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Week 3: Meeting With Wedding Planners and Designers
Welcome to Week 3: Meeting With Wedding Planners and Designers . We are more than
half way through (tear!). The past two weeks have been fun. Woulldn't you agree? We talked in depth about the importance of a Wedding Planner/Designer. I’ve also given you some of my best tips in hopes of you finding the best wedding vendor for you. This week is no different but before we get into that let’s recap our first two weeks together,shall we?
In week #1 we talked about the foundations of wedding planning, common terms and how to assign a priority to a Wedding Planner/Designer. In week #2, we talked about how to search for Wedding Planners and Designers and what to look for throughout that process including pricing and specific characteristics.
Up until now, you have been gathering information about potential Wedding Planners and Designers through researching their brand, referrals, testimonials, videos and by reading through their website. You probably have a good idea of their style and their approach to wedding plan ning and design so now you’ll want to take that understanding to the next level and set up an in person meeting with them. Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging, I’ll show you what to look for when you meet them and the important questions to ask.
Week #3 - Meeting With Wedding Planners and Designers
Meeting with a prospective Wedding Planner or Designer can tell you a lot about them and how they’ll take care of you throughout the wedding planning process. Think of your in-person meetings as a way to achieve these three main objectives:
The ability to sit down, talk and get to know each potential vendor better. After the meeting, you’ll know whether they’re someone you can picture being with you for your entire wedding planning process and your wedding day.
You’ll be able to get into detailed discussions with them about their style, philosophy, and approach. While you can gather the gist of this information online, nothing can replace an in-person conversation about these items (more on what to ask further down).
Lastly, there is no better way to judge a Planner or Designer's work and the quality of their work than to see it in person, either in displays, in print or otherwise. Like I mentioned in Week #2, it’s relatively easy to make an image look decent on a website on a small computer screen. It’s a completely different thing to have an image look great when it’s printed on a huge canvas or in a table mock up that you can touch and see.
It is important to consider where the Planner/Designer proposes to meet with you. You may think that it would be most convenient if they came to you, but I would suggest otherwise, as having them come to you might limit your ability to get a real sense of their style, personality and experience.
I would recommend, in almost all cases, to meet with prospective Planner/Designer at their place of business (office or studio) as this will give you an immersive experience and give you the best insight into their personality and style. If you are meeting in their space, here are a few things that you should look for:
Do they proudly display their work via canvas, photo album, mock up display, etc.? Do all of the pictures together give you a good feeling for their overall style, attention to detail and creativity?
In general, are they a good host while you’re in their studio/office? Do they offer you a beverage? Does their environment make you feel comfortable and at ease? Remember, this meeting is when the Planner/Designer should want to impress you with their attention to detail and customer experience. If they aren’t accommodating and welcoming now then that’s not a good sign for what’s to come.
Are they dressed and groomed professionally?
Is their space well maintained? Again, attention to detail cannot be overlooked. The level of care and attention that they give to their professional meeting space will be representative of the level of care and attention that they’ll give to you as a client.
In conversation, do you get a sense that they care about you and your wedding, or does it sound like they’re just talking about themselves the entire time? Of course you are here to find out more about them and what they do, but an excellent Wedding Planner/Designer will want to know more about you, your wedding and your relationship so that they can fully understand who you are and how they can best create your dream wedding.
A lot of these are things to look for on the surface. You will want to get into some deeper conversations about style, approach and expectations. Here is a list of questions that you can ask from your prospective wedding Planner/Designer as well as some specifics to look for during the discussion.
“What type of clients do you work best with?”
Planning a wedding takes a lot of time and involves a lot of details. Believe me, I’m a planner, I know! So it’s important to make sure that you align personality wise with the Wedding Planner/Designer you choose.
“Who do you work best with?” is a great question to ask to determine who the Planners ideal client is. If the description they provide aligns with who you are or what you value as a bride then great! If not, then run in the opposite direction, they are not the right fit for you. If the reply is “well everyone really” or is very vague try and have then get more specific.
“How do you work best with clients?
What processes or tools do you have in place to help with the planning process?” A stress free planning process and wedding day are your ultimate goals, right? Well in order to meet that objective, you need a Planner/Designer who has developed resources and tools to make it easier for you throughout the planning process and easier for them to work with you. Resources and tools to help with communication, documentation, etc. are key. Ask prospective Wedding Planners/Designers to tell you what they do differently, how they manage your event in order to ensure your wedding goes off without a hitch.
