Happy Friday!! Registration is live for the next session of the So You Wanna Be A Wedding Planner series. Join us next Thursday evening as we explore Wedding Planner 101. What does it take to create a one of a kind event, professionally, for a client? Registration is live!
If I've learned anything in my years as a wedding planner, it is that it really isn't IF something goes wrong, it is WHEN. I haven't done a single wedding where we didn't have an issue of some sort. Now I know what you're thinking- I must really suck as a planner then, right? Yeah, not so much. The thing is that when you get a large team of pros working together, along with 150-200 assorted guests, multiple venues and a tight timeline... something is just bound to happen. So we've put together this series to discuss some of the issues we've seen and how we've resolved them.
Many people have the misconception that a wedding planner's job is to make sure your wedding day is perfect. Not quite. Our real job is to make sure your experience of the day seems perfect. That means that we run interference when anything does go wrong. If we weren't there to do so, either the couple or their parents would have to step away from the celebration to handle the situation. The vast majority of the time, we take care of any snafus that arise before the couple even knows something is amiss.
Here are some common wedding day issues we often run into and how we handled them:
What happened: The wedding is running late!
How we've handled it: I've had this one happen on a number of occasions. Once, a wedding ran so late that we weren't sure it was even going to happen! (It did). Sometimes it's just the client's prerogative; sometimes a key player (like the officiant) doesn't show on time. Sometimes, traffic causes issues. No matter what the why is, our goal is always to keep the guests as calm and entertained as we can, while simultaneously keeping the other wedding pros apprised of the situation. We check with the venue to see if guests can have water or soft drinks, ask the DJ or ceremony musicians to play some filler music, and update everyone as often as we can.
Next week, we'll cover another issue we've tackled- when something or someone goes missing!
Until then, Keep Celebrating!
After what feels like ages searching, you’ve finally found the ONE! The location that will host your nuptial celebration! The all important wedding venue. Booking your venue is a monumental decision when you’re planning a wedding. So many other decisions like the music, style and decor tend to be location-dependent. One decision that should not be determined by your choice of wedding venue? The decision to hire a wedding planner. On the outside it may look like hiring a planner when you have a venue coordinator is paying for the same service twice, but I assure you, that is not the case.
Why? Well it’s simple. Your venue coordinator is NOT a wedding planner. Regardless of the title on their email signature, the truth is that very few venues have an actual wedding planner on staff. On top of this, there are key distinctions between what a wedding planner that you hire and the venue coordinator are going to do for you. Let’s do a quick comparison, shall we?
Your wedding planner:
- Works for you and answers only to you, the couple. Your planner’s focus is on your day and your details, nothing else.
- Is involved in every step of your planning process, from the linen selection to the decision to hire a band or a DJ. We touch base with you regularly and will have a pulse on where you are with the entire wedding at any given time.
- Will be ready to put a plan B into action if and when any snafus occur.
- Can save you time and potentially money by researching awesome vendors and working out preferential pricing with them and passing the savings along to you.
- Is with you on the day of your wedding from the time you’re getting ready until the last guest says good bye and all your stuff is packed up.
Your venue coordinator:
- Is usually your main contact at the venue, and may be the person who walked though with you the first time you visited.
- Works for the venue. Of course they want you to have a great wedding, but they answer to someone other than you. They also have other responsibilities – maintaining a certain revenue basis for each event, managing food and beverage and potentially other staff – suffice it to say they don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart. Not because they’re bad people, just because they don’t answer to you.
- May not be in touch with you for months after you book your date. They do have other events to produce as well as other couples to sell, and the details they’ll need from you aren’t generally confirmed until about 2 months prior.
- May not be able to recommend any vendors that aren’t on their preferred list, and likely won’t have time to assist you with planning tasks that aren’t venue related.
- Can’t be responsible for any wedding related things that happen before you’re on site. If your ceremony is off site, they won’t be attending or running it. Bridal bouquets show up late to the hotel? Photographer gets lost an d needs directions? Limo breaks down on the way to the church? Don’t call your venue coordinator- they most likely won’t be able to help you, and may not even be available.
