Re-run: The Wedding Planner and Your Budget

February 12th, 2018
Even a very small wedding can benefit from having a coordinator.

Even a very small wedding can benefit from having a coordinator.

There are two major reasons people don’t hire a wedding planner or coordinator:  First, they think they don’t need one.  Second, they think they can’t afford one.  I’ve addressed the first issue in the past.  Today, let’s talk about how a wedding planner or coordinator has an impact on your wedding budget.

Hiring a day-of coordinator for your wedding can add a few thousand dollars to your budget (depending on which coordinator you hire).  It’s usually less than 10% of the budget, unless you have a very small budget.  Is that the end of its impact on your budget?  Hardly!

When you hire a coordinator, you can actually save money.  And the earlier you hire, the more likely your coordinator will be able to help you save money.  One of the things that makes weddings expensive is the fact that a great many people getting married have never planned a wedding before and can get trapped into spending more than necessary.

That is one of the reasons why I encourage my clients to keep in touch with me as they plan.  Let’s say you hire me to coordinate your wedding as soon as you have a date, maybe a year in advance.  You can always drop me a note or call me up when you have a question or problem.  Chances are, I have an economical solution.

I was talking to a woman recently who was a couple of months away from her wedding.  She was thinking about hiring a coordinator, but before we were able to have a discussion about it, her budget blew up and she decided she couldn’t afford me.  I kept thinking what a shame it was that she hadn’t hired me much earlier and given me a chance to prevent the budget blow-up in the first place.

So, when you’re making your budget, include a reasonable amount for coordination.  In the long run, your budget will thank you.

2018 Prices–And a Discount!

January 8th, 2018
Photo by Ryan Timm Photography.

Photo by Ryan Timm Photography.

I’m very pleased to announce my new 2018 pricing for day-of (“month-of”) coordinating services.  For 2018, coordinating services will be priced at $1,350.

My coordinating package includes set-up and coordination on the wedding day for up to eight hours, along with one assistant; pre-wedding vendor confirmation and coordination. up to one hour of wedding rehearsal; timelines, schedules, and layouts for you and for your vendors; one one-hour meeting at the venue; and unlimited phone calls, texts, and emails from contract signing through the wedding day.

That, of course, is just the flat fee for the standard package.  I am always willing to craft a custom package to suit your particular circumstances.  My only caveat is that I don’t give discounts.

Okay, I just lied!!  I do give just one particular discount.  When you get in touch with me, if you mention a friend(/acquaintance/co-worker/neighbor/relative/etc.) of yours who used my services in the past, I will be happy to give you the 2017 coordinating rate in 2018.  Past clients, please take note:  Your friends can get a discount on my services if they mention your name.  Let them know they can get a good deal.  This offer is good until the end of 2018.

Finally, due to to circumstances beyond my control, the prices on the Money page of my website are out of date. I would update them if I could, but it’s not possible right now.  So, please take note of the current prices here.  As always, I’m happy to answer questions if you want to get in touch.

Re-Run: Sign on the Dotted Line

November 27th, 2017

I’m re-running some old posts since I think they have some useful information.  Here’s one from a few years ago that never goes out of style:

This bakery had a good contract--and good chocolate!  Photo by Carasco Photography.

This bakery had a good contract–and good chocolate! Photo by Carasco Photography.

I want to share with you some information I give to many of my clients.  It’s on a subject that is hardly glamorous, but is very, very important:  Contracts.  I’m not a contract lawyer, but this is what I have learned by experience.

When you are planning a big celebration, you will have to deal with a number of vendors, and each one of them should give you a contract.  And each one will require a certain amount of your attention.  You should read carefully each contract you are given.  Make sure you agree with every point in it before you sign it.  Because once you sign it, it becomes a legally binding document that might be very hard to get out of.  It’s much better to negotiate it before you sign it.

And all contracts are negotiable, no matter what your vendor says.  The point of a contract is to come to an agreement between parties, so don’t be afraid to negotiate your part of the agreement.  I’m not saying that you can get everything you want into (or out of) every contract, but you don’t have to take whatever they give you without a murmur if you don’t like it.

