I feel like an oldie in the industry. Gone are the days when I was the youngest person to do everything. Starting in the biz at the age of 23 back in 2007, wedding planners were just starting to become a thing and the job title of an event planner never existed. Needless to say, I’ve seen and dealt with a lot – and hey, I’ve made mistakes too. But learn from my lessons ladies as the advice I’m about to give is unapologetic and may step on some industry toes. But you deserve to know the truth and I like transparency and honesty.
Let me start by saying the industry is competitive- wedding vendors and planners pop up one year and are gone the next. Why you ask? Because the glamour aspect only lives for so long and they don’t realize how much work’s involved. Quite simply, they burn out. It’s a tricky business and the last thing you need, is to fall into their pit of over promise and under deliver- or worse, never show up.
So let me shed a little bit of insight on what you need to know about your planner before you sign on that dotted line
Planner vs Planner
A wedding coordinator provided by your venue is not the same thing as a wedding planner. There are 3 different types of planners out there. Venue event coordinators, wedding planners and the “weekend planner”. Please know that a venue coordinator is absolutely NOT the same things as wedding planner. Now, I’ve written a nice long blog post about this so feel free to click this link for more insight. In a nut shell a venue coordinator only takes care of the venues details for it to function properly from a food & beverage standpoint. A wedding planner on the other hand manages all aspects of your wedding from inception to execution. The event coordinator from your venue is definitely not interested is creating your day of timeline, securing your vendors and making sure they abide by their contractual agreements. Then we have the “weekend planner”. A term I’ve dubbed for young girls who like to plan weddings as a hobby. I’m going to say a little prayer for you right now if you’ve already hired one, because as they might be organized, decorate and look pretty but on the day of, if anything were to go wrong- they wouldn’t have the experience or the insight to make a judgement call on your behalf.
Experience Trumps Credentials
It really does. Like I mentioned before, some seasoned professionals debuted when there were not educational programs available- thus they are self-taught. Be leery of planners with credentials from online institutes and weekend courses. There is absolutely NOWAY you can learn to plan a wedding and call yourself a planner after only taking a weekend course. So please, ask your prospective planner her background and don’t be scared to ask them about their credentials.
She’s Interviewing You
I good planner is interviewed- but a great planner is actually interviewing you. I, as a planner also want to make sure the prospective client is a right fit for my company and hence do right by her. Her expectations need to be on par with my own as value and quality will not be sacrificed on my watch. You’ll never catch me cutting corners just to save a buck.
How many weddings does she really do? It’s a double edged sword because in one respect you want to know that your planner has a healthy client roaster because that means she’s good at what she does and clients are seeking her out right?!?!… WRONG. That’s not always the case. A high client roster can also mean that you’ll essentially be the runner up to someone else wedding. That means waiting on her emails and details slipping through the cracks. What you need to do is find out why she takes on so many clients and for what reasons. Now I know you’re asking yourself, “So what’s Elise’s magic number?”. And to that I say 16 with a core staff of 5 girls, give or take an intern.
Her support system
Mucho importante. Is she a solo gal or does she have a dedicated team? When I first started out in the industry it’s actually hard for to believe I did it all on my own. Legit by myself. Like what was I thinking?!?! Well I can simply say, I didn’t know any better. Now days I refuse to step onsite without my planner protégé and a junior planner. Because let’s get real, I could use 6 of me during certain times throughout the day when there’s a lot going on in a short period of time. So know that when you sit down after your grand entrance for dinner- we will be there to take your drink order.
Whose Got Her Back
Is she highly recommended by her peers? Do it. Drop her name while your shopping around for vendors and see what those fellow industry players say. Is she on the preferred planner list of key wedding venues and vendors? You should want to know about the relationships she’s built over the years. If she’s made the coveted preferred vendor list of some of the biggest players, then you know she’s earned it based on her integrity and hard work.
AKA the “weekender” week·end·er
1. a person who spends time in a particular place only on weekends.
If you only need help the day of, this might be a good option for you. But not if you’re wedding is logistically challenging with a heavy vendor list. The moonlighters may not be able to provide enough support leading up to your wedding day. Reffer to tip #1 ;)
For the record, I ain’t now noun ;)
Good marketing and a great website can be misleading. If you’re going to do any homework, now is the time. If you’re lucky this will be the only step you’ll really need for vetting a vendor. Once you have a reputable planner on your team, she’ll do the rest of the heavy lifting.
The Price Is Right
She charges a premium for a reason. I know you’ve heard it before from your girlfriends “The best money I spent was on my planner” and it couldn’t be more true! Trust me when I say, I don’t want these words to come out of your mouth- “If I could go back- I’de have a planner”. It kills me when I hear this, because I know #TheStruggleWasReal. So real that I just had to hashtag that. Ask yourself “what am I paying for when I hire a planner?”. Pure and simple “peace of mind” and a chance to feel like a guest at your own wedding.
One Trick Pony
My last words of wisdom. Remember how I told you I’ve made my mistakes too. Well here’s a confession paired with my opinion on planners that provide “added services” such as florals, decoration packages etc. I, once upon a time provided clients with floral design. A great money maker, but man oh man did it burn me out. Not only that but it increased my stress level by %110 percent. Not only was I liable and in charge of such an integral design element, I also had all the planning duties as well. No bueno. And any other planner out there doing this, I say stop! You’re overloading yourself and you’re going to drop the ball. To all brides out there, don’t ask this of your planner.
So there you have it. My unadulterated insight.