Sunday, May 23, 2010

Reflections on Working with an Event Designer

I hired an event designer/wedding planner for my wedding.  I feel like I just confessed to a horrible crime.  I'm a Bee!  I DIY!  I believe in the philosophy of a practical wedding!  And I hired a wedding coordinator.  The. FULL. package. Not that I feel like I should defend that decision, but I wanted to explain the process of making the decision and working with a coordinator. 

I have always loved weddings and originally thought I would have a huge role in planning my wedding.  My parents liked the idea of day-of coordinating and it seemed to be a good match at first.  However, upon further consideration, I evaluated several factors:
  1. Up until 5 months before the wedding, I was planning an out of town wedding (vendor complications resulted in our ultimate decision to wed in Norfolk).  I couldn't make it to all the vendor appointments out-of-state and I wanted a representative who could act as my proxy.
  2.  As a people pleaser, I wanted someone in my corner.  My bridesmaids were wonderful and affirming, but since they were all from out of town, they weren't able to be present all of the time when I needed back up. 
  3. I wanted someone who wouldn't cave in vendor negotiations, who would share the burden of coordinating stress, and who would execute my vision with a minimum effort on my part.  
  4. I know that having that help is a luxury, but as a consultant also working on my master's degree part time, I crunched the numbers (including considering the opportunity costs of my time) and made the investment. 
After interviewing several companies, I chose to sign a contract with {invited}.  I found the owner, Pavaune, to be highly responsive, friendly, and appreciative of my aesthetic.  Pavaune met with me, Mr. Palindrome, and the Palindrome Parents to review a detailed service list, budget, and overall design elements.  While Pavaune coordinated with vendors, my parents, and Mr. Palindrome's parents for various services and products, she always worked for us (the bride and groom).  Our interests didn't get diluted from the various sources of input. 
{invited}, founded by Pavaune

The way the pricing worked out is that I paid a percentage of the total budget for the service which ended up being slightly higher when we decided to have the wedding Norfolk instead of DC.  I believe that we made that amount back dollar for dollar in the form of vendor negotiated prices and day of coordinating services.  Anything I didn't want to do, I made a phone call or sent an email to Pavaune.  Done.  I cared less about linens so Pavaune researched all the options and pieced together a lovely custom look from a local rental place and an online retailer.  Sometimes I just needed a narrower scope to make a decision.  We needed a photo-booth back drop and Pavuane dredged through the bowels of the internet to narrow it down to two chic and affordable options.  Making one decision between two options that I already knew were within the budget was much easier than starting from scratch myself.  On other items, our relationship was more collaborative as I took bigger roles in things that I really loved (the DIY florals for example).  I had a lot of ideas and Pavaune knew when to reign it in for plausibility.  When I wanted to make chocolate bison favors so that we could get white chocolate "bride" bison, she asked if I could realistically make 300 bison in the 3 weeks before the wedding, plus move, plus be out of town for Christmas.  I needed that voice of reality.  Leading up to the wedding, I talked with Pavaune everyday.  I came to see her as a confidant and friend.

There were so many things that I didn't have to worry about leading up to the wedding and on the day of the wedding.  Looking back, the sheer number of things is overwhelming:

Who stayed at the Opera House on Wednesday to ensure we didn't pay delivery fees on the holiday?  Who set each table setting? Who gave all of the vendors the day of time line? Who coordinated the clean up at the church?  Who relentlessly tracked down absentee vendors?  Who finished and delivered all of the OOT bags?  Who oohed and awwed at my fitting?  Who assured me that my reception dress was off the hook?  Who had extra bobby pins for my fascinator?  Who delivered all of the presents to the hotel?  Who stayed up all night after the reception packing all of the DIY centerpieces and decorations?  Who facilitated between us, parents and vendors?

Pavaune.  And it was worth every single penny.
 Pavaune working seamlessly behind the scenes organizing the introductions.

When I talked with my mom in the week before the wedding and in the days following the wedding, we both commented about how we couldn't have done it ourselves. I know that many couples can't afford or don't want to prioritize their funds for a wedding planner. However, I want to stress how much of a burden is relieved when you have someone other than the bride or bride's mother coordinating the events of the day.  It could be a friend, neighbor, or any kind soul.  But I highly recommend having help of some sort.  For your sanity's sake.  :)

Are you arranging for help coordinating your wedding (professional or otherwise)?  If you're married, what was your experience like having a coordinator?

*{invited} logo and head shot from {invited} and photograph by Sam Hughes

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