HOW DO I HIRE AN EVENT PLANNER?
It is a question worth asking. In fact, one might even consider asking first why hire an event planner…so let us answer that question first.
Hire an event planner if you desire to host a gathering and
–you want a trustworthy, creative, detail-oriented, resourceful, and exacting professional handling the job
–you want one person coordinating all vendors and planning aspects so that you can sit back and be the host
Note that the points above all speak to expertise, professionalism, and creativity. Those are the traits to look for in any event planner you seek to hire.
Now that you know why you want to hire a planner, there are a few other things to bear in mind before we get to how one is hired:
Know the scope of the gathering– that is: be clear on what you want your event to be. There are so many options to consider: casual vs. formal; number of guests, light vs. heavy fare; private vs. public venue; and what type of entertainment will be featured. It is also good to be clear on what tasks you want your planner to execute.
Decide on your budget. You must have a solid idea of what you wish to spend before even speaking to an event professional—this is one of the first questions they will ask you. When in doubt, research this information.
Lastly, decide when you would like to host your event. Many planners can be retained for up to a year before your event, depending on what it is. The further in advance your planner is hired, the more flexibility in planning you both may have.
So just how does one go about selecting and hiring a planner? Considering that planners are professionals in our field, it is wise to treat this sort of hire just as you might consider choosing an expert to help manage anything else in your life. Consider the planner’s experience, solid references from trusted sources, examples of previous work, and definitely make time to meet with your prospective planner to review expectations. This very last point cannot be overstated. It is reasonable to expect that a professional planner have a consultation process by which the above questions can be assessed. The consultation, whether via phone, in person, or preceded by a questionnaire, is a key element in determining how you will work together. In addition, expect your planner to have a network of vendor relationships to get you the best there is to offer in decor, entertainment, photography, fashion, hospitality, transport, and catering. Use your consultation time wisely to assess the above. To tie in the ultimate point from your preparation, be aware of your timing. Your planner may be a magician and the best in the business for your budget with the greatest connections…but not even a magic wand is able to suspend time. You and your planner should agree on expectations from the very beginning. If you want to host a Venetian Carnival-themed soiree on the National Mall with only one month’s planning time, please make sure that you can finance the small army it will take to do so. Even then, if your planner tells you at consultation whether this can be done, take them at their word, just as you would entrust the airplane pilot to bring you safely and happily to your destination.
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