Are you an event organizer, designer, wedding consultant, event coordinator or a party planner? How do we define these titles?
Whatever you may call yourself, there has been a lot of controversy recently as to exactly what we provide to the consumer. As this inventive occupation continues to grow, creatives do their best to get more imaginative with job titles, we think it’s time to outline and structure a few of these.
To help with some of the definitions, two longtime, notable event professionals--Lenny Talarico and Brit Bertino--teamed up to share their descriptions of titles for both event and wedding professionals.
The special event industry has dramatically grown over the past 30 years, and it’s important to keep in mind that the meeting and event industry is not regulated by the government like realtors, doctors or lawyers. There is confusion is to how things are structured in the special event business, such as how we conduct business, charge our fees and what we actually call ourselves. It’s our job as professionals to educate our consumers and the special event community on what our titles mean.
Lenny states, “In our industry there are so many title variations, it can become quite difficult for outsiders to understand the differences between roles and responsibilities--let alone attempt to differentiate the various levels of expertise. While titles can have completely different job descriptions depending upon the company or organization, these are a few commonly referenced with broad descriptions of what to expect of the position.”
This role is likely a starting point in pursuing a career in the industry. Most tend to be entry-level positions but may still require some baseline level of event knowledge to qualify for the position.The responsibilities can vary, but fall more in line with hierarchy of positions. This position generally entails knowledge of file management, transcription and a large amount of administrative responsibilities. Those who succeed in the role should excel in computer skills, data input, purchasing coordination and calendar management. In general, the role is not strategic, but more in line with fulfilling assigned tasks.
requirements: Course studies in meetings, events, or hospitality are all preferred.
In this role one would have a command of the duties required of the event coordinator and begin to assume an active operational role in executing the physical requirements of a project. An individual in this position will have the responsibilities to include on-site event engagement and oversee project installations and supervision of entertainment production.
reqirements: People in this position require a polished presence as they may be required to have client interactions.
The responsibilities of this role varies greatly; they include proficiency in all the duties and tasks of both the coordinator and supervisor of the levels of the discipline.
requirements: This job requires the candidate to have experience in sales, account management, design, entertainment, logistics and an advanced level of business acumen specific to the field of hospitality. Possessing knowledge and experience in brand marketing, communications, public relations and audio-visual technology will add depth and credibility to being successful. Individuals who pursue this type of employment in the corporate sector must be able to bridge both the creative and business aspects of the role, possessing analytical skills and the ability to identify issues.
Everyone has an opinion of what they think looks good, and while many aspire to be designers, very few possess the “it factor” it takes to truly be a natural in this role. This role sounds glamorous, but truthfully it can be among the most stressful jobs requiring great levels of diplomacy, as every aspect of it is subjective and regularly challenged by the evolution of the “DYI” and “As Seen on TV” society.
requirements: Beyond the obvious raw creativity required for this job, several vital skills are required that truly make the difference between good and great designers. Those include: communication skills (event designers need to be good listeners to understand the needs of their client); attention to detail (aspiring to achieve visual perfection, they drive choices from graphics to table settings to furnishings ensuring cohesive designs); mastery of software (to plan out how each space is utilized and how it evolves); excellent negotiation skills (to work with diverse suppliers); along with time management skills (ensuring all aspects of a project are delivered to match the original design concept).
The role tends to wear a variety of hats depending on the type of organization or company in question.They may be required to organize various events such as business conventions, trade shows, weddings, educational conferences and seminars. They ensure all event details meet their client's specifications.
requirements: This job requires exceptionally strong organizational skills and strong business acumen. Responsibilities include contract negotiation, creating time lines and ensuring adherence to planning schedules, budget creation and reconciliation, and the ability to develop an event strategy that delivers ROI and ROE from concept to completion. Planners must be proficient in organizing and leading a team of internal and external partners to ensure the success of the event. This job is split equally between sales and operations and requires a smart personality with a vast network of providers to cull from as needed to execute a program. Many planners start out in another job and come from different workforce and educational backgrounds. Typically, a bachelor's degree is required or relevant industry experience. Event planning certification designations may help with potential employers; recognized certifications include the CMP, CSEP, CPCE, CGMP, CEM and DMCP.
