Information and Your Planner

October 9th, 2017
Here's me pinning flowers on a family member.  Naturally, you want me to know who gets which flowers.  (Photo by HappyBuddy Photo Art.)

Here’s me pinning flowers on a family member. Naturally, you want me to know who gets which flowers. (Photo by HappyBuddy Photo Art.)

Because most people don’t work with wedding or party planners (or coordinators) most of the time, when they hire one, they have to figure out how best to work with them.  If you’re in that position yourself, let me give you one really big tip on how to make the most of your planner or coordinator.

The first thing you can do to make sure your planner can do her best job is give her information, lots and lots of information.  I have had clients say to me (in these exact words), “I don’t want to overwhelm you with information.”  But it is my job–and it is my specialty–to hold and use and organize massive amounts of information.

In fact, most of what you might need a planner to do is organizing information.  Never thought of it that way?  Well, it’s true:  The schedule for your event is a document that organizes and systematizes information, as is the ground plan.  And you’ll get the best, most functional schedule or layout if you give your planner every bit of information at your disposal, even information that doesn’t seem vital.  Your planner might also be in charge of your decorations.  What she needs is not just the decorative items, themselves, but also the information about where they go and how.

You could say that my motto is, “There is no such thing as useless information.”  As a planner or coordinator, I am often asked the most obscure questions by other wedding vendors.  You never know what someone will want or need to know in order to make your event stellar.

So, please, overwhelm me with information.  I love it when you tell me everything you need–and everything you’re thinking is important.  When that avalanche of information arrives on my desk, I’m always so happy, because then I know I can do my absolute best work to make your wedding or event turn out as you envision it.

Re-run: DIY Weddings–Catering

December 12th, 2016

It’s time to revisit some articles about DIY weddings.  Here’s a good one:

Of all the things you might want to do yourself for your wedding, the one I would recommend against without hesitation is catering your wedding reception yourself.  You might think this would be obvious, but I have talked to people who thought they could do it.

Did I mention that presentation is a professional catering skill?  Photo courtesy of Artisan Events.

Did I mention that presentation is a professional catering skill? Photo courtesy of Artisan Events.

I have actually heard of self-catered weddings that were pulled off with a lot of help from friends and family.  I know it can be done, especially if there are people with special skills involved.  So, I won’t say you should never, ever do it.  I’m just going to give you a lot of reasons not to.

Caterers do a lot more than cook in quantity.  They also manage the kitchen; order and return rental items; keep the food (and so your reception) on schedule; hire and manage serving and bar staff; set up tables, chairs, and linens; set the tables; and clean up and take the garbage out.  Caterers also have food sanitation licenses, meaning there is a low probability of spoiled food or food poisoning from their kitchens.  They know how much ice to buy and bring.  Some of them own serving equipment that they provide at no charge.   And that is just the minimum of what a professional caterer has to offer.

On your wedding day, you are going to be very much occupied with, first, getting married.  Second, you will want to spend as much time as possible greeting your guests.  You’ll probably also want to have your photograph taken with many of your friends and family, not to mention with your spouse.  These things will take up most of your day, leaving you no time to be the caterer at your own wedding.

I would say that unless you are able to provide everything a caterer brings to the table, and unless you can also delegate all the catering on the wedding day to a trusted party, hire a professional and save cooking for a crowd for another day.

News from Consumer Reports

July 18th, 2016
Florists are unlikely to mark up their prices for weddings. Photo by Peter Coombs.

Florists are unlikely to mark up their prices for weddings. Photo by Peter Coombs.

If you’re familiar with Consumer Reports, you probably associate the magazine with reviews for cars and appliances.  Every once in a while, though, they do something else.  Their June 2016 issue has some reporting on wedding pricing that I found interesting.

The CR team made phone calls to wedding/event vendors in several markets and asked for pricing on two identical events, a wedding and an anniversary party.  They found that some types of vendors were more likely than others to have a wedding surcharge.  Specifically, photographers and limo companies were most likely to increase their prices for a wedding.  Some caterers also have higher wedding prices.

Interestingly, they found that florists, photo booth rentals, and bakeries did not generally have a mark-up for a wedding.  (For bakeries, they only priced sheet cakes, not wedding cakes, which are notoriously expensive.)  I was glad to read this research, since it matches my experience, as well.

I don’t rush to judgment on vendors who raise their prices for a wedding.  In any field, there are always some people out to gouge their customers, but, for the most part, it’s likely that the extra level of service required of weddings is a good justification for higher prices.  After all, you don’t want to skimp on service!  But this information is helpful to savvy consumers on a budget who want to know where their wedding dollar is going.

You can read the whole article on the CR website.

Rerun: Tips on Hiring a Wedding Coordinator

June 1st, 2015
Let me sweat the details so you don't have to.  Courtesy of sprungphoto.com.

Let me sweat the details so you don’t have to. Courtesy of sprungphoto.com.

I’ve run this one before, but I think it is still helpful.

If you are planning a wedding, you are probably thinking about hiring a wedding planner or a day-of wedding coordinator. If you’re getting married this year and are not thinking about any such thing, may I recommend that you do so before the best planners get booked up for the busy summer and fall seasons?

It’s not difficult to hire a day-of coordinator. Once you have found a handful of prospects (by searching or asking friends or any method you like), it’s time to interview them. I recommend that you meet them in person before hiring.  Sometimes this is impractical, of course.  In that case, be sure to have a detailed telephone conversation before signing a contract. Some of the things you may want to consider are: the planner’s experience and expertise; the planner’s personality and how it fits with yours; the kinds of ideas she or he can bring to the table; the fee charged and what you will get for what you pay.

Sometimes the person with the lowest price is the best one for the job, but other times someone with a very low price may not offer as many important services as someone who charges a little more. Get enough information on the services included in the fee so that you can tell the difference. Find out what the price range is by asking several coordinators. You don’t have to hire the most expensive one, but you will probably find one in the middle of the price range who has all the characteristics you want.

Before you hire, get references. Call recent clients or e-mail them, and ask them questions about their experience with the coordinator. Ask them if they would recommend the person. Ask them if they think they got value for their money. Ask if there were any unresolved problems.

Finally, get a signed contract with the coordinator before paying anything. (This is actually good advice for hiring any vendor.) Don’t be intimidated by legalese in the contract. If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask to have it clarified. And only sign the contract once you are sure you understand everything and agree with it. It takes some work, but it is always worth while to have a good contract in place. It protects both parties.

And once you have hired a wedding coordinator, keep them informed of your decisions. If they ask for information, get it to them as soon as possible. They are looking out for your best interests and need to know what you want and what you are doing so they can take care of all the details while you are busy getting married and enjoying yourself.