Events by Divine Creations | Asking the Right Questions
Events by Divine Creations

Asking the Right Questions

by Valerie DiVecchio 24. August 2008 21:33
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In my opinion, hiring the best vendors who are professional, reputable and top notch in their industry is one of the easiest ways to ensure a successful event.  As an event planner, I do my best to match up my clients with the vendor who will best fit their personality, style and budget. 

With weddings I offer several levels of involvement, one of which is the day-of wedding coordination package.  This works well for couples who want to plan their own wedding, but don't want to stress on their big day.  With a day-of coordination client, I generally start getting into the action about 3-4 weeks prior to the wedding day.  When we meet, the client already has secured their own vendors and has contracts for the services they require.  Sometimes I am unfamiliar with the vendors they have selected, but I am fine with that; there are many talented professionals in the Tampa Bay area and I enjoy meeting them and broadening my network for future clients.

Unfortunately there are also individuals that say they are professionals, but when asked the right questions, you find out that is not really the case.  Recently I had a day-of client have the unfortunate experience of her photographer backing out... two weeks before the wedding.  He referred them to a friend of his who was also a professional (and I use that term loosely) photographer.  The bride had concerns, but since she lives out of state, felt like there were not many options.  She called me and asked for some advice.  I could hear the hesitation in her voice, but trying not to alarm her any more than she was, I offered to call the new photographer since I had never worked with him before and ask some follow up questions.

When I spoke with the photographer I asked a few very simple questions:  1) How long have you been doing this professionally; 2) is this your full-time profession; 3) do you have a business license with the city/ county; 4) do you carry insurance; and 5) how many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer - not someone's assistant.  His answers went something like this: 1) One year; 2) No, I have a Monday-Friday, 9-5 job; 3) I'm registered with the State of Florida - not what I asked, and then I found out he didn't know that he needed a license; 4) No insurance; and 5) Maybe a dozen or so.  As a professional, red flags were waving brightly in my face.  I called my client back and let her know the questions that I asked, the reason I asked those questions and his answers. 

Question #1 is obvious - hands-on experience is what makes a professional a true professional.  We all have to start out somewhere, but if you think you know it all, and can do it all, after one year in business, there's a problem.  I've been doing this 12 years and I learn new things all the time.  You can learn only so much through books, experience is what will take you to the next level.  Question #2 - if you can't support yourself with doing what you love as a profession, it's a hobby.  Unless you can dedicate yourself to improving your skills, learning new things and polishing technique 100% of the time, you just can't be all that you can be.  Question #3 - basically, if you don't have a license you're operating your business illegally.  Question #4 - all vendors should carry general liability insurance at a minimum.  Additionally, professional liability and workers compensation insurance are also a very good idea.  What if your photographer leaves his equipment where someone can trip over it?  If he/she doesn't have insurance that person who fell can sue you.  What if the photographer stood on a chair to take a picture and he/she fell?  That's right, your photographer could sue you.  And what if the photographer didn't take proper care of his/ her equipment and it is faulty?  That means not only do you not get your pictures, but also if you sue them, with no insurance, you won't get any compensation either.  Insurance is expensive for vendors to carry, but it's also what separates the professionals from the rookies.  And lastly question #5 - You can't recreate your wedding day and pictures are one of the only ways you can capture those moments and preserve them.  If the person who is responsible for capturing these memories isn't as qualified as they portray themselves being, you are going to be highly disappointed in your photos and that, unfortunately, will be the lasting impression of your wedding day.

I told my client that it was 100% her and her fiance's decision, but if she wasn't sure that she wanted to use this photographer, I would help her find another.  She spoke with her fiance and they decided to go with someone else.  I truly believe that in hindsight they will thank their original photographer for doing them a favor by backing out. 

When hiring vendors without the advice of an event planner, please be sure to do your research.  Ask the right questions, and don't settle for anything less than the best.  There are great, high quality vendors in every budget range out there... don't give up until you find the right one for you. 

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Valerie DiVecchio Valerie DiVecchio

President
Divine Creations

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