Dear Wedding Planner,
I have considered hiring a wedding planner/coordinator for my wedding but I am not sure if I need a planner or even how to make sure that the person I hire has the right qualifications. The venue I am having my wedding at has an in-house event coordinator – is that the same thing? I was hoping you could give me some tips on hiring a wedding planner so I can make sure it’s what my fiance and I need.
~ Allison, Albany NY
This is something I can definitely help you with! The wedding planning process can be so overwhelming and having an experienced person helping you plan and coordinate this event can be a huge stress reliever and allow you and your fiance and family enjoy the weeks before and day of your wedding. But, like with any of your vendors, hiring the wrong person can give you great challenges. Here are some tips on how to make sure you hire the correct person and a few things to look out for:
The venue says they will provide an Event Coordinator for your wedding . In most cases the event coordinator that your venue gives you is not a wedding planner. They are an event coordinator that works for the reception hall/venue, and their main concerns are the reception and food. They are not helping you contact other vendors, check references and negotiate contracts. They also do not do budget planning, timeline construction for the months leading up to your wedding, attend dress fittings, cake tasting, go to wedding shows with you, etc. Their main concern is the reception – making sure that it runs smoothly and that food is brought out at the correct time and the evening ends when it is supposed to. Your hired wedding planner works great with the facility event coordinator and many times they are a help your wedding planner because they know how their reception facility works, what works well and it’s a key person to stay in touch with. I would never rely solely on the event coordinator at a reception hall – let them work hand in hand with your wedding planner.
Beware the “Hobby” Wedding Planner. The “Hobby” wedding planner is a professional wedding planner’s nightmare and biggest pet peeve. A hobby wedding planner is someone who has decided that they want to be a wedding planner because they helped their sister with her wedding, planned a birthday party or even planned their own wedding and think it’s their calling. This person is usually dirt cheap (and we’ll get to price in a minute) and has no real experience. The hobby wedding planner does not have the experience, qualifications or contacts to truly make your wedding a stress free experience. Most times this person will make huge mistakes, miss big deadlines and will make your wedding a nightmare. The reason a professional wedding planner does not like the “hobbyist” is because they give the professional wedding planner a bad name. All it takes is for someone to ruin a wedding and then the myth of “hiring a wedding planner is a waste of money” gets out there. They make our jobs even harder and with their “low low prices” makes our profession and prices harder to justify.
This leads me to one of the most important pieces of advice: CHECK REFERENCES. And makes sure it’s not just family or their girlfriend. Make sure their experience is not a birthday party, high school prom or their grandparents anniversary party. When checking references, ask what year the weddings were (to see longevity of their career), make sure they have handled various size budgets, guest lists, types of weddings (both indoor and outdoor, big and small) and don’t just take their word for it. Anyone can seem nice over the phone or over a cup of coffee, but nice is not experience and when it comes to your wedding you need to go for experience. Even if a wedding planner claims to be “certified” … without time in the field, they really have no idea what goes into a wedding and you can’t “teach” someone from a book how to do this job. It takes time, trial and error and a few seasons under your belt to truly say you are a wedding planner.
You get what you pay for. You know this saying and you know what it means. What a wedding planner does take a lot of time, resources, travel and staff. If you are considering more than one wedding planner and the price is drastically lower than other others, you need to take that into consideration – and this applies to ALL your vendors for your wedding. I would also strongly caution you about the “free wedding planning package with purchase” – like I said, what we do is extremely time-consuming and anyone who would give this service away for free does not understand what goes into a wedding and clearly does not have the experience you need. There have been decorators, bridal shops and caterers that will tell you that when you purchase their package, get a free wedding planner. There is no way that this person can possibly do your wedding for free and if they sell this idea to you, you are going to get a thrown together event that is constantly put on the back burner, because they may have other paid events that will always take priority. Unless you have won a contest of some kind, never rely on the “free” package.
Without the click, there is no pop! My good friend and fellow wedding planner, Maria from All Occasions by Maria, and I were just talking about this the other day: You may not mesh with the wedding planner you are considering and this is very important. When you have your consultation, share some of your ideas and ask for their vision. Now, they won’t give you everything without a signed contract in place, but you can ask a few questions, look at photos, read references to get a better idea of this wedding planner’s style. They may be great, have experience, but they don’t share your vision and this happens. A good wedding planner will realize this and will tell you that they don’t think you fit – but if they don’t, it’s your job to do this. Just like when you try on the wedding gown that is YOUR gown and you know the minute you put it on, you will know if the wedding planner is a perfect fit for you, and don’t be shy about saying so. If you and your wedding planner do not share the same vision or work well together, your wedding will suffer.
If you have a question to ask “The Wedding Planner” email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about Celebration Creations Wedding & Event Planning at our Website, Facebook and Twitter pages. For a personal profile, view Kerri Green’s LinkedIn profile or call 607-264-8541.