Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Questions to Ask Your Event Planner

Chances are, if you’re reading this website, you love to host events and you’re looking to hire an event planner to make your life much easier--at least that’s what we’re hoping. So how do you go about hiring an event planner? Are they all the same? Should you just open the yellow pages and plop your finger down haphazardly? The answers are: carefully, no, and heck no!

If you’re looking to hire an event planner, there are several factors to consider. To help make the process easier for you (because that’s what event planners do), here’s a list of questions to ask and thoughts to ponder when determining which event coordinator you should select.

1. How important is it that you stick to your budget? Do you want a planner who will maximize your money and not go over by even one penny? Or are you looking for someone who will take your ideas and run, giving you an over-the-top, extravagant affair?
2. Is the coordinator familiar with all the best local vendors, from catering to flowers to photographers and DJs? Coordinators with ties to local vendors are often able to get you a better deal because of their long-standing business partnership.

3. Will your planner handle the invitation process for you? Do you want someone to draft wording, order, mail and even tally up responses for you?
4. Will the coordinator be there on the day of the event to trouble-shoot, or just leading up to the big day?

5. Will the planner be able to assist you with social etiquette or help you incorporate the hottest trends into your event?
6. How involved do you want to be in the planning process? Do you have ideas or do you want the planner to create your event?
7. Has your coordinator worked with your preferred vendors before? A relationship isn’t necessary, but it’s good to know if your planner has a positive relationship with the vendors you want to use.
8. Will your coordinator review your vendor contracts for you and be your advocate when it comes to negotiating and ensuring you get just what you asked for?

9. Does the planner have references for you or past clients you may speak with? If the answer is no, you should be wary.
10. Will the planner provide you with a master plan, checklists and timelines? Better yet, do you want these documents or do you just want to know that it’s all being done by your trusted planner?

At your initial meeting, ask as many questions as you have. This will help you get a feel for the type of planner you’re working with and if your personalities and visions will mesh well. But in the end, it’s just as much about the questions that the planner asks you too. A good planner will have lots of questions about your event and the feel that you want your event to have. Expect to have a few in-depth conversations with your planner about your event, followed by brief follow-ups along the planning process.