- May not be the person on site for your wedding day, or if they are on site, it may only be for a part of the day. They may hand off duties to a banquet captain or maitre ‘d.
- May not even work at the venue when your wedding rolls around, depending on how long in advance you book your event. This happens more often than you’d think! (Another reason to get everything in writing)
Now with all of that said, please know that a good venue coordinator is worth their weight in gold. I have worked with some stellar rock star venue staff, and they do so much to make a wedding day flow smoothly and make your whole team’s jobs easier. The good ones also often recognize that they aren’t wedding planners, and recommend that couples hire a day of coordinator at minimum.
In closing, if your venue claims to have a wedding planner on staff, find out what that person’s responsibilities will really be. Will they help you with other wedding related duties that have nothing to do with t he venue? Will they get quotes from four different photo booth vendors? Can you call them to talk through a dispute you’re having with your maid of honor? Will they sit with you and discuss proper etiquette for seating charts or what flowers they think will go with your grandmother’s gown? Probably not. If they will, count yourself lucky! But if they can’t, have no fear and hire a wedding planner to handle all of those other details for you.
Let me tell you a story. Back in 2004, I was about to graduate from college and I had a dream in my heart. I wanted to be a wedding planner. I discovered this fact while sitting on my Ikea couch watching “Whose Wedding is it Anyway” on Style Network. I was critiquing what was going on, coming up with suggestions and improvements, and explaining them to my then boyfriend, who was studying at his desk in the corner. I made a comment that went something like “I think I could do that – you know, plan weddings.” And he said “Well, why don’t you?” And on the inside, I totally freaked out. My mind went into overdrive- and for a moment I considered his suggestion. A few weeks later, I started researching. I compiled information, and even drew up a logo in Microsoft Word. But, life got in the way- and so did my fear. I was full of excuses – I didn’t have enough experience (I had NONE actually). No one REALLY did this for a living (So what if I just watched people doing it on TV). I had too many bills (ahhh student loans…). So instead I got a day job. Truth be told, my fear got ahold of me, and it wasn’t until years later, in 2007, that I got the courage to step out on faith and follow my dream. I bit the bullet, emailed planning firms in NYC, landed a rocking internship, and launched my business shortly thereafter.
The thing is, it’s scary out there. There is a lot of information to process, and it can be hard to tell the truth from the BS. The questions are endless- the un certainties are real and they can be paralyzing. Today, I have a growing wedding planning business. But in the beginning- I had nothing. I know what it’s like to be out there with a dream and half a plan. That’s why I decided to put together an intro course for aspiring wedding planners.
“So You Wanna Be A Wedding Planner” is a series of four free courses that will introduce you to the wedding industry and guide you step by step through setting yourself up for optimal success in the wedding industry. Our first course takes place at 7:30pm on Tuesday, April 28th. Join us! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/so-you-wanna-be-a-wedding-planner-tickets-1415550951
In our hour together we will cover:
- How to break into the wedding and events industry
- How to figure out if this career is right for you
- Educational options for wedding professionals
- Career options within the wedding planning field
- The top 3 mistakes new planners make and MORE!
I can’t wait to see you there!
TME Tip: When thinking about your wedding style, think about how you want your day to feel. What emotions are you looking to bring out in your guests? Do you want them to feel at home, serene, loved? Are you looking to wow them? How do you want to feel when all is said and done? Do you want a super formal atmosphere or something more laid back? The choices you make for your decor should reflect this feeling, so keep that in mind as you navigate through your styling journey.
