Congratulations on your engagement! Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and dive into the wedding planning process?
On one hand, the fun of brainstorming vision and décor, searching for the perfect venue and booking vendors is tremendous fun. Some brides absolutely love the process from beginning to end. Others, however, may look at wedding planning as a bit more time consuming (not to mention stressful!) than they bargained for.
Hiring a wedding planner may seem a bit indulgent to some, but why not streamline the process and make it more enjoyable? There’s never a bad time to bring in the professionals. Turning to a wedding planner does not mean you’re delegating the most important decisions of your life. Au contraire! A planner will merely embrace your wedding vision, execute it, and deliver an event you will remember the rest of your life.
From managing the guest list (which can be harder than you think), to booking your photographer, caterer and other vendors, there are so many things to do. Knowing when to do them is essential. A wedding planner will keep you on schedule, ensuring you address every item on your list at the appropriate time.
The Outer Banks offer a singular place for your wedding. Perhaps you fell in love with this place as a child and spent many vacations here. Summer memories are one thing, an OBX wedding is something altogether different. A local wedding planner will be familiar with the area as well as with local vendors and venues. By staying in close communication with you, the planner can represent you and your desires when meeting with florists, caterers, bakers, etc. Perhaps you are a local bride with lots of inside scoops. Even so, with so many details to attend to, planning can be a challenge.
What about the cost?
Bringing on a wedding planner doesn’t have to bust your budget. In fact, hiring a planner can actually save you money; turning out to be one of the best investments you will make. What’s more, you can choose the level of involvement you want from a planner.
A good planner will help you make the most of your wedding budget. They are generally able to stretch a budget because they know what’s more important and what will have more impact. Even small decisions can add up to big savings when you have a planner who knows what they’re doing.
Speaking of costs, once you have discussed your budget with your planner, every decision, purchase, and negotiation will be made based on that information. Your planner will create a detailed budget, making sure you stay on track, and will keep you updated along the way. Besides, do you know the cost of linens for six foot table rounds or 100 feet of tulle or gauze for your canopy? Your wedding planner will know.
In addition to helping couples budget and supervising sticky details like legal contracts, the most important perk of a planner is having someone who’ll fight for your wedding vision from start to finish. While many vendors tackle more than one wedding per day or per weekend, a planner is focused only on your special day and will push to make sure everything goes according to your unique plan.
Keeping it Stress-free
It may come as a surprise, but many wedding vendors actually prefer to work with a wedding planner instead of dealing directly with the bride or groom (or their parents) because doing so helps keep things streamlined while minimizing stress. As the wedding day approaches, vendors will feel better bothering a planner to iron out last minute details than worry an already-stressed couple directly. What’s more, wedding planners already have built-in relationships with vendors, which can also cut costs.
When someone hears “wedding planner” it’s usually the full service level of assistance, of which most people think. 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. This option is best for those hosting a multi-day affair or destination wedding. Likewise, it’s for couples who simply want a professional to guide them through every step of the wedding planning process.
A full-service planner will log hundreds of hours on your behalf for many weeks and months leading up to your wedding day. Services will typically include budget preparation, negotiations with vendors, tracking your guest lists and RSVPs, and coordinating lodging accommodations for out-of-town guests. There will also be many check-ins with you, as well as other errands and tasks like arranging wedding party gifts and wedding rehearsal coordination.
Also, popular hotels and other venues will often host weddings every weekend – or even two in a weekend. If you have chosen a venue that is hosting more than one wedding, your wedding planner will ensure that your event is seamless.
Despite all of the plusses, full wedding planning assistance may not be practical for every couple. Perhaps you have event experience yourself, or maybe your mother is an organized whiz with spreadsheets. Or there is just no budget for a planner. Remember, after you’ve booked your major vendors, you could still decide to consult a planner midway through the process. Being that as most planners offer partial or customized packages.
If you need help with just a few aspects of your wedding, it may be that a part-time wedding consultant is the best option. The part-time planner can help on an as-needed basis. It’s like a divide and conquer strategy. Let’s say you prefer to negotiate with vendors and do much of the planning yourself. Although, you’d prefer to have a dedicated pro to help develop a time-line of items to accomplish and a blueprint for each wedding event. It’s more of an ‘a la carte’ approach where couples can arrange help in areas where their talents may not lie. This arrangement is also going to be less expensive.
A day-of planner, as the name implies, is there for the entire wedding day, solely focused on your priorities and responsible for making sure your wedding day runs smoothly, allowing the couple a stress-free day. A bride who is hands-on about planning every facet of her own wedding may opt for a day-of wedding planner. Somewhat of a misnomer, however, a day-of coordinator will begin working anywhere in the timeline. Specifically, from two weeks to a month ahead of your wedding to make sure everything is in order. They’ll coordinate your ceremony and reception setup, keep you and your wedding party on schedule, and handle any necessary, immediate post wedding duties.
Choosing A Planner
Your wedding budget itself will be at the core of many decisions. Identically, those you will make during the whirlwind days leading up to your wedding day. As you interview wedding planners, be sure to select one who comes across as honest and realistic when discussing the budget. He or she should be organized, calm and confident – a consummate pro. Does it appear he or she has a depth of knowledge of the area? Ask for references and follow up with them. Be sure to interview a few different planners before deciding.
Wedding Planner Interview Questions:
(What To Ask A Wedding Planner)
- Are you available on my wedding date? This should obviously be your first question! Also encourage any comments or issues regarding the selected date – such as popular wedding weekend, unpredictable weather, other big event planned in the area, etc.
- After describing your vision, ask what ideas they would employ for pulling off your vision. This will demonstrate how good a listener they are.
- What service packages do they offer and what are the price ranges? Nail down exactly what is included in each.
- How will you help me stay within my budget? Ask potential planners to discuss creative ways to save and alternatives to more expensive options.
- How do you prefer to communicate with your clients? Especially for destination weddings, a planner who is versed in e-mails, text, and Skype is well-suited for distance wedding planning.
- Will you step in and advocate as the middleman with the vendors? Another important question for destination wedding planning.
- How long have you been a wedding planner? How many full-scale weddings have you planned? When was your last one? Is wedding planning your full-time job? If it’s part-time, what is your other job? This will help determine how much time they have available to dedicate to planning. As well as the potential for distraction and will also determine the level of experience.
- How many weddings will you be working on at the same time? It’s realistic that the planner may be working with one or more other couples. A good planner will be able to provide full and customized attention to your wedding.
- Lastly, ask them to describe a worst case scenario – encourage them to describe a particularly challenging wedding and how they planned and handled the problems that came up. How do they deal with day-of disasters? What’s the biggest wedding mishap they ever encountered and how did they deal with it?
To each his (or her) own
Some brides are really creative, and others are finding everything they need on Pinterest where design and print material is concerned. Some people have a vision mapped out and have already started planning their timelines, decorations and reaching out to vendors. Those brides are to be commended!
Other brides, however, may admit that they really have no vision, haven’t been dreaming about their wedding forever, and don’t know how to pull together the day of their dreams. So every couple is different in terms of which they need help.
Planner or no planner, prepare yourself for the possibility – or inevitability – that something might go wrong on your wedding day. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. If you don’t have a planner, just take it in stride and remember what’s really important about this day. If you do have a planner, do the same thing. On the account of the added benefit of knowing every detail is in your planner’s very capable hands.
Either way, try to focus on the big stuff instead of details. Be there, be present in the moment, and be open to the love of family and friends on this very special day. ♥