Whether planning a wedding or corporate event, there are always lots of details to manage and budgets to wrangle. Often people make the mistake of thinking they can manage all of these details themselves in order to stay within budget – but more likely than not, they will end up spending more in the long run. Here are just a few ways that hiring a planner will not only give you a superior event, but also save your budget!
A professional planner has likely put together and attended hundreds or even thousands of events in their lifetime. Drawing from each of these experiences your planner will know what is up and coming in the industry, what themes have been overdone, and better yet, a way to improve upon prior events. As a bride, executive assistant, or other employee tasked with putting together a spectacular event, researching themes, food & beverage ideas, décor, staffing, entertainment, venue selection, logistics and event execution is a huge undertaking – especially without prior experiences to pull from.
Planners are constantly filling their brains and binders with new creative ideas for arrival experiences, entertainment, and WOW moments! They know how to break down the demographics of a group to find ideas that are interactive, interesting, and provide lasting impressions. It is their job to know how to move hundreds of guests from a swanky dinner to a high energy dance party using lighting, décor and entertainment while keeping budget numbers in check.
Time Is Money
A former leader of mine used to frequently use the phrase, “Time Is Money.” This phrase holds so much truth. Your time is valuable. Every minute spent researching vendor reviews, pouring over menu options, combing through linen selections, or putting together diagrams/seating charts is time spent away from family or loved ones, other work tasks that need to be completed, or even those 8 hours of beauty sleep. Let’s do a quick math exercise:
According to a Forbes.com survey, couples spend an average of 9.8 hours per WEEK planning their wedding. Considering that most couples spend 6 months to 1 year planning their big day that can average between 250 – 500 hours. If we were to give your time an average hourly rate of $11 per hour that means you are spending $2,750 – $5,500 on your time – not to mention the additional stress!
Relationships Are Key
Professional planners network! Just as you in your given profession attend after hour cocktails, educational sessions, and business meetings, so do planners. Planners develop key relationships with venues, vendors, caterers, florists, décor companies, staffing companies, etc. Planners bring these suppliers many new clients over the course of a year and with that buying power comes the opportunity for more negotiation and unique pricing structures.
Planners use vendors they know and trust. Often they have spent years developing these relationships and have specific expectations for quality services that the vendors are keenly aware of and strive to maintain. Think of it as a loyalty card program between vendors and planners. What might cost Jane Bride $150 plus delivery could likely cost less for a planner as the vendor knows there will be other clients coming their way.
No one wants to spend their wedding day or company party putting out fires or managing logistics. Even the most detail oriented person cannot account for all of the potential scenarios that may arise on the big day. Having a planner gives you peace of mind. You can relax and enjoy yourself blissfully unaware of any hiccups that are bound to happen behind the scenes. Whether it is a guest that has over indulged at the open bar or making a weather call for an outdoor event, it is the planners job to handle it discreetly and efficiently.
Overall, you can see that hiring an experienced planner can not only save you money, but more importantly your time and sanity!
With nearly 40% of engagements happening during the 4-month stretch between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, we can bet either you or someone you know is currently navigating their Wedding Planning Checklist. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely already envisioned your wedding, created a budget, and have selected the wedding date/time and are currently researching the perfect venue to fit your vision. Here are some tips to help you interpret your venue contract and ensure you have no surprises after you say, “I do.”
SPELL IT OUT
We cannot emphasize this enough – get EVERYTHING in writing. When you sign on the dotted line you are committing yourself to exactly what is included in your contract so read the fine print. Look for things like service charge, taxes, based on consumption fees, clean-up charges, non-preferred vendor costs, labor, parking, insurance requirements, and cancellation policies. Ensure that your event date, time and location are all correct. Confirm that your contract times include setup and clean-up time especially if you are bringing in your own décor, centerpieces, or personal items. If you will be getting ready on-site, be sure that your contract includes a specified allotted space and time. Planning an outdoor soiree? Make sure you have a designated back-up location in the event of rain. Understand the damage policies thoroughly as there may be charges for use of confetti, glitter, rice, open flames, helium balloons, or affixing decorations to walls or ceilings. We strongly suggest designating either your wedding planner or a trusted friend/family member to conduct a pre and post event walk thru to ensure any damages are pointed out immediately.
