Hiring a Wedding Planner: Indepth Guide
As a bride to be you could be introduced to a whole bunch of new vocabulary while you go through the various curves and bends of planning the big day. Although these were terms which you may have thought to have understood they suddenly take an entire new meaning. One set of such distinctions that we are often asked about are the categorisation between a event coordinator against a wedding designer and a wedding coordinator. Being professionals from this industry we break it down to the roles of what is different and what each of these professionals do.
Their Primary Role
Logistics are one of the leading responsibilities of any event organizer and this role broadly covers vendor referrals to negotiating services, prices and finally to executing the bride’s vision. These responsibilities may not as easy it may seem, as the job entails eliminating guess work and ensuring a seamless and smooth event. Budgeting is another responsibility taken on in addition to managing logistics. Club the two together and it forms the yardstick for success and sets the successful ones apart from the rest, a skill that many can learn but only the best master with years of experience and gathering credentials covering event after event. There also are agencies that bring about a broader skill set that includes designs and styling services giving their clients tasteful design ideas and creatives.
Tasks that are genrally carried out
- Puts in long hours of work which results in at least 80 to 250 hours of work
- Provides the right vendors referrals, discusses how best vendors can work with a particular client, negotiates contracts and attends all vendor meetings.
- Creating a timeline for each of the events, including the floor plans and keeps all involved in sync with it.
- Works on a realistic budget alongside the bride and helping the couple with suggestions and alternatives that meet their needs and expectations.
- Managing the budget and therefore sourcing vendors, venues and accommodation within budget.
- Attends vendor meetings with the bride and site tours of venues and locations for the various events.
- Brainstorms for creative style ideas and designs and coordinates with the design details.
- Works with the hotels on room bookings, room allocation, transportation and excursions.
- Oversees and coordinates the timelines and vendors
Wedding designers are mainly wedding stylists or wedding architects whose roles are purely aesthetic, a role that does not take-on tasks such as negotiating contracts or being with brides at appointments and other meetings. These prodessional’s primary role is to design and bring on their creative talents to the table. They are engaged to conceptualise the floor plans, lighting designs, floral arrangements, furniture, draping, props and even attires. Additionally, they are responsible for aiding in decisions that will piece the event together brining about a cohesive, stylish and sophisticated look to the celebration. These professionals are known for decorative taste and the ability to design which is a unique and rare talent. Their artistic eye for design can bring a venue to life with their vision for conceptualizing and execution.
On an average such agencies put-in 40 hours of work with a goal to create a concept for the occassion. After taking into account the details of the venue, examining the architecture, the layout and the surroundings they will offer guidance on colour palettes, the floral schemes, assess sound and lighting requirements and also work on a budget for the décor. While working on a budget they will also recommend vendors for the floral, lighting and sound. They take up the responsibility of sourcing special props and other equipment that a particular venue or location requires. They will also visit the venue to assess a design layout and further design it and also identify potential problems and suggestions on how best a venue can be brought to life. A designer needs to be hired when the décor is the most important element. Your strong suit may be organisational and logistical skills but if you find yourself lacking in creative skills then considering a designer can be a lifesaver. These experts are also engaged when a specific theme needs to be created and there are a ton of styling ideas that cannot be narrowed down to.
Wedding Coordinator’s are popularly called wedding consultants and their primary job is focused on logistics but work on shorter timeline than a planner. A typical timeframe that these professionals get on-board with their services is around a month or so to the big day. They will work as a point person on D-day on your behalf. During this period they will work on confirming vendor contracts, prepare a detailed day-of timeline, manage guest lists and also manage payments . These hire’s won’t get involved in the earlier planning phases or help in keeping track of your budget. You can trust the responsibilities of coordinating everything involved on the day of the event from the start to the end while they keep everything on schedule. Coordinators take over from everything you have done upto and make sure all is in good shape. They do require a months’ time to work out their checks and balances, tie-up any loose ends and make the necessary tweaks, for which a month works best. Every item on the list is looked at with finer details to keep everything in order and not forgotten and you are free to enjoy the festivities!
Typically these agencies will put-in 25 hours of work. They usually get on board at around four to eight weeks before the big day and take over what has been planned so far. Their responsibilities also include confirming logistics and checking with vendors and reviewing contracts that have been signed. Timelines and floor plans are also tasked along with completing final walk-throughs of the ceremony and reception venues. Overlooked details are addressed and tweaked. Lastly these coordinators also overlook everything on the day of as well.
