As a wedding planner, I work with many different couples and many different personalities. The truth is that not every engaged couple needs a wedding planner. I know…shocker, coming from a planner! The overwhelming majority of my clients hire me as a wedding day coordinator because they really want to plan their own wedding and be very hands-on. I totally get that and am happy to oblige in this situation with a package that suits that particular client’s needs. I do feel very strongly that every couple needs at least a wedding day coordinator and there are some couples that can benefit from more with an actual planning package. Let’s go through some options and misconceptions about planners to help you better understand why you may need a planner/coordinator for your wedding.
Wedding Day Coordinator
Even if you’re an ultra-organized DIY couple, you still need someone on your wedding day to help bring your vision to life. A day-of coordinator will run the entire wedding day (and the rehearsal!) and make sure that all of your hard work and plans are executed smoothly so you can enjoy yourself and relax. Think of a “day-of coordinator” as a general contractor or a symphony conductor.
It is worth mentioning that as wedding planners, we really are trying to phase out the term, “day-of coordinator,” because of course, none of us are only working on the day of the wedding. We typically will begin the process about one month out with timeline creation, subsequent emails to vendors, one to two weeks worth of corresponding with vendors before wedding day, on-site coordination at the rehearsal and then yes, finally wedding day coordination. Most planners are starting to call this service things like: wedding day management, month-of coordination or just wedding management.
Although I personally do not offer this service anymore, many planners do this as a middle option. Perhaps you have some of your wedding already planned, but want help with everything left to do. Or you may only need assistance with certain tasks, but want to take the reins on others. A partial planning package is perfect for this scenario and offers an affordable option for couples to retain professional service.
I actually replaced my partial planning with a virtual planning option for the true millennial couple. I found most of my clients did not care whether I was at their cake tasting or not and the majority of planning could be done very efficiently from a virtual standpoint. Through a series of digital software programs, email, phone and text, I have planned many weddings this way and because it decreases my overhead costs, I can charge half of what my full planning package costs, saving couples literally thousands of dollars.
A full planner is going to walk you through every stage of planning and give you tons of face time. This is a fun option, and offers peace of mind knowing that any meeting you attend with a vendor you will have an advisor present to assist you the whole way. Full planners will attend your wedding gown appointments, catering appointments, cake tastings, linen rental meetings….everything. They can even attend meetings for you if you are too busy or just can’t make it to a meeting. This way things get done regardless of your schedule and you have a point person who can report back to you anything you may have missed.
All – Inclusive
This is another service that I do not offer in my business, but I have plenty of planner friends that do and they love it. Basically, as the client you are charged one large up front fee by your planner. The planner sets out for you to do all the planning, sign all the contracts with vendors, and pay vendors from the fee they charged you at the beginning of the process. Generally, an all-inclusive planner gets “kickbacks” or a finder’s fee/commission from the vendors they book and tend to work with the same vendors over and over again because of this type of arrangement. There is nothing wrong with this and it is very common business practice. I do not like this type of service for my business simply because for me personally, that is not something that as a bride I would want. My mode of thought here is essentially that a client who wants this type of service is probably not going to be my typical client and they are better off hiring a planner that they will mesh with best.
Misconception #1 – My Venue Has a Coordinator
A venue coordinator is not your wedding coordinator. They are not going to line up your wedding party to send them down the aisle, create a timeline for you, confirm your vendors, make sure vendors are showing up on time then call them if they don’t, tell the DJ when to cue the cake cutting…and on and on.
A venue coordinator is going to unlock the doors for you, turn on the lights, make sure the bathrooms have toilet paper and anything else you can think of that is directly tied to the venue itself.
Misconception #2 – My DJ is Going to Coordinate My Wedding
When I show up to a wedding, the DJ and the photographer are usually the first ones to say, “I am so glad you are here.” Your DJ and your photographer should not be expected to coordinate the flow of your day, but too often I have heard stories from colleagues where this happens all the time. Your vendors have their own jobs to do, so putting vendors in a position where they are forced to coordinate your wedding, takes away from the job that they are supposed to be doing and the job you paid them to do. Inevitably, things are going to be overlooked or skipped altogether.
Misconception #3 – My Caterer Has an On-Site Event Coordinator
Your caterer has a point person who is managing the catering staff and the food/bar. This is similar to a Venue Coordinator in that the catering Event Coordinator is concerned only with their bits. They are not going to be responsible for anything outside their realm of service.
Misconception #4 – My Friend/Family Member is Going to Plan and Coordinate
That’s cute, but just no. Your friends and family are your guests. This used to be commonplace thirty years ago, but weddings have become too involved to be able to make this work effectively. A modern wedding is a production and requires a professionally trained person to be able to handle everything that will arise. Generally, guests are drinking and having fun, so if you think your MOH is going to remember to make sure cake plates are set out and forks and fill your champagne glasses before you cut the cake, cue the DJ to make the announcement, go grab the caterer for the cutting and serving, go tap you and your fiance that it is time and tap the photographer, so they don’t miss getting photos…not going to happen. As far as planning goes, a best friend or family member may be a great help to you during the planning process, but you have to remember that working with a certified, trained professional who does this every day for a living is going to be a totally different experience and will save you loads of heartache and stress.
Misconception #5 – I Cannot Afford a Wedding Planner
Planners can save you money. We know where you can find the best deals with the best vendors. We know when a quote doesn’t look quite right. We have friends in the industry and can get you discounts – they are called “planner discounts.” And let’s face it, time is money and the time you will save by hiring a planner is absolutely priceless.
Misconception #6 – But I Don’t Want the Planner to Take Away All the Fun of Planning
My typical clients are self-professed type-A personalities. I don’t know why, but I do tend to attract very professional, super savvy clients who need me to allow them to be a part of the planning…and I LOVE that! It is so much more fun for me to have clients that are actively part of the process. We are definitely not here to steal your thunder or do it for you, but rather with you. In fact, there are several things that a planner can’t do on their own – things like seating charts and guest lists – you are the master of your world, your tastes, likes and dislikes. Planners are merely a conduit which to funnel this information through for composition.
You can find out more about Meredith Corning and her services here:
Phone: (501) 882 2530
Headshot Images by Sydney Rasch