When getting a consultant for your wedding or event, see if their portfolios look alike. They could be more interested in showcasing their artistic style rather than giving you the wedding that you want. It is helpful to begin the interview by asking some open-ended questions, such as:
■ How will we work together?
■ How do you view your role as a consultant?
■ How do you work?
■ How do you plan?
Ask what sort of training the consultant has and how far long he or she has been in the industry. In three years, a consultant should have learned to manage most standard problems.
It is crucial to find out whether the consultant specializes in particular kinds of events. A lot of consultants do corporate events and private parties, and weddings as well. Breadth of experience is all right, as long as there’s also a good deal of experience managing the kind of event you’re planning.
Get wind of how many events annually the consultant does. This would give you some approximation about the level of experience and success. An event is a really visible product, and much of a consultant’s business enterprise is developed through testimonials. Therefore, broadly speaking, the more engaged the consultant, the better job he or she is probably doing. You do not, however, want to work with a consultant who’s too busy to give adequate attention to your event. A couple of consultants book more than a single event per day. Consultants with a seasoned staff might be able to direct more than one event in a day, but a consultant acting alone with few or no in-house staff would perhaps not be able to pull that off. At any rate, you’d want the consultant to be able to assist in your event. Part of the service being delivered isn’t only to plan the event but to also assure its smooth execution.
Search a full-time consultant, one who doesn’t moonlight as an events consultant. You’ll need the consultant to be ready to confer with you at times other than evenings and on weekends.
TIP: A consultant who isn’t affiliated with a certain vendor, like a hotel or a wedding reception center, would be able to give you more alternatives.
Inquire about staffing. How many staff members would be onsite the day of your wedding or party? If the consultant will become ill the day of your wedding, who would take over? What sort of training does the backup staff have? It’s a wise idea to meet as many members of the staff as possible prior to the event, just in case you need to work with them.
The initial interview is also the time to inquire about technicalities and legalities:
■ Does the consultant have a business license issued by the county or city? If the consultant also serves some of the food for events, is he or she licensed to do so?
■ Is the consultant insured? Worker’s compensation coverage is particularly important if the event would be held on your property. A few consultants also carry professional liability insurance.
■ Ask to see the contracts the consultant utilizes with vendors. After all, these are the persons who are actually providing the goods and some of the services for your event. The contracts must have spaces to spell out precisely what the vendor is to offer by type or brand, by number, and by what time on which date. Payment process and date of payment also should be set.
■ Ask what standards the planner applies in selecting vendors. If the consultant has worked with the same vendors over a period of time, both the consultant and vendors have been delighted with the working relationship. Vendors must also be licensed to offer whatever product or service they handle, and should be insured if they’re handling food or bringing staff onto your property.
■ Also ask to review a standard client contract. If you choose to work with this consultant, ask whether you are able to take a contract home for a few days before you sign. A good consultant would have no objections to this.
Membership in a professional planning organization doesn’t ensure competency, but it is a step in the right direction. A lot of organizations need specific training, as well as adherence to standards for insurance coverage and licensing.