3 Must Do's When Planning an Event (from a business owner and regretful bride.)
Planning an event can be a very overwhelming task.
It can be fun, exciting, inspiring, rewarding...but still, overwhelming.
There are so many things to be done, items to be purchased, services to be ordered, venders to be enlisted. With all that jotted on your "to do" list (or if your anything like me, in your "to do" BINDER-I may be a litttttle over organized) you run the risk of missing some of the most important aspects of planning an event in regards to budget.
Research. Research. Research.
Talk to your friends. Look online. Google the photographer, caterer, bartender, officiator you are looking at hiring. Websites like Wedding Wire are helping brides/hosts/wedding planners be informed on the vendors they are doing business with. This is important for a multitude of reasons. It eliminates rift raft and non professionals from having a hand in your important event. It also gives you a general idea of what to expect from a specific provider, gives you first hand experience from people who were once in your shoes and helps you determine based on feedback if it's something you want to pursue further.
I cannot stress this enough. You may LOVE the maple bacon wrapped scallops that you ate at your cousins engagement party but you may end up overpaying or stretching your budget based on a delicious memory of a specific catering company. You may think the sangria bar you got accidentally tipsy on at your friends dads 50th birthday party was a must have but you may end up paying one company double what you would pay another for the very same thing.
Get quotes. From at least 3 different vendors. It's a metaphorical nibble on the line and they will be nothing but happy to supply the quote. You may still end up paying more for one vendor than another because sometimes a higher price determines quality of work, supplies, etc. but make sure you have the option in the first place to make that decision.
When I planned my own wedding, I found a caterer who's food had rave reviews and I booked her. She thoughtfully offered bartenders for the event as we had a backyard wedding with an open bar that required licensed, certified individuals tending bar. In all my excitement of the "two birds, one stone" theory I didn't even ask the cost. I just thought "Great!" and I gladly scratched that required service off the list.
Flash forward to the day I received my quote...
$30 per hour for each server and $50 per hour PER bartender. PLUS an added, apparently mandatory 18% gratuity.
$50 per hour plus 18% gratuity and tips for a bartender at a private residence with no float to manage or drink tickets to take seemed a little steep. I worked freelance tending bar for weddings and other events at this time and had never charged so much as $25 an hour for open bar service. And as someone who has worked within the service industry for 10 years, I was appalled to see a mandatory 18% gratuity. I had always worked on the notion that gratuities were EARNED. You worked hard, if the host or hostess determined you provided service over and above their expectations, they may hand you a gratuity and you were thankful for whatever that amount may be. However my caterer had apparently already determined the quality of work I was going to receive, through apparition or assumption, I'm not sure, but she was no Miss Cleo. My bartenders and servers were horrific. Robots with trays. And I ended up paying them close to $80 per hour once gratuity was included, not to mention tips. This still keeps me up at night.
Which brings me to the moral of this point...ASK QUESTIONS. Know exactly WHO you are hiring and for HOW much. You always have the right to question a charge if you are unsure of its origin or necessity. Once you have the appropriate information, you can choose to proceed with your business with or without this charge, or even with this vendor but be educated.
In conclusion, do your homework but trust your gut, know your budget but ensure what you want is within it by way of vendor quotes and lastly ask questions, eliminate unwanted surprises and ensure you are confident in what you are paying for.