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When to Hire Help: Deciding on an Event Planner (Show Notes: Season 2, Episode 4)

As we work our way through this season of The Basics of Event Planning, this next topic is an important piece of the puzzle - and that is how to determine whether you need to hire an event or wedding planner to assist you. To make the decision whether you might need the support of an event planner, it’s important to understand exactly what an event planner does...and there are several different capacities in which a planner operates.

The types of event planners you may consider hiring include:

Full-Service Planner

This person will support your event from start to finish. This means they will assist with creating and maintaining your budget as well as vetting your venue and vendors and presenting you with information and options to choose from so you can make educated decisions. They will then negotiate your contracts and assist with the legwork throughout the active planning process. Then, on the day of the event they will be your go-to for all day of coordination and execution of your event.

Partial Planners

There are a few different kinds of “partial planning” packages that a planner may offer, including:

Month-Of Coordination is hired 4-8 weeks prior to the execution of the event. With this type of package, the planner will brush up on the initial planning that YOU have completed and will help take it to the finish line. This may consist of checking in with vendors, finalizing your timeline, managing the execution of the event, and ensuring you don’t have to worry about a thing on the day-of.

Day-Of Coordination signs on in the month or so prior to the event date and will become familiar with your vendors, timeline, and preferences for the coordination of the event. Then follow through until the event is complete. The difference between month-of and Day-of is really just the depth of support that you receive. The closer to the event date that someone comes on, the less control the person will have over the pre-planned aspects of the event.

Event Consulting may incorporate various aspects of the planning process based upon your needs. Maybe this is contract review/negotiation, design, timeline creation, or any combination of those tasks - or others. It is more “a la carte” planning, so you can pick and choose the specific tasks you need help with and they will build a package to cater to those needs. Not all planners offer a service like this, but it can be helpful when they do if you are aiming to handle a majority of the legwork of planning, but want professional advice and backup on a few specific pieces. Someone who offers event consulting may offer the services at a slightly less expensive rate, so it can be a more economical choice while still providing the event support and resources you need.

Event Designer

An event designer focuses on the overall event aesthetic and is your go-to when you need help bringing your creative vision to life. From recommending color palettes or complementary elements - to suggesting rental enhancements and tablescape details, an event designer breathes life into your mood board ideas and is probably a Pinterest extraordinaire. Designers typically do not assist with logistics like managing vendors, timelines, or other more in-depth logistics, which make them very different from your typical full-service planner.

Destination Planner

These types of planners are most commonly hired for weddings, but could certainly plan other destination events depending on the needs. This person will likely offer similar services to a full-service planner - and then some. Generally a destination planner will also assist with arranging overnight accommodations and the travel logistics for your group. They will also have connections with a variety of international venues and vendors - or local vendors with an international reach who will travel to whatever destination is set for the event. Hiring someone who specializes in destination planning is a huge asset when you are hosting an event in a location where you may be unfamiliar with the available resources.

Meeting Planner

A meeting planner is someone who has experience working in the corporate sector and is able to handle the logistics of full-service planning, with the added expertise as it relates to corporate needs. This may come in the form of a “CMP” or “Certified Meeting Professional” designation, which is recognized as a “badge of excellence in the events industry” based upon professional experience, education, and a rigorous exam. Meeting planners will take on similar responsibilities as a full-service planner, but are able to tailor their service to the specific meeting they are planning - such as an intimate executive board meeting for less than 20 guests, or a large-scale conference for thousands of attendees. Things they may handle include planning meeting agendas, selecting dining menus, arranging accommodations, orchestrating travel and transportation, and coordinating activities.

Venue Coordinators

While this isn’t someone you would make a conscious decision to hire, a venue coordinator/manager is worth mentioning. Some venues provide you with a direct contact who will assist with some of the planning tasks to bring your event to fruition. At many venues, this person is more peripheral and will do more basic things like creating Banquet Event Orders outlining your menu and creating basic floor plans for the space. At other, more full-service venues, the venue coordinator may act as your full-service planner. More often than not, event hosts who are looking for planning support opt to bring in their own event planner to supplement whatever the venue coordinator may provide, but every venue is different, so it is important to do your research, read reviews and you will be able to determine exactly how proficient a venue manager may be and just how involved they will get in the planning process.

Now that you are familiar with the various types of planners you may choose to work with - you have to have a general vision for your event. Are you looking to plan an extravagant affair with lots of details and enhancements that may be out of your reach to bring to life? If so, a planner may be a great resource to help you achieve your event goals. As you dream up various ideas for your event, think hard about what you feel comfortable doing and how much time and effort you have to put forth towards achieving your vision. If you question your ability to accomplish something, or just feel lost in the process - you may want to consider a level of planning support. If you’re really just interested in enjoying the party, but don’t necessarily want to put out the efforts to make it happen - a planner is definitely the right route for you to pursue. An event planner can really help to polish your ideas and create a seamless flow to keep your guests engaged and enjoying themselves throughout the duration of the event. But if you think you have what it takes to go from planning to party time on your own - keep coming back for more How to Event for the best tips and tricks to ensure your success!

Continue the conversation and ask your questions by joining the How To Event Facebook Group.

Or you can keep up with us on Instagram by following @HowToEvent.

Season 2, Episode 5 will debut on August 27th, 2020! This season we are focusing on Event Basics and each week I will review a new foundational event topic to help you get started with your planning process.

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