Over the years, we've had the pleasure of working with some of the finest wedding planners and coordinators in the Baltimore / Washington, DC metro area. Since we love the teamwork aspect of weddings, we wanted to take the opportunity to answer a question that many brides and grooms have, "Why should I hire a wedding planner?" There are so many reasons to hire a planner or coordinator for your wedding ceremony and reception, and we decided to put the question directly to the professionals themselves!
From my perspective as a professional wedding DJ, I can tell you that having a wedding planner at a wedding makes our job a lot easier. When the bride and groom haven't hired someone to lead their team of vendors (venue staff, caterer, photographer, disc jockey, videographer, ceremony officiant, etc.), it normally falls on us to manage the schedule because we have to make the announcements.
Sometimes, the reception site contact and (rarely, from what I hear) the "church lady" is on top of things and can act as a coordinator, but this usually isn't the case. Having someone in charge -- someone to manage the timeline, check all of the details, and be the point of contact for the newlyweds and the bridal party, enables your vendors to concentrate on what you hired them for - be it music, photography, or food.
Don't just take it from me; we interviewed some of the area's very best wedding consultants about the benefits of hiring a wedding planner. Their answers were enlightening, to say the least, and offer some great wedding advice. Here they are!
What is the single most important thing a wedding planner can do for a bride and groom?
Jamie Sears, Simply Chic Events:
"Hiring a wedding planner is the wedding gift that you give to yourself! One of the most important things that a planner can do for a bride and groom is provide them with peace of mind. With a wedding planner the couple won't have to worry that something has been over looked or will slip through the cracks. Hiring a wedding planner will make the planning process stress free and enjoyable. It's just as important to enjoy the engagement as it is the wedding day. A planner will ensure that the wedding day is seamless and will ultimately allow the bride and groom to be guests at their own wedding!"
Trisha Cranor, Working Brides:
"The most important job of a planner is to keep the bride and groom stress free. Hiring a wedding planner can take the pressure off the bride and groom - you're working with someone who has done this dozens, even hundreds, of times and won't let anything fall through the cracks. It's important that our brides and grooms remember that their wedding is about love, unity and smiles. Don't let the money, family, and decision making cause you to forget what its all really about."
What resources does a wedding planner have to help a bride and groom?
Aimee Dominick, A. Dominick Events:
"That is a tough question to answer because the list is so long! A wedding planner has loads of contacts in every category from cake bakers to bagpipers. But more than that, we have the benefit, in the case of my firm, of having worked on nearly a hundred weddings so we can anticipate challenges that you may not see coming. We also have a team of passionate planners who can brainstorm the unique details that will really set your wedding apart."
Sara Franklin, Social Scene Events:
"What first came to mind when I saw this question was our vendor relationships. As planners we have the advantage of working with so many different vendors. I believe with that knowledge we are able to introduce our clients to the right people for them from the beginning; saving our clients lots of research time and effort."
What can a wedding planner do to save the bride and groom time?
Maria Cooke, Ritzy Bee Events:
"An experienced planner can help couples save time by helping to focus them in a specific direction when planning. Planners can help sift through the endless list of wedding vendors to recommend those who will be a good match in availability, style and pricing. It's easy for couples to get overwhelmed by all of the options but a planner can help steer you quickly in the right direction!"
What ways can a planner make the wedding planning process less stressful for the bride and groom?
Elizabeth Bailey, Elizabeth Bailey Weddings:
"After meeting with a bride and groom and listening to their ideas and plans for their wedding, a professional wedding planner will draw on her knowledge of the local wedding market and work with the couple to secure the very best professionals for their wedding “team”. The planner’s knowledge will also include advice on etiquette, budget guidelines, social traditions and event timing so that a bride and groom don’t have to spend enormous amounts of time researching that information for their wedding. A planner will recognize if a vendor contract needs revisions, will know when a price quoted is fair, and will present a wedding planning check list to keep the couple focused and organized."
Pam Barefoot, Atrendy Wedding:
"A wedding planner can save a busy couple time and energy, be a support system for couples that need it, help stick within a budget (even Oprah has a budget), and help you create something that shows off your personal style. Weddings are a huge reflection of the couple so I like to get to know my client's and help them create something special that will show off their love and personality. Planning a wedding should be fun and there is a special formula that will help you do that - don't rush the planning process, take one thing at a time and enjoy being engaged."
What are some examples of often-overlooked details that a wedding planner would think of?
Laura Weatherly, Engaging Affairs:
"Wedding planners know how to troubleshoot with regards to the wedding day timeline. From years of experience, we know how much time things really take and how much cushion time to allow. This helps create an accurate schedule and one that actually flows well on the wedding day. Great flow that seems effortless is the mark of a well-coordinated wedding."
Raquel Shutt, Wedding Savvy:
"A few things come to mind, there are so many! If you are offering a choice of entrees, that choice needs to be offered on the invitations so the caterer knows how many of each meal to prepare. Also, if a client is not getting married in a church, they may not have thought about the small details of a ceremony: who will escort the mother of the bride down the aisle? Who will sit in the front row with your parents? Those details are very personal and should be thought about prior to the wedding rehearsal."
