About a year ago, I wrote an article that outlined the top five reasons to hire a professional event planner. You can read it here. Well, my son just got married a few weeks ago, and I have a WHOLE NEW perspective on precisely why hiring a professional event planner is so important. Given my recent experience, I thought I’d take a moment to provide a fresh viewpoint as both an event professional AND as a host.
#1: IT’S YOUR EVENT, BUT YOU CANNOT, AND SHOULD NOT, DO IT ALL
Not only do I have more than twenty years of expertise in the event industry, but I was one of the principal designers of my son’s wedding. I designed and produced the invitations, florals, centerpiece décor, and event signage. The bride’s mother and I made the bride’s veil and I made custom engraved wood hangers for the bride and all of her bridesmaids. I even created a custom ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) and wedding programs. I put together a detailed information packet for the wedding participants so everyone would know where to be and when to be there, as well as what to expect. I thought through every last detail and spent hours fine tuning a very comprehensive timeline. We had a group of our closest friends, as well as some of our vendors, willing to help run the event for us.
That was a mistake.
Having expertise in one aspect of event planning does NOT mean I have direct knowledge of other aspects of event planning. As a custom invitation and décor designer, I’m one of the vendors whose work is mostly completed and set up before an event even begins. I don’t generally see how those same events actually run in real time. Yes, I’ve put on a few parties of my own, and I absolutely have the skill set to manage a wedding. So it’s not that I wasn’t capable of managing things. But as I’ve now learned first-hand, a wedding, with more than two hundred guests, two different families, and the emotional attachment of this being for my own son, is a completely different animal from other kinds of events I’ve planned. I was mistaken to think that I could (or even should) manage the event myself, or rely on my vendors and friends to do some of the event management for me.
As I tell all my clients, “be a guest at your own event.” I also tell my clients “whatever happens on the day of your wedding would have happened whether you planned for it or not.” So no matter how capable you are, you simply cannot be a guest at your party when you have to manage all the “unplanned” mishaps that happen at every large event. Our mishaps included a member of the bridal party knocking over a vase in the ceremony hall during photos, spilling broken glass and gallons of water all over the floor. Another member of the bridal party missed most of the photos because she took too long to get ready. And the rental vendor mistakenly came back three hours early to pick up his rentals. Your event planner should handle these kinds of mishaps, not your friends, and certainly not the mother-of-the-bride or mother-of-the-groom.
We were very lucky because to our guests, our event went very smoothly. They didn’t see all of these “mishaps,” and only a few people even knew about some of the behind-the-scenes “drama.” Perhaps it’s part of our relatively easy-going nature that we were able to allow all of this to roll of our backs and not let any of it affect our enjoyment of the day (another piece of advice I give all of my clients). And my friends did a GREAT job and were absolutely incredible. But it would have been BETTER for all of us if we would have hired a professional event planner who was THE contact person for everything and everyone, and to manage the venue, caterer, DJ, photographer, videographer and all these little “mishaps.” You can still do a lot of the fun planning and design work yourself, as we did. But when it comes to the actual day of the event, having a professional event planner who has been on board with the planning from the beginning is key so that all of the details you carefully prepared can be implemented by someone who is dispassionate, who is not emotionally involved in the event, and who is looking out for YOU.
#2: PROFESSIONAL PLANNERS PROTECT YOUR INTEREST AND MAKE SURE YOU GET THE PARTY YOU WANT
As I wrote in my last article, a professional event planner is a neutral, disinterested (as in not emotionally involved) person who you can turn to for direction and advice. He or she is hired to protect your interests. For example, we all know that some people have their own opinions about things, and not everyone will be happy with the details you choose or the choices you make. For example, at our wedding, guests were supposed to greet the bride in the downstairs outside patio. The venue manager, therefore, did not want our guests entering the reception hall before the ceremony, and was shooing people out. However, it was almost 100 degrees outside, and some of our elderly guests needed to get out of the heat. A professional event planner could have helped act as a buffer between what the venue operator thought we wanted and what our guests needed at the time.
#3: PROFESSIONAL PLANNERS ALLOW YOU TO BE A GUEST AT YOUR OWN PARTY
This reason bears repeating. The best part of any event is participating fully. If you’re too busy worrying that the photographer is running late with photos (this happened to us), or that the videographer is yelling at the venue manager for moving his equipment without asking (yes, this happened at our event, too), or that one of your tables didn’t have enough chairs set up (yep…this also happened at our event), you won’t enjoy yourself. A professional event planner will act as the official point person to deal with any issues that may arise so that you can enjoy the ceremony and reception and be in the moment. As the host, neither you, and especially not the bride and groom, should even know about any of these behind the scenes moments.
Even though the services of a professional event planner are not free, what I’ve learned firsthand is that the cost can be well worth it because it will allow you to focus on what’s important to you: your family, your friends, and the joy of your event.
For a list of professional event planners I work with, contact me at Marlene@InvitationMaven.com.