Over the course of my planning career, I’ve had to justify my work more times than I care to admit. A lot of people (mostly unmarried people or people who haven’t hosted an event, to be honest) question the necessity of having a planner. What does a planner do, anyway? Schedule some appointments, look at stationary, boss people around on the Big Day? Anyone can do that, right? Well, quite frankly, yes – but that doesn’t even begin to cover all that a planner really does. Here’s a little bit of insight into what planners do and how they can help to bring your event to life in a way that no one else can.
1.) Planning is stressful. It’s not all cake tastings and picking out flowers; it’s setting deadlines, researching vendors, making phone calls, reviewing contracts, and creating timelines. When you already have a busy schedule with work, social obligations, and whatever else you have going on, do you really want to devote multiple hours a week for months to the planning process?
2.) Bringing your vision to life is hard. You may know what you want, but not how to get it. I did an event for SXSW where the client wanted a 15’x15′ fully-functioning Etch-A-Sketch. While he was asking, “Does that even exist?”, I was asking, “What color do you want it to be?” Planners have resources and contacts. We know where to go and who to talk to to get what you want. Nothing is impossible.
3.) A planner can complement your skills. Are you very creative but have a hard time with the contracts and timelines? Are you more detail-oriented and struggle with figuring out your overall vision? The right planner for you will handle the parts of the process that you have trouble with. Whether you want someone to take your plans and put them into action or someone to help you figure out your design and decor, you can find a planner that helps round out your team and make the whole process easier.
4.) It’s hard to narrow down vendors. Every cake looks delicious. Every DJ plays good music. Every photographer has a beautiful, artsy website. What you don’t see is the reputation, specialty, and personality of each vendor. Planners work with literally hundreds of other vendors and can figure out who will work best on your team.
5.) Planners know the right questions to ask. In the same vein, planners can figure out your needs for your event and make sure that the vendors you choose will deliver. I’ve had clients sign contracts that don’t promise what they want; for example, a recent bride hired a caterer solely to drop off their food and leave, then was confused as to why the caterer wasn’t staying to serve or clean up. Contracts are confusing, but planners know what to look for.
6.) Planners are intermediaries. It can be really awkward if you’re planning an event and your sweet best friend or family member is trying to take over. If they want red flowers and you want yellow, you might feel swayed to choose their idea for the sake of not hurting feelings. When you have a planner, you’re the client, and the planner will handle those awkward conversations to make sure that you get exactly what you want.
7.) A planner wants to help. Your bridesmaid won’t want to skip girl time on the morning of the wedding to set up the place settings. Your best friend won’t want to get to your fundraiser frazzled and already tired from driving all over town to pick up linens and flowers. Your mom won’t want to miss the first half of your birthday party because she’s on the phone with a vendor who’s running late. Your planner, on the other hand, is ready and willing to do what you don’t have time for. It’s in the job description.
8.) Sticking to a budget is hard. If your dream vendor is out of your price range, you may feel discouraged – or worse, you may be tempted to go overboard on spending. When you have a planner, he or she can figure out great ways to make your dream come true without breaking the bank. With a little bit of creativity and industry know-how, any event can look like it has a champagne budget, even if it doesn’t.
9.) Things go wrong at the last minute. A table setting may get lost in the mix. People may decline their RSVP but show up anyway. Transportation may get lost on the way to your venue. A bridesmaid’s gel bra may explode all over her dress ten minutes before the ceremony. I’ve dealt with all of these issues, and that’s kept the client from having to deal with them. Even if things are easy fixes – a call to a vendor, an extra chair placed here or there, a phone call to give step-by-step directions, a draped sash made out of a table runner – they would add to the client’s stress and make their day just a little bit less perfect.
10.) You should be able to enjoy the event. If you’re the one in charge of sticking to the timeline, coordinating vendor arrivals and departures, running the setup and breakdown, managing the flow of the event, keeping an eye on the food and drinks, adjusting the lighting, rounding people up for photos, and ensuring that everyone else is happy, your event will pass in the blink of an eye – and you won’t even know what happened. Your event, no matter how big or how small, is your day and your time to shine, so give yourself a chance to enjoy it. Be present. Let someone else handle the stress.