Tuesday, April 2, 2013

10 Tips for Hiring a Wedding Planner

Congratulations! You have a ring on your finger, a smile beaming from ear to ear and friends and family asking you when the big day is. That is when it hits, how do you go about planning one of the biggest days of your life? An event for a hundred of your closest friends and family. This is when clients often reach out to planners like Pink Blossom Events to lend a helping hand. The question is, how do you choose which planner is right for you? Here are my Top 10 Tips for Hiring a Wedding Planner in no specific order of importance.

1. Experience
The question is, should you hire someone with twenty five plus years of experience or someone with less than a year or two of experience? That is a tricky question as in the world of events and in most fields of work, the number of years does not always equal the best work. While you do want someone who is experienced in their field of work there are also those who have very little experience but are determined and willing to work hard for your dollar to ensure a perfect event. We all have to start somewhere! You may also find that there are those who are burnt out working only for a paycheck and have no interest in making sure your day is perfect. Although you will find that many of us love what we do and no matter how many years we are in this industry we enjoy every minute of the planning process and want to see you enjoy your special day.

We strongly agree that experience is everything and will often help you in situations that are without your control. For example, what to do when the cake drops or who do you contact if the Priest hasn't shown up and all of your guests have arrived? Yes, these are both situations I have faced as a planner during the first few years of business. Luckily I had some experience, knew the right people to call and am quick at problem solving!

Whether the person you are interviewing has years of experience or is newer to the industry it is their passion for your wedding and confidence in doing the job that will ensure a wonderful wedding day!

2. Education
Teachers, accountants and many other fields of work require continuous education to ensure you are always following the latest trends and event planning resources available. What education does your planner have? Are they continually attending educational events and seeking out opportunities to learn more? Just ask!

The other question we often get is regarding ethnic ceremonies and weddings that are sometimes beyond our scope of knowledge. If the wedding planner you are meeting with seems to be the perfect fit but you are leery about them not knowing your specific culture we advise you to ask them. Many wedding planners thrive on situations like this and use it as a learning opportunity for them! They will do their research and sometimes touch base with you to ensure they are following your wishes. However, if you are not comfortable without hiring a planner who has a strong background in your religion or culture be sure to seek out those planners prior to meeting and setup appointments with only those who hold that deep knowledge. 

3. Industry Recognition
Have they won any awards? Do they hold any titles within a local Networking organization such as Wedding Network USA? We all know that some awards are won by a popularity contest but many do require nominations by their industry peers and these will often tell you who could be a good potential wedding planner.

If you are seeking out wedding planners later in the process, check your venues referral list as this is a good indication of who they prefer working with and has experience working at your venue. Another good source of references for potential wedding planners are your current vendors. Who would they recommend? If you enjoy working with your photographer and they mention a local wedding planner then there is a good chance they too will be a good fit for you!

4. Networking & Organizations
Prior to your interview scan their website, email footers and other social media to see what networking organizations they belong to. If you don't see anything just ask. Being active in networking organizations is important as this allows planners to be well aware of the current trends as well who is in the industry or even the latest products available for your event.

5. Social Media  
Is the potential planners’ social media current? Take a look at their blog and Facebook page if they have one. (Let's hope they do) When was the last post made? How often do they post updates? While often a blog recap can be considered current if they have weekly, bi-weekly or monthly posts a Facebook page should be updated weekly if not daily. If you see nothing recent you want to take caution.

Looking at a person's social media also shows you some of their work and allows you to see if your style may fit with some of their events. Do they offer weddings that appeal to you or are they all similar and not of interest to you?

6. Setup an Interview or Phone Meeting
Always request a phone interview or an in-person meeting to ensure you are able to meet with the potential planner face to face and get to know them to make sure they are a good fit.

7. Ask for References
In any meeting I have with a potential client I always offer to give them references of both former clients and industry colleagues. A reference will be able to answer any question or concern you have or better yet, re-affirm your decision! Two or three references is always a good number to contact. You want to make sure this planner will work hard for you and not spend most of your event socializing with your guests.

8. Photos from Events
When scanning the potential planner’s website, Facebook page and other social media see if their style fits what you are looking for. Some planners focus on a specific style of event while other planners help with a variety of events ensuring you will be well covered! If this planner focuses on a specific style or look of their clients weddings make sure it’s a right fit for your look and vision.

9. Resourceful
During your initial consultation whether it is in person or via phone, do you get the impression that they know what they are doing? While most planners will not give you a lot of information or ideas for your wedding plans they should give you a few tidbits that offer you a sense of resourcefulness and knowledge of how they can help guide you in the right direction. Remember, your wedding planner will be the best and most helpful resource you will get for other quality vendors, ideas and ways to help save your budget from growing!

10. Price Doesn't Always Matter
While we know budgets do play a part in who you hire just remember that the most expensive wedding planner may not equal the top service and those with the lowest price point may not always end up being such a great deal after all. For example if you are thinking of hiring a specific planner because they can give you the best deal you may be started down a bumpy road. Will they know the best vendors to hire and tricks of the trade to save you money and time?

When looking at your options of wedding planners be sure and compare what that price actually means. You may be surprised that the higher planner may include more services in his or her package and the lower priced planner may not include as many services which in the end will either leave you either scrambling for time to finish your wedding plans or causing you to add on additional hours at a more expensive rate.

In the end I always tell potential and current clients that any planner and vendor they are hiring should be someone that they are comfortable being a part of their wedding day. Your wedding day will be something you will remember forever and you want those vendors helping make that special day people who you’d like to share those memories with.

Written March 2013. BreeAnn Gale is the owner and lead planner for Pink Blossom Events. 

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