Hire a professional if you face the following questions
Planning their own weddings are something most brides can do themselves however, skipping the services of a professional may sometimes not be practical. If your responses to any of the following questions is a “no” then you probably must consider have a professional on board before you set out to make any plans.
- Can you take phone calls, meet vendors and fit in time for meetings while you run a business or while at work?
A majority of vendors operate between normal business hours and you would have to keep to these times and make time during the day or take days off to make it to these meetings. These meetings may require multiple follow-up interactions as well.
- Are you planning a local or an outstation celebration?
If it is new place that you are getting married at or maybe at a destination location that requires somebody to be present on ground to coordinate the efforts.
- Are you getting help from friends or family to help with the may things that need to get?
Getting friends and family to volunteer is a different challenge all together. Some may be enthusiastic at the beginning but getting them to commit for a longer period can be tricky.
- Can you stick to working with a schedule and be punctual about it?
If not, things would only pile up that would lead to stress building over time and in-turn making the fun of it all disappear.
- Are you well organized?
The entire process requires a huge amount of detailed-oriented organisation from printing the stationary to guests seating. Not to mention scouting for vendors, venues, contracts, budgeting and everything else that comes along with it.
- Has party planning been a fun experience for you in the past?
If the answer is otherwise and entertaining is something you dread, entertaining your guests would be a difficult task.
- Can you comfortably work with deadlines?
Working with deadlines while organizing the occassion is a continuous process. Vendors and other purchases are always inter-dependent on each other requiring crucial and prompt decision making-something that can save you money when you are prompt at it or loose you money when not managed properly.
- Will you be helped by your fiancé?
When both have professional commitments or for that matter even when one partners is totally immersed then the other could resent the time being spent leading to unwanted rifts.
- Is the overall concept understood by you?
From who to hire, the type of services to engage and how to get the best out of everyone involved to work cohesively requires skill and vision.
- Can you deal with external interference?
A bossy friend or a relative or even demands from your partners family over preferences does lead to unpleasant situations that can be avoided when there is someone else doing the heavy lifting on your behalf.
At this point if you have established the need to hiring a professional to look into the nitty-gritty of things and the less –fun parts of planning that can really bog you down it is time to get the ball rolling. Knowing that you have an amazing planner by your side surely will help you not only enjoy the experience but also transform what could be a good celebration into a great one! Hiring such a professional is an investment and knowing that you are going to get a good return on it will have you a lot confident in hiring the right talent.
Going About A Hiring Decision
There are plenty of wedding planners and organizers with years of experience to help you plan your big day, whether it is a beach celebration or even a luxurious gathering. For a destination celebration, local event companies are strongly recommended to guide you with venue selections, accommodation bookings, meal plans and hotel transfers for guests.
Do your homework before narrowing down to a few professionals to shortlist from. Almost every professional organizer has a business website showcasing their work, so narrow down your list based on the various types of services they offer.
Have a good look at their portfolios and see whether their vision matches the ideas you have in mind. Many event companies have their services listed down, which will give you a clear idea of what they specialize in. Pictures and videos tell a thousand words, so look closely for similarities in the kind of work you want to explore.
From here, a good way forward would be to speak to your top three favorites. Discuss the services in detail and their limitations, whether they have worked at the venues you have selected, their availability for those dates, their fee structure and the cost on an average for the entire event. If the companies that you shortlist meet your expectations in terms of matching your budgets and overall vision, set up a meeting with each of them.
Before meeting them, it would be a good idea to prepare a list of images, clippings and ideas to share with the planner for something to work with. When you meet them, besides qualifying them for the standards of their work, you would also want to look at their personalities as you will have to work with this person for months.
Throw your ideas across to check whether they understand your vision and are receptive to your ideas. Having the right creative talent would ensure that your marriage celebration will not be mechanical and lack creativity.
After you have met with your shortlisted set of consultants, look for references or even their social networking pages on the internet. Social pages will give you better confidence on how they have handled clients in the past, managed budgets, their work ethics and management skills.
Getting the best out of the agency you hire
Identifying their strengths
Before narrowing down to a shortlist, knowing more about their professional experience they have had in the past helps. Planners with experience in the tourism industry is a huge plus, or even PR agencies or even the experience they have had at popular venues will boost you hiring confidence. Once these connections have been established, you will get a better sense of what they are passionate about and learn about their strengths, something that may not be evident on paper. These strengths can complement to yours and bring out great work together. A planner that possess a serious creative streak can complement your organisational skills or if you have all the minute details under control, a planner with organisational talent can bring it all nicely together.
