What’s the difference between event planning and wedding planning? Who better to ask than an event planner who is planning her own wedding? Meet Liz, the Founder and CEO of Liz King Events, a New York-based event planning company. We asked Liz what lessons she’s learned in her seven years of event planning, how she’s applying those to her own special event, and what every event planner needs to carry in her purse at all times.
How did you get into event planning?
Like most event planners, I have to say “accidentally.” I took an administrative position at Columbia University to figure out my life and what I wanted to do for the rest of it (or at least the next chapter). I soon realized I was the administrator for the event planning department in my office. I never knew you could make a career doing something you love. It just sound too cliche. I was promoted into an event planning position and eventually started my business on Twitter.
What are the three things every event planner must carry on her at all times?
A tablet, cell phone, or computer since all of our work is in the cloud these days. I also strongly recommend having a tape measure—you never realize how often this comes in handy! And, finally, a sharpie!
What’s been your favorite experience as an event planner?
I love creating experiences for our clients and seeing their visions come together. When the work hours are long and the complications are many, it all disappears when you see an ecstatic client on the other end!
What do you love most about planning events?
I love the creativity. Even if you plan a thousand weddings, they are all so different. Each event is a reflection of the couple or brand behind it, and is only as good as the people attending, so the dynamics are fascinating and fun!
Where is the most interesting place you’ve planned an event?
I have planned an event on a floating pier before. It looks like any old pier, but it has a TON of complications for those who get sea sick… or where you need signs to stand up … or when you don’t have nearly the anchors you need for 35mph winds….
How is event planning different from wedding planning? How is it similar?
Corporate event planning is mostly different in that you’re capturing a brand instead of a person. We focus a lot on colors and theme, just like in weddings, but the goal is often to increase sales or drive awareness, which dramatically changes the event experience.
What are the skills you use for event planning that you’ve used for planning your own wedding?
The biggest perk of planning your own wedding as an event planner is that I already have amazing vendors in my network. Choosing vendors for your wedding is so difficult because you haven’t had a chance to vet them and know who you can really trust, but that’s one problem we don’t have to deal with as a planner! I think I also have more realistic expectations about the timeline and budget, so I’m not as surprised when the planning (and spending!) ebbs and flows. Finally, since I have a pretty good hold on the basics, it gives me time to be creative—we’re rethinking the wedding to really reflect who we are and I think the experience will be really special for our guests.
What do you think will be your biggest wedding day challenge?
Letting gooooo…. Even though I can lay out a great plan, I always feel more in control when I’m the person placing the flowers and laying out the place cards. It’s going to take a lot for me to sit back and enjoy being on the “other side”.
How do you manage the stress of event planning? And how can you ensure that you’ll stay sane on your wedding day?
Lots of being talked off the ledge by my fiance 🙂 Honestly, when times get stressful, I remember that this all just for a single night. What’s really going to matter happens after the big day and I’m building a relationship here. So, I take a step back and try to focus on Craig until it all seems more manageable.
What piece of advice would you give brides and grooms to ensure that find a wedding (or event) planner who will ensure their big day goes off without a hitch?
Look for someone you really get along with. Of course, you want to look for reviews and recommendations to make sure they are reliable and get the job done, but remember that you need to be able to trust this planner 100%. You should love them so much, you want to have lunch with them every day. As you get closer to the wedding, that connection is going to help you trust your planner and sit back & relax.
How have you seen technology make events, weddings specifically, easier or harder?
I think technology really makes events easier, if you embrace it. From planning software to hashtags to live streaming, there are so many ways that technology allows our weddings to go more smoothly and even allow our guests to have a better experience!
At Joy we believe that even though a wedding lasts a day, joy should last forever. What does that mean to you?
To me, it means that the day is only the beginning of a lifetime. You’re surrounded by family and friends who will be there to support your love in good times and bad. The joy that fills your relationship for the rest of your lives is most clearly visible on this big day!