Co-Written by Amy Cagginello & Stacie Shea
It finally happened. You and the love of your life are engaged to be married. After the excitement of telling family, friends and social media you are off the races of planning the perfect day to have every single person that you love and adore celebrate one of the biggest life milestones
Where to begin? Lock in a venue? A photographer? At that point you realize you cannot handle everything yourself or just want the event to look absolutely sublime so you begin to look for a planner. That process too can turn into an arduous task if you don’t know where to begin or what to look for.
With the ease of creating a website and Facebook / Instagram account, its easy for and inexperienced and unqualified person to have an online presence and be responsible for the design and execution of your wedding day. Unfortunately, your wedding is not a 4th of July party, there will not be a do-over next year. A wedding is a huge and often expensive event that has one chance for perfection.
Here are a few things to look for to help determine whether the planner you are hiring is the right fit for you & your wedding day:
1. Style - Does your planner understand and resonate with the look and feel you are trying to achieve for your day? This is huge, if your planner does not understand or capture your style you will likely be disappointed with the wedding and the planning process leading up to the day. A great way to know if your styles will match is by looking for their previous work, explore their website, look on wedding blogs and even flip thru some local media publications where their work might be featured. A planner and designers style can almost always be seen throughout their work, website, blog and print publications.
A second way to read into a planners style is how they dress, wear their hair, did you mesh with their website. If their personal style is a starbucks coffee with a popped collar and cowboy boots. Is this something you can resonate with? Do you love those things too?
2. Reviews - Having reviews from past clients validates a business. It means that a past client took the time after the honeymoon to tell the world how incredible their experience was. Unfortunately not all reviews are created equally and sometimes they are inaccurate. Ways to tell if a review is legitimate:
- The review is personal. The reviewer spoke about specific thing or things that the planner really helped with, were ecstatic about their day and very clearly want the world to know. Reviews that are equivalent to an ebay review are likely fabricated i.e. "working with so & so was great, would definitely recommend".
- Look for the wedding date for the review, if the date the same for several reviews it may be fabricated, or from friends and relatives of a single wedding.
- Sometimes vendors write reviews for a planner which is misleading and inappropriate to be mixed in with client reviews. Business to business reviews are great in the proper forum.
- The wedding story – Most planners almost always have the true wedding “Story”. So when you are exploring the internet about this planner stop by some of the fantastic wedding blogs and read the story about the couple. Almost always the couple will mention the planner or designer and how they helped tie their vision with the overall scope of the event.
3. Limited Liability Company & Insured - Oh this is the boring requirement but so insanely important. Checking to see if a business is an actual registered business is easy to do, simply visit your state's Secretary of State website and search for the business. Connecticut's could be found HERE.
Insurance is something that should never be overlooked. A legitimate planner will have an extensive policy that will cover almost every aspect of their business. In real life, situations happen and it is important not only for the planner but for the client that the planner and their employees are insured.
4. Editorial Work - one of the best forms of networking and advertising is when a planner/event designer creates an inspirational shoot to practice their creativity, ability to step outside the box and execute their own vision. Clients often have an idea for their wedding day, its important to be confident that your planner is able to contribute to your vision, help you maximize your ideas and budget and have the knowledge to know where to go to and how to achieve your look.
5. Trust Factor – The wedding planner and designer is almost always the person you will spend a TON of time with. They are who you will be tasting cake with, picking out linens, and spending countless hours in planning meetings or on email with. Make sure you know you trust them. Walk out of your intial meeting and know that you want to work with them and they get you.
A planner is the person who will tie the perfect bow, assist your maid of honor with the bustle and make sure you look picture perfect the entire day. Trust is the biggest factor.
6. Price- This is the one aspect that I know many will shy away from talking about. Lets be serious here. Weddings are expensive and its one day with a giant price tag on it. Hiring a planner to save yourself money is an aspect that not many think about. Look at it this way, a planner can give you recommendations on how to cut costs here and where you can reallocate funds to another area. Planners and Designers do many events a year so we almost always know how to stretch the dollar in a way that an inexperienced planner won’t. We can coach you thru DIY, tell you when to hire or outsource when the price is better. Yes many planners vary in their package pricing. Many times packages from one planner are the bottom end pricing for another or the high end for another. This is where a you get what you pay for mentality is something to remember. Planners spend on average 250 hours per wedding.
So as you get down to the nitty gritty with pricing remember that a planner who charges next to nothing (or does price promotions- red flag) and takes on a ton of weddings a year might not have as much time to spend on your day and making your experience unique and special. A planner who only books a certain number of events knows their limitations and knows how they can best service their clients. I mean its your wedding day…We all want to be the princess and most important for the day and the year planning up to that point!
7. 1st Impression - There is a ton you could tell from a planner by the time you are in the middle of a consultation. Did they respond to your inquiry quickly? Was it a personalized email or a generic standard email? Were they fairly easy/flexible in scheduling a consult? Did they confirm your meeting? Did they come to the meeting prepared? If they haven't worked your venue, did they research it? Were they on time to the meeting? Were they organized? Most importably, did they listen to you? Did they genuinely seem engaged in the meeting?
Your initial meeting with a planner is just one of many. That meeting sets the tone for all meetings that will take place during the planning process and it's important that all of the questions listed above were answered to your satisfaction before moving forward with the planner.
In life we pride ourselves on making smart, logical decisions. While planning a wedding, it is best to allow logic to take a backseat, and let your emotions guide you to the decisions that will create your beautiful and emotional day. When choosing a wedding planner, trust your instincts and leave to logic to the professional!
A special thanks to Ms. AC for helping me get this post out of our heads and onto paper. It has been so great to meet such a special lady in the CT Wedding Industry. I just adore this gal!!