Finding the right wedding planning service is a bit like finding the right car to buy, or realtor to sell your house. There are just so many choices and words that you’ve never heard before. For example, did you know that, in fact, a huge difference between a planner and an event designer? I called in Elizabeth Duncan, local event and wedding planner, to break down the lingo for us. This is a mega post, so stay with us and come back often for a refresh on terminology. Take it away, Elizabeth…
Photo Credit: The Observatory
So, you want to hire a professional to help you with your wedding plans?! If you’ve already started researching different professionals in the DC area, you have discovered that there are multiple levels of expertise, talent and service available to you. Here are just a few pointers to help you navigate the waters and find the professional and services that are right for you.
Identify Your Needs and Wants
Before you make any phone calls to any venues or wedding professionals, first have an honest, open conversation with yourself, your fiancé and your family about the things that are most important to you about your wedding. Next, consider how much time you can realistically devote to planning your wedding while still enjoying the process. Then, determine if you have room in your event budget to hire a professional. Finally, identify the areas where you believe you would most benefit from professional support.
Based on the following definitions, what type of professional will be able to help you the most?
- Event Planner – An event planner is typically someone who has the expertise to support you in every aspect of creating and implementing your event – from finding your venue to hiring your vendors to creative design and flawless implementation. The analogy that many of my clients find helpful is that of the Event Planner as the Coach – the central figure with the vision to select the best team of players, the leadership to organize and inspire them, and the depth of experience to help them succeed against all odds.
- Event Designer –This title is starting to be used interchangeably with Event Planner, but it best describes someone who is an expert in developing the creative vision of an event. This person might be compared to an Interior Designer – someone who creates an overall vision, from color palette to personal details, and then contracts others to implement the vision. I’ve seen florists, décor rental companies and event planners all refer to themselves as Event Designers. While there can be a lot of overlap, most couples looking for professional support in planning their wedding will benefit more from someone who offers event design as part of their planning expertise.
- Event Coordinator – The use of Coordinator or Coordination implies that the planning has already been done and this person will simply be organizing, confirming and implementing the plans you make.
- Event Consultant – Technically, any professional you might hire would be considered a consultant, but in the wedding industry, this title most frequently refers to someone working on an hourly basis.
- Event Management – This title is more common in the entertainment and publicity industries, but it is also applicable in weddings and other social events. It is most synonymous with an Event Producer or Event Coordinator, but I’ve also seen full service planners use this term. Be sure to ask if they will simply manage the event or have the expertise to provide you with customized, comprehensive planning.
- Event Production – Again, more typical within the entertainment and publicity sector, but sometimes used in the wedding industry (e.g. A/V companies, décor rental companies, etc.).
Photo Credit: David Rehor
Explore Your Options
Following are just a few of the most common planning services offered. What level of service is right for you?
- Comprehensive/Full Service Planning – Typically, this level of service includes everything from finding the venue to hiring the right vendor team to creating the vision and managing all of the logistics.
- Custom/Partial Planning – This package may be customized for each client or be a pre-selected set of services somewhere between Day-of Event Supervision and Comprehensive Planning. For many of my clients, this package is a way to get the guidance and expertise they need while limiting the overall time and cost.
- Wedding Coordination – This can vary widely from simple wedding day supervision to actual planning or coordinating prior to the event. For many, this is synonymous with Month-of Coordination.
- Month-of Coordination/Planning – One month of support immediately prior to the wedding. This timeframe allows for the Professional to be involved in the final walkthrough, timeline development and vendor confirmation, as well as the standard ceremony rehearsal supervision and wedding day supervision.
- Week-of Coordination/Planning – One week of support, typically including limited support of final details, vendor confirmation and day-of event supervision.
- Day-of Coordination/Planning– Sometimes this includes ceremony rehearsal as well, otherwise it is simply a certain number of hours the day of the wedding.
- Hourly – Hourly consulting can be done throughout the planning process or strictly for the wedding day itself. Hourly can be a good option if you have specific, easily defined projects you want help with, but it can quickly spiral out of control. Hourly is not the most cost effective relationship for planning, but can be a good option for wedding day supervision if you are looking for that extra level of confidence.
Photo Credit: The Observatory
What a list! I don’t know about you, but I’m tired! What is one person’s coordinator is another person’s consultant. Better to get it straight as your begin your search! Thank you so much, Elizabeth! If you are looking for a wedding planner/consultant/designer/coordinator and/or otherwise amazing person for your DC area wedding, be sure to check out Elizabeth Duncan Events.