I’m sitting here in the attendee lounge at the CaterSource/Event Solutions conference with a few thousand of the best event professionals in the world. While I am here in Las Vegas (Yes, I know a work conference in Las Vegas.) the B’nai Mitzvah fair is happening at home and this coming weekend is Mitzvah Mania in Denver. In other words, ’tis the season. You’re recently engaged or you just received your child’s Mitzvah date. It’s time to begin to seek out the vendors who you want to recruit to be on your event team.
Availability? Let’s get the easy question out of the way.
There is no use wasting your time interviewing your favorite venue, florist or wedding planner if the day of your simcha is unavailable. Move on!
If the question of if your date is flexible comes up, laugh, and then move on!
Experience with Jewish or Interfaith life cycle events
It may not be a deal breaker if the event partner you are interviewing hasn’t participated in a Jewish wedding? But, if there is a basic lack of knowledge on what you need to successfully have the Jewish or Interfaith wedding of your dreams then walk away. You want partners planning your wedding who already know you will need a glass to stomp, an easel under the chuppah for your ketubah and traditionally the bride stands to the right of the groom.
Be very clear on what is included in your package. Make sure it is outlined in the contract. For example, how much set-up time is included with your venue? (Is that enough time to set-up the custom dance floor you have your heart set on?) Is your photographer going to include an engagement session or a bridal portrait session? (And, if not, how much money will you save?)
(Is your planner going to count every email you send and start charging you more after you reach a certain threshold?)
A related question to ask is about Fees. Not just how much do you cost? But, are there any hidden fees. What happens to any referral fees? Are any of your vendors receiving them? Are they passing them along to you? Is there a mark up to any services? There is no right or wrong answer as long as everything is transparent and noted in the contract.
Time was we could ask to see portfolios of event professionals. You still can. But, a portfolio isn’t as important as asking to see relevant social media channels. Is your chosen one on Pinterest? Can you actively follow the company on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? These channels are more relevant to a professional’s current knowledge of trends and a sign of an understanding (or lack there of) of the current marketplace.
A follow-up question to ask, who is your event pro watching and following on those same channels?
Esthetic? Aside from gleaning this information from checking out the above social channels you should ask the direct question about his or her’s esthetic? It should be answered with a sound bite. Anyone who doesn’t have a sense of herself and exactly what she’s good at hasn’t been in the industry long enough to understand we can’t all be good at everything!
Make sure your event professionals belong to at least one professional network.
All the professional organizations have ethics statements that we have to sign to maintain our membership. We receive educational opportunities on current trends in the industry and can attend conferences to make sure we keep our skills up to date.
What other event partners do you work with? Ask this of all your potential wedding team members. We should all have not only a list of professionals that we’ve been in the fox hole (and survived) with, but also, we should be willing to work with new people and always be on the look out for others we can add to our list of “go to” peeps. Perhaps, even more telling are any professionals with whom we don’t want to work. Don’t you want to know why?
How many weddings do you do in a day/weekend? If you’re asking this of a potential wedding planner, I sure hope the answer is 1. If you feel as if you’re being squeezed into someone’s schedule, you probably are! Tread carefully here if the answer is greater than one and make sure you hear examples of how this has been done successfully in the past.
Finally, make sure you have a sense of rapport and great connection! When something goes wrong (and it will) you want to know you can connect with this person and he or she is going to fix it.
The goal is to be saying MAZEL TOV to your entire team at the end of your big weekend.