You’re planning the event of a lifetime: your wedding! No matter how big or small, formal or informal, extravagant or simple you want your celebration to be, you want it to be fun, memorable and successful, right?

One of the best ways to ensure success is to hire a professional wedding consultant (also known as a wedding planner or wedding coordinator). These dedicated, versatile pros can be your one-stop source for everything wedding: their knowledge of the local area will help you quickly find and choose your perfect venue, flowers, entertainment and more. They can help you secure your marriage license, book hotel accommodations for your out-of-town guests and even arrange pet care while you are on your honeymoon. Long story short, they are ready to do anything and everything needed to help today’s busy brides and grooms-to-be navigate the complexities of planning the perfect wedding!

Let’s talk about a few points regarding the services available and things to look for:

* Full-service vs. Day-of coordination: Many consultants offer both and, as you’d imagine, they are priced differently to reflect the difference in the amount of time invested. It is probably best to first think about your needs and your budget and see which would be the best fit for you. Are you unsure? No problem! Any qualified professional coordinator will be happy to talk to you about both options and help you decide which would be best for you.

* Fees: The way coordinators charge varies per company, but most would fall into either a flat fee, an hourly fee, or a percentage of your overall wedding budget. Once again, ask your coordinator candidate how he/she charges and why. They will be happy to explain.

* Vendor Management and Contact: Much of your initial contact will be with your coordinator as they help you choose your venue and then custom-fit your team of trusted professional vendors. After that, however, communication can usually be any way you want it: if you want to interface with your vendors a lot, great, and if you’d rather have all communication stay channelled through your consultant, that is just fine as well. Either way, once you are within about a month of your wedding date, you’ll want your consultant in the loop on all communication regardless : )

* Pre-event Coordination and Timelines: Possibly the most valuable and important part of the service you are getting from your coordinator will be the event timelines she/he creates and the subsequent advance planning done with each individual vendor to coordinate the whole effort. This is the key to a seamless, stress-free day!

All of the things above are the province of a trained, experienced professional, not an amateur or “friend who thought they’d like to try it”. Professional certification or a long, verifiable track record of excellence is a must. A business license, certificate of membership in a professional organization, tax ID number, business cards and stationary can also give good indication that he/she is in business and not just a hobbyist. Lastly, as with all professional services, be sure to sign a written contract stating when and how much you will pay for the services you require, as well as other contingencies that may come up, including if the wedding needs to be canceled or rescheduled.

So, you may ask, how does an entertainment company know all this?

Well, we here at Sound In Motion take great pride in continuing education, both within our discipline and in the event industry as a whole. We attend several conferences throughout the United States every year to make sure we are offering our clients the very best and most current services available. Additionally, company partner Adrian Cavlan is a member of the Board Of Directors for the Monterey Bay Wedding and Event Professionals, a group that is dedicated to improving the wedding and special event industry in our area. Adrian’s job is to create the continuing education program and as such, has had the pleasure of organizing and moderating a panel discussion that featured three of the area’s best professional wedding coordinators.

Adrian Cavlan moderating the MBWEP Wedding Consusltant's panel discussion

If you would like more information, please be sure to visit Amy Byrd of Amy Byrd Weddings, Heidi Hughett of Coastside Couture and Patty Spiers of Every Last Detail.