Choosing a planner for your event is one of the most important decisions you can make. Whereas event management never used to be a field and was a task left to the CEO’s Administrative Assistant, Human Resources department, or Marketing team, event planning is a career solidified by a degree and industry experience. Let’s be honest; whether it’s a dinner party for eight or a swanky gala, planning an event is stressful. Opting for a planner can help ease your anxiety as long as you are choosing the right one; otherwise they end up adding to the madness.
Most consultations should be free and it is imperative you interview your planner face-to-face, or at the very least, have a lengthy phone conversation to see their personality and feel them out. You need to be able to collaborate not only professionally but personally with your event planner.
There are two schools of thought in the early stages of event planning. The first is when you know exactly what type of event you want with all aspects such as ambiance, décor, and theme figured out. And the second school of thought is you have no idea, not a clue as to what to do and need to seek advice from a professional to not only consult and suggest ideas but to create an image of a theme that can be imagined mentally and presented in a way that can be visualized and understood. A great producer is comfortable in both of these arenas. They should be able to closely and actively listening, in addition to contributing concepts and ideas.
The first step is to get names and research. Ask around about planners that your friends or other companies have used to see who knows the deal. You can even attend tradeshows or search the web. The cardinal rule?—if you don’t like their website, don’t book them. Their business website is a planner’s first opportunity to showcase their work and style and if you aren’t down with the look and style of their website, you won’t be down with them. If a planner can create a strong website, one that is organized, engaging, exciting, and informative chances are they are capable of seeing an event through from start to finish.
After you make a list of your prospects, begin interviewing. If you’re getting a free wedding consultation, make the most of it. Be ready to answer the five questions planners will ask, (Where? When? How many? Budget? Things you can’t live without?) and have your own list of questions handy. Don’t know what to ask? Cover things like:
-what type of events they have planned in the past
-where were they trained
-how long have they been working in in the industry
For a full list, look here.
Not all wedding planners are created equal, so give yourself some time to speak with a few different coordinators to compare costs and services. During the interview, a planner should be able to provide a comprehensive work history that gives you confidence in their skills, and should provide recommendations from previous clients. Be sure to ask what level of service they provide, as a good planner should be able to handle all of the details of your event, from venue to décor to catering.
Most importantly, a planner needs to understand and respect your budgetary restrictions, while doing their absolute best to accommodate your wishes. A good planner will have contacts with a variety of vendors and caterers so that you can work out the best price and ultimate level of service.
Once you meet with your potential planners, decide with whom you connect the most. You will be spending a lot of time with your planner and you must enjoy their company in order to work cohesively with them. Be upfront about your wants and needs to see what planners seem inspired, not limited, by them. If you’re uptight, you’ll get annoyed if your planner keeps it casual, so hire someone who is as buttoned up as you. If you’re easy-going, rigidness will frustrate you. See what personalities you could picture working with. To us, being able to turn to your planner for inspiration, advice, and a laugh are the key ingredients in choosing the right planner to work with.