I get a lot of questions about what exactly a wedding planner does. Well, in truth, no two days ever look the same. We do a lot of things for a lot of clients, and sometimes those things are completely different! Here's a nice LONG list of all of the varied things that I've done for clients in my 5 years as a professional wedding planner. Do I do these things for every client? Nope. But there is so much we can take off your plate and make easier for you. And less stress equals a much smoother planning process and wedding day. A professional wedding planner can:
- Help you set up a wedding budget that makes sense for your event and your priorities
- Plan your engagement party
- Create a wedding website for you
- Source your wedding invitations
- Help you decide on wedding colors
- Help you decide on wedding style
- Find a venue for the ceremony
- Find a venue for the reception
- Negotiate vendor contracts
- Help you choose your floral decor including finding less expensive substitutes if necessary
- GUide you in staying on budget
- Manage your RSVPs
- Assemble and mail your invitations
- Help you source wedding favors
- Pre-prepare your thank you cards
- Bring wedding day decor, supplies and accessories to the venue
- Pick up breakfast and lunch the day of
- Confirm all of your vendors before the big day
- Source day of transportation for the bridal party and guests
- Plan wedding weekend activities
- Plan an post-wedding after party
- Help you find event sitters
- Come up with ideas ofr event enhancements
- Create out of town guest welcome bags
- Set up and confirm hotel blocks
- Track down guests who haven't RSVP'd
- Track and receive wedding related deliveries
- Help you choose a photographer
- Help you choose a cinematographer
- Get you appropriate ceremony program wording
- Help outline your ceremony
- Find an awesome independent officiant or celebrant
- Help you choose between a florist and a floral designer
- FIgure out your rental order
- Choose flattering and appropriate lighting decor
- Help you find a baker
- Keep track of your planning checklist
- Attend gown fittings
- Layout your ceremony seating plan
- Layout your reception floor plan
- Help with DIY projects
- Create handmade custom decor for the ceremony and reception
- Come up with creative ideas for decor
- Set up the venues with decor and other items
- Clean up and break down after the wedding
- Make sure all of your wedding related stuff makes it back to your hotel room
- Coordinate your transportation itineraries
- Attend menu tasting
- Help you choose a caterer
- Make suggestions on cocktails
- Pin on boutonnieres, corsages and distribute bouquets
- Help you find a DJ or band
- Help you find ceremony and cocktail hour musicians
- Make sure DJ or band have all your music ready to go
- Set up a comprehensive day of timeline itinerary
- Supervise the cardbox and gift table
- Help guests find their way around the venue
- Prepare and provide an emergency kit (bandaids, fashion tape and Tylenol are often requested!!)
- Create contingency plans for rain or other potential issues
- Find last minute seating for non-RSVPd guests
- Oversee and direct the ceremony rehearsal
- Plan the rehearsal dinner
- Make appointments with wedding vendors
- Book spa treatments
- Find hair & makeup artists
- Fix cake mishaps
- Give etiquette advice
- Let you know when it's ok to break the "rules"
- Help word your wedding invitations
- Create a timeline for each vendor
- Keep track of your vendor payment schedules
- Make sure everything runs smoothly on the day of
- Source a rental company for tents, dance floors, tables, chairs, etc.
- Distribute final payments and gratuities
- Guide guests to each segment of the event
- Fix broken boutonnieres
- Help photographer with the formal portraits, especially with family and extended family
- Suggest photo shoot locations
- Be a shoulder to cry on and lend an impartial listening ear when issues do arise
- Organize all wedding paperwork and contracts
- Make sure you get (and bring!) your marriage license
- Pick up forgotten items on the wedding day
- Tie up your bustle
- Cue musicians for ceremony and your grand reception entrance
- Make sure you both look great before any entrances
- Get you a few moments alone with your new spouse
- Get all vendors working as a team
- Be a source of random wedding related information
- Help you create an incredible wedding day minus the stress
Can you believe there is actually more to it than this? Well there is! Hiring a planner or even just a day of coordinator is well worth the investment.
