How to Find a Good Event Planner Near Me

Concerns about money, work, the economy, family responsibilities, relationships, and personal health keep eight out of every ten Americans under perpetual stress in their daily lives. The responsibility to plan a new event only accentuates the existing stress level for anybody. Hence, it is a smart choice to cede such a task to an expert event planner near you. Aside from a comprehensive knowledge of your locality, a good event planner nearby would have a network of vendors, suppliers, and other industry-supports to save you time and help achieve your budget. Before you settle on anyone who claim to be an event planner, ask the following questions:

  1. Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?

    An event planner does not have to be licensed, registered, or certified to plan any event. However, some event planners obtain voluntary certifications from professional associations like the International Association of Exhibition and Events (IAEE) and the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP). Certification usually serves as proof that an event planner has completed professional training, is up to date with relevant industry trends, and is, therefore, equipped to plan and handle any event. Also, most of these associations have codes of ethics that guide the actions of their members. Therefore, it is always a good idea to hire a certified event planner as this assures you that your event would be handled by someone with experience, expertise, and the right connections.

    Note that you should always request proof of certification from the event planner that you intend to hire and authenticate it with the relevant professional association or organization.

  2. How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Event Planner?

    The cost of hiring an event planner varies depending on the location, the type of event, and the experience level and reputation of the event planner. Event planners typically charge an hourly rate of $25 to $150. On the other hand, wedding planners tend to be more expensive, and this category of event planners typically charge between $75 and $275 per hour.

    You can take certain actions to ensure that you save money on total costs when hiring an event planner near you. You can:

    • Shorten the guest list: This is one of the biggest ways to cut costs when planning an event. The smaller the guest list, the less money you will need to spend on the event as a whole.
    • Have a budget: One of the first things to do after hiring an event planner is to share how much you are willing to spend on the event with the planner. You can also work together with your planner to create a budget.
    • Host a morning or brunch-time event rather than a dinner event: Hosting a daytime event can help you minimize event planning costs. Dinner events tend to be more formal than daytime events and, therefore, require more decorations and food. The type of food served at dinners is also more expensive than daytime meals. However, if you still intend to host a dinner event, you can still cut costs by passing on hors d'oeuvres and having a buffet-style dinner rather than a plated dinner. Plated dinners typically cost more than buffets because of the additional staff that will be required to serve the guests at the event.
    • Consider partial event planning services: A partial event planner usually comes in a month or so before the date of the event and helps with last-minute tasks like confirming vendors, assisting with the seating chart, and other day-to-day responsibilities. A full event planner, on the other hand, helps to plan the event from start to finish and comes on board early on in the planning process. To cut costs, you can go for partial planning services as they cost less than full services.

What are the Common Event Planning Expenses?

When hiring an event planner near you, there are certain expenses you may incur in addition to the standard event planner fees. These expenses include:

  • Communication costs: When planning an event, you and the event planner would have to communicate regularly to iron out the details of the event. This would mean regular phone calls. Nonetheless, you can cut down on these costs by using emails and videoconferencing for most of the communications between you and the planner.
  • Travel expenses: This particularly applies when organizing a destination event and you hire an event planner near you. In these cases, you may have to pay for the event planner's travel expenses. This includes transportation costs, lodging, and miscellaneous fees to cover other expenses that may come up during the planner's stay at the destination.

Who Will Do The Work?

Many professional and popular event planners typically have a plethora of events on their tables and they do not usually have the time to attend to every single detail of these events by themselves. In many cases, these event planners usually have a team of employees who assist them with organizing and handling certain aspects of an event. As such, when hiring an event planner near you, it is important to find out who exactly will be handling the different tasks involved in planning the event. You want to make sure that whoever will be involved in planning the event has the necessary experience with handling similar projects. In addition to this, you should also ensure that there is a mutually agreed-upon mode of direct communication between you and this person.

What Qualifications Should an Event Planner Have?

Degrees and certifications are not a requirement to become an event planner. However, most event planners have a Bachelor's Degree in meeting and event management, business, public relations, or hospitality management. Regardless of this, event planning skills are generally acquired through experience working for event companies, or other more established event planners.

Event planners may also get certifications from professional associations like the International Live Events Association (ILEA), Events Industry Council, International Association of Exhibition and Events (IAEE), Wedding Planning Institute, and American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP). These certifications can be advantageous for career progression and serve as proof of expertise. Note that the requirements for certification as an event planner vary according to the program or association. However, in most associations, applicants must have at least two years of professional experience in event planning and must pass a given examination.

Will You Provide References?

Before hiring an event planner near you, it is important to ask for references as this gives you insight into the level of experience and expertise the event planner has in planning similar events. References tell you how this prospective event planner has worked with previous clients and what you can expect in the planning of your event. You can ask friends, family, and neighbors for referrals to good event planners near you. You can also search for event planners near you by searching the member directory of some professional associations like the ILEA and AACWP. Note that even when an event planner is referred to you, you should still ask the planner to provide you with additional references that can vouch for their work. Finally, it is also a good idea to get unbiased reviews on the event planner that you intend to hire through third-party websites like Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and Google Review.

