“Oh, I don’t need a wedding planner”
“I cannot afford a wedding planner”
“My mother/aunt/best friend is helping me plan”
I hear these words regularly from couples, and the first two are typically not true. Having a family member or friend help you plan might be fun, but when wedding day comes that person will not get to enjoy the festivities, if they are doing they are stuck helping.
Newly engaged couples need wedding planning help and often times, the help they receive is from well-meaning family and friends. This planning team usually overwhelms the couple with their personal opinions, which may or may not include any useful or accurate information.
Unless you have an open check in regards to what you will spend on your big day, the single most important item to plan is your budget, even if it is just a basic outline. If you start shopping or booking vendors without establishing priorities and cost researching, then you could end up not having enough money to buy the things that you later realize you really want or need.
One of my favorite tales about the wedding budget is a client that I had many years back. We met for our first consultation, and I asked her the basics, such as how many guests, desired venue, and of course the budget. She told me they had 350 guests and wanted a very upscale meal. I asked what her budget was and she told me $20,000. This is how our conversation went:
Wedding Planner: Have you spent any of your budget yet?
Adorable Bride (giddy with excitement): Yes! I bought my dress!
Wedding Planner: Does your dress come out of your budget?
Adorable Bride: Yes, it does. It was $9800.
Wedding Planner: …..quietly sitting and processing this information…
This bride had spent HALF of her budget on her dress! Having an advance plan and a professional planner on your team, eliminates problems like this, and that is the main reason to hire a planner. Planners have the answer. If they don’t, they know who does.
Booking your vendors is the biggest part of wedding planning. While it is an important part, it is by far the easiest part, especially if you have planned your budget. Planners can make this part easy on you by referring professional vendors, reviewing your contracts for accuracy, finding the appropriate vendor in your price point. Those are all things that you could do yourself if you have the time to locate, research, price compare, check referrals, and meet with these vendors. The hard part comes when you have to start combining all the moving parts into one well-oiled machine. For a typical wedding, in just the seven days leading up to the wedding, through the day after the wedding, a planner will field 220 emails, 95 phone calls, and 400 text messages. This can be overwhelming for couples or a family friend, but as a planner, I have the answers that everyone needs.
All couples have heard wedding horror stories. Truthfully, if anything goes wrong at a wedding it is due to lack of communication. Some of the biggest mistakes that couples make are:
Not hiring a professional, experienced, reputable, vendor. It is alright if you do not have the budget to hire A-List vendors. I suggest making a list of all the major categories and prioritizing them. Spend more on the items you rank highest and do the best you can with the others.
Putting too many people in charge. On your wedding day, there should be one person in charge, one point of contact for all vendors, and it should not be you or the groom. This is the day that you should be enjoying time with all of your friends and family, not answering phone calls or trying to figure out how to get power to the coffee pots.
Relying on vendors to correct problems that they did not create. Honestly, most wedding vendors will bend over backwards to make your day special and will do anything they can to help you, should an emergency occur. However, you should not rely on them and assume that they will address issues on the wedding day that are really not their job. This is where a planner can be very helpful.
If you want to hire your perfect wedding planner and designer, here are a few questions that you should ask:
What is your wedding planning background?
Your wedding day is important and experience counts. This does not mean that you cannot hire a planner new to the industry. If your budget is limited, then this may be a better fit. Be sure to confirm that they at least have a mentor available to them that they can rely on for assistance. You rely on them for their expertise, experience, and connections so learning about their background is important.
How much of the planning process will you assume?
This will usually depend on the package you choose. It is all about the time and energy you expect the planner to put toward the event. Usually the earlier/more involved in the planning, the more expensive/larger the package.
Do you offer any perks?
Most planners have perks that can save you money. Often you’ll save enough money on perks that it covers the cost of the planning services. Many vendors offer planners discounts to book weddings, which they’ll pass directly to their clients. Some have a collection of wedding décor available, free of charge, and create custom items at the cost of supplies only.
One of the biggest misconceptions is a venue will advertise that they have a wedding planner on site and it is included in their fees. There are exceptions, but this is typically not true. Some venues have a catering manager, logistics manager, wedding coordinator, or someone helping you in some capacity. If you truly want to know if you have a wedding planner with your venue package, you should ask them questions, such as:
· Will you make our fitting appointments?
· Will you come with me to my floral consultation?
· Will you create a custom guest book for us?
· Will you create my invitations for me?
· What do I do if my mom and my step mom do not want to sit near each other?
· Do I put my gift registry invitation in my invitations?
Chances are, if the answer is “no” to all or any of these questions, you do not have a wedding planner, you have a venue or catering manager. A venue or catering manager works for the venue and the venue’s best interest, while still trying to provide good customer service. Your wedding planner works solely for you and your best interests.
I would love to say that a wedding planner is an absolute necessity, but it is not. However, if one of your biggest priorities is enjoying the day with your family and friends, and making sure your guests have an amazing experience, then having a planner to walk you through the process is a sound investment.