I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Abby from 13 Cedar Events yesterday. She is a delight, and just has the best personality! I had her explain to me in her own words why brides should consider hiring a wedding planner.
To give some backstory on my own experience, I did not have a wedding planner. I considered hiring one soon after getting engaged, but I was talked out of it. Several times during and after planning I wished I had followed my gut. I am completely convinced the cost would have been well worth it after speaking with Abby. Read on to learn how the wedding industry has changed since our parent’s generation, her suggestions, and more. You might be surprised at what all a planner or coordinator can do for you!
The best way to start understanding the wedding planning and coordinating industry is to start by looking back. Back when our parents and grandparents got married, wedding planners and coordinators simply didn’t exist! Weddings typically took place in the local church, and the reception was catered by family members. Back then the wedding day was more about tradition, and the parents were in charge of the event. Nowadays the couple has more say. The day is less about classic wedding traditions, and more about it being a reflection of the couple and what they want their guests to experience.
Abby made sure to express that there is a distinct difference between wedding planners and day/week-of coordinators. So what’s the difference?
People, including myself, hear about day-of or month-of coordinators. “Day-of” is a term that is somewhat misleading. No one should hire someone that claims to come in and try to run your wedding the day-of. Abby said, “Even a week 2-week option is risky. You’ve been planning this event for a year, and someone wants to come in and run the whole thing.” It’s definitely leaving a lot of room for error.
“Even a week 2-week option is risky. You’ve been planning this event for a year, and someone wants to come in and run the whole thing.”
At 30 days out a couple might turn over everything to a month-of coordinator. At this point the coordinator’s job would be to execute the timeline, make sure vendors arrive on time, etc. The majority of venues here in Charlotte require a coordinator, so the professionals in this area get contacted quite often for this type of service. Abby recommends that brides at least get month-of coordination. This ensures someone is there to make sure your lipgloss is on, everyone is lined up for photography, all your vendors are on time, etc. At that point everyone can celebrate, and not be focused on the details.
I have photographed many weddings that did not have any coordination or planning. Multiple weddings featured momentarily panicked couples during cake cutting because their specially made cutlery was missing. I also recently had a bride become upset because she forgot the belt to her dress. She didn’t realize it was missing until long after the wedding was over, and received her images. I had no idea she was supposed to be wearing a belt, otherwise I certainly would have reminded her. These small details, during the chaos and stress of a wedding day, could be accounted for by an experienced professional coordinator or planner.
I want to express that when there isn’t a planner or coordinator involved, the responsibility of these details fall on the vendors. Frankly, we already have a lot of focus and energy needing to be placed into what we’ve been hired to do. Having to juggle reminders and a checklist isn’t always possible.
Abby provides her coordination 6-8 weeks out from the wedding day. She feels she needs to be brought on that soon so she can execute what the couple is trying to achieve. During the 2 weeks leading up to the wedding, the couple should be worried about breaking in their wedding shoes, focusing on family and friends coming into town, and gearing up for the celebration to come! A lot of people don’t understand why coordinators can’t come on board the week before, but clients see the value in it by the end of the wedding day. There are certainly a lot of moving parts.
We both want to stress that you don’t want to hire someone who’s never done this before. You should be selective, and look for a coordinator who has great experience, great reviews, and someone that feels like the right fit for you and your fiancé.
Many planners offer Partial Wedding Planning and Full-Service Wedding Planning options. Planners can help you with contract reviews, layout, and guide you through the entire planning process. Planners like Abby provide a valuable support. Many couples are also buying a house, starting new jobs, moving cities, etc. during planning, so it helps to have a great support system to guide you through the planning process with ease, enabling couples to focus on other aspects of their already busy lives.
So now we have a good handle on the difference between coordinators and planners, how do you know if you need a planner?
You have no idea where to even start with wedding planning.
You haven’t done this before. How would you know where to start on this process? “Wedding planners are guides, helping you find your vision in the beginning stages, and ultimately executing it all at the end. We’ve done a few weddings in our time, and we know the folks that can make it happen in your budget and the way you want it.”
You do not live where you are getting married.
