The right wedding consultant is worth her weight in gold. If they have the background and experience, they can walk you through the planning process worry-free.
Services they may provide
- Help you set and allocate a budget
- Design the colors and theme of the wedding
- Guide you to the appropriate vendors
- Negotiate contracts
- Create a time line
- Schedule appointments
- Arrange transportation and hotels
- Conduct the rehearsal
- Oversee the grand event
- Return rentals such as tuxedoes, chair and table linens, etc.
The million dollar question is how do you find the perfect wedding consultant or event planner? It's a little like putting an ad in the paper for a new best friend.
Wedding Consultants/Event Planners can emerge onto the marketplace via one of the following ways.
- Studying the subject in a 2 or 4 year college program which will include some internships
- Private study through several certification programs which may include some internships
- Online certification programs that take a weekend
- Declare yourself an event planner and print up some business cards to prove it.
Whether or not your potential wedding planner is certified or has a college degree in planning, you are looking for an experienced professional. This person will be responsible for how you spend a large chunk of money. Her experience should not include her own wedding and that of three of her best friends. She should have years of being a PAID professional with hands-on experience and the portfolio to prove it. This is a business and you don't want a hobbyist!
Preliminary Screening Process
If you live in an area that has several event planners, you need to personally interview at least 3. But before you meet with them, contact them and find out the answers to these questions.
- Are they available on your wedding day?
- Do they have different levels of service and what are the price ranges?
- Do they have an assistant? (You always want to be sure there will be someone available in case the planner has appendicitis the day of your wedding)
- Can they give you the names of 3-5 previous brides who you may contact?
The answers must all be "yes". Checking on the references, bear in mind that the wedding consultant is only going to give you names that she thinks will give her a glowing report. However, if you ask enough of the right questions, you should get a fairly good idea. This reference could be the planner's cousin!
Question 1. On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied were you with the job performance of Miss Jones?
Question 2. How did you hear about Miss Jones in the first place?
Question 3. Did she return phone calls and emails promptly?
Question 4. Did she offer you multiple vendors in each category? (Thiswould only apply in areas large enough to support more than one cake baker or florist.)
Question 5. Did she help you stay on budget?
Question 6. Did she offer you good ideas and make suggestions?
Questions 7. What was unique about your wedding? Follow up with: Whose idea was it?
Question 8. Did your wedding go smoothly?
Question 9. On a scale of 1-10, how stressful was your wedding?
Question 10. Would you use her again?
Question 11. What did your guests compliment you about the most?
Question 12. What would you change about your wedding if you could do it over?
The Short List
Now that you have narrowed down your search to three contenders, meet with them each in person, hopefully in their office. I would prefer that the wedding planner at least have a home office. I would not disregard someone who wants to meet you at Starbucks but it would raise a little red flag. Having an office, in home or otherwise, demonstrates to me a commitment to their business.
- Did she arrive on time?
- Was she dressed professionally?
- Did she show you a portfolio of her work that included at least 5 events?
- Will her personality work well with the major participants?
- Did she listen well or just like to hear herself talk?
- Did she ask good questions?
- Do you believe she can take your vision and turn it into a reality?
- Do you want her to be your new best friend for the next 6 months?
Wedding consultants charge one of three ways.
- Different package options
- A percentage of the total event budget
Any one of those options is fine as long as you know exactly what services are being provided. However, what they fail to disclose, is that they sometimes get a rebate or referral fee from the baker, florist venue, musician, tuxedo shop, etc. I call this double dipping.
You are paying them a fee to select a vendor based on MERIT alone. If they lead you to a certain florist who is giving them a kickback under the table, their judgment is "for sale".
I would ask them right up front if their vendor list is based on merit or do they accept referral fees from vendors. You might as well cut to the chase here.
Many venues hand out vendor lists. ABC Country Club or The XYZ Hotel may be charging those photographers or bakeries to be on that list. Ask the hotel or country club if the list is based on merit or is fee based. They'll probably be so shocked they will fall all over themselves. You should be able to tell if they are lying.
You've picked your wedding planner and now you can relax. The diligent selection process is over. Do not micro mange. You hired her so she could take the reins. Let her do her job.
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