Hello, I hope everyone had a lovely sunny weekend?
I’ve been in two minds about writing this blog post because as I’m a wedding planner myself, I’m worried this will come across as a purely promotional opportunity for my own services. However after chatting to several brides in consultations recently and hearing all about their friends and family members horror stories from mismanaged and stressful wedding days, I’ve decided it’s actually my duty to help educate couples on why it really is important that you hire a wedding planner!
There are lots of articles about this out there on the web, especially in the US where planners are more mainstream than here in the UK. They all basically say this… you’ll invest a huge chunk of your budget on a great photographer to capture all the special moments and your carefully chosen details, you’ll hire a florist to create beautiful floral displays and bouquets, spend additional funds on sweet little favours, apportion some of your budget towards a creative guest book display, and extra ££’s on extending the opening hours of your bar…. but when it comes to hiring a professional wedding planner to pull together all of those details you invested so much time and money on so that your day runs smoothly and stress free….. instead you decide to spend your own wedding worrying or hand over the reigns to a well meaning (or even reluctant) Aunt/Mum/Sister.
Also, since this is where lots of industry folk and couples get confused, I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify that there is actually a huge difference between an in house venue co-ordinator and an independent wedding planner. More on that later.
So here starts the education folks….
What is the difference between a “wedding planner” and “wedding co-ordinator”?
They are basically the same thing. What you need to be aware of is the difference between “on-the-day co-ordination” and other more comprehensive planning and styling services.
On the day co-ordination usually begins a few weeks before the wedding date which means the couple has done most of the legwork themselves – finding suppliers, coming up with a theme and managing their own budget etc. A planners role for this “on the day” service is to create comprehensive schedules and itineraries, liaise with suppliers, problem solve, and generally be the main point of contact for the actual wedding day by overseeing and pulling together all of those details that the bride and groom have spent months, even years, planning. Basically this service puts you in control of the whole planning process but allows you, your wedding party and your guests to enjoy the big day without the stress by employing someone else to do the hard work while you enjoy every moment with family and friends.
If you are thinking about hiring a wedding planner then you should be aware that they can go far and beyond supporting you on just the day of the wedding. A planner often works with a couple for up to a year before the big day helping with everything from bespoke design and theme creation, budget management, advice on stationery and RSVP management, individual supplier recommendations based on style and budget, contract negotiation and co-ordination of everything from start to fnish. Wedding planners are a great option for couples that want assurance that they are hiring reliable suppliers, who want to ensure that they get the most they can within budget, or simply have a demanding and busy lifestyle with work and family commitments.
A wedding planner is there for you….their boss is YOU. Some people worry that they will start to make decisions for you or take away the fun of planning, but in truth they are simply there to help you make informed decisions and to make sure everything is pulled together perfectly, holding your hand along the way.
I’m on a really tight budget, so there is no way I could afford a wedding planner!
Have a good look at your total budget and how much money you are spending elsewhere, it really does surprise me how many couples decide not to put aside anything for a wedding planner who will be able to co-ordinate all those other “essential” suppliers and take care of every little detail on the day.
In reality a planner can save you time and money!
We have excellent relationships with suppliers and venues since we work on multiple weddings and locations each year, and we can help you put together a realistic budget based on our inside knowledge on what you should expect to pay (and make sure you have realistic expectations), discover where your priorities are and help make sure you don’t overspend. In fact, the money and time you save from hiring a planner might actually be greater than the total cost of the planner. Which is pretty awesome really.
PHOTO CREDIT: MOTIF PHOTOGRAPHY
I have a great network of family and friends who are all willing to help us out on the day
Brilliant! Everyone needs people like this on their team. However unless you have a family member who is a professional event planner, it may not be as smooth sailing as you think it will be. Often these key people will be totally preoccupied with socialising, having one too many glasses of champagne, swooning over your wedding dress, taking hundreds (literally, hundreds) of photos, and generally won’t be totally focused on all the small and important details that will make the whole day run smoothly. They won’t be aware of problems behind the scenes and important last minute decisions, and they won’t have a phone book full of supplier contacts just in case one does let you down last minute.
