We only get married once or at least we all hope so. Your wedding can be an opportunity to create a beautiful and elegant experience for your friends and families – a special reunion for everyone. You want it to be memorable and it goes without saying that “Weddings are stressful!”. We all want our weddings to be perfect and stress-free. However, to accomplish this is no easy feat. This is where the “Wedding Planner” comes in.
And no, you cannot say you already have one because you have delegated and deemed your girlfriends, moms, aunts, or sisters as your “wedding planner” just because they are “really good” at party planning. NO. I am talking about a SEASONED professional who has industry connections, have a few weddings under their belts, and knows how to handle every wedding situation thrown at them. Someone that has an unbiased opinion and will plan your wedding with YOUR best interests first. A professional wedding planner will be looking at your wedding from a birds-eye view and ensure everything flows and runs effortlessly.
So Why hire a Wedding Planner?
“They are huge stress-relievers!”
If you have any kind of experience planning an event of any sort, you know it can be very stressful. Having a wedding planner can greatly alleviate your stress. First of all, they can help you with the tasks of finding vendors, answering vendor-client e-mails, consolidating contracts, and pulling together resources. They will help you stay on track with your wedding planning by sending you timely reminders. You will have one point of contact rather than 10 or 20. This will make it a whole lot easier for you to visualize your wedding as a whole rather than bits and pieces as you can send an overall vision e-mail to just your planner and have them negotiate contracts, discuss designs, gather ideas, and have meetings with your individual vendors on your behalf. This frees up your time to focus on finding your dress and enjoy the wedding planning process a whole lot more.
“Your wedding will look more cohesive.“
You would have to do a little homework here and look for a planner that has an aligned vision with yours. For example, if you are looking to create a romantic and European style wedding; you should look for a planner with a portfolio that has more candlelit ceremony/reception, European architectures, and organic/natural style floral. If you are looking for a coastal vibe wedding, you should be looking at planners who have experience planning beach weddings and etc… A good and honest wedding planner will listen to your ideas and tell you whether or not they are a good fit for you. If you or the planner do not feel like you are a good fit for each other, move on and inquire with someone else. There should be no hard feelings from either party. After all, this is YOUR wedding. So you should hire someone who is on the same page as you.
Once you have found your planner, the fun part begins. This is where you start your design and vision meeting. Your planner will start pulling together inspirations and create a “vision” or “mood” board. This board will be the anchor point to what your wedding should look like and feel like. The board can consist of the following: color palettes, floral style, furniture, architecture, stationery, favorite novel/movies, dress styles, and etc… It can be created based on a theme or a “feeling” you want to evoke. A good wedding planner with a keen eye can create a beautiful wedding, regardless of what is thrown at them. Of course, you would also have to be realistic with any limitations involved. For example, if you want a sunny and warm outdoor wedding in Seattle in December, this not very likely to happen due to weather. You need to communicate clearly with your wedding planner exactly what you want so that expectations are addressed and met early during the design phase. Below is a perfect example of a recent wedding that I shot where the planner, Rebekah of Providence and Planning, designed and pulled together a team that completely flipped this space
Vendor Team| Photographer: Le Vie Photography | Wedding Planner/Stylist: Providence and Planning | Floral Designer: Cezanne Floral | Rentals: MTB Event Rentals | Cake: Sheila Mae Cakes | Silk Ribbon & Runner: Silk & Willow | Hair & Make-up Artist: Makeup by Kelly Yi | Bridesmaid dresses: Birdy Grey | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Styling Mat: JRD Art Shop | Dress: Bella Wedding | Film Lab: Richard Photo Lab
I mean, you can clearly see, it is night and day! A good planner will listen to your dreams, visions, and ideas and turn it into reality. I always tell my clients this: “Hire a good planner, spend as much as you can on your floral, and your wedding will look absolutely spectacular!”
So now you know your reasons why. Don’t start running to hire your dream wedding planner yet. There is a whole list of variant names and roles tossed around that are often confusing and sometimes used incorrectly.
