Event Planners


To hire or not to hire? That is the question.

“Hiring an event planner is an investment in the success of your event,” says Anthony Navarro, founder of Liven It Up. With a background in food and beverage operations, he and his team think about timing every component of the party, corporate event or wedding to ensure a success. “We become the CEO of your party or wedding,” he explains.

Event planners think on their feet and handle issues so no guest has any idea there was even a problem, according to Mr. Navarro. He remembers the fundraiser at an airplane hanger, where a private jet was to be featured as part of the décor. “The jet was scheduled to be there at 10am; it arrived at 4:30pm. We had to move everything to get the jet into the hanger. We were hanging fabric, moving lights, tables and chairs and set ups and running out the side doors as the event started at 6pm. No one knew but us.”

While Kelly Cavanaugh of Clementine Custom Events manages elaborate weddings from start to finish, she understands bridal budget concerns and offers a two-hour boot camp, Slice of Clementine, for brides who’ve already done the advanced planning of their wedding. The one-on-one session gives the bride-to-be the chance to ask any question of a Clementine Custom Events professional to ensure perfection.

Bethany Fritz/Maypole Studios Photography Liven It Up

Bethany Fritz/Maypole Studios Photography
Liven It Up

The boot camp bride’s biggest issue is timing. “The bride has made all the fun decisions about her dress, flowers, venue, makeup and hair, but not about getting to and from all the places she needs to be. There are many moving parts.” That said, many ‘boot camp’ brides also decide to book Clementine Custom Events for ‘Day of Event’ coordination. “We don’t just show up the day of, but we study the event and get to know the bride’s vendors so we can take over and manage the wedding day,” she says.

Melissa Kirby likes the way Event Creative, a full service event production company, serves as a one-stop shop for clients and agencies working with corporate clients. “Because we have an expansive offering of all departments under one roof (floral, lighting, AV, fabric, furniture, et cetera), we can work with our clients’ budgets and allocate resources to make sure we’re getting them the most bang for their buck and ensure all elements will work together.”

With social media such as Pinterest instantly communicating new ideas and the impact of the ‘wow factor’ hiring a professional party planner brings, expectations have been raised for every type of event according to Debi Lilly, founder of A Perfect Event. She has modernized her 20-year old company to embrace the growth in DIY event planning, offering tips, tricks and selling components of event planning through her eMagazine and book along with providing full service event planning and management.

“Having a backup plan and staying in the moment are keys to handling the inevitable party stress,” shares Ms. Lilly. “With hundreds of details for every event, things can go wrong.” All you have to do is adopt the event planner’s approach of staying calm and thinking quickly.

Bethany Fritz/Maypole Studios Photography
Liven It Up

Justin Jacobson takes pride in leaving ‘no stone unturned’ in translating corporate vision into reality. His award-winning firm, Platinum Events is taking corporate conferences into the future by stimulating the senses of the conference-goers to keep them engaged. Leading an event production company, Mr. Jacobson relies on a talented staff and resources under one roof.  “We have the expertise and capability to do it all,” he says.

For example, Platinum Events transformed the environment for a technology conference by creating a Matrix ’movie set.’ Using lighting, numeric codes and giant plasma screens, as well as futuristic décor, conference goers recognized that this was no ordinary meeting, giving the content much more impact. “Corporations are willing to spend more to have impact,” explains Mr. Jacobson. “They’ve weathered the recession and want to convey to their employees that they’re doing well and are here to stay.”

From weddings to corporate gatherings and social affairs, event planners and event production companies are taking their game up a notch, truly setting a new standard. So to answer the question, “To hire or not hire?” We say hire.

Main Image: A Perfect Event


About Karen Kane

Karen Kane, former senior vice president and board secretary of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, writes frequently on leadership and provides corporate communication services to organizations. She was Lifestyle Editor of the Houston Chronicle and a member of senior management for two Chicago firms. A NACD Governance Fellow, she is author of the book Voices of Governance: Why Oversight Is Important to All of Us.