I have an in house wedding co-ordinator at my venue and together with the catering manager they have assured me that I don’t need to hire a wedding planner.
Ok so it’s no secret that this is one of the most frequently heard statements that really frustrates me! What you need to know is this: in house wedding co-ordinators at a venue exist because they are hired by the venue to maintain and manage the venue only (i.e. food, linen hire, bar staff etc.). Sure, some of them are tasked with making sure their clients are also happy, but no matter what extras they promise they can help with, when push comes to shove they work for the venue and not for you. Their main and ultimate goal (quite rightly) is to make sure that the venue and it’s provisions run smoothly. So if you turn up and all your floral displays are wrong and the guests can’t figure out where they are supposed to sit because the seating plan never arrived, don’t look at the in house co-ordinator to help you out because they won’t have been part of the planning process beforehand. They won’t know the background to your design scheme, or the family politics between divorced parents, or the fact that you wanted your table next to the main window, or…. I think I’ve made my point!
I should say that there are some fabulous in house wedding co-ordinators (and catering managers) who go above and beyond their call of duty. But I can’t think of one who offers the services that an independent wedding planner can provide from start to finish. The best of them know the value of a great wedding planner and will work together as a fabulous team to make sure couples have a perfect day.
And do be aware of venue supplier preferences – just because they personally rate them doesn’t mean they also suit your style or fit your budget… and some supplier recommendation lists haven’t been reviewed in quite some time!
Surely my wedding suppliers should be trusted to turn up and do a good job anyway?
Have a word with some of your suppliers on this one, I bet you that more times than not, they will agree that there is a huge difference between a wedding with a planner on board vs. one without, or even one with only an in house wedding co-ordinator. Not only are the finishing touches and design usually executed with more precision, but also the flow of the event will be smoother and communication between the various suppliers will start earlier and be consistent.
An example would be if the bride arrives late (perhaps the car broke down or she got lipstick on her dress). This means the whole day is pushed back and every single supplier is affected. So a planner can liaise early with everyone, speak to the catering team and try to pull things back on time by having a shorter reception, informing the MC about the change of plan, and if necessary letting the evening band now they might be on a bit for the first dance.
A wedding planner will make both your life and suppliers lives easier.
PHOTO CREDIT: JONATHAN WATKINS AT PHOTOGLOW
I love reading bridal magazines and following wedding blogs. I don’t want a planner to take away the fun of planning my own wedding!
You’re engaged! It’s exciting, and you’ve probably been dreaming of planning your wedding for quite a long time. You rush out to buy every wedding magazine on the shelf and make a note of every inspiring wedding blog on the web in the mission to collect all the resources which will help to plan your big day. You join pinterest and open up a whole new world of inspiring ideas and cute ways to make your wedding totally unique.
However, even for the seasoned party planner, it can quickly get overwhelming and stressful trying to narrow down your own personal style, and finding relevant suppliers that can deliver that within budget. I can’t count the number of brides who’ve contacted me having become worn out with having to make so many decisions on their own, so much so that the process is no longer fun for them or their husband to be.
Wedding planners don’t have the strong emotional connection that you do to the planning process, and can show you the resources and suppliers that best fit your needs so that you can actually enjoy the planning process until the very end. They can offer advice on etiquette and take away the guess work on finding suppliers who are reliable and trustworthy. A planner is also a great unbiased mediator in tricky family situations.
PHOTO CREDIT: JONATHAN WATKINS AT PHOTOGLOW
A wedding planner has all the right connections, acts as an experienced sounding board for decisions, is often used as a mediator, even a therapist, and your personal all round stress reducer. They exist to make sure that your big day is everything you dreamed of, and more!
For more information on wedding planning, styling & co-ordination services in the Cotswolds, check out my website and contact me for a free initial consultation.