Wedding planners, or wedding coordinators are becoming more and more popular as couples learn how important they are to having the best wedding day possible. They help make your day run smoothly and stress free.
I spoke with Whitney Neal, owner of Forever After Weddings and Events. She has been planning events and parties since she was a kid. On her 10th birthday she wanted to have a limo. Most parents (including Whitney’s) would think that a limo for a 10 year old’s birthday party is a bit excessive. But she did not approach her dilemma like most children would. Instead of throwing a temper tantrum, begging, or offering to do extra chores. Whitney came up with an action plan. She presented her mom with a budget, a savings plan, and a list of pros and cons. Needless to say she got her limo. Now if Whitney can arrange a limo for her 10th birthday, just imagine what she can do for your wedding.
Calling Los Angeles home for many years as an adult Whitney started planning cooperate events and parties. That is until she had a couple friends ask her to her to help plan their wedding. This was Whitney’s true test, it was wedding day and she was very sick. Fortunately for the couple and many couples in the future, despite being ill, the wedding went off without a hitch, and Whitney found her passion.
I asked Whitney, “What make a wedding planner so vital to a couple’s day?”
You have just spent the last year, to year and half planning your big day. Don’t you owe it to yourself to enjoy your day rather that stressing about all the details, worrying about your friends coming through on all the work you gave them to do? Of course you do, this is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life not the most stressed out.
Yes that’s correct save money, most people think they cannot afford or justify hiring a wedding coordinator. The truth is wedding planners can get deals you often can’t. Part of their job is to start and build relationships with other vendors, your photographer, caterer, or DJ. Sometimes having special packages offered only through a planner. Here’s another truth you’re are probably not experienced at getting married. When you come up with your own budget you’re probably coming up with random numbers that you think things will or should cost. Even if you are an expert in one area it’s really difficult for the average person to be an expert in all the details of your wedding. A wedding planner can give you realistic expectations to know what things should cost. They also know if someone is taking advantage of you. They are expert negotiators, since you planner has spent time developing relationships, they can often get what you want at a price you can work with. In the end they will probably earn a good chunk of their fee, by saving you money alone.
Once you set your wedding date, the clock starts counting down, time is against you from that point on. You are going to spend hours, days and weeks on all your details, from picking colors, flowers, dresses and tuxedos. It’s like having a second full time job, plus you still have to live you regular day to day life. Once you realize it’s all too much you start enlisting your friends to help, but they’re not experts either. So some details get lost in the shuffle, some things don’t look as good as you wanted.
How about freeing up some of that time? Whitney tells me, it takes each couple approximately 20 hours to find and meet all of their vendors for the first time. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who knew exactly what vendor would be perfect to fit your personality, style, and fit in with your wedding theme?
Hire a real coordinator
Unless your friends are wedding planners asking them could be a risky venture. They are not expert wedding decorators, place setters or coordinators. It’s going to take them longer to get things set up, and it won’t look as professional as someone who does it for a living. On top of all that they still need to get dressed for your wedding, if these are your bridesmaids you want them looking perfect for your photos. Give them the time to get ready for your day.
Your venue may offer a venue coordinator or manager. This is not the same as having your own coordinator. A venue coordinator is hired and reports to the venue. Their agenda is to make the venue look good, they might leave after dinner is served, and they are also not there for the rest of your day. Coordinating is much more than just dinner.
A real coordinator works for you, and reports to you. They make sure you have the exact number of place settings, napkins, forks, glasses, and any other details you can think of. They also make sure that your other vendors take breaks at appropriate times. You don’t want your photographer and DJ sitting down to eat when you’re ready for your first dance. This just makes your wedding day even more stress free, when you don’t have to worry about all of the details.
Have you ever tried to read a contract from a wedding vendor? Do you know what you’re really signing? Your wedding planner is an expert at reading contracts, negotiating, and making final decisions. You need all of these to plan and execute your wedding. Sometimes it comes down to not knowing what questions to ask. You don’t think of them until your wedding is over. Having gone through multiple weddings with multiple couples your coordinator knows what to ask your vendors. So you get exactly what you want for your big day.
Family and Relationships
When you get married you are joining two families. That may mean two sets of traditions, two different cultures, and two sets of ideas on how your wedding should go. Your planner can help you decide which traditions to keep or leave out, in the end it’s what’s important to you and your future spouse. Your coordinator can also help mediate your two families into one big celebration for the two of you. They may not have met each other yet so it’s always important to have a good impression. Every family also has an Aunt Jackie, she tries to take over, tell everyone how things should be, and overall try to hijack your wedding. Your coordinator can help keep her in check. By having someone “in charge” and actively asserting your plan for your day. You can be sure Aunt Jackie will not be a problem.
The Big Picture
Your coordinator is always a phone call or email away. For advice, help figuring out your individual styles, and then your style as a couple. From knowing exactly what you want, to not having a clue. Creating a budget and staying on that budget, pulling everything together, your wedding procession order, reception events all the way to your last dance. And sometime you just need someone to talk to and vent, without all the family or wedding drama. That’s a wedding planner in a nut shell. Your best friend for a year.
After our wedding planner chat I asked Whitney a couple questions about herself. First on my mind was why she would move from sunny Los Angeles to snowy Michigan. Her response was simple, she followed her boyfriend Edward saying “I would rather take a chance to make it in a snowy state. I have faith to believe that fate brought us here, and it’s where we are meant to be.” A person in her own words “loves, love.”
As a final question I asked “Why do you want to plan weddings?” She said “It has an unmatched payoff.” To be helpful to couples, they don’t always know what they want and even if they do, some couples don’t know how to achieve it. To help couples realize their dream and live the wedding day they hoped for. Just look at their faces, how happy they are.
At the end of your wedding day do you want to say, “That was the best day I could have hoped for.” Or “I wish I could do it over.” Hiring a coordinator may be the big difference.
If you want to reach out to Whitney or just find out what a wedding planner can do for you visit her website at ForeverAfterWedding.com, you can also check out a video of her planning success on Vimeo.