Finding people to work as wedding day assistants on the day of your clients' wedding isn't difficult.
Finding an assistant with the right skills needed for the job, however, is another matter.
Start your search for wedding day assistants early on so that you can take the time needed to train the right person. Students from local colleges studying event management or business are a good resource and may be able to obtain course credit by working with you. (Check with the internship coordinator for requirements and restrictions.)
1. Keep a file of interested ‘wanna be' wedding planners.
No doubt you've received calls and emails from aspiring wedding planners. Instead of turning them away, ask them to send you a resume and let them know that you'll keep their info on file for future events. This way when you're looking for a wedding day assistant, you'll have a file of resumes to review.
2. Know what your needs are before interviewing.
Take some time and think about what you're looking for in a wedding day assistant. Write your needs down on paper and keep it in front of you as you're interviewing. If you are picking up signs or other indications that leave you feeling doubtful, pay attention to them! Be sure to stress that most weddings take place on weekends and that you'll need assistants to also be available on Fridays for rehearsals.
3. Present situations and listen to feedback.
You can tell a lot about a person when you present a ‘what if' situation. Think of a few less-than-ideal wedding-day scenarios (the florist is a no-show, for example) and during the interview present one or two of them and see what type of response you get. While experience is wonderful, don't discredit lack of experience if the candidate thinks quickly on his or her feet and is willing and eager to learn.
4. Be prepared to pay.
Many assistants will work for the experience alone, but you should be prepared to pay assistants for their time. An experienced assistant can command upwards of $20 (US) an hour. Some planners pay a flat fee for wedding day assistance (my personal preference); a rate of $100 for the day is a starting point. Build your wedding day assistants' pay into your planning package fees. My package prices are based on a maximum of 150 guests. I add the fee of any additional assistants I need to the package price if the guest count increases. One assistant per 100 guests is a good rule of thumb.
5. Be specific about your expectations
Create an itemized list of what you expect of your assistant on the day of your client's wedding. Specify:
- the dress code (in detail!),
- the time s/he needs to arrive in order to prepare for the event,
- client confidentiality requirements, etc.
And then have each wedding day assistant read and sign the document.
6. Have wedding day assistants sign a non-compete agreement.
To prevent your potential assistants from taking your trade secrets and starting a wedding company of their own or working for a competitor, have her sign a non-compete agreement as a condition of working for you. With the guidance of your attorney, a non-compete clause can specify that an assistant is not permitted to start their own company within a certain amount of time of working for you (for example, 18 months) or restricts them from operating their own company within a certain radius of your place of business (for example, a 50-mile radius). Refusal to sign a non-compete is reason enough not to hire someone.
There's no way of knowing everything you should ask a potential wedding day assistant. In order to make the right decisions, you have to take a chance. Tell candidates what you want from them (or what you think you want), but at the end of the day, you're really only taking a chance. If it works out, great! But if not, analyze it, and the next time, as you gain experience, you'll make a better decision.