Green Resource: SWANNC

December 4th, 2017
Photo by Ryan Timm Photography.

Photo by Ryan Timm Photography.

Okay, so technically this is not just a resource for weddings, events, and parties.  It’s for everyone, all the time.  And it’s not glamorous.  I’m talking about the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (or SWANNC).  Even for people who don’t live in Northern Cook County, this website has a huge amount of information that is useful.

There is a directory of resources for reusing and recycling that covers everything from Appliances and Automobiles through Fire extinguishers, Make-up containers, and Shoes to Wood recycling and Yard waste.  Many of the resources are local, but many can be found regionally or nationally.  My favorite discovery so far is places you can take polystyrene (Styrofoam) to be downcycled into other materials.

If you look under business resources, you will also find a Green Meeting Guide and a Zero Waste Event Guide.  They are designed for use by businesses and mostly for corporate events, but there are some good tips that would also be useful for social events.  Check them out if you’re planning a party and want to go green.

If you have questions about recycling, about donating goods, about composting–about pretty much anything that has to do with disposing of things–check out SWANNC and make them part of your next party.

When Should You Hire Your Planner?

November 6th, 2017
Was it planned 2 years in advance?  Or two days?  Photo by T & S Hughes Photography.

Was it planned 2 years in advance? Or two days? Photo by T & S Hughes Photography.

Here’s a question that does not get asked nearly often enough:  When should you hire a coordinator or planner for your wedding or other large event?

The short answer is:  As soon as possible.

If you’re hiring a full-service planner or even someone who is only doing partial planning plus coordinating, you obviously want to hire that person well in advance of the date of the event.  You need to give them time to do their job, which is to plan your event.  No one wants to do a rush job or do the job badly, so ample time is necessary.

But even if you are hiring someone who is only coordinating the day of your event, it is still a good idea to book early.  For one thing, you want to find someone who is available on the date of your event, and Saturday nights start booking up as you approach the date.  But beyond the practicalities of who is available, booking early gives you access to your coordinator’s advice and expertise for a longer period of time, saving you money and headaches.  And it allows for enough time for your coordinator to get to know you and understand what you want.

I don’t know how most planners charge, but if you hire me early, it doesn’t cost you a penny more than if you hire me later.  (In fact, it can save you money.)  My fee is based on the average amount of time I expect to put in on your event, and always includes unlimited phone calls, texts, and emails from the time you hire me until the day of your event.

And what if you’ve waited until the last minute to hire someone to coordinate your event?  Do not despair!  I actually specialize in last-minute jobs (if I am available).  While it’s nice to have months to sort out the details and make sure everything is in place, I’ve coordinated weddings with less than 48 hours notice!

One final word of advice:  Most planners won’t book more than 12 to 18 months out.  That’s my general window, as well.  So, if you are more than a-year-and-a-half from the date of your wedding or event, that is the one time I recommend waiting to hire.  But within a year or so of the date, don’t delay.  Start making calls or sending emails to find the planner who is the right fit for your event.  We all appreciate your booking early.

What Happens When You Don’t Hire a Planner

November 28th, 2016
table setting

A planner can ensure that everything is in place. Photo by hannahelaine photography (hannahelaine.com).

You’re planning a wedding, or any large event, and you’re thinking of hiring a planner, or at least a day-of coordinator.  But you’re also wondering if it’s really worth paying all that money when there will be nothing to show for it.  After all, when you hire a florist, you get beautiful flowers; when you hire a caterer, there’s delicious food.  But when you hire a planner, what do you get?

Let’s look at that question in reverse:  What do you get when you don’t hire a planner?

I’m in a lot of online groups for wedding vendors, and one thing I see happening constantly is musicians and florists and hair stylists asking the group to recommend other vendors.  Just today, a musician was trying to help out her client by asking for recommendations for flowers, uplighting, and a chuppah.  Now, a musician is no expert on those vendors.  But a planner is.  If the couple had hired a planner or coordinator–like, say, me–they would have the benefit of my extensive vendor list at no additional charge.  But because they haven’t hired a planner (yet), it takes much longer to get recommendations.

There have been occasions when I have been hired very close to the wedding day, when most of the major decisions have been made already.  There’s nothing really wrong with that, but if I had been hired early and had input into those decisions, I might have helped my clients make better or easier decisions.  In this case, what my clients didn’t get was expertise to make their planning process easier.

And, of course, if you don’t hire a day-of coordinator at all, what happens?  Someone has to do the work that a coordinator does on the wedding day:  putting out place cards, making sure the tables are set properly, starting the processional on time, keeping photographers informed, alerting people making toasts, adjusting the temperature, calling cabs…and so on.  If you don’t hire a professional, who will do all the things I do?  Either you will press one of your guests into service or wheedle a vendor whose job it isn’t to do them, or they just won’t get done.

These are just a few examples of what happens when you don’t hire a planner. And just because they are intangible doesn’t mean they aren’t important.  Sometimes, the things you can’t see are the most important ones of all.

What a Day-Of Coordinator Really Does

July 13th, 2015
My goal is to keep your guests having a good time.  Photo by Light on Life Images.

My goal is to make sure your guests are having a good time. Photo by Light on Life Images.

When I’m coordinating a wedding or party, I do a lot of things that are visible:  I put out the place cards; oversee the decor (if there is no decorator); manage the processional; communicate with the DJ; and so on.  But there is a whole category of things I do that no one ever sees, and those are perhaps the most important things I do.

The things you’ll never see or know about are things like these:

  • If the air temperature is too cold or too hot, I find a building engineer and ask them to make the room more comfortable.
  • Adjust the lighting when dancing starts.
  • Help guests who have special needs or problems.
  • Look for lost items.
  • Call taxis for guests.
  • Replace toilet paper in the bathrooms.
  • Fix any problems that come up with the caterer or other vendors.

These are the non-glamorous parts of the job, but I consider them among the most important ones because they keep your guests happy.