Mitzvah Budget

101 Items to include in your mitzvah budget

Creating a Mitzvah budget is tough! Have you considered these 101-ish spending items when planning and paying for your child's Bar or Bat Mitzvah?

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.


  • Rental fees




  • Second shooter
  • Album


  • Dancers
  • Giveaways
  • Prizes
  • Deluxe set up with dance floor lights, plasmas, dance cubes, etc.
  • Additional cocktail music


  • Photobooth/Green Screen
  • Games and novelties
  • Montage (and something to display it on–projector and screen or TVs)

Decor + Rental

  • Tables and chairs
  • Centerpieces
  • Dishes, glassware, silverware and serving ware
  • Lounge furniture
  • Linens
  • Lighting

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
  • Postage
  • 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)

Service Items

  • Talit and bag
  • Synagogue + tutoring fees
  • Kippot, clips and basket
  • Candy for throwing
  • Programs

Personal Attire/Care

  • Alterations
  • 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

Other Expenses

  • Security
  • Tips
  • Favors
  • Socks + container
  • Table numbers
  • Bathroom baskets
  • Gift bags for out of town guests
  • Card box
  • Candles and candelabra for candle lighting ceremony
  • Website

Other Weekend Events

Need help creating a Mitzvah budget? Pop Color Events can help! Contact us.

Time vs. Money vs. Quality in Bat or Bar Mitzvah Planning

Bar and Bat Mitzvah planning is a constant balance between time, money and quality of the end product | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD & VABar Mitzvah planning or Bat Mitzvah planning is a constant balance between time, money and quality of the end product. It’s up to each individual family to rank the value of each of these factors and make a decision about how they want to proceed. There are a million ways you can save money from spending hours researching the most budget-friendly vendors to making your own favors or decor. Here are some questions to consider when making the decision.

How much time can you realistically devote to each Bar Mitzvah planning task?

What does your schedule look like and how much will your partner be able to help with the Bar Mitzvah planning? Will hiring a planner help to save you time researching and finding vendors in your preferred price point? Do you have the time to purchase supplies for and create 10+ centerpieces? (Tip: Think about the time it will take to make 1 decor item/centerpiece then multiply by the number you think you’ll need. Then add 10 minutes per item because it will take longer than you think!) Are these the things that you’ll want to spend your free time doing? Are you a procrastinator and will spend the month prior to the event stressed out of your mind?

What does your budget look like?

If you are on a tight budget, DIY may be your best option. However, you need to do your research because it is not always such a huge savings to DIY. Vendors purchase their supplies at wholesale rates and have the experience to work much faster than you can.

What will the quality of the end result be?

If you make your own centerpieces, will they look like you made your own centerpieces? If you hire the most budget DJ or photographer, will the end result scream that you cheaped out? Consider how important the quality of the end result will be to you and decide whether it is worth it to pay a bit more for a true professional.

In Conclusion

Bar Mitzvah planning or Bat Mitzvah planning shouldn’t bankrupt you, but you also should decide how much to pay for convenience and quality. Sometimes the peace of mind in knowing that you have a quality product is worth it in the end.

If you want to save time and get quality vendors, contact me to set up a complimentary consultation.

Creating a Realistic Bar Mitzvah Budget

How much will your Bar or Bat Mitzvah Budget be? Estimate based on the average cost of a large event in your area. | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in MD, DC & VAAs I speak with more and more families, I’ve found that most people start their Mitzvah planning without a clear sense of what events cost or how much they’ll actually wind up spending. It’s one thing to throw out an arbitrary number that you’d like to stay within, but it’s another thing to actually understand how your Bar Mitzvah budget will break down. Anytime you’re hosting a party for around 100 people, costs will begin to add up quickly, simply because of the amount of stuff (from food to chairs to favors) needed. There is no such thing as a Mitzvah premium! In this article, we’ll focus specifically on the costs for a typical afternoon or evening party.

We’ve discussed catering costs, but what about the rest of the costs associated with your event? Your final cost, of course, depends on a lot of different factors that can vary based on the number of guests attend, the time of day, the time of year, the experience and reputation of the vendor, and the list goes on. In this article, we’ll go through the standard expenses and price points for the Washington DC-area (which includes the areas where most of my clients reside: Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Arlington, McLean, Falls Church, Alexandria, Fairfax…).

Please note that while you certainly may be able to find vendors that are less expensive than the ranges I suggest, it is absolutely true that you get what you pay for. Vendors with experience and training, proper equipment and backup equipment, as well as liability insurance and strong contracts cost money. I always want my clients to have a reasonable expectation of how much money they’re going to spend. Of course, you can have an amazing event at any budget, but it’s tough breaking the news to a family that the event they want is not in their price point. Going into the process with a solid understanding of how much events in your area cost is key.

