So, you're engaged. Congratulations! And you've decided to hire a wedding planner. Kudos!! But who? And how do you differentiate? Leafing through magazines, scrolling through blogs, chatting with friends -- each planner is different in their style, business and personality. All of which must jive with you and your fiancé, your wedding, and your budget. There are lots of questions to ask when interviewing your potential wedding planner before hiring them, like:
• How do you charge? What are your packages?
• How many hours are you with me on my wedding day? Are you with me on my rehearsal?
• Do you have assistants on that day? If so, how many?
• How many weddings do you do per year? What about per weekend?
• What's the smallest/biggest budget wedding you have produced?
• Do you have liability insurance?
But here are five things you wouldn't think to ask:
1. Is this your full-time job?
I know, crazy right? But the truth is, there are many so-called wedding coordinators/planners out there who planned their own wedding and now are ready to plan yours. Not the best idea. You never want someone training at your wedding because your planner is suppose to be your insurance policy to make certain everything runs smoothly. It's just not realistic to run a wedding business part-time. My day begins as I drive into our office, already checking my inbox to see what the day has in store. After responding to my first priority -- my brides -- I'll make my vendor calls to finalize clients' details. These calls have to be done during the day because those companies are mostly open during business hours and they aren't open on weekends because they are working events. Around mid-day I'll have meetings or tastings with clients at their venue or with a caterer, again these companies are businesses too with regular hours. In the afternoon, I go out and meet with up and coming vendors so that we know about the most fresh, current and modern ones for our clients. Again, not easy afterhours. And at the end of the day, I meet with potential clients and work on proposals. As you can see, it's a full-time job!
2. Do you take commission from vendors?
At one point this was very common, but many planners do not take commission. The only time commission is acceptable, in my opinion, is if the planner is doing additional work because of the rental or vendor hired (then the 10-15 percent commission would be paying for their additional time spent). Commission doesn't seem to work because the modern bride wants a custom wedding. If a wedding planner is referring the same vendors for each wedding because they give commission, you will end up with cookie cutter weddings and who wants that? Plus, how can you guarantee you're getting the best vendor for you or if you're getting the one that pays your planner the biggest kickback?
3. Where do you get inspiration?
This might help you figure out if they're an out-of-the-box thinker or more conventional -- but most importantly if they match you. Are they seeing design in the grocery store, or through a tree at the park? Or do they look at classic publications? We tend to look outside of the wedding industry for inspiration when possible. We look at fashion, travel, food and more importantly we find it within our couples. You can find a lot of inspiration between two people and who they are.
4. How comfortable are you running interference?
This is one of the most important parts of our jobs on the wedding day, believe it or not. While weddings are a happy day, they are stressful too. Family dynamics can be one of the more challenging and sensitive areas. The parents of one of our brides were divorced and Dad was bringing the girlfriend to the wedding. We made sure that Mom and Dad didn't sit next to each other during ceremony and weren't made to take pictures together. One of our team member's main goals was to be extra sensitive to sticky situations, run interference, and pay extra attention to the Mom to make her feel special. Being great with all types of personalities is key to this profession and unfortunately either you are born with this skill or not -- it is not something we can train.
5. What is the back-up plan to the back-up plan?
All good planners have their contingencies -- they know how to find quick solutions to issues that arise. We recently had to move an entire dream outdoor wedding inside as it began to rain (with no warning) without guests knowing the original plans. But gosh for bid something happened to your planner that makes it impossible for them to be at your perfect day, what is the plan? Each lead planner in my company has a lead assistant, who is always there during the planning process -- so they are in the know. I have a well-trained team that always has someone available, on call to assist. If matters should arise, then the lead assistant would step in as the lead planner.
You'll be spending a lot of time with your wedding planner leading up to and including your big day. They'll become your resource, your sounding board, your family therapist, your B.F.F. So get to know them. Get professional, get personal . Ask away!
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