True story alert! Once upon a time, back in my internship days, this planner worked a wedding wherein a friend of the bride's family designed, baked, and transported a six tier, rose covered wedding cake from Bethlehem, PA to New York City. Said friend forgot his cake supports, and the venue (being a NYC loft) was not prepared for a cake of such scale. Needless to say, during the event the cake collapsed, leaving only the bottom tier in edible condition. We managed to salvage it, and the couple was ok with the necessary changes, but it was a lesson learned by everyone involved. This cautionary tale, and many others have got me thinking. Is there a way successfully work with friends and family, aka "Friendors" on your wedding day? How do you avoid the above disaster? I've discovered a way to make it happen.
Five Ways to Avoid Wedding Day Disasters When Working with Friendors
1) Be super specific about your needs and expectations.
Discuss in detail exactly what you are looking for from this transaction. Of course they are your friends, and you trust them, but to be unclear is to be unkind. Get as much info as possible! Treat this as if you were working with a pro. Ask them the same questions.
If a friend offers to take photos, ask the following questions: - What time they will start shooting? - What photos are they planning to take? - Will they do formal portraits and candids? - Will they will be doing editing and post production? - How long will it be until you see a finished product and is an album is included?
If you need forms to use to outline your needs with your friendors, ask your wedding planner. They should have some simple forms that outline everything that needs to be discussed.
2) Get all of the above written down in a contract.
I know, I know...contracts seem weird when it comes to friends, but this is an absolute must! Get all agreements and understandings in writing. Everything from what said friend has agreed to do for you, and how much you'll be compensating them, to what they should wear and when they need information from you by. Writing it down makes it real, and avoids the "I don't remember saying that" situation.
You don't need to go to a lawyer to draw up a formal document. Just a simple outline will do, with both of your names and all relevant information. Both of you should keep a hard copy, and provide a copy to your planner as well.
3) PAY THEM!
I know that friendors like to give you stuff for free, but come on! Considering all the work they will likely be doing, they should be compensated for their efforts. Yes, even if they say "Don't worry about it!" Please do the right thing and give them something. It can be as simple a gift card, a basket with a nice bottle of wine, a handwritten thank you letter... something! Here's why: Getting something for nothing feels weird… even if it doesn't right now, it will. Same thing with giving something for nothing. It can affect the friendship, and honestly the friendship is much more important than getting "free" anything.
4) Keep the lines of communication open
It is tempting with all of the details that go into planning a wedding, to get something squared away and then push it out of your mind. Don't do that. Instead, check in every once in awhile, making sure that each of you has all of the information that you need. Ideally, you'll have this check in schedule all worked out ahead of time and written into the contract mentioned in step two.
5) Feel free to say no!
You don't have to accept every offer of help or "free" wedding anything that comes your way. Yes, the budget is important, but your sanity is much more important. Go with your gut. If it is telling you to take another route, do so.
A few quick things to remember when working with friendors:
- If this is a hobby for your friend, he or she may not have all the required credentials. Many venues require outside vendors like DJs and photographers to carry a liability insurance policy. There are ways to work around this. You can obtain a one-day policy from many insurance companies for minimal cost.
- If you are working with a wedding planner, understand that not all planners will coordinate the work of friendors. For some it is a risk they are unwilling to take. Others have no problem doing so, and actually take additional steps to ensure that everything runs smoothly. For those that do, please let them know that you have a friendor on board as soon as possible so that communication can begin.
-Be gracious and grateful. The pressure for a wedding pro to perform well for a friend or family member can be tremendous. Keep this additional pressure in mind when you are working out details and communicating during the planning process.
Having friends work your wedding can be a joy with enough thought and preparation. Follow the tips above and you'll be good to go!
It occurs to me that many of you have no idea what goes on behind the scenes at a wedding or during the wedding planning process - and for good reason. We wedding planners are a secretive bunch. If we shared everything we did, we wouldn't be doing a good job of reducing our clients' stress! But in my world there is always a space for authenticity and transparency. So I'm pulling back that curtain and letting you get a sneak peek at five secret things we wedding planners do that you may never see. Let's go!
Something new and fun for you guys!!! Ok so I am a little obsessed with wedding blogs- so.much. EYE CANDY!So I decided to take a bunch of the awesome stuff that I found online and share it with you! So every two weeks, we're going to post a round up of some of our favorite picks from blogs all over the web. I hope you enjoy it!
