In the globalized world that we live in today – more and more dominated by social media and hype – it is important for all of us consumers to know how to weed out the “hype” (the “blah, blah, blah” that we’ve grown so accustomed to but is empty, devoid of any real value) from reality and learn how to read between the lines, how to dig a bit deeper and how to assess if a specific product or service is right for us. Regardless of whether it’s hiring a wedding planner or booking a romantic getaway for two, doing a bit of research will go a long way in helping you avoid costly mistakes.
I personally know a few bloggers, planners and companies who sell hype, not value. Their social media is filled with photos of weddings that have been taken from wedding providers, or even copied and pasted without permission from their competitors’ websites. If you meet these people in person, you see that their social media image, or social media “personality” does not match with reality at all – their tone, their customer service, their knowledge of the market and their work (or lack of…) clashes with the information that appears on their instagram, facebook, twitter, etc…
So, how can you avoid hiring one of these wedding planners, and ensure that the planner that you book for your wedding is perfect for you? After all, you will be working with them for at least 1 year and choosing the RIGHT planner from the very beginning will set the tone for the months of stress ahead – and the right wedding planner will make the months of planning effortless and seamless, taking the burden off of your shoulders so that you can enjoy your engagement to the fullest. However, choosing the wrong planner can turn that process into a living nightmare.
Here are a few tips that are useful in finding the one that’s perfect for you:
Does the wedding planner have a company website?
This may seem like a very obvious, even silly, factor to consider – however, if you do a quick search of wedding planners in Spain, for example, you’ll find that there are lots that do not have a website, but, rather use a facebook business page and/or a business page on a wedding search engine. Some don’t even have a company domain or email address, but use a generic gmail address instead! Beware if you come across this, as this not only confirms that the planner has not been in business for long, it also implies that the planner is not investing in his/her company, and in turn may not be entirely serious about being a wedding planner…which may put you in a very difficult situation if after a few months the wedding planner decides this work is no longer right for them, and decides to stop planning weddings altogether (including yours!)
Is the wedding planner an established business?
Regardless of whether it’s a self-employed business (in Spain it’s called “autonomo”) or as a limited business (such as an S.L., S.C.P., etc.), the wedding planner should always provide an invoice for the fees payable, including the applicable IVA (VAT/TAX) which is currently 21%. The wedding planner should also have liability insurance (in Spain, it is called “Seguro de Responsabilidad Civil). The wedding planner should also have a VAT/TAX number (in Spain it is called a CIF, NIF or DNI) as all businesses are required to have, together with an official fiscal address.
There are a number of planners that work on a cash-only basis, do not have a VAT number, don’t provide invoices, do not have a fiscal address, don’t have liability insurance…and a very long etcetera. What does that imply for a Client such as you? Unfortunately, the risk, civil responsibility and liability of working with this kind of wedding planner falls on your shoulders. If a guest or a member of your wedding day staff is injured, for example, and the wedding planner is working “off-the-books” and doesn’t have the business properly established, you as the Client who contracts her service will never be able to claim anything that may go wrong, as the wedding planner does not officially exist.
Can the wedding planner prove their experience?
A real wedding planner with experience and a plethora of weddings under their belt is always able to prove their experience. They are able to provide references from other Couples who have used their services in the past. A reliable and professional wedding planner is willing and open to making you feel at ease about their work and experience, and is able to give you real references. Whether it’s videos, wedding images, references from providers and/or testimonials of Couples of weddings that they’ve done, all of this material should be used as a whole to determine whether this wedding planner is truly and honestly experienced or has just started out. The most invaluable experience, however, will come directly from their past Couples, so be sure to ask for more than 2 references of both past Clients and wedding providers to ensure that you are speaking with a real Client, and not one of their friends or family members who are posing as past Clients.
Are the photos on their social media and website really of their weddings?
I’ve been shocked over and over again (since Instagram and Facebook became so widespread) at the amount of websites and wedding planners that have taken the liberty of stealing copyrighted graphic material and texts from others to use it on their own social media and websites, passing it off on their own. They just copy, paste, crop out the logo or copyright watermark and bingo! They’ve got a beautiful website, bursting at the seams with content that is not theirs. I even had the bizarre experience of being reached out to for a collaboration by a wedding planner from another country. She had a beautiful website, stating that she works globally, and the website had an abundance of wedding photos of weddings worldwide – so imagine my surprise when I saw the Spain section of her website was full of photos of weddings that I had planned!!
How can you tell if the photos are of real weddings, then? If you see photos on their social media which are repeated on their website, exactly the same or taken from different angles – and with a testimonial and references of that Couple to back them up – then it’s very likely that the photos are of real weddings. If their social media credits the wedding photographer, it is a surefire way to know that those photos are really of their weddings – if not, the credited photographer will have a lot to say!
However, if the photos appear on other wedding websites repeatedly – quite possibly on other planners’ websites – it is likely that those photos are of weddings that they have not planned themselves. Ask the planners for references of the providers and Clients from that wedding so you can verify that the wedding was in fact planned by them. If they don’t provide you with this information, beware! That’s a telltale sign that they are hiding something from you!
There is a lot more that can be added on to this list, but for now these are the top tips that you can follow to determine who’s selling you hype and who is selling you a truly professional and seamless service backed up by years of weddings and happily wed Couples!
Photo credits: Carolina Sainz, ENSU, Oliver Viladoms Studio