Ask the Expert: Carrie Skinner
Exquisite Bride Magazine wanted to give our couples an inside look at what it is like to work with an Event Coordinator / Wedding Planner for your big day. We sat down and talked with one of the region’s experts, Carrie Skinner from Carrie on Events to get her insight and advice when it comes to making the decision to do it yourself or hire an expert.
EB: What is an event coordinator?
CS: An event coordinator at the very core, is a project manager for social events. An event coordinator will plan, budget and manage the execution of any gathering ranging from a private dinner party, a corporate fundraiser, to my favorite type of event, Weddings!!!
If you think of a wedding as a project (but the best kind of project!), there is a need for a point person that manages the logistics, timeline, budget and brings the various members of the “team” (all the vendors) together to complete what they are responsible for and follow the schedule to ensure success.
EB: Options for hiring a coordinator: Day of vs. Full Planning?
CS: An engaged couple can choose from a variety of services when hiring an event planner or coordinator. If the idea of finding the venue, managing the budget, negotiating, picking decor and making it all come together seems too much, makes your tummy hurt and/or consider elopement, then a full-fledged planner and handling all the services may be right for you. With full service planning, you will have someone to handle all the many bits and pieces that make up a wedding, guide you through the entire planning process and follow though to manage the day-of as well.
If the couple or one of the two getting married is super organized, keen on hands-on involvement and very interested in finalizing all details themselves, then day-of coordination may be more appropriate. With this service the couple plans, secures all vendors and dreams up all the details themselves. A few months to a few weeks before the wedding the couple then hands off all the contracts, planned details, desires and concerns to the day-of coordinator to take over logistics, construct timelines and make it all happen and run flawlessly. From that point on, the couple, their family and bridal party can truly enjoy the weeks leading up to the wedding and the wedding day without worry about their well thought out plans. The day-of coordinator will make sure it all comes together as intended and the couple was still able to make each choice. In addition, the coordinator will run interference on any issues so the couple isn’t bothered with troubleshooting anything or handling items that arise that were not planned for during their big day. There is always something…a drunk Uncle, a missing personal flower or any other crisis that might arise that was not expected.
EB: What questions should a bride be asking when interviewing a coordinator?
CS: So many questions!!! Many exhaustive lists of questions for vendors can be found online. I often refer to such lists: https://www.herecomestheguide.com for such lists. TheKnot.com and Weddingwire.com can be great resources for planning lists as well. Google is your friend when trying to figure out how to interview vendors.
Some key items to ask about are availability for your date and level of experience. You want to understand what is included in each level of service, what they charge for each level and if they work alone or with a team (only very intimate weddings should be handled by one person for day-of). Aside from spending some time meeting with and seeing if you and the wedding pro have personalities that mesh well, you should see if you hear their passion for what they do. A pro that is passionate about their work will aim not to disappoint and do their absolute best as the advocate for you and your wedding day.
EB: What are the price ranges (keep this a rough estimate)?
CS: This is a tough one. Pricing structures can vary greatly from one wedding planner/coordinator to another and by service level. Some charge a flat rate and others charge a percentage of the total of the wedding budget. Some folks even work hourly. The costs certainly should only come after a discussion of what you need help with and what your expectations are. It should be a red flag if someone provides costs without even trying to first discuss and understand your needs and your wedding. Oh, and make sure you ask about additional fees…no one likes unexpected costs!
EB: What other valuable things should a couple know?
CS: Weddings are important and a lot of time and money is invested in this day. Do yourself the favor of at least talking to a pro about if a planning or day-of coordination could help make your wedding all it is meant to be. Weddings at home or in non-traditional locations can almost always benefit from a coordinator…there are so many things to think of when not having your wedding in a venue that does it all the time and handles all aspects. On the flip side, a venue coordinator usually focuses on the items the venue is responsible for, so you may want more attention for your day. Find out what you don’t know, talk to a planner.