Everything You Need to Know Before Saying “I Do” to the Right Wedding Planner
Oct 25, 2013 05:55PM
● By Anonymous
What exactly do they do?
With your budget and expectations in mind, a planner can design and organize your entire nuptial celebration, from the bridal shower to the honeymoon, or simply put you into contact with reputable wedding vendors. On either end of the spectrum, the real value in a planner is this: They save you time, energy, and sometimes even money, with their experience, relationships with quality vendors, and cost-efficient timelines and approaches for planning a wedding. They can assist with venue selections, and introduce you to vendors, from makeup artists to limousine services, stylists to stationers, deejays to dessert companies, floral designers to photographers—even interior decorators for the bride who dreams of an extravagantly themed wedding. Many planners attend vendor meetings and review contracts with you before the big day, and on it, they tend to the bride and groom, oversee smooth transitions, and deal with emergencies. The bottom line: making sure you feel like a guest at your own wedding—on budget and over expectations.
Considering the different types of services and the unique needs of each bride, there’s a variety of customizable packages available in wedding planning services. While it’s difficult to generalize, we’ve created a list of common packages.
The wedding planner takes care of everything from start to finish. They organize your budget, attend meetings and negotiate contracts, execute your wedding theme—from invitations to bridesmaid dresses—coordinate the rehearsal dinner and bridal shower, teach wedding etiquette, make hotel arrangements for guests, offer onsite, day-of support with additional assistants, and plan your honeymoon.
Month of Package:
This “middle of the road” package is a common and highly customizable option that—despite its name—generally begins even before the month of. Depending on your needs, planners may assist with organizing a budget, meet with you several times before the wedding to understand your visions, outline a month-of timeline, direct the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception, and ensure everything goes smoothly.
Day of Package:
Like the “month of” package, this one also typically begins even before the day of, and is popular and modifiable, just a little less intense. Planners meet with you before the wedding to review all contracts, tie up any loose ends, and organize a day of timeline. They’ll be onsite on the wedding day to monitor everything.
A La Carte Package:
This is for the bride that just needs one or two services, such as help finding a venue or directing vendors on the big day.
So how do I find the right wedding planner for me?
Start by browsing the websites of legitimate bridal planning associations for lists of local wedding and event planners—this ensures that you choose from a pool of experienced professionals whose work has been recognized. Often, portfolios of past planned weddings are available on the planners’ sites to help you get a feel for them.
It’s in your best interests to stay local—this will make all meetings and future contact that much easier, especially when it gets down to wedding crunch time, and it will also ensure that the planner’s rolodex of relationships includes local vendors.
When you’ve found a few planners you like and you’re ready to set up the first consultation, consider the following information and arrive prepared:
Budget. Planners base their recommendations and decisions off this, so in order for them to do their job the best they can, it’s helpful to have an idea of yours.
Guest count. Wedding planners know which venues and vendors work best with which size weddings, so having an estimate right off the bat is advantageous to both of you.
A date. This dictates all future contracts and timelines.
Now let’s talk about what information you should be getting from the planner:
• What bridal associations are they affiliated with, and what credentials/licenses do they have in event planning?
• How many weddings do they usually handle at a time, and how many will they be handling during the planning of yours? It’s great to hire a planner in high demand, but too many other clients may take away the focus from your wedding.
• Do they have a portfolio you can look at, other than the one online?
• What sorts of themes/venues have they dealt with most or do they consider their specialty?
• Do they offer both logistical and design planning, or will they be referring to other designers to help with décor?
• Do they have certain vendors in mind already for the tentative vision you’ve given them, and do they have favored vendors that give them discounts?
• Take note: Are they asking questions about you and your fiancée to get a feel for you two as a couple? You want someone who will make it their goal to cater to your tastes as a couple and not push their own style on you.
• Was their response to your prospective budget positive?
• Did they provide tangible and reasonable fees? Some planners wait until they’re hired and a contract is drawn up to give exact numbers, but an estimate never hurts.
• Overall, did you and your husband-to-be “click” with them? Did communication feel relaxed and effortless?
After contemplating all of this, consider asking the planner for references of past clients. Speaking to brides who’ve worked with the planner before is always helpful, and most planners are prepared to refer you to former clients. When you’re ready to hire your wedding planner, relax, let them do their job, and enjoy the day you’ll remember forever.
7 Things Wedding Planners Do That You Haven’t Thought of Yet:
Prepare an emergency kit. Fashion tape, extra heels, hair spray, nail glue—you name it, they’re ready to prevent any potential disaster.
Carry all the wedding gifts and cards to your car (or other prearranged location) at the end of the night before you ride off into the sunset.
Call a taxi for guests who may have had a little too much fun.
Count all of the (very dirty) napkins and linens before returning them to the rental company.
Be a neutral, mediating third party to inevitable family drama…sometimes whether they like it or not.
Teach etiquette for all things wedding related—how much red wine is enough, and is this bridesmaid dress too revealing?
Tell you when to cut the cake. A planner is an expert in wedding transitions, and knows the appropriate time to start the cocktail hour, seat guests, serve dinner, and make toasts.