How can a wedding planner’s knowledge and expertise help make planning easier?
Katie Martin, Elegance & Simplicity:
"An experienced wedding planner helps mesh together quality wedding professionals with your budget and style. Ethical wedding planners have long-held relationships with other like-minded wedding professionals. Combining all of the above, makes the job of all the professionals working on your wedding day easier and your job as an engaged couple is to just enjoy your engagement and your wedding day!"
How can a wedding planner help with your budget?
Cate Buscher, Plan It Perfect:
"The familiarty a planner has with an area's venues and event vendors allows her to appropriately pair up a bride and groom with professionals who complement their budget, style, and even personalities. This, combined with the planner's knowledge of current trends, common misconceptions, and wedding etiquette, can save a couple valuable time and money, and can certainly reduce stress!"
Vicky Choy, Event Accomplished:
"Using our knowledge of pricing specific to this area, we can establish a realistic, achievable, and comprehensive event budget. We can also help you determine how to get the most value out of your budget and to avoid unnecessary expenses. By working with you closely, we can identify the aspects of the wedding that are important to you -- and other, less important aspects where costs can be cut. As you make purchases and sign vendors, we can help you monitor your spending and make suggestions on adjustments to keep you on track."
How can a wedding planner benefit couples who enjoy doing things themselves?
Candice Owens, Holy Matrimony:
"Wedding Planners can benefit DIY couples by helping to bring the couple's vision to fruition. Planners are merely arms and legs that are there to assist them in the mechanics and logistics of the planning process. A planner does not neccessarily have the emotional attachment to an event as the bride and groom, allowing them to give an unbiased opinion -- helping to prevent uneccessary headaches for the couple. It's also impossible for a couple to truly enjoy their wedding and "run" the day as well; it's rare that you see an actor also serve as the director too."
Linnyette Richardson-Hall, Premiere Event Management:
"It's okay to be "invested" in the planning process - but remember that while you are putting your loving, individual touches on this celebration, you cannot manage all aspects of it. A great wedding planner will help you marry your ideas and thoughts into the overall process as well as ensure that what you've worked so hard on comes to fruition in a seamless, flowing manner."
How can a wedding planner help mediate potential conflicts with family?
Sara Bauleke, Bella Notte:
"Wedding planners can be a great asset in terms of mediating differences that arise during the planning process. It really helps to have someone involved who is removed from the emotions that can complicate decision making for your wedding. As planners, we're able to help you step back and consider how important a particular issue is to you, so that you can determine if it's an issue worth taking a stand on or if it's something that, in the grand scheme of things, you don't mind compromising on. We do the same thing with your family members, as well! Our experience enables us to take two differing points of view and create a compromise that reflects what both parties want, so that everyone ends up pleased with the final result."
What things can a wedding planner do to help the bride and groom stay on track and organized?
Lisa Nelson, Elegant Event Planning and Design:
"A good planner will have multiple timelines to keep the bride and groom on schedule, but will never bother them with the timelines. The planer will ensure that everything is done in the correct order -- for instance, the registries and websites must be done before the "save the dates" are mailed. The timeline is the wedding planner's bible as it tracks what needs to be done when, so nothing is overlooked. Everything gets accomplished according to that document, it's very very important!"
Fran Aycock, Forrach Event Planning:
"Especially for busy working brides, secure online document sharing services (such as Google Docs) are a great way to keep everyone organized and on the same page. Contracts, budget sheets, and payment schedules can be shared and revised without worrying if anything is being missed. I've also used calendar reminders through Yahoo! to send clients reminders on dates when things should be done, such as selecting the DJ, booking rooms at hotels, and so on."
What's the biggest benefit to having a "day-of" or "month-of" coordinator if you can't afford full planning?
Laura Auer, Wish Special Events:
"During the planning process, brides are able to deal with spreadsheets, contracts, negotiations, logistics, and the 'business' end of planning a wedding. On the big day, though, they want to just show up, get dressed, get married, and have fun! Wedding day coordinators take over the 'business' side of the wedding, allowing brides and their families to relax, let go, and have a wonderful stress-free day."
Are you convinced yet? If not, here's the clincher -- Jennifer and I hired a wedding coordinator for our wedding in 2002, and I can honestly say that it was the best money we spent on the entire wedding. You might think that we'd skip the planner, with both of us being in the industry and all (Jennifer used to be the wedding coordinator at several hotels and reception sites in the Baltimore area, including the Lord Baltimore), but no! Having a planner there on the wedding day took the stress off Jennifer and let her relax and enjoy everything. We gave Heather (our coordinator) a gigantic packet of information on every excruciating detail we had planned, and she made sure everything was perfect. And, it was!
If you haven't considered hiring a wedding planner or coordinator, you should definitely do so -- your vendors will thank you, your wedding will run more smoothly, and you'll be able to relax and fully enjoy yourself on your wedding day. Thank you so much to all of the fabulous wedding planners who helped with this article, you have all been amazing and I really appreciate it!