Why a Wedding Planner?
Just as people seek professional expertise to help them through other big days: an accountant for tax day; a real estate agent for buying your first home; an Ob/Gyn and midwife to help prepare for that due date; a couple’s wedding day is a momentous occasion, a major investment and an event that most approach as novices.
Sticker shock, indecision, family pressure, logistical road blocks and time constraints are common stressors that couples face after the initial joy and excitement of getting engaged. How to navigate multiple locations; ceremony, cocktail, dinner and dancing? Where to acknowledge a lost loved one? When to have the first dance? How to word the invitations? Transportation? Hotel blocks? Getting married is not complicated: it is a decision between two people in love made into law; but having a wedding is about much more than that.
A wedding is a gift, a celebration, a custom, a rite…an EVENT with many details, big and small to negotiate. Planning a wedding takes time and effort.
A wedding planner can provide you with information on how to organize your ideas, what logistics to consider, how to create a budget, stay within the budget and get the best value within your budget, what questions to ask wedding professionals and much, much more. The wedding planner is a resource when it comes to etiquette, ritual, tradition and creativity
and a person whose experience, calm and professionalism can help create a stress free planning process in the months leading up to the wedding day.
Of course, there is some flexibility around what a Wedding Planner/Coordinator can offer.
Wedding Management, sometimes referred to as “Day-of” or “Month-of” coordination, includes services like:
•Vendor management and confirmation of finalized vendor contracts
•Development of a detailed itinerary for the wedding day
•Wedding rehearsal management
•Day-of coordination of wedding professionals, venue(s), family, wedding party, guests and couple
•Ceremony assistance: set up, program distribution, timing and cues
•Reception set-up: seating arrangement/name cards, guest sign-in, favors, etc.
•Reception direction: cuing speeches, dances, cake cutting, etc.
•Collaboration with other professionals, to ensure that the couple’s needs are met
•Securing of important items in a location prior to the end of the event
•Delivery of final payment and gratuities on the wedding day to vendors
Wedding Planning and/or Coordination Services, may also include the following, in addition to wedding management services:
•Recommendations of Wedding professionals
•Assistance in reviewing and negotiating wedding vendors contracts
•Wedding vendor coordination and management throughout the planning stages and wedding day
•Budget mindfulness and management
•Management of payment schedule
•Venue research for rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception sites
•Creative input and design assistance; color palette, decor, lighting, room layout, favors, etc.
•Ongoing meetings and site inspections with the couple or on the couple’s behalf
•Transportation, accommodation and activity recommendations for guests
•Timeline and ongoing task list leading up to wedding day
•Assist the couple with anything from straight forward “wedding management” to full-service coordination: engagement to honeymoon
A La Carte services are any that are added on top of an existing package and charged at an hourly rate. A couple might hire their planner, additionally, to deliver hotel welcome baskets, assemble favors or write up an itinerary of no-host activities available over the wedding weekend, for example.
On-Site Coordinators are provided by the venue and is often the primary contact at the wedding venue. However, this person’s role in working with or even communicating with the couple can vary dramatically. The “on-site coordinator” is different than an independent wedding planner in that:
1. An “on-site coordinator” is often regarded as interchangeable. At some venues the couple may be told the day before the wedding, that so-and-so will actually be acting as the
on-site contact for the day, instead of the person who has served as their main contact in the months leading up to their wedding.
2. An “on-site coordinator” may be in charge of multiple weddings at their venue per weekend, which can lead to less individualized care and attention and presumptions of the
“but we always put the gift table here” variety.
3. Perhaps most importantly, an “on-site coordinator” is responsible to their venue, first and the couple second.
A good “on-site coordinator” at the venue definitely has their place in the overall production of the wedding and they are often a pleasure for the independent wedding planner to collaborate with, but it’s important for the couple to understand what each of their roles are and how they will work in tandem on your wedding day.
A venue’s On-site coordinator will:
•provide a personalized tour of the venue
•provide a preferred vendor list of wedding professionals (however these lists do not always include the best wedding vendors and may include paid advertisements)
•act as a menu consultant for food and beverage selections (if this service is provided by the venue)
•outline all of the event items and ensure that these are communicated to the operational staff of the venue
•create an “estimate of charges” outlining the your financial commitments to the venue
•create a floor plan of the function space in order for the you to provide seating arrangements
•oversee the ceremony and reception set-up
•oversee venue operations
•be the on-site liaison between your wedding planner/coordinator and the venue staff
•review your numbers and details prior to completion of the final venue bill
An independent Wedding Planner/Coordinator will:
•assist with etiquette and protocol: family dynamics, ceremony and reception details
•create a detailed timeline and contact list for the wedding day, including getting ready, transportation, photographs, ceremony, reception and events surrounding
•work with the couple to organize and coordinate the wedding rehearsal, and remind the wedding party of all pertinent times and “don’t forgets” for the day of the wedding
•confirm timing and details with all wedding professionals associated with the wedding several days prior to the wedding
•act as the liaison between the family, wedding party, band/DJ, florist, photographer and other wedding professionals to create a seamless overall operation
•assist the couple personally on their wedding day and help with any additional needs of the wedding party
•assist the wedding party with their personal flowers and other accessories
•set up programs, place cards, favors, guest book, champagne flutes and personal items or other wedding details
•line up and cue the bridal party and musicians for the ceremony
•collect any personal items for the couple at the conclusion of the reception
A skilled wedding planner’s knowledge, credentials and involvement in the world of weddings is part of their investment in preparing to act as a partner with their clients, helping them put on a fantastic, beautiful, distinctive event of which they can be truly proud.
This is a partnership where the couple makes the final decisions, as the wedding planner consults and assists, leading them to straight forward decision making, saving them time and adding value to their wedding investment. The wedding planner acts as a trusted advocate and ally for couples and is sometimes a counselor to apprehensive family members or riled up friends.
The chemistry and trust between a wedding planner and the hiring couple is very important. Couples should seek out a planner they feel comfortable with and then evaluate that planner based on experience, enthusiasm, ethics, professionalism and credentials.
I have had the pleasure of working with both of our talented wedding planners, Janet of Janet Dunnington Destination Weddings and Nancy of NJoy Events, please take the time to look at their portfolios and visit their websites.