Parents often come to me saying that they don’t want to plan a wedding for their child, but any large event with professional vendors is going to come with a price tag. The best way to get a sense of costs for a large event is to go to While it is not an apples to apples comparison to Mitzvahs, it will give you a frame of reference since all large events have similar components. Let’s start with an example of Zip Code 20817 which is Bethesda, MD. According to this website, the average cost is between $40,362 and $67,270. They also break it down by number of guests, because adding a single guest could add between $117 and $143 to the overall cost of your event.

Number of guests less than 50: $16,869 – $28,115

Number of guests between 50 and 100: $25,687 – $42,812

Number of guests between 100 and 200: $41,023 – $68,372

Number of guests between 200 and 300: $52,908 – $88,180

Number of guests more than 300: $102,366 – $170,610

How much am I going to spend in each category?

Here is the breakdown for by category for wedding spending. Below, I’ll break down areas where I see there being a major difference in price between weddings and mitzvahs.

Average Cost of Wedding vs. Bar Mitzvah Cost in the DC-metro area | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD & VA

Again, referencing this handy website, here is a chart of expected wedding costs.

Attire & Accessories

You’ll likely spend less than the estimated $2,711 for a wedding (which includes a wedding dress and alterations and a tuxedo/suit and alteration). However, keep in mind that your numbers probably include clothes for mom, dad, Mitzvah child and siblings and any alterations. Plus, if you’re having an evening party, you’ll often want to do an outfit change which adds in a second outfit for everyone.

Beauty & Spa

It’s possible that you’ll spend more than the $251 for a wedding. If mom, a Bat Mitzvah daughter and female siblings all want hair service, makeup service and mani/pedis, it could definitely run more. If you have a Bar Mitzvah son, this is spending is probably on target or high.


You’re probably going to spend a bit more than the $4,588 estimated for a wedding for a DJ plus some sort of activity or novelty (Photo Booth, arcade games…). Bar or Bat Mitzvah DJs are more expensive than wedding DJs because they usually include party motivators (dancers), giveaways and an MC. Most Mitzvahs also want something for the kids to do besides just dance and play games which often weddings do not include.

Flowers or Decorations

Decor prices can vary wildly depending on how elaborate you’re planning to go with the decoration. The $2,885 budgeted for a wedding is probably a good first estimate, but your pricing could be a lot less if you do a lot of DIY or a lot more if you hire an event production company. Surprisingly, basic floral centerpieces are not as expensive as you’d think and you could easily spend more on elaborate non-floral centerpieces than floral centerpieces.

Gifts & Favors

For a wedding, $1,276 is the estimate for gifts and favors and that’s a little low. This pricing includes tips for vendors and favors for guests. Since you’ll likely have more expensive favors than a wedding (shirts, sweatpants, etc.) plus tips for excellent service from your vendors, you’ll likely spend more in this area.

Invitations & Print Materials

The invitations and print materials estimate of $1,590 is a good starting point. Often B’nai Mitzvah invitations have more inserts than weddings and you’ll still need to account for save the dates, postage, menus, table numbers, escort or place cards and thank you cards. You can certainly save here if you do e-invites or have people RSVP to an email address, which is becoming more common.


Finally some savings! You will definitely spend less than $7,014 on jewelry because you are not purchasing engagement rings or wedding bands.

Photography & Video

If you’re planning on both a photographer and videographer $6,163 is probably right on target. However, if amazing photography is important to you, you could easily spend this much on just a photographer without even including an album. This is an area where price can vary considerably and where you will definitely get what you pay for.


My rates for partial planning are right around the average of $4,087 for a wedding. However, if you’re looking for full service planning, you’ll pay more or just month of coordination, you’ll pay less.

Venue, Catering & Rentals

The number for an event venue, catering and rentals at $23,251 seems pretty spot on. Venue rental costs often start at a few thousand dollars then factor in food, drinks, waiters and bartenders, table linens and dishes, and you’re close to that number. If you need to rent chairs or tables, this number can get significantly higher. I find that people are often surprised by how much catering costs are and I explained why in this post.


Note that these pricing estimates are just that, estimates. Your family can spend more or less than this depending on a variety of factors, some of which are outlined above. This article is meant to paint a realistic picture of how much event-related expenses are and is in no way a guarantee or promise about how much you will spend on your event.

You can have a beautiful event at any price point, but hosting an event is expensive, especially if you want all of the bells and whistles. There are always creative ways to save, but going into planning with a realistic idea of what things cost is key.

Want to plan an amazing event that fits your budget? Contact me for a complimentary consultation.

What’s reasonably priced?

One frequent question in online Mitzvah planning groups is requests for a reasonably priced ___. Every time I see one, I want to rip my hair out! Why? | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD & VA

As a member of a number of Mitzvah Planning groups on Facebook (psst. Don’t forget to like us!), one question that comes up all the time is some asking for recommendations for a reasonably priced ___ (fill in the blank vendor). Every time I see that, I want to rip my hair out! Why?

Reasonably priced is an opinion

What’s reasonable to one person is not reasonable to another. Often what the person is really saying is I don’t want to pay a lot for ___, who is cheap?