All of my clients benefit from having a customized online planning portal that houses all of their planning documents so they can access it at any given time without having to look through their email, contact me and wait for a reply or remember anything that we spoke about. But that’s because I focus on ways to save my clients time and provide them with more ease throughout the planning process.
“What is your turnaround for emails and phone calls?”
Wedding Planning takes a lot of communication and since this is likely your first time getting married, you probably will have a lot of questions throughout the process. I’m sure you also have some expectations on how quickly your questions should be answered and the best way to make sure these expectations are met is to find out these details up front and be very clear with your expectations. A full-time professional Planner/Designer really shouldn’t take more than a few hours to return your calls or emails but should probably provide a 24 hour turnaround time just to be safe.
Are you a full-time Wedding Planner/Wedding Designer?
We talked about this in Week #1 and in Week #2, and I cannot emphasize how important it is to have a Wedding Planner/Designer who is a full-time professional. Someone who plans and/or designs on the side or does it part-time is not a great choice because a) they do not necessarily rely on their business and so they may not be fully committed to delivering the best quality and b) do not have their full time and attention dedicated to planning/designing and therefore may not be able to give you reliable and appropriate turnaround times
What is your main focus in planning/designing?
Some Planners/Designers focus solely on weddings, while others are all over the place. This is a highly debated discussion, but it is my humble opinion that the Planner/Designer that you choose for your wedding should have the majority of their focus and experience in the wedding industry. On the wedding day, we as Planners and Designers are faced with so many different things such as:
A constantly changing environment
Fast-paced and changing timelines
Tough and quick decisions
Numerous vendors to coordinate and communicate with
Demands from many different people
Rooms, spaces and locations that are always different
And so much more
On top of that, on a wedding day, a Wedding Planner/Designer will wear many different “hats” as a professional many of which are different for other types of events (birthdays, baby showers, family gatherings, non profit events, etc.) so it’s important to have someone who has years of experience executing several successful weddings so you can trust that they are very comfortable and have a proven track record.
Are you the only Planner/Designer in your business?
I talked about this in Week #2, but it bears repeating. Some Planners/Designers have a “team” of associates who plan and design for them in order to take on more clients. Be clear up front and know who will be working with you during your planning process and more importantly who will be there on your wedding day. This is the person that you want to meet with, build a relationship with and determine if you like them and trust them.
How many assistants will you have on the day?
No matter how intimate your wedding may be, there is no way 1 person can coordinate a wedding day on their own, we require rock star assistants to help us execute all of the different components of the day. Ask how many assistants they usually work with on the wedding day. How do they determine that number? What qualifications do those assistants have before they start working for the Planner?
Do you have a payment plan? What forms of payment do you accept?
You should not have to pay for your entire wedding planning or design service up front at the time of booking. Most professional Planners/Designers will offer a flexible payment plan over a period of time. Most Planners/Designers will require the final payment before the wedding but will put together a payment plan that works for you. Also, a professional Planner/Designer will accept credit cards, and so be sure that you know their preferred methods of payment up front and if there are any additional fees associated with paying via a credit card.
Time to evaluate things: What was your comfort level?
Most important of all, you have to decide whether or not you connect with the Planners/Designers you meet in person. Did you feel a good “vibe” with them? Did you feel well taken-care of? Did you get a solid understanding of their style and their approach to wedding planning/design and how they would work with you to create the wedding you want? Do you trust them? Do you feel comfortable around them? Did they really listen to you? Did they communicate well?
That concludes our third week. If you’d like to go back to week 1 click here or you can go back to week 2 here. Next week, the final section of this e-mail program, I’ll go into more details about how you can compare Wedding Planners/Designers after you have met with your “short list” and ultimately choose the Planner who is right for you. In the meantime, I would love to hear your feedback. If you found this week’s article helpful, please e-mail me and let me know.
If you’d like to be social with me, you can head on over to my Facebook where I share interesting wedding related articles, tips and tricks, behind the scenes planning and design info and my latest weddings, Instagram where I share images from my day-to-day life, client and industry events and my personal style and fashion sense. If you’d like to learn more about me and what makes me tick, you can also visit my little pocket of real estate on the internet at www.EventDesignByBE.com.
Until next week! Dream big and stay inspired.
All Rights Reserved. Photo credit: Fotos by Fola, Event Design by BE