Blissfully Engaged: Wedding Dream Team--The Wedding Planner

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Happy Wednesday Brides! 

For the next few weeks, I'm sharing my process for hiring your wedding dream team. I'm so excited to start this week with what you should look for when hiring your Wedding Planner.  In order to get the most out of your wedding planner, they should be one of your first vendors you hire, especially if you're hoping for the full service experience.  (If you already know exactly what venue you want with no questions asked, you can book your venue first, but your planner is going to be helpful making those decisions too!)

There are multiple categories of Wedding Planners, so make sure that when you hire yours, you're asking the right questions and making the right decision for you.  Most of my brides hire me because they want to simplify the planning process and they want a stress free day.  They don't want their friends and family members to have to work on their wedding day.  Instead, they want to focus on the celebration, knowing that I'll make sure that every detail is in place for their big day.  

The Full Service Planner and Designer

My services fall under this category! This kind of planner is perfect for the bride who wants a custom wedding design, full service planning, styling, and coordination on their big day.  With my full service brides, I usually spend 150+ hours planning each event.  Full Services planners help you narrow down your vision, book your vendors, design your ceremony and reception, and will be there on your big day to coordinate vendors, run your timeline, and style your event.  I chose this category for my business because it was really important to me to be able to work with brides from the beginning of the process.  It's also so important to me that brides get to enjoy their day without worrying about a thing.  The mother of the bride or the best friend shouldn't have to be running around solving problems or decorating on the day of the wedding.  That time should be spent making memories!  So, sit back, relax, and sip champagne. You Full Service planner has it covered!

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The Decorator

Sometimes when you use Google and search for Wedding Planner, there will be companies who focus on rentals and decor that pop up in your search.  These planners are great and usually have a big inventory for decor.  They're also usually very helpful with coming up with your design plan.  But, these kinds of wedding planners don't usually help you source other vendors, offer contract review, or provide coordination on your big day.  This is the perfect choice for you if you rent all of your decor, linens, and other set up items from them and you have limited other vendors.  You'll still need to assign a few friends or family members to help set up and make sure everything looks like you planned.

The Day of Coordinator

I used to offer a day of coordination package, but after my first season, I realized it didn't fit within the client experience I wanted to offer.  But, it can still be really helpful for the bride who's budget doesn't quite allow for a full planner. They're also a great addition to package if you hire a decorator.  A day of coordinator usually jumps into your planning process 30 days out from your wedding and starts by reaching out to all of your contracted vendors.  They'll review the vendor contracts to make sure they know what each vendor is providing, when they'll arrive, and how long each task will take.  They'll put together a timeline for you and will be there on the day of to make sure everything goes as planned.  Some coordinators offer styling as well and will decorate for your ceremony and reception with all items you provide to them. 

The Venue Coordinator

Some venues have a coordinator that will be there on your big day to help out, but make sure you understand their responsibilities before dismissing the need to hire an independent planner as well.  Most venue coordinators are there in case of emergency.  They work with the venue staff and are good at directing your vendors of where to set up (they know where outlets are or the best place for the buffet to go), but they don't help decorate.  They also don't have your vendor's contracts on hand, so if your florist shows up with 5 centerpieces and you ordered 8, they usually aren't going to take the initiative to find a solution.  I highly recommend that you hire an independent planner to assist with your process to allow you to relax on your big day knowing everything is taken care of. If you're working with an all inclusive venue (they provide the DJ, Flowers, Decor, and Photographer) you may only need the venue coordinator.  Just make sure that you are aware of everything they provide! 

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Now that we've covered the different types, here are some questions to ask the planner when you get ready to hire them:

  • What services do you provide?
    • Almost every planner offers a slightly different mix of tasks in their packages.  Make sure you read over their contract and ask questions.  Be prepared that although planners do everything they can to help on your wedding day, but they can't do EVERYTHING.  Most planners don't offer heavy lifting or dangerous tasks because of the liability involved. They also don't usually offer clearing the tables, taking out the trash, or cleaning the venue.  But, if your planner is the first vendor you hire, they'll know to source vendors that offer the tasks that they don't.  
       
  • Will you be the planner that is there on my wedding day? 
    • Some big companies have a team of multiple planners and you may work with a lead planner throughout your whole process and then have someone else there on your big day.
       
  • What types of experience do you have with wedding planning?
    • I'm still a new wedding planner, so I definitely encourage you to consider newer vendors, but make sure that they meet the requirements that I outlined last week!  Make sure that they are aware of the tasks that they need to complete and have these tasks outlined in their contract.  If a newer planner is serious about their business they should have worked on photo shoots, worked with experienced planners, or worked with some brides at a lower price to gain experience. If a planner doesn't have any of these, I would suggest looking for other planners.  
       
  • Do you have insurance? 
    • This is so important!  Make sure that your planner is covered to protect both you and them!  If the planner is hurt while under contract doing a task for your wedding day, they should have insurance to cover this.  Make sure that you're not liable!  
       
  • What is your process like?
    • Make sure you know what your planner's process is. They should be able to walk you through a general plan for the next few months before you sign with them.  You should have an very good idea of what is going to happen while working with the planner.  
       
  • Tell me about something that went wrong at a wedding and how you fixed it. 
    • Any planner who's worked more than one wedding should have at least one story for this question.  Even the most organized planner can run into mishaps. Here's one of my stories: One of my weddings, the bride ordered corsages and boutonnieres for the family members.  She had two dads and two step dads, all who were going to be walking down the aisle during the special seating during the ceremony.  The step mom received a corsage, but the step dads didn't receive boutonnieres.  To avoid issues, I pulled roses from the centerpieces and made two boutonnieres for the step dads with my hot glue gun and ribbon I had in my emergency kit.  I got them pinned on and ready to go before group pictures.  
       
  • How will you make my wedding special? 
    • Your planner should be on your side throughout the entire process.  Their goal should be to create YOUR day. They should be helping to choose vendors that work with your vision and your budget.  They should be supporting your ideas and coming up with ways to make them even better. They should help source decor that matches your style and coming up with ways to creatively stretch your budget.  They should want to create a GENUINE event that's based off of YOUR idea of a perfect day and help create details that match that.  
       
  • Do you work with preferred vendors?  If so, do you receive any benefit from me booking them? This is a tricky question, but I believe it is one you should ask.  Some planners work closely with other vendors and if you book with a preferred vendor, the planner receives a booking incentive.  This isn't always a bad thing, usually planners only have a preferred vendor list if they absolutely LOVE working with that vendor and they really value that vendor's work.  But...make sure that the planner isn't being selfish and is really recommending the vendors that are the best choice for YOU. I personally pass any vendor discounts directly to my clients.  I have my favorite vendors that I love to work with because I really believe in their services, but if that vendor isn't a good fit for my client, I would never recommend them.  

I hope that this post was helpful and really made you think about what you want in your wedding planner. If your budget allows for it, I really suggest considering a planner because you will have so much less to stress about on your big day.  You deserve a day to relax and celebrate!

 

Cheers!  Lindsay

 

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