First: This amazing winter wedding over on Snippet and Ink. So intimate, so beautiful- and the images just scream LOVE to me.
Pearl and Calvin at the Nordic Centre on Snippet and Ink
Next up: Celebrate Sisterhood Inspiration Shoot over on MunaLuchi Bride
The colors!!!!! Styled by Makini Brereton of Makini Regal, this table just screams formal dinner party. I'd love to attend such a pretty event- although I'd be terrified of spilling something on those amazing linens.
I totally dig subscription boxes, and these peeps have come up with a way to help brides stay sane in the planning process all while giving them treats! Win-win situation right there.
That's all for today! Thanks for checking in!! Do you have a feature you'd like to see on the roundup? Send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll check it out!
There is a massive myth going around right now. We are embroiled in engagement season, and if you are one of the lucky ones to have made the leap into betrothal, congratulations! Welcome to the fray! I'm sure you have heard this myth, probably three times before you finished announcing. It usually comes right after the "When's the big day" question. It states, quite simply, that "Weddings are EXPENSIVE!"Well, I have to disagree. Weddings CAN be expensive- if you plan them to be that way. But they do not HAVE to be expensive at all! Not even a little bit. You can have a wedding that you and your family can afford. All it takes is a little forethought and planning. Here are a few of my favorite ideas to make that goal into a reality.
Three Tricks that Can Save Big Bucks on your Wedding Budget
Trick #1 - Cut your guest list.
Before you send those save the dates or tell your distant cousin, long time hairdresser and former high school band teacher about the big day plans, consider this fact – a single guest can add up to $350 to your final tab! Think about it. Each guest equals another plate, plus the venue or caterer's tax and service charge. And it's more than just feeding them. You'll need more invitations, more favors, more place cards. More guests can also mean more rentals - a larger tent if you're outdoors, more chairs, place settings, linens. A bigger wedding equals more money! This is the easiest, and I think most often overlooked, way of saving on your wedding. How do you decide who to cut? Here's how I think of it. If you can't see yourself, or someone in your immediate family taking this person out to dinner for nice meal, they probably shouldn't be on the guest list.
Trick #2 - If you aren’t sure, don’t buy!
Avoid buyers’ remorse and having to purchase wedding related items again by not buying in the first place! Think through every purchase you make –take it from the girl who had no fewer than 4 pairs of wedding day earrings. EARRINGS, people! Even if you think “Oh, I’ll just return it…” No- you probably won’t. And that is money down the drain – money you could use to shop on your honeymoon, or upgrade a more significant aspect of the wedding (Raw Bar, anyone?). It's easy to get caught up in the "Gotta have it NOW!" madness of wedding planning, but it's really not in your best interests to jump on every idea you see. This tip goes double for any DIY project you're thinking about. Plan out the budget for these before you hit the craft store. It's not a good look to get halfway into a project and then realize that you bought the wrong glue.
3. Make your budget FIRST.
You would be surprised how many people start planning their weddings without deciding how much they want to spend on it beforehand. That's a really good way to end up overspending. It is imperative that you sit down and decide on your budget FIRST, before any major decisions are made. Don't go falling in love with something right out of the gate - you will end up busting your budget before you even have it set. It's no fun realizing you can't have something else you had your heart set on because the money is gone.
A few additional tricks:
- Don't use a random "Wedding Budget Template" you find on the internet. They are a great place to start, but they usually don't reflect your local wedding costs, which can be radically different.
- Take advantage of your resources. Many wedding planners will sit down with you and help you get your wedding budget straight before it gets away from you. The cost for these kinds of services is very reasonable in most cases. Click here for our version of this service.
- Think outside the box. There are very few wedding "must haves" - prioritize what you really want, and cut back or cut out the rest.
And there you have it- TME's tips to save big on your wedding day. Follow these and you'll be on your way to wedding budget bliss!