If you do not live in or are moving to the city of your wedding, or if you are having a destination wedding, having a planner is crucial! If you are not in the location and you’re not familiar with the city, why would you not hire someone with boots on the ground? “Trust a planner in the area you are getting married to know the right venues and professionals that match your style, budget, and needs. A planner can also schedule meetings and tastings for you ahead of time, so when you do come to town you can get down to business with your vendors.”
You do not want to take on another job in addition to the one you already have.
“Maybe you are busy professionals and aren’t ready to take on additional workload in your free time…Having a wedding planner allows you to choose how involved you would like to be in the day to day planning.”
If you’re only interested in working on the fun parts.
Some parts like hotels and transportation aren’t very glamorous. The fun parts are like cake tasting, choosing your DJ. “If maintaining a budget, working through contracts, negotiating fees, researching vendors, renting tables, counting flatware, making timelines, and managing crises doesn’t sound like fun, then maybe let someone else who’s an expert do that for you.”
If your strength is not managing a budget.
You really might want to consider hiring a planner if you’re not good at managing your personal finances. This is an event you’ve never done, and most couples have no idea what stuff costs. “People start to realize photographers of quality cost. They don’t know florals have minimums, and caterers are so much a head.”
Plus, planners can save you money! Sometimes parents that are helping out (or fully paying) want to keep some of their money by the end. Some couples are also able to keep whatever isn’t spent on the wedding. They use this money for a downpayment on a house, a new car, kids college fund etc. You may have an awesome budget to spend, but it’s things like having contacts that make a huge difference. You could receive a quote for 6k on flowers, hire a planner, and they know a florist that can provide a similar experience within a couple’s style and budget.
“People start to realize photographers of quality cost. They don’t know florals have minimums, and caterers are so much a head.”
This is where I could have used help the most. I was planning from afar, and very few vendors work Sundays where we were living. I could have saved a lot of money and stress if I had a planner! “The average wedding cost between $32,000 – $40,000. You can’t afford NOT to have someone manage all the intricate details and costs for you.”
If you’d like to have a stress free day.
Your aunts etc are great, but they’re someone you have a personal relationship with. When people are close to you their opinions tend to be free-flowing. As much as their heart may be in the right place, if you’re lucky enough to have a nice budget, this weird emotional dynamic doesn’t have to be a part of planning.
Just imagine your aunt is in charge of flowers and they died the night before, or the arrangements look awful. You don’t want to risk being upset and having family drama. “Unless your aunt/cousin/best friend/mom’s friend from church/etc is an actual wedding planner, then it’s best to hire a pro to take on this task.”
“Unless your aunt/cousin/best friend/mom’s friend from church/etc is an actual wedding planner, then it’s best to hire a pro to take on this task.”
Some mothers realize they can’t help with this intense and important task. They know they need to hire someone who can. The mothers feel it’s a gift to themselves because they doesn’t have to worry about a thing.
You don’t have a lot of planning support from you family or friends.
This may be due to family or friends living out of town or out of state. When you have a wedding planner you’re side-by-side, arm-in-arm. So when you hit roadblocks, you’re having trouble making decisions, or planning is causing stress on a relationship, your planner is your person.
You need ideas.
You’ve never done this most likely. You probably have no idea what etiquette is appropriate, the order of a ceremony, when grandma is supposed to be there, what invitations are supposed to say, what to do about flowers or what they’re called, so on and so forth.
A wedding planner is someone to bounce ideas off of, and they help you learn what your style is. This is the most sought after part of a planner’s skillset.
A wedding planner is someone to bounce ideas off of, and they help you learn what your style is.
Abby uses techniques like asking what color clothes are in your closet, what your house looks like, who you like on IG, and what food you like. Are you crafty, do you like burgers and fries? You can’t move forward unless you can define what you and your partner want the day to look like.
Abby is the owner and event planner of 13 Cedar Events. She has planned dozens of one-of-a-kind events for even more one-of-a-kind people. After planning a variety of events for 10 years at a private and corporate level, she decided it was time to take the leap and start her own business. In early January 2016, 13 Cedar Events was born. She’s an Auburn grad who approaches everything she does with a happy disposition, lots of energy and a little southern charm. Sound like you might be a great fit to work together? Schedule a consultation!
I hope you found this post helpful, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out! Happy planning!
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