How to Choose the Right Wedding Coordinator
by Misty Van Staaveren
Since we opened for business in the Central Valley of California, I have seen a number of wedding and party planners pop up just to fizzle out before they really take off. So how do you know you are choosing the right planner? Below, I've listed some things to look out for and some questions to ask when interviewing potential wedding planners. And yes, you do interview them!
First of all, always schedule an initial consultation. For the most part, you won't get any free information. A lot of brides think they will get enough information to jump into their own planning after the initial consultation. Actually, an initial consultation is just a "getting to know you" session. This gives the coordinator time to see if you and she or he are compatible, if the coordinator is capable of handling a wedding of your size and capacity, and to customize their services specifically for the bride's and groom's needs, and to get a realistic price quote.
In the Fresno area, these consultations are free, but in other areas a nominal fee may be charged but will be put toward your overall balance if you decide to sign a contract. Always sign a contract. Make sure every service that you purchase and want the coordinator to handle is stated in the contract. Read the cancellation policy carefully, as once you sign and make your deposit, most likely you won't get it back. I offer a three day buyer's remorse clause that allows my clients to cancel within three days for a full refund. Check to see if that is the case with the coordinator you meet with.
Always ask the following questions:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many weddings do you do per year?
- Do you have any references I can contact?
- Do you have a business license?
- What plans will come into place if you are unable to attend the wedding?
- Do you belong to any professional organizations?
- Are you certified and, if so, by whom?
- Do you work with any specific vendors that I can trust?
- How long have you worked with those vendors?
- Do you receive "kickbacks" from any of your vendors.
Answers to these questions should help you make your decision. A viable wedding consultant will be certified, have a business license, and be able to give you referrals without hesitation. Always contact their referrals! One of the reasons you hire a wedding coordinator is to help you find the right vendors for your wedding. You want to work with vendors who are trustworthy and within your budget. You don't just want a coordinator who will pull names from the phone book for you. You could save hundreds of dollars by doing that yourself but you won't gain the peace of mind of knowing you are working with vendors you can trust. Also, you do not want a coordinator who receives kickbacks from their vendors. This shows that they do not necessarily have the bride's and groom's best interests at heart, but rather the monetary gain they will get from it. Your coordinator should be willing to share with you her vendors, but also be willing to work with someone new. She may also be willing to offer the bride and groom discounts from her trusted vendors.
Always interview more than one coordinator. Sometimes your personalities don't match; sometimes a particular coordinator is not in your budget or does not match the services you need. Do not feel you need to book with the first coordinator you meet with. If a coordinator pushes you to sign right away, stay away from that coordinator! A trustworthy coordinator does not "need" your business, but rather, would love to have it.
Always call the coordinators you interview with and let them know your decision. It's just common courtesy to let them know that you appreciated meeting with them, but that you decided on another coordinator. Don't worry about hurting our feelings. It's part of our jobs. We're pretty thick-skinned and we can handle it. If you get a coordinator who becomes rude at this point, it's a good thing you didn't book with that one!
Remember, hiring a coordinator is one of the most important decisions you are making when it comes to planning your wedding. This can be the difference between having an "okay" event to having something spectacular. Don't take this decision lightly. Hiring a wedding coordinator is highly recommended -- even if just to help on the day of the wedding. After all, don't you want yourself, your groom, and your family to relax and enjoy the day?