*Floral Design by http://www.preciousandblooming.com/Dear Wedding Professionals,
Although it isn’t common practice yet amongst all Brides and Grooms, it should be. What am I talking about? Hiring a Wedding Consultant Designer! This should be one of the necessary wedding professionals booked by couples, in fact, it should be the first person they book since they are the ones that can help the couple set their budget, a planning schedule, find a venue, develop a wedding professional team, design the event, and execute the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and entire wedding day. So, if you were to ask me what is the first step a wedding professional can take to better work with a Wedding Consultant and Designer, my answer would be, ask your couples “Who is your Wedding Consultant?”…not “Do you have a Wedding Consultant?”… because that would insinuate that they don’t really need one, but they do! And so do you!
The benefits to a Wedding Professional of having a client with a Wedding Consultant Designer are endless. First, the client will know their budget. How many times, especially now (and I won’t say it…but you know what I’m insinuating), do we as wedding professionals have to prove to our clients that we are worth what we charge? Well, clients that work with a Wedding Consultant first build a realistic budget based on their needs and expectations, and the industry averages. This means that when the consultant refers them to you, they are coming to you knowing that you are in their budget, that they like your work, that you are available for their day, JACKPOT! How can you not book them? We do all of the legwork for you so that you get perfect fit clients, wasting less time with the wrong ones, and more time spent on the perfect ones.
So, let’s say that you’ve got this first step down; your clients are booking consultants. A lot of wedding professionals don’t understand exactly the types of consultants out there, what they can do for their clients, how much they will charge their clients, if they expect kick backs from the wedding professionals…etc….
There are several different ways wedding consultants call themselves:
1.Wedding Consultants – this is what I call myself simply because I am a wedding consultant who coordinates and plans, I also am a designer!
2.Wedding Consultant Designers – exactly like what it sounds, they will work hand in hand with their wedding professional team to not only coordinate and plan, but also design, not all do this, the ones that do are typically higher end consultants.
3.Wedding Coordinators – they are just like wedding consultants, they just choose to call themselves this
4.Wedding Planners – same thing here
Wedding Consultants can do as little or as much for their clients as they need. I know this is a broad definition, but it is true. One thing that is confusing for some wedding professionals is that we all offer our services a little bit differently. For example, we offer a menu style of services and prices for our clients to choose from, thus making each service custom. Some of our counterparts use packages of services, either basic, partial, or full, or full with design. Others may do only full service, or full service with design. It all depends on the consultant’s target market, but in general we can all help set budgets, find venues, find wedding professionals, review proposals and offer advice, some of us design the event, we can all do layouts, timelines and supporting documents, confirmations with the wedding professionals prior to the day, and execution of the rehearsal and wedding day acting as the team lead for vendors, and ensuring everything goes as planned for our clients.
Consultants can charge in one of three ways, or a combination of the three:
I personally charge with a combination of flat rate plus per hour. Others may do differently. In general you can expect a client to pay industry averages for the San Francisco Bay Area of about:
$2,500-3,500 for basic coordination (what some people call “day of”, but I’ll get to that later)
$3,500-5,500 for partial coordination
$7,500-9,500 + for full coordination
One thing that is a battle for both Wedding Consultants, and is confusing to answer for wedding pros, is when their clients say to them “I don’t need a wedding consultant, our site coordinator, caterer, dj, friend of the family, Bridesmaids and Groomsmen, Mom, etc…,is doing it for us”. I won’t focus on the obvious reasons why a friend of the family, Bridesmaid or Groomsmen, Mom, Aunt, or whomever shouldn’t be coordinating their wedding, but I will load you with a few factoids to share with your clients on the difference between a personal Wedding Consultant Designer, Site Coordinator, Catering Manager, and DJ:
Site Coordinators are some of my best friends, so this is not to knock them; this is just to educate wedding professionals on how to understand the difference between them and professional personal Wedding Consultants Designers;
-Site Coordinators are first and foremost salespersons for the location
-Their main duty is to provide what the site has promised, and to protect the site
-Some may do site layouts simply because it’s easy for them to do since they have software, and the correct layouts for it, but consultants usually approve, or enhance those layouts
-Many of them offer a BEO “Banquet Event Order” to the client that has a small broken down timeline of the basics, most will not do a detailed timeline customized to the client’s day
-They will be there the day of the wedding, and some of them do offer to coordinate vendor arrivals, and set up personal items such as favors, menus, etc…but they generally don’t have professional training as a wedding consultant or designer, and typically stay until the site’s obligations are up which is usually after the food hits the tables, and they rely on your DJ to coordinate the rest after they leave
-Their job is not to answer all of your questions leading up to the wedding day about anything and everything, that would be a personal consultant’s job
-They will not attend wedding professional meetings with the client
-They will not review proposals or negotiate contracts for the client
-They do not work out in the field at different locations with different vendors all of the time, so they are limited to the knowledge they have from in house experience, and their vendor list which may be paid (unethical if you ask me), or old and outdated, which means they may not know the best wedding professionals to refer, or the best resources out there for a client’s event.