Quick Facts about Event Planners

2020 Median Pay
$51,560 per year, $24.79 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Number of Jobs, 2019
Job Outlook, 2019-29
8% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2019-29

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Event Planning

What Types And Sizes Of Events Do You Plan?

Most event planners handle all types and sizes of events, both commercial and personal. They plan birthdays, weddings, conferences, product launches, company award evenings, and anniversary events. Note that the size and type of the event may influence the fees of the event planner.

Do I Need To Hire An Event Designer?

When organizing an event, you may need to hire both an event planner and an event designer. An event planner focuses on the overall organization of the event. This involves contacting the vendors, contract negotiations, handling the logistics, seating arrangements, and managing the budget. On the other hand, an event designer focuses on the decor of the event. The latter's role is purely aesthetic, incorporating the themes, colors, and other visual aspects of the event.

Event planners and event designers typically work hand in hand to create a successful event. And although both roles differ, some event planners provide design services and help with the creative specifics of the event. However, others leave these services to an event designer, meaning that you will need to hire both professionals.

How Soon Should I Make My Booking?

The best time to hire an event planner is as soon as you are aware of an event that needs to be planned. For instance, in the case of a wedding, you should hire a planner immediately after the engagement. This may be as early as 12 months prior to the event date.

Hiring an event planner early on is important because it gives the planner ample time to organize every detail of the event. This involves booking the venue, vendors, and suppliers. Most times, popular venues and vendors have to be booked well in advance if there is to be any hope of getting them. Another reason to book event planners on time is that it gives them adequate time to negotiate, plan, and create backup plans.

Do I Get a Consultation Before Booking? Is It Free?

With most event planners, you get a consultation before booking. It is during this meeting that the potential client asks the planner questions to determine if the planner is a good fit for the event. These consultations are typically free. However, they also tend to be time-bound, lasting one hour at most. Note that some event planners may attach conditions to these free consultations. For example, the event planners may charge a consultation fee which will only be waived if the prospective client decides to hire them for the event.

Will I Be Active In The Planning Process? How Often Do We Meet?

The event planners' job is to take the burden of planning and organizing the event off you. They are there to assist you. As such, you are responsible for determining the level of participation that you want to have in the planning process. Once that is determined, you and your planner can draw up a schedule with an estimate of the total number of meetings and hours suitable for you that fall within your budget.

Do You Offer Day Of Coordination Services?

Most event planners offer day of coordination services. However, this does not mean that the planner just shows up on the day of the event without any information or prior meetings. Instead, day of coordination services are provided about two to four weeks before the event when you are through with planning but need an expert to carry out these plans on the day of the event. The planner helps finalize everything and ensures that your vision for the event gets executed. This allows you to be fully present at the event without worrying about the behind-the-scenes operations.

Note that even when providing this service, event planners must meet with the organizers of the event before the actual day to gather as much information and details of the event so that they can serve as the point person and ensure that everything goes smoothly.

My Event Venue Has A Coordinator, Why Do I Need An Event Planner?

The role and functions of a venue coordinator differ greatly from those of an event planner. The venue coordinator operates a business and is responsible only for what takes place within the venue. This usually involves supervising the on-site staff, making sure that they carry out their duties effectively and fulfill their contractual obligations. Event planners, on the other hand, assist you throughout the entire event planning process. They help with selecting the vendors, negotiating costs, developing the decor plan, designing printed materials like programs, invitations, and menus, and more. As such, even with a venue coordinator, you need an event planner as well to ensure the overall success of an event.

Will You Work With Vendors We Select, Or Only Those You Recommend?

While most event planners have a list of preferred vendors, they are usually still willing to work with the ones you select. The event planner's vendors are only referrals, and you have the final say on whether you want to work with them or not. However, going with the preferred vendors is advisable as the existing relationship between the planner and vendors can help lower the costs of their services.

How Do You Select Your Vendors?

Event planners typically select vendors through first-hand experience from planning events and working with these vendors. They choose vendors who provide the best quality products and services and have all the needed licenses and insurances.

What Is Your Refund And Cancellation Policy?

Most event planners make your initial deposit refundable for a specific number of days, usually 15 to 30 days. Also, if the event is canceled at least 90 days prior, you will likely get a full refund for payments made after the initial deposit amount. However, where the event is canceled within 90 days of its scheduled date, you will have to either pay the balance in full or get a refund minus a cancellation fee.

In cases of a cancellation, you may have to send a written notice of cancellation and sign a cancellation agreement before the cancellation becomes official. Failure to do this may result in you having to pay the total amount to the planner.