Having been in the wedding, lifestyle, and events industry for over a decade, I often meet with wedding professionals, industry professionals, businesses on a weekly sometimes daily basis. I also talk with other professionals regularly that know vendors that may be new to me but offer something different or fresh. There are a few things that are red flags for each type of service provider that are pretty easily picked up on when deciding who will work with you for months, a year, years and possibly your friends and family if they are lucky.
However life happens to the best of us and there are things that just cannot be avoided. Asking some of the right questions to a event planner, designer, stylist, or service professional that can help you decide on the right choice for you.
Here are some things you can do to make sure you ask some right questions.
Q: Tell me about your experience as a wedding planner, photog, stylist etc.. .
You want to know what your wedding planner or other vendors experience is like.
Where they live and work out of. What is their family life and do they have work life balance. When do they take clients and how many a year, month, etc..
Q: Why and how did you get into your industry?
When you can literally log up free videos on Youtube on how to do anything you need to make sure they have the experience to back up what you are paying for. And be sure to remember that if it seems too good to be true it usually is.
Q: What will the process of working together look like?
What is the process to do and execute exactly what it is that you are wanting to achieve and how much will it cost? Again if they low ball your event, design, photos, etc.. to cost a lot lower than what you kind of have a sense of, it is too good to be true.
Also will they be a leader or just a yes person? A yes person is not going to go to bat for you with all of the moving pieces that go into things getting done, delivered, or on time.
Q: Does hiring you mean I will be relinquishing my vision
Some planners are project managers and some are designers as well. Do they only work with certain vendors? Are they open to new ones?Ultimately in every good planner or designer's contract they will say that you take full responsibility for the vendors hired and their acts and omissions, but you need to have final say on what happens in your total vision.
Q: Do I approve final decisions?
Do you want your designer or planner to approve final decisions in your absence if they are small, large etc.?
Q: What is not included in your packages?
Are there add on services that you may need that are not offered or need to outsourced, Again if the particular planner you are hiring doesn't like to do design or doesn't know it, then you will likely need to consult with one as well.
Q: How many clients do you take on each year? How do they compare to one other?
The reason wedding planners and designers still exist in world of Pinterest boards and wedding wire web sites is they provide two things.
1) A sounding board to not only ease worry, negotiate contracts, keep on budget, etc. but to also stream line all of your ideas and wants. A person to ease your unsureness.
2) To give you attention. If a planner, designer, florist, stylist, etc.. has 25 projects in a year, how much time do you think it will take to get a call back on a quick or imparitive question?
Make sure that the service provider will have time for you. If its a photographer find out how long they take to edit pictures after a wedding or event and if they do it themselves or not
Q: What is your favorite type of design, event, style, or wedding to do?
This will tell you how much attention they will put into what you're envisoning. If it's something they are not passionate about doing, it will likely fall to the way side.
Q: Based on your social media and web site portfolio, what do some of these designs, styles, or final works costs?
Point out the ones that drew you to them.
Finding out what can be achieved in your budget is part of the process.
Q: What are the costs of your services and why?
You need to understand why the service provider may charge a premium for some things and not for others. Their time is valuable and so is yours. How are payments divided and are there progress payments? I think it's funny that some vendors give discounts for payments made up front but when it comes to providing a product there has to be something that is withheld til the end or almost the end of completion. So negotiate a final portion (even if it's small) to be held until the week of or the day of delivery. For stylists and planners they will often request a card on file for payments of products or default on a payment method.
Q: Do you take a commission from any of the vendors you refer us to?
More and more designers get commission from referrals. Some pass that savings to you and some include it in their own revenue and give you a discount up front.
Some get no commission at all. Planners and Designers spend year building relationships and that commission is part of a thanks for giving business.