Getting beyond the usual basics
Although everyone has a typical timeline and budget laid out, it may not necessarily mean a good fit for hiring the venue you like or may be the band your fiance adores from the get go. Speak to your planner about a timeline made specifically for you and also about putting together a monthly macro-todo list that is specific to your needs. The same for the budget as well, prioritizing your requirements on it, whether it means splurging on the cinematography and cutting back on the floral arrangements or going all out on the venue of your dreams. This a quick test to assess the planners approach, their skills towards detailing and overall execution.
Being able to trust their insights and their experience
Being a part of the industry their connections are well branched out, they have a great list people that you can work with but can also reach out to connections beyond their circles. Planners typically worked on a providing you with a list of vendors that they can swear by, which is excellent but they are fully capable of exploring new talent. Although it is recommended that you do give them serious consideration. A event coordinator’s shortlist comes from a combination of their experience with the vendor in the past, their personalities and work and an overall positive experience.
Space for Creativity
Event planners are a part of the industry mainly for their passion for organizing weddings, this is what gets their creative juices going. Bringing new ideas to the table, or being to churn out a thought into a reality bring out refreshing achievements to them. Bring able to explore their creativity only works when you offer them some flexibility. Most planners enjoy the experience of brainstorming with a bride, bring about new approaches and a chance to elevate what they have done in the past.
Making the hire
At the outset hiring a profesisonal coordinator can look to be expensive just so that you can have some extra money in your budget saved, however you will soon realize that a planner will actually save you a more money in the long run. The time and work they put in will help you in avoiding mistakes that would cost you a lot more. It also takes plenty of experience to eliminate the guess work allowing your spend smarter and gain a lot more.
Asking for consultations before a Hiring: A Big No
A planner will give you a sneak peak of their services during the initial consultation. Asking for vendor recommendations at this stage before you hire them isn’t the right approach. Exploring their contacts initially or sharing their expertise without you hiring them does not help you really. Instead discuss whether the person is able to match your wave-length and is someone that you are comfortable working for long period. Pay attention to whether your personalities gel with one another and whether your ideas and vision are well absorbed and related to.
Dont ask for Vendor Discounts
The market being as competitive as it already is a majority of the vendors have their best pricing forward in the hope of secure a client. Trust your planner and dive more into the value of what you are receiving instead of a head-to-head comparison. A planner’s shortlist of vendors is after they have well scrutinized the vendors value’s-worth, work ethic and consistency.
Keep in Mind that they are Business Professionals
Apart from the peak wedding season, a majority of vendors follow the usual working hours, so don’t expect a reply to a text message at 10pm on a weekday. Drop an email instead, this allows for better communication and also staying organized. Texts works best for something that is casual or of less importance and leads to better productivity.
Hiring professional will ensure that:
- More time on hand: There is so much to do before the big day arrives and the list just keeps growing, have a professional on-board will give you more time to spend on things that you love to do and enjoy the whole experience.
- Paying Attention to the Finer Details: There are some things that absolutely need your attention to look into finer details such as the bridesmaid’s dresses and others details that don’t. Doing it all by yourself leads to lifting more than what you should which can be avoided when a planner does it on your behalf.
- Remaining within the Budget: Many would argue that hiring a planner is an expense, but the reality is that the very opposite. Since these professionals are a part of the industry they have a ready network already in place that you can easily explore. This is something that can save you plenty of money as planners work closely with vendors based on your preferences.
- Timing to perfection: If you are great at bring it all together, you also need to have a top-notch timeline in place as well. If not the pace will either looked too rushed or too slow.
- Access to Excellent Vendors: Planners set the bar high when working with vendors based on when they provide you with their recommendations. You can rest assured knowing that the team of vendors you have selected have your best interests in mind.
- Leave the Stress behind: Getting married is joyful experience, therefore leave all the stress into the capable hands of a professional that does this for a living. When the big day arrives you are worry-free to soak-up the beautiful moments that enfold rather than have to worry about vendors and guests.
Ready to Hire?
You are undoubtedly making a great investment in yourself and your partner saving you hours of work and eliminating a whole lot of guess work. Weddings are always unpredictive and you need professionals by your side to steer the ship to navigate the unexpected with the poise and grace.