Are you as conflicted as Hamlet? Having another one of those philosophical debates out loud to yourself? Contemplating your existence? Maybe it's time to hire an event planner!
We are all insanely busy and as a result, we are filled with so much turmoil and indecision! We start to go around and around asking ourselves the same questions over and over. It can drive a person mad! When considering whether you should hire an event planner ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have 10+ hours a week to devote to planning?
- Have you ever planned an event before?
- Spreadsheets - do ya think they're sexy?
- Do you like spending time researching?
- Do you enjoy negotiating contracts?
- Do you want to work on the day of your event?
If the answer to these questions is a resounding NO you should definitely consider hiring an event planner!! If you're still on the fence, you're probably wondering ...
What the heck does an event planner actually do?
When it comes to your event the real question is: What don't we do? I mean honestly, I have done everything from calling housekeeping to make sure your hotel is clean when you get back from your wedding, to steaming dresses, pinning boutinierres, and building a wedding website!
In a nutshell, there are 5 parts to what we do:
Planning | Selection | Negotiation | Coordination | Execution
Before we make any decisions, select any vendors, or pin anything on Pinterest, we are going to make a solid plan for your event. Budget planning is always the first step. Once we know how much money we are working with we can determine the kind of event you want to have. Your planning timeline is also crucial. Your timeline is a giant to-do list with deadlines that we create custom just for you. As professional planners, we know when things need to get done in order for everything to run smoothly! We can even help you plan for the look and feel of your event.
- When it comes to your venue search, we're like mini real estate agents! We know the market. We can pin down your perfect venue by budget, style, and availability. We know the capacities, the amenities, and every detail by memory. And if we don't, we research it so you don't have to and present it to you faster than if you would have researched it yourself. We know all the nuances. I'm sure you've learned by now that every venue is different. Some have exclusive vendors, some are BYOB friendly, some include chairs and some do not. We have all of these answers at our fingers tips because we have worked in these venues and researched them extensively.
- We have preferred vendors who have been vetted and are the best in the biz. Imagine: instead of spending 4 hours on Yelp after an 8 hour day at work trying to figure out which of the 4,000 photographers meet your needs - 5 photographers are presented to you and each of them fit your style and budget. I personally have 20 vendors per category that I love. I curate and select each vendor carefully for each of my clients as they each have different needs, goals, and budgets.
Now that your venue & vendors have been selected, it's time to negotiate. Planners have relationships with vendors and may be able to get you a special rate that they may not offer to the general public. As a planner, I'm constantly thinking about your needs. For example, I have a client who is having a destination wedding in Maine. Their photographer offers packages that include an engagement session. As this is a destination wedding and my couple couldn't take advantage of the engagement session, I kindly asked the photographer if they could remove the engagement photo fee. And they did saving my couple an extra $300! Also- negotiation isn't just about price, it's also about selecting the best services that meet your needs and budget.
- You've signed on all the dotted lines and you have your team. Now it's time for your planner to handle all of the details between your venue and vendors. We coordinate everything from making sure your florist knows exactly how many centerpieces to make - to how many linens you will need - to your transportation pick up times. For my couples, I help coordinate details between your family members so they know when to show up and where. Event Planners are the gatekeepers of stress and indecision!
We've planned, selected, negotiated, coordinated all the details that make up your special event. Now it's time to put it into action. This is the most important step of the process! We are the directors, stage managers, and the showrunners! On the day of your event, we are making sure that all details are not only running on time but they are running the way it is expected and agreed upon. If there are any issues whatsoever, we are troubleshooting! For instance, I just finished an event for a non-profit. It was a day that was traditionally very warm. But you know, because we live in Chicago, it decided to be extremely cold and rainy. We had a tent outside that held all of the food vendors. I had a feeling that no one was going to visit this tent and stay in it if it was freezing cold and everyone would pack themselves inside making it very uncomfortable. I very quickly called our tent vendors and had them come right away to install a heater! The guests were very happy and warm throughout the night.
How do I find the right event planner for me?
Ask your friends and colleagues if they have used anyone that they love! If your friends love them there's a good chance you will too!
Write down a list of what is most important to you as a person and then what is most important to you for your event. Your event planner should be someone who aligns with your values and passions.
Take a look at their website and Instagram - do you like their aesthetic? Does it match your personality? Does anything make you jump for joy?
When you meet them in person, do they make you feel relaxed? Joyful? Calm? Excited? Informed?
- Could you see yourself hanging out with this person? Going to see a movie? Consider that you will be spending a lot of time with them, sometimes more than a year!
How does pricing work for an event planner? Wedding planner?
Wedding Planners offer to price a couple of different ways. In Chicago, most wedding planners offer a flat rate. This rate covers travel, planning, meetings, assistants, and day of event coordination. Very rarely in Chicago and in other cities like New York, many wedding planners take a percentage off the total cost of your wedding. This is more common for weddings with budgets over $100,000.
For other events like galas, bridal showers, or corporate events, Event Planners offer a flat rate if the scope of the project is fleshed out, like if your organization throws an annual gala. Most likely, if the event has been done before, the scope of the project can be determined easily. For any event, your event planner will ask you questions to evaluate the amount of time, planning, and day of management is needed for your event. If it is a brand new event, many event planners will charge an hourly rate based on an estimate of hours. We can assist with conceptualizing the event and getting it off the ground for execution. Sometimes newer events can be hundreds of hours of planning because there is a learning curve.
Professional, experienced, rockstar planners will have competitive pricing. If you meet with someone who is much lower than the majority you've reached out to - ask them why. Are they new? Did they just relocate from another city? Do they have a professional website and Instagram? Is their branding consistent? Can they share references? If the answer is no to most of these questions, please consider hiring someone with more experience! It is more than worth the investment. Don't wait until your event already takes place to realize you need an event planner.
Once you've selected an event planner, make sure to meet them in person! This is a time for you to get to know each other and ask all the questions you need!
I sure hope this was helpful and that you are feeling a little more relaxed. If you would like to learn more about what Fierce can offer don't hesitate to reach out! I'd love to meet you in person and see how I can be of service.