Yeah, you heard that right. Most people often think that since their wedding venue comes with a “wedding planner”, they already have one and don’t need to hire an outside wedding planner.
I am here to say:
“NOPE! not even close.”
These venue facilitators/coordinators/planners are often confused with a separately contracted wedding planner in their roles and creative capacity. Simply put, most clients rely WAY too much on these individuals for their wedding planning just to find out that the venue coordinator cannot give all of their attention to just “one” client.
So what is the difference between a wedding facilitator, wedding coordinator, wedding planner, wedding stylists, or wedding creative director?
I know some of these roles and terms are confusing, but I will try my best to define each one based on my understanding of it.
Remember: Sometimes these terms can be used interchangeably and it is best to ask exactly what that person will be doing at your wedding and what kind of role will they be playing?
- Wedding Facilitator – A wedding facilitator or sometimes referred by the venue as venue facilitator, coordinator, or planner is your point of contact between you and the venue owner. They act as a liaison between the two-party. They will be in charge of ensuring that you are within compliance with the venue owner’s rules and regulations. Although some venues would advertise them as a wedding coordinator or planner, you should NOT treat them as one. The reason being is that these individuals are incredibly busy as they are hired by the venue to be the event manager for ANY events that occur at the venue. So if you are booking a venue that has events going on every weekend, Friday through Sunday. That’s 156 events per year! This is a lot their plate and you can be sure that they are unable to give you the undivided attention you would need for your once in a lifetime wedding event. I think this is where MOST couples get in trouble. They see a venue advertising that it “comes with a planner” and immediately assume that this planner will do everything. This is not the case. Unless you want a cookie-cutter type wedding, then “yes” these venue event managers are really good at creating the same look over and over. This is because they already have their vendor lists locked down.
- Wedding Coordinator – This is the bare minimum that I think every wedding couple should hire. They are sometimes referred to as “day-of coordinator” or “month-of coordinator”. A wedding coordinator will ensure that on the day of your wedding everything you had previously planned and scheduled will be executed properly and in a timely manner. They will be the contact person for all of your vendors including your wedding party to ensure everyone knows where and when to show up. This may not sound like much, but imagine if someone was going to be late or caught in an emergency. A coordinator will immediately look for a way to stall time or facilitate other services to ensure the wedding will go on without a hiccup.
- Wedding Planner – This is who you really want to hire if you want a “stress-free wedding”. Typically, you would want to hire a wedding planner at least 6 months prior to your wedding date. This will give you ample time to get to know your planner, have design meetings, and gather your vendor dream team. They will be responsible for ensuring that you have all of the boxes checked before and after your wedding. Most of the time, a wedding planner team will also include or have the option to add-on a wedding coordinator as well. This will allow you to check off two vendors at once. The planner will ensure that all of your contracts and payments from/to your vendors are up to date and completed on time, tips are given to the appropriate party on the day of, and everyone is happy. They are your liaison between you and the rest of your wedding vendor team. If you want to change, update, or correct something, you will only need to speak to one person.
- Wedding Stylists/Designer – This role is sometimes taken by the wedding planner themselves or they will have a separate stylist/designer on their team. If you would like to create a wedding that is published-worthy, consider hiring a planner that has knowledge and experience in styling and designing published weddings or hire a professional wedding stylist or designer separately. I would consider this vendor as a luxury vendor, rather than a necessary one. A wedding stylist/designer will be someone who will work with your vendor team to discuss color palettes, furniture rentals, lighting, and floral to ensure that everything will look and flow cohesively. If you have ever walked into a model home, you will know exactly what we are talking about here. The first thing you will notice is that these homes always look incredibly well put together. The model homes that you see are professionally staged and designed by a home designer. This is exactly what a wedding stylist/designer would do as well, but for your wedding. They will ensure that…
- Your ceremony flowers will flow well with your ceremony seats
- The ribbons on your bouquet will complement your wedding flower colors
- Your groomsmen and bridesmaids attire will look well together
- The candles, furniture, floral arrangements, and prop settings are placed in a way that will look cohesive and organic to your guests.