SORRY, YOU’RE NOT ON THE LIST.
Before you sign a contract with any vendor including your caterer, DJ, florist, photographer, or decorator, review your venue’s vendor guide. What does the venue provide complimentary? Do they have a list of preferred or exclusive vendors? Is there a charge for using a vendor not on their list? Are there additional insurance requirements for using a non-preferred vendor? If you are utilizing a full-service venue, what are the benefits of booking a vendor through the venue vs. booking the vendor yourself?
REPONDEZ S’IL VOUS PLAIT.
Many venues will require you to provide a guaranteed (GTE) guest count a minimum of 72 hours in advance. This ensures that the caterer has prepared enough food and beverage for a flawless dining experience and you have enough tables and chairs to accommodate your guest list. Once you have provided a guaranteed count, food and beverage orders are placed so typically this number cannot be decreased. Take note of these deadlines when preparing your invitation response cards and allow an extra week or two for following up with guests that haven’t responded timely. Be sure to check the contract for information regarding how to handle guaranteed guest count changes and if there are additional fees associated for last minute adjustments. Many caterers and venues prepare only for the guaranteed count to eliminate waste, so if you feel there may be guests that decide to show up unannounced you may want to add a few extra numbers to your guarantee.
PAY IT FORWARD.
Get the venue payment policy in writing and be sure you understand it completely. What is required to secure your hold on the space for your event? How often are payments required and how much will they be? What happens if you are unable to make your payment on the designated date? Is there a grace period? What is the policy for adding things on-site (i.e. power drops, additional linens, extended beverage service)? Will you need to have a credit card on file for last minute add-ons? Remember that sometimes the unthinkable does happen and you want to be protected so have a firm grasp on the cancellation and damage policy. We urge all bridal parties to consider investing in a wedding insurance policy to make certain that in the event of the unimaginable, the burden won’t carry over as you embark on your new life together.
Sign On The Dotted Line
You’ve read the contract thoroughly, asked all of your questions and received the answers in writing, reviewed the vendor policies, established your necessary deadlines, and have a documented payment plan. Now you can sign on the dotted line and rest easy that your special day has been setup for a perfect happy ending.
We’re ending this week with a Flashback Friday from March 2014 when we welcomed Daher-Socata as they unveiled their brand new TBM900.
A red carpet arrival awaited guests outside of the North Hangar complete with Vintage Flight Attendants and Swing Dancers (Blade Agency) as they arrived by motorcoach. Greeted with butler passed champagne and sumptuous hors d’oeuvres including Smoked Chicken & Caramelized Onion Cornets with red onion creme fraiche, Bacon-Wrapped Potato Tots with sour cream and chive, Grilled Cheese Sliders on mini country toasts with brie, fig jam and rosemary butter, and Braised Short Ribs on Corn Cakes with demi glace, fried shallots, chives and sour cream from Puff ‘n Stuff, guests took to the dance floor moving to the music of the 8th Army Air Corp Orchestra and the Fantasy Angels an Andrews Sisters Tribute.
Post cocktail hour, attendees savored the exquisite food stations including Pan Seared Mahi Mahi with lemon basil risotto, blood orange reduction, and lemon gremolata, Rose Chicken Towers with smoked raspberry and chipotle roulade served on grilled corn with peach and poblano salad, Bastille Salad offering grilled hearts of romaine and a selection of toppings including shaved cantaloupe, julienne prosciutto, grilled chicken, marinated artichoke hears, diced tomato, pickled red onion and a red wine vinaigrette and a tasty Specialty Pasta Station featuring Caprese Orecchiette, Cavatelli in bleu cheese cream with caramelized onions, and Gemelli Chardonnay with spring peas, mushrooms, and roasted tomatoes in a Chardonnay cream sauce.
