Event design is such a relative term. There isn’t a set way of doing event design and if you asked 100 event planners how they do design, you would get 100 different answers. Event design means working with clients to create the overall look, feel, and style of the wedding or event. This includes everything from inspiration boards and Pinterest to table design mock-ups, renderings, and full design presentations involving many hours of preparation.
Generally, there are two ways to offer event design as a professional planner:
1) In-house Design, Services & Vendors
In this scenario, the planning company provides all of the design-related services under their company name. They take the responsibility of rentals, linens, flowers, decor, lighting, and more under their own business. Often, these services are subcontracted through other businesses in addition to what the planning company offers with their own staff.
In this situation, it appears to the client that the planning company is doing all of the design-related work and services. The planning company has more control over the design and resources in this case but also has the full liability for anything that goes wrong with all of these elements. They also take on much more financial and legal responsibility by subcontracting these services. This can be more profitable for the planning company since they mark up the subcontracted services and charge more for taking on such a big responsibility.
2) In-house Design, Outsourced Vendors
A simpler option that many wedding and event planners offer is event design service where they work with clients to hire their decor vendors directly. In this situation, the client contracts and pays the lighting, linen, rental, floral, and decor vendors instead of the planning company taking on this responsibility. The planning company has much less legal and financial responsibility in this situation. To charge for this service, event planners generally charge a flat rate, an hourly rate, or a percentage of the cost of the design-related vendors (rentals, linens, lighting, floral, etc.).
All levels of wedding and event planners handle event design differently. There are celebrity event planners who work in the first structure and always provide everything under their company name. On the other hand, there are very successful event planners who work under the second structure and help the clients contract directly with their design-related vendors. Some wedding and event planners use a combination of these structures. There are also planners who have their own inventory of design and decor related items for weddings and events.
There is no right or wrong way to offer event design. Consider what works for you, how comfortable you feel with each scenario, and how much responsibility and control makes sense for your business. As your business evolves and grows, you may evaluate and change the way you offer event design. Or, you may decide that you only want to offer planning services, not design.