First, you have to assess your lifestyle and how much time you have. Planning a wedding from start to finish will consume a huge amount of time. Ask yourself if you have the time necessary to dedicate to the planning process.
If you are having a “destination” wedding—getting married in an area you do not live in—a wedding planner will have reliable local contacts, thus saving you time and money during the planning process.
What will a planner do for me?
A wedding planner helps develop your vision, establishes a budget, directs you to and assists you in choosing your venue, secures vendors (florist, band or DJ, photographer, etc.), reviews contracts, and keeps you on track during the planning process. The planner must understand your vision and provide her or his experience and guidance to execute it.
The vendors are accountable to the planner; on the day of your wedding, the planner is the point person at your event. In short, a planner’s main function is to make sure that everything you have envisioned comes true. If a problematic situation comes up, the planner will handle it. No stress allowed for the bride, groom, or their families!!!
How do I know which planner to choose?
Start by asking around and researching websites. The Knot, Wedding Channel, Wedding Wire are all well established sites: www.theknot.com; www.weddingchannel.com; www.weddingwire.com. Look up wedding planners in the area. Have they received any awards? Do they have good reviews?
The next step is to call. Are they easy to reach? Do they respond to an email or telephone message? If you can’t get in touch with them when you are trying to hire them, think about how difficult they may be to reach when you are working with them.
On your initial call, do they spend time with you on the phone? Do they ask you about what you want, or do they just talk about themselves? This is important—a good planner should first find out if he or she feels that they are a good match for you. It’s not just about getting the business, it’s about your once-in-a-lifetime special day.
Do they offer a complimentary face-to-face consultation? Chemistry is important. Your planner is your best friend during the planning process, so you should make sure you like and trust her or him. Do they have a sense of style, or show up for your first appointment disheveled and disorganized? This is a good indication of the kind of work they perform.
Do they have a contract? You should always request a contract from your planner. Even though a friendly relationship may develop between you, remember, this if first and foremost a business agreement.
Ask if the person you’re meeting with—barring unforeseen emergency circumstances—will be the one on-site on the day of the wedding. If a planner is personally booked on the day of your event, and his or her associate is the one who is going to be on-site…make sure you understand that before you sign the contract.
At what stage should a planner be hired?
Planning can start anytime before the wedding, but again, the sooner the better. Well established venues and vendors get booked early.
What specific kinds of services does a planner offer?
Most planners offer a variety of packages, including customization according to the needs of the individual client:
A planner helps you choose the venue, create budgets, develop your vision, secure vendors, etc., working in tandem with you during the entire planning process and are present on-site on the day of the wedding. In this case, hiring a planner a year in advance is usually fine.
Note: If you are getting married in prime season, and are set on a specific date, we suggest the sooner the better.
This general rule, however, is not set in stone. We have experience in planning a whole wedding, start to finish, in as short a time as three months, but don’t necessarily recommend that because the vendors you want may not always be available if you wait too long to begin the process.
This usually includes all the services of Full Planning, with the difference being that you have already booked your venue. “Day Of” coordination is always included in this package (see below for Day Of information).
Day Of Coordination
Everything is in place and you just need help with the final details and coordination on the Day Of. This service is more valuable than brides and grooms realize. Even couples who thought they didn’t need a “Day Of Coordinator,” agree after the wedding that they could not imagine doing it without one.
Coordinators are there just for you—the venue worries about the food and the service staff. We supervise all that and execute everything you planned and make sure the event goes smoothly.
For Day Of Coordination, booking three months or less is fine.
How do wedding planners charge?
at Your Special Day by Joni, we charge a flat fee: that way there are no surprises. It is our experience that a flat fee for service is the best way to go. If you hire someone hourly, you will be shocked at how many hours a good planner will spend on your wedding.
Some planners get a very small fee and take a commission from the vendors. Sometimes their commission is built into the vendor’s bill, or the planner pays the vendor and in turn, bills you. But in this type of situation, you can never be sure if they are referring you to that vendor because the work is excellent, or if that vendor pays them the highest commission.
What about vendors?
Researching the best vendors is time-consuming and even with the best research, you can’t really be sure they are the best vendor for you. Websites alone don’t portray personality and ability. A wedding planner is in the know wedding-wise and can find vendors that are not only great at what they do, but also “work and play well” with others. Planners usually refer vendors they have worked with before, so they can attest to their reliability and can vouch that they are true professionals.
If you’re interested in working with someone a planner has not worked with before, a seasoned planner usually has enough contacts and resources to find out about that vendor’s credibility.
Keep in mind that a planner can also negotiate with vendors on your behalf.
A wedding usually lasts about an hour for the ceremony, plus about five hours for the reception, so there is no time to waste: all the vendors have to be responsible to do their part and work well together to make sure the day flows smoothly. The coordinator is the “quarterback” on the Day Of, orchestrating the entire event.
If I decide to hire someone for Full Planning, what will they do for me?
The first thing is deciding on the budget. Determining how much you are willing to spend on your wedding is key to planning your wedding.
Then, the planner suggests venues, checks on availability and pricing and presents options to you. Once the date and venue are established, your planner will assist you in selecting all the major vendors for your day: ceremony location, officiate, florist, band, DJ, and photographer. Your planner will review your contracts with the vendors; however, you must remember that you are responsible for the final choice. Your planner will introduce you to the best in your budget but, just like with the planner, you have to have feel good about these vendors. This is especially true of the photographer and videographer; in addition to liking their creative style, you have to feel comfortable with them—they will be with you all day. It’s your job to communicate to them and to your planner about the type of pictures you prefer, and who and what you most want captured in photos and on video.
Your input is also important when it comes to deciding on the type of music you want—if you do not like Country Music and do not want the Electric Slide at your wedding, you have to let this be known. Again, every bride and groom is unique and they must communicate their wishes to the planner. The more information you give your planner, the better your wedding will be.
Once your vendors are booked, the fun begins with all the little details: invitations, place cards, music, guest books…all the touches that make your wedding personal and reflect who you are.
The planner will work in unison with the catering manager at the venue about all the details of your event to ensure that the number of guests, food selection, set-up, and floor plan are accurate. She or he will also keep you on track concerning your guest responses and table seating and will make sure all the information is given to the venue within the proper timeframe.
Before the wedding date, a planner also establishes a timeline and distributes it to the venue and all the vendors so everyone knows what to expect and when to be where. The week of the wedding, the planner contacts all vendors and reviews the details of the event with them.
Is there anything a planner cannot do for me?
There is one thing: while we are there for you all the way, offering guidance and support, we cannot possibly do your seating arrangements. We know this can be a grueling job, but you know your guests and their dynamics.
We hope this has answered all your questions and has helped you reach a decision about whether or not using a wedding planner is for you. We know that planning a wedding can be stressful and is a huge expense. If you’ve decided to trust a professional to make sure it is the wedding of your dreams, call us at 561-756-6760
Your Special Day by Joni