- A wedding stylist/designer is what REALLY separates a typical wedding to an extraordinary wedding.
- The image set below will give you an idea of what a wedding stylist/designer can do for you.
Vendor Team| Photographer: Le Vie Photography | Wedding Planner/Stylist: Stacey Foley Design | Floral Designer: Modern Bouquet | Venue: Villa Del Sol d’Oro | Rentals: Archive Rentals, Modern Luxe Rental, & Sweet Salvage Rentals| Linen: La Tavola | Bridal Shoes: Bella Belle Shoes | Bridal Boutique: Mon Amie Bridal Salon | Bridal Dress: Berta | Tuxedo: The Black Tux | Wedding Ring: Trumpet & Horn | Ring Box: Lace Byrd | Stationery: Seniman Calligraphy | Silk Ribbons: Party Crush Studio| Hair & Make-up Artist: Beauty by Stacey | Styling Mat: Simply Rooted Surfaces| Film Lab: Richard Photo Lab
Lastly, The Wedding Creative Director or Creative Director – This role is also sometimes taken by the wedding planner or wedding stylist as well. However, I would like to consider these creative directors as the cherry on top if you hired one separately. The role of a creative director will be ensuring that “your story” is told through the lens in the most creative and artistic way possible. This begins with an interview with the couple and getting to know the couple on a deeper level. From there, a story or script is written and materials are pulled from different sources to create the scenes. Before any image or video clip is taken, everything must be taken into consideration: the light, the pose, the subject’s movement, etc… Everything should look and feel natural to the viewer. A creative director is exactly what the title entails, to provide creative direction. For example, a bride who says she wants her wedding to feel posh and high-fashion will have a director who will direct her how to pose and move like a runway model for her portraits. They will make sure that your hands, feet placements, and eyes are exactly where it needs to be for the shot. You might be asking, “well isn’t this the photographer or videographer’s job?” and the answer is yes it is. However, if you look at this from a high-end production standpoint, you will never see a cameraman on a Hollywood movie set direct an actor. The camera men’s job is to listen to the director and capture the director’s vision. In this case, the role of the photographer and videographer is no longer directing, but rather capturing and executing the director’s vision through their expertise in camera lighting and technique.
The image set below is a perfect example of a carefully curated story written before the shoot even occurred. In this story, it is about an intimate couple having a typical quiet morning together. However, to ensure that everything looks beautiful and flows well together; the spatial lighting, arrangement of furniture, wardrobe, camera film colors, and creative perspective angles are a few things that are all taken into consideration.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of the wedding planner’s role and if there’s anything else you would like me to talk about, leave a comment below and I’ll be more than happy to write about it on the next one.
Remember: “Good things aren’t cheap and cheap things are usually not good.”
You really get what you paid for. So please, don’t try to price match your vendors or have them bid against each other, because experienced vendors know their worth. Vendors will charge you based on what they feel what they are worth. You should always approach each vendor as an investment and dictate whether or not that particular vendor is worth it to you. For example, a seasoned wedding planner will charge more, but will have a larger team, know the ins-and-outs of a wedding like the back of their hands, and will run your wedding like a well-oiled machine. A new planner will work but not without a few hiccups as they are still making new discoveries during your wedding planning process. This isn’t to say new wedding planners are not good, they just are not in the industry long enough to know what is what and will just take a little bit longer to figure things out. A wedding planner who is more economical will be planning more weddings throughout the year. This means they cannot pay as much attention to your wedding and some things may slip through the cracks. Therefore, never try to price match or have your vendors bid against each other. This is because it is always better to pay your vendors what they think they are worth as it will boost their morals and encourages them to do a better job for your wedding.
Until next time, have a great day and Happy Wedding Planning!