As guests dined on their desserts of raspberry chocolate noir tortes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, macaroon lollipops coated with crunchy ground pistachios and the chef’s selection of petite luxuries presented in parfait style glassware they were once again entertained by the 8th Army Air Corp Orchestra, Fantasy Angels, and Swing Dancing Couples all leading up to the main event. After a brief introduction from the CEO, the new TBM900 was unveiled via a Kabuki Drop staged by American Audio Visual followed by a fly-over including (3) brand new TBM900s being delivered to their new owners and landing right on the Fantasy of Flight legendary grass runway. Guests were able to spend the rest of the evening enjoying the dance floor, admiring the fastest single engine turbo prop aircraft on the market, and of course enjoying a few cocktails in the process.
Here is a clip highlighting this flash from the past!
Looking to launch your next product at Fantasy of Flight?
We love it when clients give us a little freedom to produce a WOW moment! Our team was so lucky to work with a prominent watch company to help launch a new luxury product to a select group of VIP customers in their Central Florida market. With a group of only 20 guests, we wanted to offer a lot of drama while still ensuring an intimate feel. The juxtaposition of this modern acrylic table, mirrored planter boxes filled with white hydrangeas and white roses, (Wizard Connection) clear chiavari chairs and glass chargers, (A Chair Affair) finished with white shantung linens (Connie Duglin Linens) made a visually interesting contrast inside the vintage military WWII B-17 Room.
Guests were greeted inside the main lobby by the Fantasy Angels an Andrews Sisters Tribute (The Blade Agency) with a champagne toast and signature cocktails (recipe below) before embarking on a journey through our Immersive Environment. Delicious butler passed hors d’oeuvres by Puff ‘n Stuff included Eggplant Croutons topped with honey roasted tomato, Kalamata olive and pine nut tapenade, and Feta cheese served inside Early Flight, a Moody Forest Strudel with wild mushrooms and bleu cheese served inside the German bunkers of WWI, followed by Ahi Tuna with mango salsa and pomegranate seed served on a lotus root chip inside our WWII Briefing Tent.
This VIP group then made their way through a real B-17 bomber before exiting right to their waiting table. Serenaded once again by the acapella trio during a first course of Cucumber Ring Salads filled with mesclun greens, pickled beets, red onion, shaved parmesan, champagne vinaigrette and finished with an Asiago chip. A brief intermission between courses allowed guests to experience the North Hangar collection including the P-51 C Mustang, Ford Tri-Motor, Short Sunderland, Benoist, and of course everyone got to test their piloting skills inside the cockpits of our Corsair Simulators – always a big hit!
Upon returning to the WWII B-17 Room, visitors finished their meal of Porcini Crusted Filet and Sea Bass accompanied by a potato faux pear before welcoming the Fantasy Angels back for another performance leading up to the unveiling of the newest luxury watch in our clients collection. Guests continued to enjoy a scrumptious dessert and gourmet coffee as they perused the new wares before departing.
Intimate or Grand . . . First Class All The Way! No matter the size of your event, we can assure you that your guests will receive a first class experience.
Create your own VIP moment at home! Try this delicious drink offered to these VIP guests served on the rocks at your next cocktail party. We know you’ll love it!
Signature Cocktail Recipe
2 oz, Makers’ Mark Bourbon
1/2 oz, Grand Marnier
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1/2 oz, Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Dash Sprite
Lemon Peel for garnish
Want to host your next VIP event at Fantasy of Flight?
Bride (Courtney) and Groom (Kyle) from this December wedding selected our Art Deco Compass Rose & Lounge as the backdrop for their intimate wedding celebration. Guests dined on Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, Antipasto Skewers, and Mini Chicken Egg Rolls while enjoying a hosted Beer & Wine service during cocktail hour.
Guests then made their way into The Lounge to enjoy a buffet dinner featuring a Herb Crusted Prime Rib Carving Station, Baked Potato Bar, Chicken Breast with Asparagus, Bacon, and Triple Cream Brie Sauce, Mixed Green Salad with Roasted Pecans, Red Onions and Pears served with Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette and of course Wedding Cake. A black and gold color scheme including gold chargers, black linens, Art Deco banquet chairs, and beautiful white rose centerpieces completed the space for a cozy celebration.
Congratulations Kyle & Courtney! We wish you the best on your journey as husband and wife!
As we like to say, Intimate or Grand – First Class All The Way! You don’t have to be throwing a large scale soiree to host your event at The Venues at Fantasy of Flight.
Interested In Hosting Your Wedding At Fantasy of Flight?