When you think of a wedding planner, you may imagine someone planning, coordinating, and finishing the whole event–beginning to end. In which case you’d automatically eliminate the possibility of hiring one for your limited budget wedding. Contrary to what you may think, however, a planner is not only for the rich.
A planner can actually play any, all, or a combination of three parts–consultant, planner, or coordinator. In each of these roles, there are affordable ways a she can help you save money, decrease the time you spend on planning, and avoid a lot of stress along the way. The key is finding someone with the combination of experience and personal chemistry to fit you and your budget.
[Sidebar: Not all wedding planners offer all three types of services. You will find some that specialize only in traditional, full service planning. So do not be upset or discouraged if you speak to one or more who feel they must be involved beginning to end. These will not be a good fit for you. Simply stand firm and move on until you find someone you are comfortable working with.]
A good wedding planner knows the local wedding industry, so can give you advice and otherwise guide you through the areas you are most unsure about. Some common problems you may have where she can help with one or more consulting sessions:
- Not knowing how to get started. You may have a vision but have no idea how to even begin. In this case a planner can help you understand how to set up a budget and stick to it and what type of vendors you may need as well as provide you with a checklist or timeline to follow.
- Not sure which vendors are reputable or have what you want. It can take a lot of time to find and narrow down vendors completely on your own and you may end up spending more than you’d planned or getting inferior service. An experienced planner knows what each vendor is good at so will be able to guide you to those most likely to have what you want on your budget.
- Not sure of some details along the way. Forums fill with other brides are great for asking questions and getting advice, but the answers are not always clear cut or may not apply to your circumstances. The right planner has planned through your situation before and will be able to advice you based on that experience, helping you avoid costly mistakes.
While you can certainly hire a planner to handle everything between engagement and honeymoon, some can also plan only certain parts of the wedding, such as handling all the details related to your out-of-town guests or managing vendor communications. Whatever her planning role, there are advantages.
- Point person for all involved. A lot of time and tension can be involved with fielding questions from everyone, especially when you are not sure of the best response to some of those questions. The planner can take that load off your shoulders in the area where she’s helping.
- Help make choices. There are a lot of decisions to be made along the way, especially when it comes to vendors. She will help you narrow down the selections to those you are most likely to want. Because of her connections in the industry, she may also be able to get you discounts you may not have gotten on your own.
- Stay on track. It’s very easy to let things slip through the cracks, creating surprise costs, when you are planning everything on your own. The planner will make sure you are aware and your are both on top of all the details within her responsibility.
Doing it all yourself on the day of is like both directing and starring in your own production. It’s doable, for sure, but it is a lot more work and likely to be less than dreamy. Even the best-planned events have *something*go wrong. Do you really want to be dealing with those hiccups–or even directing the players–when you should be relaxed and having the time of your life? Of course not. After all your hard work you want to be able to enjoy your big day.
That’s where coordination comes in. A day-of coordinator should come into the picture three or four weeks before the wedding so there is time for her to put together the schedule and communicate with all involved. She will organize the schedule before and run the show during the event, smoothing out the final details and creating an itinerary for the big day. Then, on your wedding day, she’ll make sure everyone is where and when they should be (saving you potential overage or other fees resulting from overlooked tasks). You don’t even have to know about glitches that happen behind the scenes.
I do want to note there is a difference between an on-site coordinator the venue may provide and an independent coordinator you hire. Basically, the former is on the venue’s payroll. She’ll make sure you know what’s going on with the room and any vendors they handle so you can make sure your wedding happens according to contract. The independent coordinator, on the other hand, is on your payroll. She knows what needs to happen with your entire wedding so she can make sure it all goes according to plan.
Whatever type of planner you are considering hiring, you can locate reputable local planners through the Association of Bridal Consultants, which requires all members to follow a code of ethics. Go here to find those in your area. Note, if you are interested in less than full planning services, mention “a la carte” or “partial planning” in the other information section before submitting your request.