Catering Managers are awesome amazing people! I don't want their job at all! And most don't want mine=)
-A Catering Manager's first responsibility is to manage the food and beverage service on the day of the wedding
-Most also manage the rentals, set up, and tear down
-They coordinate with the wedding consultant and the vendor team to make sure that their food timing works with the flow of the wedding day
-Some of them offer to do light set up of personal items
-Most of them do not have the band width along with managing their staff to run the whole day's events, and that's simply not their job
-A Catering Manager is not a wedding consultant and shouldn't have to answer all un-food and beverage related questions from the client before the wedding
DJs are awesome, a good classy DJ can make a big difference on a wedding day! They are big team players!
-A DJ’s responsibility is to be the one that helps make verbal cues that move guests from one space, or event, to another
-A DJ is at their booth; they can not, and should not leave the booth multiple times to coordinate the day, or they will lack at their job
-A DJ should take their cues from a partnership in timeline management with the Wedding Consultant who is feeling out the crowd, and appropriately managing the flow of the day, keeping a pulse on everything that counts in timeline management such as keeping touch with the banquet captain so that food timing coincides with everything else, the couple’s wishes…and so much more
-A DJ can help draw up the ingredients and flow of the day, but the real timeline should be a collaboration lead by a Wedding Consultant, and enhanced by the other wedding professional’s input
-A DJ, just like a Site Coordinator, is not responsible for answering all of a client’s wedding-related questions leading up to the day, they are only responsible for helping with ingredients, flow, and of course music!
Another topic of interest is “day of coordination”. Watch out because I’m about to educate you on this topic finally so that you understand it, and can help us abolish this terminology! It’s best if it is called “basic coordination”, “day of management”, or whatever else, just not “day of”, as it’s misleading. The name “day of” infers that a client can hire a Wedding Consultant to just meet with them once, show up on the day of the wedding, and coordinate it all perfectly. That’s just not possible. Here’s the bare minimum any professional Wedding Consultant should offer to their clients to do a good job for them, and uphold standards in our industry:
*Complimentary initial consultation to get to know the client before booking
*Site walkthrough and timeline planning meeting 1-3 months in advance of the day at the venue with the vendor team as necessary
*Review of vendor contracts to make sure they coincide with the flow of the day (i.e.how many hours does the photography work that day, are we fitting all of the most important things into that time frame with our timeline plan?)
*Creation of a professional, detailed timeline and supporting documents such as a packing list of items that the client needs to provide for set up; a clean up list of what to do with it after the wedding; a list of the wedding professionals and their contact information for before the day and the day of; a list of the special people helping with the wedding such as ushers, toast givers, the Bride and Groom’s point of contacts for the day, photo helpers and their contact information; a set up list that helps our assistants execute load in and set up perfectly to the client’s wishes; a flow of the ceremony details, etc…
*Creation of a professional site layout that mentions where every table and chair go, what size the tables are, what color linens might be going on them, where florals go, where musicians go, where are outlets, etc….
*Management of set up items before rehearsal to get them from the client so that they no longer have to worry about them
*Coordination of the rehearsal with or without the officiant to help the family members and friends involved learn how to sit, stand and walk at the ceremony. Also giving out a timeline for the next day and their emergency contact information just in case.
*On the wedding day, wedding professional management and troubleshooting during set up, set up of personal items, direction of all set up tables, chairs, lighting, florals, etc…, management of wedding professional team while coordinating the timeline flow, and wrapping up everything at the end of the evening so that the client can leave with the peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about where they left over favors went, their gifts, cards, etc…
This package generally takes the consultant 20-25 hours, and is super inexpensive compared to the benefits it presents to the client and the wedding professional team.
Here are a few tips and hints on things Wedding Consultants Designers love from vendors, and don’t love from vendors:
-When they are honestly friendly and interested in learning more about what we do
-When they offer to educate us on what they do
-When they offer to partner with us on endeavors such as outside projects so that we can learn how they work and if their personalities mesh with ours
-When they are helpful in fitting our clients budgets when it is necessary within reason
-When they are prompt in their responses
-When they are patient
-When they are organized
-When they make it easy for us to refer them, keeping us up to date each year on their newest offerings and price points so that we sell them to the right client
-When they go with the flow the day of the wedding!
-When they tell the client they can do part of what we do, and that they really don't need a wedding consultant
-When we refer them all of the time, even if their profession is a hard sell, but yet they don't choose to share information with their new clients on why wedding consultants are important! (this is partially our fault since we haven't been good at educating you guys on what to say=))