Every contract should contain a certain minimum of information.  It should have the vendor’s name, address, and phone number on it.  If the vendor wants you to contact them some other way than by phone, that information should also be on the contract so it is easily available.  The contract should also state clearly exactly what the vendor is going to do for you and when they are going to do it.  Likewise, it should say how much you are expected to pay and when.

It is a good idea to include details in the contract:  When and where will deliveries be made?  Will the vendor only bring their goods to the venue or will they also set things up?  If you change your mind and want something extra, what happens?  And what will it cost?  What happens if one party or the other fails to live up to the agreement?  Finally, the contract should be signed and dated by both parties.

Florists and bakeries (in my experience) are notorious for offering incomplete contracts.  Often, small shops don’t have the resources to put together complete contracts.  In this case, you should not hesitate to hand write the missing information onto the contract before it is signed, and make sure the vendor initials the changes.  This will protect both of you.

I learned some of this from my dealings with a certain florist.  What passed for a contract from this florist was just a list of floral options and prices, with one of them circled.  There was no information on delivery or set-up.  I understood from my client that the florist was going to bring all the floral arrangements into the venue and I would set them up.  I even discussed delivery with the shop in the week before the wedding.  Oddly, no one mentioned that the centerpieces weighed between 50 and 100 pounds, somewhat more than I can carry on my own.  The owner of the shop showed up with the centerpieces, carried them down a flight of steps, and placed them where they belonged.  I thought all was well.  Five days after the wedding, I got an e-mail from the floral shop asking for additional payment because the owner had had to do extra work on the delivery.  Fortunately, I had a copy of their contract and was able to explain that they should not expect to recoup their losses from me.  It also might have been better if a complaint had been made on the spot so I could have solved the problem before it happened.

That experience is also one of the reasons I always insist on having copies of every contract that a client has with their vendors.  I can head off a lot of trouble if I know exactly what is expected of each vendor.  So, read your contracts, make sure you agree with their contents, and send a copy on to your planner.  You’ll be happy you did.

When Should You Hire Your Planner?

November 6th, 2017
Was it planned 2 years in advance?  Or two days?  Photo by T & S Hughes Photography.

Was it planned 2 years in advance? Or two days? Photo by T & S Hughes Photography.

Here’s a question that does not get asked nearly often enough:  When should you hire a coordinator or planner for your wedding or other large event?

The short answer is:  As soon as possible.

If you’re hiring a full-service planner or even someone who is only doing partial planning plus coordinating, you obviously want to hire that person well in advance of the date of the event.  You need to give them time to do their job, which is to plan your event.  No one wants to do a rush job or do the job badly, so ample time is necessary.

But even if you are hiring someone who is only coordinating the day of your event, it is still a good idea to book early.  For one thing, you want to find someone who is available on the date of your event, and Saturday nights start booking up as you approach the date.  But beyond the practicalities of who is available, booking early gives you access to your coordinator’s advice and expertise for a longer period of time, saving you money and headaches.  And it allows for enough time for your coordinator to get to know you and understand what you want.

I don’t know how most planners charge, but if you hire me early, it doesn’t cost you a penny more than if you hire me later.  (In fact, it can save you money.)  My fee is based on the average amount of time I expect to put in on your event, and always includes unlimited phone calls, texts, and emails from the time you hire me until the day of your event.

And what if you’ve waited until the last minute to hire someone to coordinate your event?  Do not despair!  I actually specialize in last-minute jobs (if I am available).  While it’s nice to have months to sort out the details and make sure everything is in place, I’ve coordinated weddings with less than 48 hours notice!

One final word of advice:  Most planners won’t book more than 12 to 18 months out.  That’s my general window, as well.  So, if you are more than a-year-and-a-half from the date of your wedding or event, that is the one time I recommend waiting to hire.  But within a year or so of the date, don’t delay.  Start making calls or sending emails to find the planner who is the right fit for your event.  We all appreciate your booking early.