As a regular vacationer on the Outer Banks, Taylor already knew of many favorite landmarks that would make an ideal place for her to tie the knot with her fiancé. Plus, she had a year before any vows were to be spoken. It only seemed natural that she alone would take on the wedding planning.
Both of our families rent a place in Duck every summer. That is where we met. Plus, we already had ‘our restaurant’ picked out to do the catering,” Taylor says. “It was going to be so simple!”
From her home in northern Virginia, she began selecting ocean-inspired wedding colors and hand making invitations. Her aunt and mother offered to help decorate on the day of the wedding, and the groomsmen said they would help with transportation so that everyone was on cue.
“I checked out websites for photographers, florists, and ceremony sites,” she recalls. “It was so easy. I was trying to save money by not paying someone else to do what I could do with a little help from my family and friends.”
With many important decisions seemingly covered from afar, she declined getting a wedding planner on the Outer Banks.
“Then it happened. I found out that there were restrictions on which vendors I could use and how fast we had to be in and out of the ceremony site. I found out that the rehearsal dinner at our cottage counted as a ‘wedding-related event’ in Duck, which meant we needed to register with the town. Then when things got really busy in the days and weeks before the wedding, every out-of-town guest was coming to me (or my mom) with a million other questions that we couldn’t answer.”
Taylor’s experience is not unusual. Just because couples fell in love here doesn’t mean they can plan a wedding here from afar. Working with a professional who lives on the Outer Banks – and knows how to plan a wedding here – will give you peace of mind and ensure your wedding day goes off without a hitch.
Why Hire a Wedding Planner?
The following are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy by bringing in the planning pros:
Save Your Family
Keep the peace! With so many egos to bruise along the way, sometimes it helps to have a neutral party who doesn’t bring ego and expectation to the wedding, just expertise and experience. Your planners will happily take the heat for not making the distant grandniece the flower girl. They will calm your future mother-in-law when you walk into the surf for the ultimate photo shoot. And even if you assign your planner a dozen tasks, you won’t worry that they’ve been asked to line up for an important family photo at exactly the same time.
Something else to consider, if either of you is a second-timer down the aisle, is the fact that blended families often need creative handling. An experienced wedding planner is masterful at seating charts and finding perfect roles for each family member.
Save Your Time
Imagine that over the course of the next year, you and your partner are starting a new career that you are not trained to do (and never plan to do again). Planning a destination wedding can feel like telecommuting for a part-time job from many miles away. If both of you are already working full-time jobs, there may not be enough time to meet wedding deadlines that many vendors need.
Save Your Money
Many associate hiring a wedding planner with having a big budget affair, but planners go with budget-conscious brides, too.
The average cost of a U.S. wedding in 2015 was $30,433 and more than 50 percent of all couples end up spending beyond their budgeted amount. It’s estimated that the parents of today’s brides finance only about 20 percent of the wedding.
A planner living in the community of a destination wedding can be more accurate with estimating true costs and can anticipate the unexpected costs that are likely to occur.
While a wedding planner’s fees can seem like yet another line item on an already long list of expenses, a good planner will, in fact, help the couple stick to their budget, plan for the unexpected expenses, and may even pass along discounts from vendors to make the wedding tab smaller in the long run.
Save Your Sanity
Do you envision pressing wood pulp into homemade paper invitations that you will later engrave by hand? Can you creatively conceal plastic chairs in fabric, flowers, or driftwood? Do you have a source for drop-shipped paper lanterns?
If tulle makes your skin crawl, perhaps your personality and strengths steer in other directions. For that, a wedding planner can save the day. A good planner will listen as you describe your favorite colors, music, lighting, fabrics and textures, and will find a way to transform your vision into a tasteful and creative event with the right vendors.
Save Your Vacation
A bride who is planning her own wedding can easily slip into the role of a travel agent and reservationist for every guest, in addition to writing vows, selecting music and other details. With a wedding planner, the couple is able to enjoy their beach wedding instead of working out logistics with caterers, photographers and guests. You will have time and energy reserved to enjoy everyone who has traveled to celebrate your special day with you.
