Party On: Tips for Working with a Party Planner

You’re in the planning stage of an upcoming bar or bat mitzvah, wedding, anniversary party or other big event.

First step: get an event planner! She or he is the person who can translate your vision, bring it to life and make your party a huge success.

Reva Nathan, a Chicago event planner who has catered to the North Shore for 31 years, says there are certain things you should look for in an excellent event planner. “The planner should have an outstanding reputation in the industry and a calm demeanor. She is the person who will take care of the behind-the-scenes elements so you can enjoy yourself at your own event.” She adds that a planner should be an objective professional to guide you through the steps of creating your ideal event. You may not know all the options and resources available, but a good event planner will explain your options.

Ryan Wille, event producer at Kehoe Designs, an event decor company, says, “The ideal planner should have experience, references and be on a preferred vendor list. Furthermore, you should look for a connection with the person you’ll be working with.” That connection ensures the entire process is a positive experience—dare we say, fun—and not nerve-racking. That’s what you’re hiring the planner for. When the party’s done, the process should be a wonderful memory.

Trends in the party world are ever-changing. Nathan notes, “Today’s weddings are about simplicity with an edge, a slightly smaller guest list but the same elements of glamour and elegance. Non-wedding celebrations are non-themed, but emphasize a color scheme or general feel to the room.”

So, what can you expect to spend with an accomplished event planner? According to Nathan, a professional planner with years of experience costs approximately $5,000.  Wille explains, “Kehoe Designs works within all budgets, anywhere from $2,000 to $500,000. More expensive events feature custom work or unique venues. Parties on a smaller budget are about smart design.” A good event planner should respect your budget and never make you feel intimidated about what you can spend.

Tell your event planner what you expect and want out of your party. She or he will be the liaison between you and your vendors and should know where to access anything that you desire for your occasion. Interview as many people as you need until you find the person that’s the most professional and makes you feel comfortable. With the right person, it might be the best money you’ve ever spent!