Quality isn’t mentioned as a factor

If reasonable = inexpensive, you get what you pay for. A vendor who is well below market value may fit any of the following: inexperienced, slow to respond to your needs, unreliable, poor reputation in the industry, lesser quality equipment, no backup plan (ie a photographer who only brings one camera). Or maybe you’re getting lucky with someone who is trying to break into the Mitzvah business. If your determining factor for hiring them is solely the price, how can you be sure of their quality?

In conclusion

There are vendors in many different price points, but what someone else considers reasonably priced shouldn’t be the determining factor in hiring a vendor for your event. If someone’s price seems too good to be true, ask yourself why that might be.

Need help finding quality Mitzvah vendors in your budget? Pop Color Events can help!


6 Reasons Why Mitzvah Catering is So Expensive

6 Reasons Why Mitzvah Catering is so Expensive | Pop Color Events | Adding a Pop of Color to Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in DC, MD & VAA long time ago I read a blog post about the Olive Garden Rule and it stuck with me. I wish I could remember where I found it, but it’s the easiest to understand reason why Mitzvah catering costs will likely be your highest event expense, especially in the DC-area.

Let’s walk through 6 typical catering expenses.


Imagine with me for a minute… You’re going to a moderately priced sit down restaurant, say, the Olive Garden. You go in expecting a nice meal. You’ll have one of everything! You order an appetizer ($10 for a delicious sampler platter with a few different options), salad ($6), main dish ($17.50 for chicken carbonara), dessert ($6.25 for a slice of cake). You have a glass of the house wine ($5) and a soda ($2.50), plus a coffee with your dessert ($2.50). Nothing too crazy or extravagant, right? Well that adds up to $49.75. Multiply that number by 100 guests and you’re already at $4,975 for just the food!

However, not only do you have the cost of the food itself and preparing it, but you likely have the cost of transporting or delivering that food to your event venue (unless you’re having your event at a restaurant, hotel or other place with an onsite caterer).


Don’t forget the tax! For our example meal, the tax on $4,975 in DC is 10%. That’s almost $500 in tax alone!


Many places have an 18-20% gratuity that is part of the fee that you pay. Again, on our example meal, that’s nearly $1,000.


You’re going to need someone to serve that food. Even if you’re planning on having a buffet meal (which requires less staffing) you’ll need a few waiters to put out the food, keep an eye on the buffet to refill food and clean up the dirty dishes. You’ll need a bartender who is TIPS certified (trained in responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol) because you do not want the liability if someone drinks too much and there are problems. A reputable caterer will have a TIPS certified bartender. Unlike at the Olive Garden, where the staffing fee is shared among many diners, you’re paying for it all by yourself. Say you have 5 waiters/bartenders total for a buffet meal. They’ll work for a minimum of 6 hours (1 hour set up, 1 hour breakdown plus a typical 4 hour party) and cost $15/hour each (and that’s a low figure for the DC area). That adds up to $450 in staffing fees.

Rental Items

Now what if your party is at the synagogue social hall or at a community center or some other place that doesn’t have an onsite caterer? You need to put that food on something and eat it with something and put your drink in something. Say you want to go with the most basic china, glassware and utensils. You don’t need anything particularly fancy, right? For plates you’re looking at a cost of $1 each and you’ll need 3-4 plates per person (appetizer, salad, dinner and dessert). For glasses, you’ll need a minimum of 4 glasses per person (water, wine and 2 other beverages is the standard) at $1 each. Then you’ll need utensils (a minimum of a salad fork, dinner fork, knife and dessert fork) at about $.50 each. Serving coffee? Coffee cups and plates, plus spoons will be another $3 or so). That’s another $13 per person and I haven’t included the prices for renting chafing dishes for the buffet or plates for passed or stationary hors d’oeuvres or table linens or napkins.

Food and Beverage Minimum

So you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I’ll just have my event at a place with a onsite food service like a restaurant or hotel. I can save money that way!” Nope. At a restaurant or hotel you’ll run into food and beverage minimums. If you’re using space at a restaurant or hotel, it means someone else can’t and your party is their main source of money for the night. Reasonable right? However, that means that the venue needs to make a certain amount of revenue from your party to offset the income that they would make if you weren’t there (for a restaurant) or to keep a giant kitchen and building running (for a hotel). If your event is during prime time (think: Saturday night) that number can be pretty high.

In Summary

Let’s add up the lower end priced catering example we went through above.

Olive Garden meal ($4,975) + Tax ($500) + Gratuity ($1,000) + Labor ($450) + Rental Items ($130) = $7,055 for an estimated 100 people. Add in more people and your costs will go up even further.

Please understand that this is not a comprehensive estimate and does not include items that I’ve found my clients want such as open bar, several entree or dessert options, different food options for kids and more. This article is simply meant to serve as a realistic starting point for understanding catering costs and creating your budget.

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