A Bride's Guide to Wedding Planning Packages

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Full service, Day of Coordination, Wedding Day Management, Wedding Planning- what does it all mean??  In your search for a wedding planner, I'm sure you've come across a few different names for what different planners offer. This can definitely cause confusion if you're trying to compare the packages of two or more planners as you decide who to hire.  You know I'm all about clarifying confusing situations so here's a rundown of what all this terminology means. Now bear in mind, different planners include their own twist on each specific service, so this is not an exhaustive list or explanation. Let's jump in, shall we?

What is Full Service Planning?
Full service planning is usually a planner's most comprehensive service level, meaning that you'll end up getting more time with your planner, more meetings and more services. The goal is to help you plan your wedding from scratch. Often featured are: 

  • Unlimited contact (emails, phone calls, etc) throughout your engagement
  • A large number of planning meetings or attendance at your choice of vendor meetings, dress fittings, etc.
  • Full vendor research, recommendations and coordination
  • Guidance on the entire planning process
  • Wedding Budget set up and management
  • Complete Day of Coordination

Sometimes featured: a combination of planning and design, additional services like invitation and rsvp management, a really customized planning experience and fun surprises.

What is Partial Planning?
Partial planning is usually less involved than full service- you can expect the following:

  • Contact to start within a certain amount of time prior to your big day, say 4-6 months or so.
  • Fewer planning meetings- usually in the range of 4-6.
  • More opportunity to do your own research and legwork (which is great for some, but not always desired for busy couples).
  • The chance to add on a la carte items to create a more customized service.
  • Complete Day of Coordination

What is Day of Coordination?
Day of coordination (which is really a misnomer) is really final details planning, meaning a company comes in about 2-3 months prior and ties up all the loose ends and makes sure nothing is missed. The goal here is to organize the day and be on hand so everything goes off without a hitch. You can expect the following:

  • 2-3 planning meetings or calls to collect all of your wedding details, starting at about 2 months prior.
  • A main focus on the logistics of the day itself (who needs to be where with what, why and how).
  • Vendor coordination
  • Ceremony rehearsal management
  • On site management- sometimes also called Wedding Day Management.

Now, Day of Coordination is usually the least expensive option because it happens towards the tail end of the planning process.  Full service is always the most expensive because of it's all-encompassing nature, and Partial Planning tends to fall somewhere in between.

All of that being said - not all planners do these three options. For example, here at TME- we are anti-package. Every service we offer is custom, so almost all of our clients fall somewhere in the "partial" range. Some planners only offer Day/Month of,  while some focus specifically on Full Service.  When you're researching, be sure to ask your prospective planners what they specialize in, and why.  
Good luck in your search!

Need info on our planning services? Click here!

You said YES!! Five things to do FIRST!

They asked.  You said yes!  Congratulations, you are officially engaged!!  Welcome to the whirlwind that is wedding planning! What was one of the first things you did?  Jump on the Internet and Google wedding planning?  Yikes... I bet you felt just a little overwhelmed (or maybe a LOT overwhelmed). There’s a LOT of information out there-  and it’s easy to be bowled over by it.  It totally doesn’t need to be that way.  Here’s a guide on the first five things you need to do:

1) First, Announce in style! Looking for a different way to announce your engagement? Check out these 3 unique ideas!

  • After the requisite calls to parents and immediate family, use your phone to record an announcement video, and make it viral on YouTube. Vine or even Periscope it!
  • Host a huge Google Hangout and announce it face to face!  That way, your family and friends can see your glowing faces as you spill.
  • Put together a dinner party, and just before dinner is served, make the announcement!  Or if you can stand it, wait until after dessert!

2) Second, be boring- Discuss the non-fun stuff first. I know you want to get to the gowns and flowers and stuff, but hold on one second- before you start dreaming massive dreams, sit down with your other half and get down to brass tacks.  There are things you MUST discuss before moving forward with the planning:

  1. Your budget
  2. Your guest list
  3. Your priorities

Why? Well these three items are intricately connected to each other and to the ultimate vision for your day.  Your budget determines how much is available to spend (obviously), and your guest list determines what you can spend per person.  Your top priority will determine what category gets the most money allocated.  When you’ve found the ultimate balance between the 3, then you can move ahead. It will save you a ton of headaches and heartaches down the road.  Use our Quick and Dirty Guest List Template to get started!

3) Third - Get your vision straight. What kind of wedding are you looking to have?  Your discussion of guest list, budget and priorities have probably helped narrow down a few things, and now you can start thinking about style. First, pick a date. The season can really shape your wedding style.  Hop on Pinterest and visit a few wedding blogs - look for gorgeous images that speak to you - think colors, textures, themes, ideas, gowns you love, dresses for the bridesmaids, flowers, favor ideas, etc.  You'll probably find yourself drawn to the same kind of look over time.  As you do this, a look will start to form in your mind and you can start making choices as far as what venues and vendors fit your style, and what wedding items to invest in.

4) Get a plan in order. Once you've set a date, and gotten an idea of your numbers (guest list, budget and priorities), your wedding style, you can start with your plan. Grab a wedding day countdown or checklist- we have one here. Some are more comprehensive than others, so always look for one that suits your planning style best.  Don't be afraid to custom make your own.  Or, if you've hired a planner, they can do that for you- then have one that will take you all the way up to your day without missing a beat.

5) Finally, just be engaged! The first few months of wedding planning can be a whirlwind, and it's important to take a step back and remember why you're doing it all in the first place!  Put the tablet away, hide the bridal magazines under the sofa, and spend some time with that awesome fiance of yours.  Just be together- hold hands, go for a walk, do something fun, or just sit and talk.  The wedding can wait- these little things are the gold a solid marriage is made of.

**This article is an update of one we published wayyyy back in 2011!

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TME Tip Tuesday: Dressing your Bridesmaids

It's that time again- Tuesday, and time for another TME Tip!  Today we're chatting about the lovely ladies you have standing up with you on your wedding day.  Don't feel the need to search for one gown that works for everyone- it is more than acceptable to find different gowns in the same color, or even gowns in many different colors.  Let them be comfortable in what they are wearing. It will make for a much more pleasant experience for everyone!

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Let them eat.....cake??! Tasty Alternatives to Wedding Cakes

Today is National Donut Day!  Now if you've been hanging with me for any length of time, you'll know that the food is one of my favorite parts of any celebration, and dessert is no exception. I absolutely love cake but I know that not everyone does!  What's a couple to do when they really aren't into cake? There are so many options out there! And so, in honor of National Donut Day, I give you one of my favorite boards over on our Pinterest - Not Cakes!! You can make a stack out of almost anything and call it your cake - So if a traditional cake is not your thing, I highly encourage you to GO FOR IT!  Besides, dessert is suppose to be fun!

 

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What do you think? Would you ever have a Not-Cake at your wedding?  Happy #NationalDonutDay!

When Things Go Wrong - The Wedding's Running Late!

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!

Wedding Planner vs. Venue Coordinator: Differences You Need to Know

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.

Happy Planning!

Learn How to Become a Wedding Planner

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!

Happy Planning!

TME Tip: Authentic Wedding Decor

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.