By the time the wedding day and then the departing brunch rolled around, Taylor realized she had spent most of her time on the Outer Banks making sure vendors, guests, and the wedding party knew where to be and when.
“I was exhausted. The photographers could barely find me when it was time to take the important photos,” she says. “And I probably wasted a lot of money in the process by not using package deals that planners can find.”
A wedding planner who lives on the Outer Banks can handle all aspects of your destination wedding, allowing you to sail away on your honeymoon stress-free.
How to Interview a Wedding Planner
In addition to the obvious requests for cost estimates and customer referrals, here are a few tailored questions to ask so you end up with a planner who is well versed in Outer Banks weddings.
How do you plan around wedding season and Saturday check-in dates?
Peak wedding season on the Outer Banks is not summertime. There are two peak wedding seasons, spring and fall. During these “shoulder” months, rates are low, summer traffic has thinned and the weather leans toward the spectacular. Also, with Saturday check-ins at many rental homes, couples frequently do not plan to tie the knot on a Saturday. Couples should also expect pricing fluctuations reflected by peak wedding dates, weekend hours, or even four-wheel drive access expenses.
What have you done in a previous emergency situation that saved the day?
Not only might you discover quirks about your Outer Banks venue, but you may also find out what another couple did when they ran into difficulties.
What was the most unusual wedding request you’ve ever had?
You’ll find out how flexible your planner is and if your tastes match.
How many weddings will you be managing on any given weekend? How much of the work will your assistant(s) perform?
While your planner may have an entire team of assistants, their performance at your event may be taxed by too many emergencies. Also, you may have shopped around and finally found a planner with whom you click, only to find out that they delegate much of the work to less experienced assistants. You will want to meet or interview anyone who will be making major decisions on your behalf.
How do you prefer to communicate with your clients?
A planner who is well versed in emails, text and social media is well suited for the distance planning involved with destination weddings.
How involved are you with the rest of our wedding party?
Find out now if family members can call your planner directly with questions or if that costs extra.
How to Customize a Wedding Planner For Any Budget
A wedding planner’s expertise does come at a cost, but there are different levels of service that will make it a custom fit:
LEVEL 1: The Wedding Consultant
Let’s say you want a realistic budget tailored to everything you need to get married on the Outer Banks, but you plan to negotiate with vendors and do much of the planning yourself. When a couple needs help with just a few aspects of the event, they may hire a planner at an hourly rate to act as a consultant. A wedding consultant will help you come up with a timeline of what needs to be accomplished and a blueprint for each wedding event. The couple will do much of the work while asking for some ‘a la carte’ assistance from the planner.
LEVEL 2: The Day-of Planner
A bride who is hands-on about planning every facet of her own wedding may opt for a day-of wedding planner. A day-of planner, as the name implies, is there for the entire wedding day to ensure that the actual ceremony happens without any hitches so the couple can enjoy a stress-free day. Somewhat of a misnomer, however, a day-of planner also tends to put in plenty of hours prior to the wedding day. When you consider how much they will be held accountable for, it makes sense that a day-of contract typically includes assisting at the rehearsal, making phone calls to vendors, and some in-person meetings in the weeks prior to the ceremony.
LEVEL 3: The Full-Service Planner
This level of assistance is what most people envision when they hear the term wedding planner. A full-service planner, perhaps with the help of several assistants, will toil hundreds of hours on your behalf for many months leading up to the big day. Services typically include budget preparation (and adherence), negotiating vendor contracts, tracking RSVPs, guest accommodation coordination, wedding party gifts, rehearsal coordination, and countless scheduled check-ins with the marrying couple.
Some full-service planners will charge a percentage of your overall wedding cost, while others will charge a flat fee. Your full-service planner will always have a ‘Plan B’ in case of emergencies, mishaps, and inclement weather. ♥