Planner, Designers & Coordinators
The holiday season is a popular time of year to pop THE question. For those newly engaged, by March you are probably knee deep into the wedding planning process and starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all. Today's post will hopefully be helpful for those couples who will soon be tying the knot. This discussion may also be beneficial for anyone who may be involved in hosting/planning an event in the future - whether it be a fundraiser, a networking function or any form of celebration.
Similar to the earlier post discussing the professions within the built environment industry (Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator), the world of events also often depends on the collaboration of many. The job titles and specialties of those in the professional events industry range and often overlap. In this post, we are going to take a look at the roles of event planners, event designers and day-of-coordinators.
Typically, an event planner is going to be the person who helps you with organizing and managing the logistics required for executing an event. A planner focuses on the schedules, the budget, selecting and booking vendors, planning layouts, managing orders and so on. Event Planners are extremely organized and detail oriented. They can be excellent resources for advice and recommendations. This person will most likely also be your day-of-coordinator.
Event designers are artistic, creative individuals who specialize in dreaming up the style, theme and visual décor elements of an event. Often the event designer is not only responsible for the décor but also the design and execution of floral elements. They may have their own collection of items to work with or they will rent items from various sources (linens, furniture, lighting, dishes, etc.). On the day of the event the designer will be present to direct and oversee set-up of the décor.
There are some event planners that also provide full or partial design services, and vice versa. These individuals are unusual as very few people are comfortable being fully right and left brained. Before hiring a professional, make sure you have an understanding of whether they are a planner or a designer. If they offer both services, be careful that they are actually capable of accomplishing what they are promising. For instance, I am able to offer a client assistance with the overall conceptual design for an event and minor floral and graphic needs. With that being said, I would never claim that I am a trained graphic designer or floral designer and lead a client to believe I was capable of designing stationary packages or creating full floral arrangements. I can help a client find the right person for these jobs.
The day-of-coordinator is present onsite to oversee and direct the set-up, the event itself and the clean-up. This person manages vendors, keeps things moving along on schedule, finalizes decisions and details, answers questions and puts out any unforeseen fires that may arise. The main objective of the day-of-coordinator is to make sure that those that are hosting and/or are being honored at the event are able to experience it without stress or distraction. They will make sure that all guests, hosts and vendors are comfortable and happy. If this person was not already the event planner, they will have met with the client several times during the planning process to make sure they have a clear understanding of the vision, plans and wishes and aware of all the details.
Make sure you don’t assume that the on-site coordinator or venue manager is the same as a day-of-coordinator. The on-site coordinator is only concerned with the venue itself. They work for the venue, not for you. They will assist and answer questions regarding the venue but they will not help with anything beyond that. They are there to monitor and make sure that venue rules and regulations are respected. You most likely will not see them much after the initial greeting unless there is a problem directly related to the venue. Some are more interested in being helpful with the event itself than others, but don’t expect it.
For most situations, hiring a professional planner or a designer is not in the budget or simply not necessarily. So, here is the advice that I was given by many when I was planning my own wedding (advice that I did not follow and regretted) - Hire a day-of-coordinator. Seriously, though. This is one of the best pieces of advice I can offer an engaged couple. If you can make room in the budget for a day-of-coordinator, you will not regret that decision. You are going to spend a chunk of money on this celebration, one of the biggest days of your life, you might as well enjoy it! Leave all the last-minute details and mini dramas for someone else to deal with and just be present in your day.
I am currently accepting weddings and events in the western Washington region for this upcoming summer and beyond. If you or someone you know is considering hiring a planner and/or day-of-coordinator, I'd be thrilled to meet up for a free consultation to chat. We can discuss your specific needs and decide if you think I would be a good fit for your special gathering. As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions.