Monday, February 22, 2010

Are you a planner or designer? And what's the difference?

On a daily basis I receive phone calls from brides looking for a "wedding planner" or Bar Mitzvah moms looking for a "party planner" or companies looking for an "event planner." About three times a year, though, I get a call looking for a designer. What I find most interesting is that almost no one who contacts me is actually 100% sure of what they are looking for and what a planner of any sort will do for them. So, to help you (and a little bit to help me) I thought I'd do my best to break through the barrier of confusion.

The super-mega-star in the event world, Preston Bailey, just posted an amazing article on his blog addressing the difference between event/wedding planning, design and production and as I too have been wanting to address this for so long, I thought I'd take his lead and help spread the word. So, let me start by defining the three major roles in the independent event biz (meaning not relevant to in-house or corporate event jobs): Design, Production and Planning.

Design: Related to all visual decor elements including, but not limited to, lighting, linens, flowers, table settings, staging, fabric, food presentation and printed materials. This is sometimes called styling (I am a fan of this word as I feel that is has a more accessible tone to it).

Production: After the design is developed, it needs to be produced. This entails everything from arranging the flowers to purchasing the candles and hanging fabric to building backdrops. It is the labor element related to events and what takes them from fantasy to reality.

Planning: The logistical and organizational aspects of events are all planning tasks. Selecting vendors, negotiating contracts, making timelines, setting appointments, etc. Great planning is what makes a party tick because it doesn't matter how beautiful it looks if it is disorganized or lacks flow.

Now, you may be wondering, what do you do, Lindsay? Well... thanks for asking. I am a designer. I dream up all of the ideas for the flowers, colors, lighting effects, charger plates, napkin folds and invitation motifs. I specialize in what I call complete environmental design - so, unlike a traditional retail florist or decorator, I focus on the complete picture of the event starting from save the dates and bridesmaid dresses right through to favor packaging and hotel gifts.

Why this may be confusing for some of you reading this who are thinking... "gosh, I always thought Lindsay was a planner," is because I did, in fact, start my business in 2001 as a planning company. For the first 4 years I was in business, I did planning almost exclusively, but toward the end of 2005/beginning of 2006 I began to transform my planning-only business to include design services as well. At that point, though, there were so few event designers and the term was rarely used, so I stuck with planner and just told people that I also worked on decor once they were in my office!

Now, however, Lindsay Landman Events is a full-service design shop with our own amazing team of artists who support my visions and who lead my production. The great benefit, though, of my many years of experience as a planner, is that I have trained my team to plan events as I always have so that our clients can benefit from having both planning and design services under one roof.

Thanks, Preston, for helping me get this blog post started (oh, and also for being the pioneer of the event design world - smile, wink!). I would love to hear from any readers out there about what you think I can do to eliminate the planner/designer confusion. Ideas?

Until next time,


  1. Wow this is fantastic. Thank you for clarifying this for me. As an artist, I thought coming up with great wedding would be easy. Alas, it's not my forte. My fiance and I are hoping to have our wedding this fall in NYC. Although I've done a bit of research, I'm totally confused and a tad overwhelmed. Maybe we should chat!

  2. Thanks, Chris. And congrats on your engagement! I'd love to talk any time.