The Wedding Planner
What She (or he) can (and can't) do for your event
owner of loli events
How does a couple know if there’s a need to hire a wedding planner?
The first thing couples should have is a feel for the type of location they want to get married in. If the location is more all-inclusive, like a hotel or a country club, they might not have as much of a need for full-service planning; they might just want someone for the day of. Otherwise, couples have to look at their lifestyle: how much time they have and how much stress they’re under. Finding all the vendors, figuring out if they’re legit, looking through the contracts, trying to find the best deal—planning a wedding can be like another full-time job. Hiring a planner can take away all that stress. And often couples make back the planner’s fee because planners have leverage with vendors.
How far in advance should you hire a planner?
For full-service planning, a year is the maximum. More often, I’d say six to nine months is better. For day-of coordination, it’s more like three months.
What duties can you reasonably expect a full-service planner to perform?
At first, a planner helps with booking all of the big vendors: the venue, ceremony location, florist, band, photographer. They go through the process of choosing the vendors and looking at the contracts. Once those are signed, then it’s the fun step, the little details like place cards, invites, photo booths, and everything that makes the wedding personal to the couple. The last main responsibility is setting a day-of timeline, so all the vendors are on the same page and the event goes smoothly.
What's outside of the planner’s purview?
A big one is the seating arrangement. I don’t know if Aunt Susie can’t handle sitting next to Uncle Bill. Also, once the event is over, the job is usually over. I’ve had brides call three months after the wedding and say, ‘Can you get me a refund because I wasn’t happy with this vendor?’ and that’s not something we do.
Once a couple decides they want to hire a planner, what’s the best way to start searching?
A party planner's website really gives you insight into what he or she does and the overall feel of their types of events. But the best way is referrals and word-of-mouth.
You’re ready to sign a contract. What should you look out for?
What happens if the planner gets sick or something happens the day of the wedding? Also, what’s the cancellation policy if the wedding gets called off? No one wants to think about it, but you never know. It’s also smart to ask if the planner makes any commission from the vendors. Certain planners end up making money twice, because they charge the couple and then they get a percentage back for bringing business to the vendor. I think that’s unethical.
How can A couple make sure that a planner fits into the budget?
Look for someone who charges a flat rate. That’s huge. You’ll pay more if you have to pay a percentage of your overall wedding budget, and even more if you go by an hourly rate, because planners are always going to put in more hours.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when planning a wedding?
The best way to really have the wedding you envision is by cutting your guest list. Do you think that person really cares about seeing you get married, or if you’re inviting her because you have to or because someone will get mad if you don’t? At the end of the day, each guest might cost an extra two hundred dollars. If you have five of those, that’s a thousand dollars right there.
What is day-of coordination and how do you know if that’s the best option?
Day-of coordination is for couples who have planned the whole wedding and feel confident about it, and just want to enjoy themselves on the day of the wedding. The planner acts as the point person on that day. In my opinion, it’s a great investment just to have peace of mind.
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