Why Hire a Wedding Planner or Coordinator?

The Wedding Planner (Columbia Pictures)

I was hesitant to write this article because as a wedding planner I don’t want to sound biased or to come across like a sales pitch, BUT after hearing a horror story from a recent wedding without a planner and having a potential client decide not to hire a wedding planner at all and “trust the on-site catering manager,” I realized that it is necessary to inform couples on the IMPORTANCE OF A WEDDING PLANNER!

Last weekend a friend of mine attended a wedding (without planner) where the hotel gave away the bride & groom’s wedding night ‘honeymoon suite’ because the hotel was overbooked and the couple hadn’t checked in (since they didn’t have time before the ceremony).  After the reception ended the couple went to check in and the hotel informed them that they gave away their room, were sold out and there was nothing more the hotel could do!  The couple ended up driving 45 minutes back to their home at 3am the night of their wedding because they had no place to go!  If they had a wedding planner, this would not have happened.

There are many wedding horror stories, but one of the best articles I have read is by wedding expert Leila Khalil of Be Inspired PR.  She recounts a series the disasters that occurred at one wedding all in the same night: {Inspired by This} Please Hire A Wedding Planner. Her best piece of advice: “You get what you pay for! SO when you don’t pay for a friend who is helping you out as your “day of stand in coordinator” OR you find one that is only a couple hundred dollars…. guess what- it may not be that good of an outcome… There is a huge difference between a venue coordinator and a legitimate wedding planner.” [Update (11/17/11): Also check out Leila’s article in the Huffington Post called Hire a Wedding Planner… or Else]

What is the difference between a “wedding planner” and “wedding coordinator”?

A wedding planner and wedding coordinator are essentially the same thing, the difference is between the role of a “day-of coordinator” and a planner.

A day-of coordinator (which isn’t really a “day-of” only coordinator) usually begins services close to wedding date and after the couple has hired all their vendors and venue. This is why most planners have changed their services to say “month-of coordination.” Her role is to be in charge of the actual wedding by managing all the details that the bride and groom have spent months planning to make sure that everything comes together in the end exactly as the couple imagined. A coordinator allows the couple, wedding party and guests to enjoy their special day without the stress. She is the brain, the point of contact and the spokesperson for the couple on the day-of the wedding. Do not confuse this with a venue manager, food and beverage manager or on-site coordinator as they are only representing the venue (despite what you might think). Think of a “day-of coordinator” as a general contractor or a symphony conductor.

A wedding planner goes beyond just the day-of the wedding. A planner will work with the couple for up to a year or more before the big day helping with everything from design creation, budget management, stationary/invitations, vendor booking and suggestions, and contract negotiation or review along with coordinating everything the day of the wedding. A wedding planner is there to help reduce stress by managing and organizing all the details from start to finish, for example, she can check out Wedding Music Bands and recommend the best. This is a great option for couples that want assurance that they are hiring reliable vendors and getting the most for their budget or have demanding busy lifestyles and schedules.

A wedding planner is there for YOU. It’s YOUR day and YOU deserve the best! A planner will not make decisions for you or take away the fun of planning, but she will be there to help you make informed decisions and to ensure that your plan is executed accordingly. She can give options and in the end save you money (and lots of headaches)!

{Why Hire a Wedding Planner} I don’t need a wedding planner because….

… I can’t afford a planner. It’s just not in my budget ~ Think about the amount of money you allocate to feeding your guests, hiring the photographer to take the perfect photos, picking a DJ or band that will get the party started, yet couples tend to skimp when it comes to hiring a planner that will orchestrate the whole day! It’s like having a car and all the passengers but no driver (or GPS)! So why stop at hiring the planner. In reality a planner can SAVE YOU TIME & MONEY! Planners are EXPERTS in weddings. They know exactly how timelines should flow, how much everything should realistically cost, what are best practices and how to minimize potential wedding day issues. No matter how many parties you’ve planned, your own wedding is completely different. Planners have relationships with vendors and venues since they work on many weddings not just one, so they can give you economies of scale. They can also help you put together a realistic budget and guide you on what’s a good or bad price. In the end the money and time saved might be greater than the cost of the planner, so you basically got the planner for FREE!

… I have family and friends who have volunteered to help me day-of. It should be fine! ~ While this is a nice gesture, unless your family member is a professional event planner and intends to NOT participate in the festivities, then I can 99% guarantee, it won’t be fine. They are your guests and should not be working on your wedding day. They will be so preoccupied with socializing, drinking a little too much champagne, ooh’ing and ahh’ing over how beautiful you look, taking hundreds of photos, and not focused on the important details that make the event run smoothly. They will not be informed on important decisions (i.e. telling the catering manager that although the bar tab has been exceed you insist the bride and groom said its fine to keep it open, leaving the couple with a few thousand dollars more to pay).

… The venue coordinator & catering manager assured me that I don’t need to hire a planner because they can handle it. ~ All I have to say is read Leila’s article above. The bottom line: venue coordinators are there because they are hired by the venue to maintain and manage the venue only (i.e. food, rentals, staff, etc…). They work for the venue and not for you. Their main goal is to ensure the facility runs smoothly. So if you arrive and all your flower arrangements are wrong and the guests can’t figure out where they are supposed to sit, don’t look at the venue coordinator to help you out because they won’t have any idea on what you wanted.

… Shouldn’t the vendors be able to manage themselves since they work weddings all the time? ~ According to feedback from vendors I have worked with, I have heard more times than not, there is a huge difference between a wedding with a planner vs. one without / with a venue coordinator.  Not only are the finishing touches and design usually better but also the flow of the event and communication between the parties (i.e. the photographer will be ready for photos and not out in the cocktail area when the DJ plays the song for the Grand Entrance because the coordinator will have given both a warning).  Although it’s your day, think about the vendors you have hired.  What will help make both your lives and their lives easier?  A wedding planner!

… I read all the magazines and blogs.  I have all the resources I need.  I don’t want a wedding planner to take away the fun of planning my wedding! ~ When you first get engaged, wedding planning is a novelty.  You buy every magazine and bookmark every blog out there to help plan your big day.  However, with hundreds of wedding blogs, magazines, photographers, videographers, venues, etc… it can get overwhelming and stressful trying to narrow down who/what is the best fit for your style, budget and needs.  Once the wedding comes the couple is so worn out with decisions that the process is no longer fun.  Wedding planners do this every day will help bring you the resources that best fit your needs to that you can ENJOY the planning process until the end!  They are educated and knowledgeable in all things wedding related from etiquette to getting a marriage license and are a huge accessible resource!

… My family & friends want to help me with the planning process ~ Except when your future mother-in-law has a completely different vision for her son’s wedding and your brother insists that his heavy metal band play a medley at your reception and your parents decide to invite all their friends as if it was their party.  Think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”  You need a MEDIATOR.  A planner is a good third-party mediator in tricky family situations.  It is impossible to please everyone; however, at least a planner can give an unbiased opinion to help navigate problems. Call Island Event Planners, they will make your event a success.

Father of the Bride (Touchstone Pictures)

So in the end, a wedding planner/coordinator WILL:

  • Convert your vision into a reality
  • Guarantee that you make the most informed decision when signing a contract and hiring a vendor
  • Ensure that your special day runs smoothly ~ timeline management & troubleshooting
  • Manage vendors, guests & all the details
  • Help you SAVE MONEY
  • Be a resource of knowledge, a sounding board for decisions, a mediator, a therapist, and a stress reducer!

A wedding planner is there to help YOU design your big day and ensure that YOUR big day is everything you dreamed and more!

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