Wedding planning has been growing at a steady pace in Spain. On the contrary as in countries such as the USA, where wedding planning is a reputable and professional career since over 20 years ago, complete with associations, certifications and other guarantees that help a Couple filter out the reliable planners from the not-so-reliable ones, Spain’s wedding planning industry has just started, so to say – and along with it come all of the good and bad things of a new sector.
When I began researching the Spanish wedding planning market back in 2006 – at the moment I was researching the viability of creating a wedding planning company in Barcelona and analyzing the success and/or demand that a company such as this would have – there were very few wedding planning companies in the Barcelona region. In total, there were approximately 5 wedding planning companies, many of which were led by foreigners such as myself who understood what a wedding planner’s job consists of, saw that there was a potential market and decided to embark on this adventure. The recession in Spain changed the market completely: it has brought about an increase in the creation of these kinds of service companies, because they are very easy to create (you just need a laptop and a cell phone), they are very easy to imitate (using photos of other weddings or friends’ weddings which can be passed off as your Clients’ weddings) and there is very little risk involved, as the investment to create this kind of company is minimum.
Nowadays, there are over 100+ wedding planning companies in Barcelona alone – just doing a quick search on google brings up over 600,000 results! So, how can you tell the professional and reliable wedding planners from the not-so-professional ones? Here are a few tips to consider:
1. WEDDING PLANNER CAN PROVE THEIR EXPERIENCE:
Ask them to prove their experience. Can they provide references from other Couples who have hired their services? A professional wedding planner should be open and willing to make you feel at ease with their company, and should be able to give you references of their past work. They should be able to provide work history such as videos and a wide array of images of weddings that they’ve done in the past, as well as references from the providers they work closest with. Ask for more than 1 or 2 references of both past Clients and providers to ensure that you are not being given the contact information of one of their friends and that you are indeed speaking with a past Client.
2. THE PHOTOS ON THE WEBSITE ARE REALLY OF THEIR WEDDINGS:
Given that Internet has facilitated accessing photos of practically anyone and anything around the world, it is imperative that you ensure that the wedding photos on their website are of weddings they have actually planned. If you see photos on their website, and on other wedding websites repeatedly – even on other planners’ websites – it is highly improbable that those photos are of weddings that they have actually done. Ask the wedding planner to send you more photos of the various weddings that appear on their website, or even to send you the name of the photographers who worked on those specific weddings so you can verify that the wedding was planned by them. If they are unwilling to provide you with this information, they are hiding something from you. After all, anyone can copy and paste images of weddings from other websites, but it is a lot more tricky to prove that those weddings were, in fact, planned by them.
3. WEDDING PLANNER FOCUSES ON PLANNING WEDDINGS:
Ensure that the wedding planner focuses on that primarily – wedding planning! There are a number of companies that focus on the décor, stationery and other secondary items, but, surprisingly, do not focus on planning the wedding. A professional and reliable wedding planner should be 100% devoted to the planning tasks of the wedding, and although their help in creating a candy buffet, a wedding theme, stationery or décor is an integral part of any wedding planner’s job, it should not be the primary aspect of their job. If it is, the wedding planner should not be called a wedding planner, but a wedding decorator, wedding designer and/or wedding consultant.
4. WEDDING PLANNER DOES NOT WORK FOR FREE:
Beware of wedding planners that do not charge you for their services. A successful wedding planner charges a minimum fee for their services – it is a lucrative business, after all. If the wedding planner is not charging you to plan your wedding, ask yourself who the real Client is in this wedding planner’s business. Would you be willing to work for free for your Clients? Would you feel at ease working for free, and would you give your Clients the same level of service if you were doing the work free of charge? It is imperative that your wedding planner puts your needs and interests first, and is entirely devoted to making your wedding vision a reality – something that is hard to do if the wedding planner is not charging you for their work!
5. WEDDING PLANNER IS AN ESTABLISHED BUSINESS:
Ensure that the wedding planner is an established business, can provide an invoice for their fees and has insurance. All established businesses are required to have a VAT/TAX number (in Spain it is called a CIF, NIF or DNI) together with a fiscal address. Beware of wedding planners that do not provide their VAT number, do not have a fiscal address, accept cash-only payments, do not provide you with an official invoice and do not have insurance – ultimately, the risk, responsibility and fiscal liability of working with this kind of wedding planner falls on the shoulders of the Couple. To guarantee that your wedding is a success and there are no unpleasant surprises on your wedding day (surprise inspections by the Spanish authorities at weddings has become quite common), ensure that your wedding planner has the business legalized and insured. After all, if it is not an established business and something goes wrong, you will be unable to do anything about it given that, in the eyes of the government, this company does not officially exist.
6. WEDDING PLANNER HAS A COMPANY WEBSITE:
Does the wedding planner have a company website? Although this seems like an obvious point to consider, there are a plethora of wedding planners in Barcelona that do not have a website, but, instead use a facebook business page as their website and/or a business page on a wedding portal. Not having a company website means that they are not investing in the company, and are not entirely serious about being a wedding planner, which is also a tell-tale sign that it is not an established business. Beware of these planners as they may be just starting up and you may find yourself in a bind if a few months down the line the wedding planner decides to no longer plan weddings and stops planning yours.
7. ASK LOCAL TOURISM BOARD FOR REFERRALS:
Contact the local tourism board for referrals of professional and reliable wedding planners. Tourism boards are a great resource, so take advantage and use them. They screen the companies they recommend and filter out the ones that are not up to their standards of service, so this is a great way to gain access to professional and reliable wedding planners in the area: http://www.barcelonaconventionbureau.com/en/ and http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/English.
8. WEDDING PLANNER DOES NOT WORK ALONE:
Does the wedding planner have a team or do they work alone? A company that is made up of more than 1 person will help you put your mind at ease, ensuring that the company is an established business and that your wedding will go off without a hitch even if one of the team members happens to get sick on the day of your wedding. Having a team working on your wedding rather than 1 person alone, with the team entirely focused on your wedding vision will help to create the wedding day that you’re striving for, without causing any unnecessary headaches or stress along the way.
Although a lot more can be said about how to ensure that you’re choosing the right wedding planner for your wedding, these 8 elements are key in reassuring you that the company is professional, reliable and will do a great job planning your wedding. Knowing what to look out for and what to value in a wedding planning company will help you choose the wedding planner that is perfect for you, no matter what kind of wedding you are looking to have or what your budget is.