Event Producer/Director/Senior Producer/Executive Director:
In the hierarchy of event jobs, this role and the many variations on the title are equal to that of a CEO. Literally the buck stops here.
requirements: They must possess advanced knowledge of all financial aspects of event production, technical production, entertainment production, marketing, venue operations, and catering with exceptional analytical skills. It is essential they have advanced proficiency in contracting, negotiation skills and the in-depth ability to evaluate and address risks associated with all aspects of a program. They must be proficient in account management and business retention, possess superior sales and customer services skills, and be inherent problem-solvers who are equally knowledgeable in the creative, operational, technical and management aspects of the role. It is a given that candidates are required to excel in all areas listed in the above job profiles. Background and educational requirements must meet the minimum criteria of the other positions.
The most ambiguous of roles and the one most likely to send any true event professional into a tailspin. This catchall title is akin to referring to a five-star Michelin chef as a cook. While a chef does cook, there are many more nuances involved in becoming a chef, such as knowledge, skills and tenure that differentiate those roles. We all know what it takes and as we continue to move our industry towards becoming a legitimate, respected and recognized profession, the title “party planner” is best reserved for fondly describing a relative with good taste and extraordinary social skills, but should be retired from our vocabulary and left out of the modern-day business setting.
Brit feels that the titles between event professional and wedding professionals are very similar, though one who would just specialize in weddings would possess wedding specific titles. “I’ve been called a number of different titles and although I answer to all of them, including the monotonous phrase, 'Are you like the wedding planner, J.Lo?,' I feel that I’ve worked hard in my professional occupation and I’d love a definition that states exactly what I provide to my couples.” Below is a list of titles that are commonly seen throughout the wedding event industry:
A consultant can be known as a coach as well. These people can help you along the planning process, and they really allow the couples to take the lead. Their services vary from one consultant to another. They can provide the client with supplier referrals, assist with setting up appointments, and educate the client on wedding and creative partner etiquette. Normally one can hire consultants by the hour, and the meetings can be over the phone or in person.
A wedding coordinator can provide a number of different services that range from consulting, day-of coordination services and even partial planning services. In most instances a consultant would include setting up appointments and may not always be present at each of them. However, they will be present for the day-of activities and be onsite to manage all the wedding elements the day of the wedding.
requirements: Both consulting and coordination services allow for the couple to be more hands-on in the planning process. They typically have less experience than a wedding planner/producer/designer and sometimes may not have professional training and credentials from an event management program or university.
Wedding Stylist or Wedding Designer:
The wedding designer/stylist is perfect for the couple who wants to take their wedding vision to the next level. This wedding designer/stylist focuses on creating a complete wedding vision in all of the design aspects. Normally this person will create something that is above and beyond what clients can envision for themselves. Their services include wedding website design, stationery design, all related events leading up to the wedding design aspects, lighting, event rentals, and even bridal wear styling.
requirements: The wedding designer/stylist will have formal training in several different fields that can pertain to interior design, graphic design, wedding or event design, floral design and fashion design. Some wedding planners/producers have credentials too and may also call themselves wedding designers/stylists and offer both planning and design services. These people can also work side by side with wedding planners and producers.
This service is all about the logistics. They can provide and are not limited to the following services: site selection, creative partner referrals, assisting with contract negotiation to day-of planning services. They help with floor plans and seating charts and can effectively put a time line together for the bridal party and all of the creative partners. They are the go-to professional between the couple and the creative partners. They will keep track of the budget and all correspondence. Some may even provide styling and design services.
requirements: Normally this person has a bit more experience, about five years or more, and has an industry certification and or a university degree.
Wedding Producer: A wedding producer is there from the very beginning and stays until the thank-you notes are received. They normally have a team of professionals that will help manage all the details of an intricate wedding. The wedding producer will manage all wedding event elements and assist in making the overall vision and guest experience come alive! Some of their services could include but are not limited to overseeing the entertainment manager, event managers/coordinators, event designer, floral design team, event and audio-visual staff, and even a transportation manager. They do everything that the wedding planners, and coordinators and designers do. They must know wedding etiquette, ethnic customs, and protocols and be flexible to understand each couple’s unique desires and requests.
requirements: A wedding producer has over 10 years of experience and should have professional training and a degree in event management, hospitality management, hotel and or restaurant management from a university, or a certification in meeting and/or special event management.
Our hopes in outlining these titles is to simply help educate the public, new event and wedding pros, and our industry as a whole so we can start streamlining what we do, what type of service we provide, and how we qualify for that specific title.
Brit Bertino, CSEP, CGSP, is the award-winning owner of Brit Bertino, Event Excellence as well as Simply Weddings Las Vegas and the Totty Belt, headquarterd in Las Vegas. Lenny Talarico, CSEP, CHE, is an independent event producer and an instructor at the International School of Hospitality in Las Vegas.