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Tips on hiring an event coordinator

Pick the perfect planner

for The Brooklyn Paper

I’ll be the first to admit it — I am a huge control freak. So, I shocked my nearest and dearest by hiring a party planner for my son’s bar mitzvah.

Why?

I am opinionated and organized — in fact, before I even hired someone, I had already chosen the venue, caterer, florist, and theme — but I wanted a well-connected and creative resource. I needed someone who could add a few activities for the children, and something to entertain the adults during lunch. I decided to hire a local planner whom I had seen at many impressive events and knew which entertainers had been at recent parties. Because I hired her, we were sure to do something fresh at my son’s party. Plus, she got pricing on several services that she passed along to me, knew which activities were “kosher” for our Kiddush lunch at the temple (for instance, paper folding was okay, cutting was not!), and even though I had ideas, using someone familiar with the caliber and reliability of specific entertainers saved me time on the phone and provided me a reference. She also had backups available!

Basically, she was a lifesaver!

But more anything else, I really just wanted to be able to enjoy my own party. And for a flat fee, her contract included contracting the entertainment (subject to my approval), establishing the schedule for that day, and making sure things ran smoothly. She also collected any gifts people brought and handed out the favors when our guests left. Striding around with her clipboard, she did attract some attention at the party — and, okay, she was a little bossy — but when the children started to take out their phones instead of partaking in the party, she immediately engaged them in a game of “Coke or Pepsi.”

Many large DJ and catering companies offer party planning services because they have evolved through out the years into one-stop shops offering everything from game rentals to montage editing. So, it only makes sense that a lot of companies would offer a person to manage and coordinate the entire event.

But if you already have a venue and caterer and are just choosing from a menu of available features, make sure to hire a “planner” that is more than just a sales person.

Here’s how to tell:

• Will she be there the day of the event to help manage the execution?

• Will she oversee the equipment set-up and deal with any problems before the party?

• Can she coordinate the audio-video needs with your venue?

• Will she help map out the room?

• Will she communicate with your caterer and coordinate the delivery and cleanup of food?

• Will she help with cleanup after the event? This is important if you want to make the most out of your money — mine even helped load my car with leftovers!

Be forewarned: because many planners work directly for the party company that employs them, their fee is generally a percentage of your bill, so, they are invested in getting you to buy “extras.” If you are wary of this, you can always offer to pay them a bonus if they stay within your budget.

For divorced families, families with contentious parent-child relations, or those celebrating a b’nai mitzvah, a coordinator can serve as a neutral agent in reaching compromises. Many families with twins or triplets use planners to ensure that all children feel they are being treated fairly.

Party coordinators can be useful for almost any size party that involves more than just a sit-down meal. Even for families that want to be hands-on, having someone to lighten the load eases the stress and saves you a bundle!

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