Welcome to Part 2 of our guest post from Joyce from Events of Distinction. She had so much great info on Wedding Planners that we broke it into two posts for you. You can read the first post here. Thanks Joyce!
The term “Wedding Planner” is most often used to describe my occupation, but wedding planners really don’t have a consensus about what to call themselves. Some of the other titles my esteemed colleagues have used include: Consultant, Coordinator, Designer, Director, Producer, Stylist, etc. These differing designations are not just ingenious marketing pitches; they usually reflect a special expertise that the planner possesses.
Photos: Wendy Maclaurin Richardson. Wedding Designer and Planner: Joyce Scardina Becker, Events of Distinction
Types of Wedding Planners.
Here is a general explanation of the different kinds of planners, the services they offer, and what to look for in hiring them:
- Typically a Wedding Planner or Producer will embrace your style and vision and orchestrate your wedding from start to finish. These professionals will put together the perfect team of wedding service providers for you, and will manage all details of the entire wedding. A Wedding Planner / Producer should have received professional training and a degree in Event Management, Hospitality Management, Hotel and Restaurant Management at a university, or a certificate in Meeting Planning, Special Event Management or Wedding Management from an accredited institution. The Wedding Planner must also be an expert in wedding etiquette, protocol and ethnic customs with the flexibility to understand each couple’s uniqueness. Typically, the Wedding Planner / Producer has been in the event management industry for at least 10 years. Fees can range from $10,000 to $40,000.
- A Wedding Consultant or Coordinator is appropriate for the wedding couple who want to take a more active hands-on role in planning their own wedding, and is looking for a “coach” to help them along the way. The Consultant or Coordinator will furnish vendor referrals and set up appointments, but will not always be present with you at the all the meetings. The Consultant or Coordinator would also typically schedule the wedding day activities and be on site to manage the wedding. The Wedding Consultant / Coordinator is typically less experienced than the Wedding Planner / Producer and sometimes may not have professional training and credentials from a university or event management program. Fees can range from $2,500 to $10,000.
- A Wedding Designer, Stylist or Architect is focused on fostering your personal wedding vision. This is for the bride who has complete confidence and trust in hiring an expert who can take the bride’s vision to the next level and create something more spectacular than the bride could envision herself. The Wedding Designer / Stylist/ Architect should have formal training in a relevant field such as Floral Design, Interior Design, Graphic Design or Fashion Design. Fees for Wedding Designers can range from $5,000 to $20,000. Some Wedding Planners / Producers have the proper credentials to also call themselves Wedding Designers and offer both planning and design services.
If you decide to take the DIY route for your wedding, you can always change course and hire a Wedding Planner later if you get into troubled waters.
Several Wedding Coordinators and Wedding Planners even offer “Day Of” service for budget-conscious brides. But let me make this clear – there is no such thing as a “Day Of Planner.” This term is widely misunderstood and misleading, because no Wedding Planner of sound mind, experience and education would simply show up on the day of your wedding and expect everything to flow flawlessly. That’s why the Wedding Industry Professionals Association recommends the use of the term “Wedding Director” for this service. Instead of waiting until the wedding day, the Wedding Director starts a minimum of 30 days before your wedding, and performs the following tasks:
- Reviews all of your wedding vendors’ contracts
- Inspects the ceremony and reception site
- Develops a detailed timeline and draw schematic floor plans for ceremony, cocktails, dinner and dancing. These documents should then be sent to your vendors three weeks before the wedding
- Prepares a separate, abbreviated wedding party timeline to be sent to parents and all attendants two weeks before the wedding
- Reconfirms logistics with all wedding service providers after they have received the timeline and floor plans
- Oversee the wedding rehearsal and be on-site up to 12 hours or more to manage the wedding day activities
Properly providing this service usually requires at least 40 to 60 hours of a Wedding Director’s time, considerably more than just showing up on the day of your wedding.
Photos: Jade Studio Productons. Wedding Designer: Joyce Scardina Becker, Events of Distinction.
Selecting a Wedding Planner or Designer
Check WeddingPlannerLove to find a planner in your area and budget. To find a qualified Wedding Planner or Designer, check out non-profit professional associations such as the Wedding Industry Professionals Association or the International Special Events Society for a list of current members in good standing (many WeddingPlannerLove vendors belong to these organizations!). You might also ask the Catering Departments in the top hotels in your area for a list of Wedding Planners or Designers that they recommend.
For Wedding Planners, here are some questions to ask during a face-to-face interview:
- Do you have a business license and business insurance?
- How long have you had your business?
- What did you do before establishing your business?
- What is your educational background?
- Do you have a college degree?
- If so, what was your major?
- Have you pursued continuing education in Event Management or Design? If so, where?
- Do you belong to any professional associations?
- Have you served on the Board of these associations?
- How do you find and establish relationships with other vendors?
- Do you have letters of recommendation from other vendors?
- What are the steps you take to plan a wedding?
- How many weddings do you typically plan a year? Describe the services you typically provide for these weddings.
- Can you work with our budget and create our vision?
- Can I see a typical staging guide that you have created? Timeline? Floor plans?
- When reviewing their portfolio, ask: Who was responsible for conceptualizing the design? Who implemented the design?
- How do you charge? What does your fee include? Do you receive fees from any of your vendors?
- Will you be present at our wedding rehearsal and wedding day?
- Will you provide any additional staff on the wedding day? If so, what are the costs?
While meeting with prospective Wedding Designers, you should carefully examine their portfolios and other materials that demonstrate how they have designed prior weddings. Design elements should be consistently woven through every aspect of the wedding, from the save-the-date card to wedding programs, tablescapes, favors and décor. Confirm what elements of the wedding were actually conceptualized by the Wedding Designer, and not by a graphic artist or florist. Also, since Wedding Designers need to understand your personal preferences in order to design a wedding that reflects your personal tastes, they should also be asking you lots of questions, so they can begin to understand what’s important to you.
Photos: Dennis Desilva, Studio Seven. Wedding Designer and Planner: Joyce Scardina Becker, Events of Distinction.
Finally, when interviewing Wedding Planners and Designers, you need to feel that there is good “chemistry.” An effective Wedding Planner or Designer must clearly understand your needs and articulate your vision. And your Wedding Planner will be your new best friend through your wedding day (and hopefully long beyond that), so it is imperative you are comfortable working together, and most importantly having fun!
To learn more about Joyce, visit her site! She’s got enough credentials to write a book—and she has! You can also find her on Facebook and twitter when she is not busy blogging! And of course, you can also find her on WeddingPlannerLove!