The average Manhattan wedding carries a hefty $85,000 price tag — a lot to spend without complete assurance of success. The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study found that the average cost of a wedding reached an all-time high at $35,329. While the number of guests dropped, spending per guest increased. Custom guest entertainment has more than tripled, from 11% to 41% since 2009, with photo booths (78%), games (18%), musical performances (12%) and fireworks (8%) topping the list.
IBISWorld’s Wedding Planners market research report tracks the $1 billion industry revenues, indicating more couples hired full-service coordinators over day-of coordinators during the past five years. However, according to IBIS, “Industry revenue is expected to contract as more couples opt to plan their own weddings rather than hire industry employees.”
They cite an increase in do-it-yourself (DIY) weddings as responsible due to many couples, primarily those who are on a tight budget, increasing use of websites and mobile applications to plan their own weddings, rather than spending money on an industry operator.
For those seeking professional guidance, IBISWorld offers three important factors to consider when seeking a wedding planner: a high prior success rate, a good reputation, and the ability to vary services to suit different needs.
With 60% of her clientele brides-to-be, Cynthia Ross of CP Ross Designs located in Fayetteville, North Carolina (CPRossDesigns.com), has carved an award-winning niche in this market. CP Ross Designs is a full-service event design, decor (including all floral creations), and planning company.
“I have an extensive knowledge of logistics associated with event design which include lighting, space planning, tents, ceiling embellishments, floral design, and other needs,” says Ms. Ross, a traditional Southern charmer with a staggeringly high event success rate. “Knowledge and working experience are valuable tools. You have to know what will work and what will not. The goal is to always exceed expectations.”
“Attention to detail is very important. An event should encompass all of the senses. When a client enters the room, the event should be staged like you would see a painting. When you look at a piece of art your eye sweeps the painting and enjoys the visual of all that’s in it. An event set-up should flow the same way.”
Experience is the main advantage in working with an industry insider. “A classroom cannot teach you experience. A good planner has trusted vendors, maintains good relationships, and is credible with a solid reputation. A good planner can look at a design that a client brings and tweak it to fit within their budget, making the event their signature. A good planner should be able to pull your vision together,” says Ms. Ross.
There are many things that a client doesn’t know and can’t do easily alone. “Space planning inside and out comes from experience and knowledge of electrical needs, ceiling embellishments, attention to fire codes, permits and ordinances and the ability to solve problems should they arise,” Ms. Ross continues. “Being extremely visual, I can walk into a room and conceptualize what it will look like set up. My perception relates to color, composition and depth. I am also logistical and organized with the planning and implementation of an event.”
Events are time-driven, fast-paced and stressful, so Ms. Ross offers the following insider tips:
- Do your research and use reputable vendors with references.
- Keep your budget in mind. You do not have to have a large wedding to have a great wedding. The more people you have the more it costs — larger venue, linens, chairs, food, beverages, table decor, and lighting, etc.
- Forego an open bar unless you have a large budget. Offer beer, wine and a signature drink.
- Avoid booking your event during holidays as costs increase, especially for flowers during Valentine’s and Mother’s day.
- Book your venue first as well as the photographer and caterer.
- Make a timeline and don’t wait until the last minute to order products.
- Ask about fire codes. Use flame retardant materials for ceiling embellishments that include fabric.
- Volunteer to help a friend to see how an event works especially if you have no experience and are planning a large event yourself.
- Be prepared for plan A and B, especially with an outdoor event. Wind and weather are not your friends. If you don’t think it will blow away or blow down, think again. Secure and weight floral arrangements. Purchase event insurance if inclement weather (like hurricanes or snow) could be a factor.
Finally, she offers one last tip for floral designs. “The biggest mistake made in floral design is the height of the centerpiece. When designing a centerpiece, I sit in front of it to see if the guest can see over it. A large event is better served with a combination of low and tall centerpieces. For budget reasons, I usually make the tall arrangements about 1/4 of the amount. If you are looking to splurge on flowers, the bridal table and bride’s bouquet are the best and most-appreciated areas.”
All books are available at amazon.com. Click on title to learn more.
The Wedding Planner and Organizer
by Mindy Weiss
The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner
by Carley Roney
A Practical Wedding Planner
by Meg Keene
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