On average nationwide, it costs $60 to $80 per hour to hire an event decorator, or a total average cost of $700 to $1,000—not including decorations—for most parties.
If you want your wedding, birthday party, baby shower, quinceañera, or bar mitzvah to have a cohesive look and feel, an event decorator, also called an event or wedding designer, can help. They're pros with event decor and skilled at styling parties. If you work with one, they will help you create your event's look, source design elements like lighting, linens, table décor, flowers, and wall decorations, and decorate your event space for the big day.
While a decorator will find you the perfect mason jar lights and hay bale pews for your the barn wedding of your dreams, they are not necessarily event planners. Some professionals do both decorations and planning for parties, but not all do. However, those who only specialize in event design will work with your event or wedding planner to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
Before you look for a professional to design your next big party, use this cost guide to see if the price to hire one will fit within your party budget.
What's in this cost guide?
- Professional event decorating process
- Event decorator fees
- Event decorator cost factors
- How can I save money?
- Tips to hire an event decorator
Whether you're just working with an event designer, or you've sprung for a full package of event planning services, here's what you can expect from your decorator:
First, you'll meet for an initial consultation. You should meet with the event designer at least four to six weeks before your event. During the initial consultation, you'll discuss the type of event you're hosting (wedding, birthday party, corporate event, etc.), guest count, venue, theme, and event budget.
Party design plan and budget
Once the designer has a sense of your vision for the party, they will come up with a décor plan. In the plan, they will suggest color schemes, lighting, décor, party favors, and a list of items you'll need to rent, like tables, chairs, photo booths, or even a dunk tank for some carnival-themed fun. They may share a mockup, mood board, or samples of items they're including in the event décor to give you a sense of how it will all look.
The decor plan will also include a quote for their event planning services, decorations, vendors, and other materials. They can even include suggestions for getting the most out of your event planning budget.
Rent and buy decorations
Once they have your approval and a deposit in hand, the decorator will buy or rent all of the items in your party design. They will source, order, and fabricate everything you need, and stay in touch with you to give you updates on progress.
On the day (or eve) of your event, the event designer will oversee the set up of the party. They'll manage the floor plan, and make sure everything arrives on time and is unpacked and put in its correct place, from tables and chairs to seating cards and flowers.
When the event's over, they will take the décor down, return the rental items, and clean up the mess—so you don't have to.
Event designers usually structure their fees in one of the following ways:
Flat package rate
When a designer charges a flat rate for their services, they'll base this fee on the number of attendees or the type of party you're hosting. For example, a Thumbtack pro in Atlanta offers wedding design packages that start at $1,250 for an outside ceremony and $1,650 for indoor, not including materials.
It's also common for decorators to charge an hourly rate, which averages $60 to $80 an hour, not including materials, nationwide.
Percentage of expenses
Some charge 15-20% of the total price of the event. This is a common fee structure if the designer offers event planning as well as event decorating services. They may take a cut of the fees paid to vendors like the DJ, venue, or the caterer.
Hourly rate plus a percentage of expenses
Some charge an hourly rate plus a commission of 10-20% of the cost of any vendors they hire. Again, this is a common fee structure if the pro is planning and decorating the party.
The amount you'll pay an event decorator will depend on the size and type of event, location, your decorator's rates, and whether or not you want any custom elements.
For example, below are prices for event decorating services from a Thumbtack pro in Vancouver, WA for three different events they designed. The total costs include delivery, setup, breakdown, and removal of everything.
Bat mitzvah: $580
- 45 hanging lanterns: $375
- 12 pieces of glassware for a candy bar, actual candy not included: $95
- Custom-made glitter signs: $25
- Labor for setup and breakdown of items from other vendors: $85
Wedding for 305 guests: $2,120
- 9x20 foot sequin reception backdrop: $775
- 305 chair sashes: $442
- 9x10 foot ceremony backdrop: $400
- 305 cloth napkins: $305
- 33 table runners: $198
- Required a $1,060 (or 50%) deposit.
Intimate but luxe wedding: $1,773
- Cake and candy buffet package: $425
- Draped ceremony archway: $345
- 45 hanging paper lanterns with LED lights: $375
- 20 table runners: $190
- 95 gold plate chargers @ $1.25 each: $118.75
- Two buffet tablecloths: $60
- Sashes for bride and groom seats: $15
- Labor for setup and breakdown of items from other vendors: $245
- Required an $886 deposit.
The more attendees for your event, the higher the price for designing it. You'll need more table centerpieces—not to mention tables—, party favors, and space for a bash for 150 than an intimate gathering of 15. Your event decorator will also spend more time sourcing, setting up, and taking down everything, so they may charge a higher rate or bill for more hours.
Supplies and rentals for parties cost more in large cities and resort areas than in small towns or regions with a lower cost of living. For example, a Thumbtack pro in Portland, Oregon, charges an average of $2,000 for wedding décor, while a Thumbtack pro in Macon, Georgia, charges an average of $800 for wedding decorations. If your event decorator needs to travel a significant distance to the venue, they may charge a travel fee as well.
Items handmade just for your event cost more than off-the-shelf items that can be rented, since they require specialized skills and (usually) more expensive materials. You also have to pay for the time the event decorator spends shopping for materials that can't be easily ordered or rented.
If your event budget won't allow for a full event design package, but you still want help creating everything, just hire a designer for a consultation to get a professionally designed plan for your event's decor. Most event decorators will charge an hourly rate for consultation. A Thumbtack pro in Vancouver, Washington, charges $60 an hour for event design consulting.
After the consultation, you'll then have to do the leg work of sourcing, shopping, setting up, breaking down, and returning the rental items yourself. It's a cost-effective way to throw professional-looking parties at a DIY price.
Before hiring a professional event decorator, be sure to:
Look at examples of events they've designed in the past: Make sure the event decorator you hire has experience with the type of event you're hosting—especially if you're asking for help on your wedding. Ask to see photos from previous jobs, and read reviews from past clients to check the quality of their work.
Ask about what's included in the total price: For example, do they charge extra to return rented items? Will they charge you a percentage of the cost of the venue rental? Most designers will be happy to work with you to make sure the price of their services and your decorations fits within your event budget.
Get multiple free estimates for event design. Make sure the estimate is specific and details individual costs. For example, is the price of all decorations, rentals, and labor costs included in the quote? How about deposits on rentals? Get this in writing, and review it, before you sign any checks.
Whether you're throwing a bachelorette party for 25 or a wedding for 500, an event decorator can make your event look cohesive and beautiful. Look for a professional event decorator near you on Thumbtack to get started.