• Westley Madison

"Who does what" | Guest Blogger: Janel Bailey Keen with Vivid Expressions

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

I would like to introduce you to Janel Bailey Keen! She is the Executive Principal Designer, Art Director, Certified Floral Designer, Instructor, Artist, and creative spirit of Vivid Expressions. I asked her to guest blog today to share a rare insight into the mind of another wedding professional! She is going to guide you through the differences between a Wedding Planner, Designer, and Coordinator!

"It's about visually telling their personal story and helping them by creating "art they can actually live. Since 2006 I've loved taking my fantastic clients through the journey of creating their once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It's not about "copying and pasting" or "cookie-cutter" designing. After all, no two people are alike and neither are their love stories.  It's about understanding that each event is as unique as each client. That's why I'm passionate about using my distinct mix of artistic talents and technical knowledge to seamlessly translate their personality into one-of-a-kind floral designs and decor elements and orchestrate the design production for their unforgettable event or creative project."

What do you think of when you hear the titles “Wedding Planner, Designer, and Coordinator?” Well, besides someone who works on weddings, you may also think that they all do the same things, right? Well, not exactly. So often we meet couples and they find themselves discovering a few misnomers about the roles, responsibilities and the general "who does what" about the planning process.

You see, when most people think of these "titles" they get a romanticized idea of “Parties & Weddings” that are a little misleading. For example, say the words, "Wedding Planner" and images of glamorous parties, shows, and funny little movie characters pop into most heads. However, say the words, "Project Manager" you would probably get a completely different image, but it is actually a little closer to the truth.

Planners, Designers, and Coordinators are all basically consultants who practice in the field of weddings and special events. Planners work to fully create (full-service) or partial guide (partial planning) the client in creating an overall event plan. Coordinators (such as “Day of” Coordinators) take an event plan (either created by them or by the client) and facilitate its general execution. This is typically done from 3 to 6 weeks prior to and through the day of the event. A Designer is a specialized project manager that specializes in developing and managing all the visual products and services related to the event. They are like planners, but their primarily focus is on all of the aesthetic aspects of the environment.

I sometimes like to describe a Designer as an “Interior Designer & General Contractor” for your event. Another way to think about it is if your Planner is a General Practitioner then your Designer is more like your Cardiologist – they are knowledgeable with all the aspects of the body but are specialized on the heart. If this sounds familiar it’s probably because you’ve seen variations of Event Designers work.

Sure, if you’ve scrolled through Pinterest or flipped through a wedding magazine you’ve seen “Stylized shoots” were Event Designers carefully compose and orchestrate all the beautiful elements of breathtaking images. However, think about the last time you saw a truly visually stunning movie or show. I’m talking about a film or show with scenes that transport you (and your imagination) somewhere. They captured landscapes, buildings, and scenes from another culture, chic modern office, lush countryside, futuristic place, other time in history, glamour apartment, or an enchanted world. Perhaps the look of what you were watching truly captured the story for you. I've worked in animation and film production, The Arts (including stage production), historical re-enactment, and museum industries so I’ve spent many years working with the creation of environments that are designed to set the scene and visually transport you.

In the movie industry it’s called Art Direction. In stage productions, operas, and concerts they are known as Artistic Directors. In the world of special events they are called Event Designers (or Stylists). Over the last few years we’ve seen Designers being hired for wedding, corporate, and social events because more and more today’s clients truly desire to make their event a one-of-a-kind experience that reflects who they are. They also want their events to be custom, cohesive, well thought out, done right, and not a waste of time or money. Designers develop every aspect of the visual design plan, scenery experience, and managing the smooth, worry-free production of an event's look. It goes well beyond a bunch of "pretty things" and a centerpiece. Designing can extend EVERYTHING your guests see from the stationary and signage, furniture and props, ceiling décor and room lighting, linens & table accents, rentals, and more.

Since 2006, Vivid Expressions LLC has created artistic and bespoke experiences for each our clients. Starting with learning every element of your personal love story, likes, dislikes, style, and what makes it all uniquely you. We then present you with original artwork depicting the rooms and elements of your event designs such as bouquets, boutonnieres, ceremony site, table-scapes, reception room, and so on for your approval. Finally, our team will custom create floral designs, acquire and manage your décor, and execute the production of "bringing your art to life" on the day of your event.

Why should you consider hiring an Event Designer or Stylist?

An Event Designer is right for you if:

  • The look, décor, and environments you want you (and your guests) to experience is an extremely important element of your wedding or event.

  • You are overwhelmed with hundreds of ideas and images (from magazines, blogs, television shows, etc.) and you want the look to be cohesive, personal, stylish, and beautiful... not a messy cluster of homemade madness.

  • You have strong organizational skills or have hired a professional Planner for the organization and logistics but want a creative professional's skills, resources, manpower, and insight to insure beautiful results.

What an Event Designer Does:

  • Can typically spend 25 to 80 hours on pre-wedding/event service production work

  • May work in collaboration and coordinate with other vendors as needed

  • Develops concise event design concepts and strategic plan

  • Budget development, management and maximization.

  • May provide visual aids including sketches, floor plans, mock-ups, etc. to develop designs and layout

  • Provides (or sources) design events (including Flowers, Linens, Rentals, etc.)

  • May outsource and manage specialty services/products such as props, equipment and lighting

  • May create a written plan and distribute document(s) to their team and related vendors

  • Conducts site visit for needs assessment including delivery, restrictions, and structural requirements

  • May manage on-site production, installation, and de-installation (including breakdown and removal) related to decor set-up

What an Event Designer may not … but can sometimes be added:

  • Does not necessarily act as Event Planner or Coordinator (although some offer Planning and Coordinating referrals or "add-on services")

  • Does not typically coordinate Non-Design Related Vendors (example: Officiant, Limousine Driver, etc.) unless otherwise offered

  • Is not responsible for the creation or implementation of the overall Event Timeline (just adherence to timely production of design responsibilities)

Still not sure? Don’t panic. I’ve put together a complimentary guide to give you a breakdown of which professional does what so you can see which type could help you the best. Learn more at http://www.vividexpressions.com/guide

The bottom line is, no two couples are the same and neither are their weddings. Your “personal planning style” and what make the process great for you may be just as unique. Remember, the key is to find the right professional to you and give your planning experience that’s right for you.

Happy planning!

Tags Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia, Norfolk Photographer, Wedding Photographer, Wedding DJ, Virginia Beach Bride, Husband and Wife, Vows, First Dance, Wedding Music, Wedding Planner, Special love, Virginia Wedding, Wedding Dress, Music, Fun, Excitement, Love, Tuxedos, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Maid of Honor, Best Man, Dancing, Laughing, Veil, Bow tie, Tie, Garter, Bouquet Toss, Vivid Expressions, Wedding Planner, Coordinator, Designer, guide, helpful tips and tricks, centerpieces

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