items
If you don’t know how many guests to expect, how will you be sure of the number of tables and the number of centerpieces needed for those tables? How will you ensure you have the correct number of chairs rented?
4. Print Escort Cards
After you finally are able to assign guests to tables, it takes time to print escort cards or seating charts. It’s always a scramble at the end to get this done which causes lots of unnecessary stress for the Mitzvah family.
5. Food and Beverage
Guest counts are due to caterers anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks prior to your event to ensure that they are able to provide ample food.
Don’t be a jerk! RSVP right away. A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is an amazing celebration and you’re not likely to get a better invite for the weekend. Just commit already! And, if you have to cancel at the last minute, you’d better have a darn good excuse.