With the rise of Pinterest, Weddingwire, The Knot, and more; having a private planner every step of the way for your Wedding, Mitzvah, or other social event seems more like a luxury than a necessity. While we would still argue that the benefits of additional planning (beyond Day-of) more than cover any perceived additional expense, it’s important to note that many people still choose “Day-of Only.” So when looking for a day-of planner, or really all of your vendors, there’s one rule above all else …
Hire a professional who is licensed and insured for the job you are hiring them for.
First, a quick lesson in what those terms mean. A licensed vendor is one who has registered their business and pays all business associated expenses, including taxes with the state. They are provided a number for being a registered business, and you can confirm their existence with the Better Business Bureau.
An insured vendor or company typically has two types of insurance: liability – also known as general liability or commercial liability insurance; and workers compensation. This means that should an accident and/or damage happen while work is being done they have insurance to cover it.
Why are those things necessary for your event? Well, let’s start with licensed. On a basic level, you should only hire companies that pay taxes and follow all the necessary steps because simply put, it’s the right thing to do. Supporting businesses that do not do these things encourages more vendors to not follow the rules. If you hire a vendor who is not licensed, they could disappear tomorrow and you would struggle to get any assistance from the state because they are not registered. A licensed business will have a number that you can confirm, which you should do. A licensed vendor is someone who is serious about their business and has demonstrated a commitment to their profession, and therefore, likely goes to the effort and expense to obtain and remain educated in their industry.
Now let’s talk about why insured vendors are essential to your event success. Simply put, if you hire any vendor (planner/coordinator, venue, caterer, photographer, etc.) and they make a mistake, you have opened the door for a lawsuit that will very easily hit your pocketbook (and being frank, rightfully so). Let’s say your party planner is lighting the candles at your event and accidentally burns a guest – if they are insured, their policy will cover medical expenses. If they are not insured those expenses could fall to the host. This applies for all vendors at your event. On that same subject, it isn’t enough that they are insured for another business or type of work, they must be insured for the job they are working. For example, if your friend’s friend owns a licensed and insured business specializing in selling clothing and is “super organized” and “looking to jump into events” that does not mean they are insured for party planning and you are putting yourself at risk. Insurance for a Party Planner is typically a million dollar policy because of the “high risk” associated in the profession.
Another reason why it is essential to hire licensed and insured party planners (and all your vendors), your venue requires it.
Whether or not it is in the contract, and whether or not they ask for an insurance policy to be provided to them, the place you are having your event expects that you are hiring licensed and insured professionals, not Joe Schmoe off the street. Some venues do not require your “day-of contact” to be a professional planner as they allow you to have a friend serve that role; however, make no mistake, if a payment is being made you are hiring someone, and then they must be a professional who is licensed and insured. If they aren’t, you are putting yourself, your guests, and the rest of your vendors at a higher risk.
Here’s the final piece of why hiring a neighbor or friend who does this casually is an unsound choice. That’s an individual that you are close to on a personal level, it’s hard enough to choose to risk your friendly relationship by moving it into a professional one, but it’s simply too risky to do that with a person who isn’t even a “professional” in the industry you are hiring them for. As stated, you are chancing your friendship and bank account by making that choice.
As an event planning company for over 25 years, it always amazes us how rarely we are asked by clients and other vendors whether we are licensed and insured or not. We guess it’s because everyone assumes that we would not have a positive reputation were it not for those things; however, we can only think of three venues (a temple and two hotels) where they request to have us provide proof that we are insured and can therefore work in their space every year. We wish more would ask for this as it protects everyone involved in planning, working, hosting, and attending a party. Ultimately, when choosing, remember that a judge will be more sympathetic to a person who hired professionals than one who did not.