When it comes to choosing an event planner, it is important to keep a few things in mind before you put down that deposit.
#1 Expectations and Communication
Setting mutual expectations and establishing open communication are two of the most important things to ensure a successful event. Both parties should have a clear understanding of what is meant by every aspect of the event. Do not make assumptions that your event planner understands what you mean. Take the time to exchange contact information as well as when updates and questions can expect to be answered.
Pay Particular Attention to:
A few areas that are ripe with potential to derail your event:
The food: what does spicy mean? How big is a portion?
The Venue: what is allowed? Is your planner on good terms with the site manager?
The Experience: what is meant by full-service? Who is cleaning up at the end of the night?
#2 Experience Counts
You should choose a caterer/event planner that has enough experience to deliver on what they promise. This event is important to you and your guests. This is not the time to be someone's guinea pig.
Asking questions is the key to knowing just how much experience someone has in the industry. You should also ask for references that you can contact and get an idea of what it's like working with them.
There is nothing wrong in choosing a company that is relatively new to the scene. Just make sure that the owners have sufficient industry experience. Be careful of the event planners who got into the business because they'd hosted a few dinner parties in their homes that their friends loved.
Specifically, ask them if they have experience in an event that is similar to what you have in mind. Have they worked with the same number of guests? After all, planning an event for 50 guests is much different than scaling that special reception dinner to feed 500. Do not let this area ruin your plans.
#3 Make Sure They Are Flexible
Don't make the mistake of choosing someone who is stuck in their ways. True professionals know that no two events are the same. They should be willing to incorporate your ideas into their specialties.
Many planners in the industry continue to offer limited choices. Today's clients deserve new choices and tastes that reflect their own unique personalities. Beware of the company that says, "Oh yeah, we do that." and then presents you with only three dinner options, the chicken, the beef, or the fish.
When interviewing prospective event planners make sure to ask them if they are willing to work with you on the style of service or the place settings. Many have only limited choices. We prefer to work with rental companies to give you more choice in finding the perfect setting and level of service.
#4 Don't Forget The Food
Everything may be going along smooth and you really like working with this company, but don't forget the importance of the food. The days of settling for dry chicken and cold mashed potatoes are over, or at least they should be.
Ask to taste samples of their food. Can the taste and flavor profile be altered to meet your tastes? Remember when we asked the question: What is Spicy? Tasting a sample and then asking the chef whether he or she considers that spicy ensures that all parties are on the same page.
Try to look for a planner/caterer that mirrors your style and loves being creative. You do not want to run the risk of them being limited in their thinking or choices of ingredients.
#5 Get it in Writing
Before plunking down that deposit, make sure everything is written down. Most caterers/planners have standardized forms. Make sure that details are accounted for and that you understand everything that is on any contracts or written agreements.
Pay attention to dates, times, cancellation policies. These are the areas that seem to trip most clients up. We hate that last minute call when a desperate bride and groom are on the phone needing a last minute job, all because the dates were written down wrong on the contract.
Other things to pay attention to are how many servings will be delivered, what size are the servings, how many staff members such as servers and bar staff will be provided.
Spelling everything out in writing means everyone is on the same page. That way the caterer can focus on their job and you can focus on your guests and having a great time.
Let us know if we can help you with any questions. We are always here to help in any way we can!