You Need A Day-Of Coordinator, Really

May 1st, 2017
The more pieces there are of the puzzle, the more challenging the project!  Photo by T & S Hughes Photography.

Someone has to keep track of all the little things. Photo by T & S Hughes Photography.

I was at a wedding show recently talking to couples who were about 15 months away from their weddings.  What I heard from them, over and over, was, “Oh, I don’t think we need a planner.”

What they didn’t know yet is that I get a lot of calls from couples who are about 3 months away from their weddings, saying, “We had no idea we would need a coordinator!”

If you’re in the very beginning stages of wedding planning, let me help you out.  Here are a few of the reasons you will likely say, “We need a planner/coordinator!”

Reason #1:  Wedding schedules baffle most people.  While I find them a breeze, about 95% of my clients need help making up a schedule for their wedding day.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of:  It’s a specialized skill.  If you don’t know how to create a wedding day schedule, your planner or coordinator does.

Reason #2:  Someone has to keep track of all the stuff.  You’re probably dreaming about all the little things that will help make your wedding day special and unique.  There are the place cards, the guest book, the favors, the centerpieces, the card box, the programs, the candles, the decorative objects, and so many other things.  Who is going to make sure that every object is in the right place at the right time?  Who will keep track of things and make sure that everything is set beforehand and packed up at the end of the night?  There’s one easy answer:  Your day-of coordinator!

Reason #3:  A planner or coordinator is an insurance policy with your vendors.  You’ve hired all these terrific vendors to help you entertain your guests.  You have a caterer and a DJ and a florist and a photographer.  Chances are, they will do a great job, since most wedding vendors are dedicated professionals.  But what if someone is late or forgets what you want?  Having a coordinator who works only for you to help them or remind them of what your wishes are can make all the difference between a good wedding day and a great one.

Reason #4:  Your planner or coordinator will solve problems–and often can prevent them in the first place.  My primary job, as your wedding coordinator, is preventing and solving problems.  I doubt there has ever been a wedding since weddings began where something hasn’t gone wrong.  Sometimes it’s something large; sometimes it’s a few small things.  But there’s always something.  If you don’t want to have to worry about that, you need someone there whose job it is to make things right.  Hiring a professional means you have a designated person for exactly that purpose–someone who is focused on the job alone and not also emotionally involved in your wedding day.

There are lots of other good reasons you might consider hiring a planner or a coordinator, but these are a few that you might not have thought of yet.  So, in addition to the financial benefits of hiring a coordinator, there are many practical reasons to do so.  What are you waiting for?

The Wedding Planner and Your Budget

April 17th, 2017
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’ll address the first issue in a couple of weeks, although I’ve written about it before.  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.

What Happens When You Don’t Hire a Planner

November 28th, 2016
table setting

A planner can ensure that everything is in place. Photo by hannahelaine photography (hannahelaine.com).

You’re planning a wedding, or any large event, and you’re thinking of hiring a planner, or at least a day-of coordinator.  But you’re also wondering if it’s really worth paying all that money when there will be nothing to show for it.  After all, when you hire a florist, you get beautiful flowers; when you hire a caterer, there’s delicious food.  But when you hire a planner, what do you get?

Let’s look at that question in reverse:  What do you get when you don’t hire a planner?

I’m in a lot of online groups for wedding vendors, and one thing I see happening constantly is musicians and florists and hair stylists asking the group to recommend other vendors.  Just today, a musician was trying to help out her client by asking for recommendations for flowers, uplighting, and a chuppah.  Now, a musician is no expert on those vendors.  But a planner is.  If the couple had hired a planner or coordinator–like, say, me–they would have the benefit of my extensive vendor list at no additional charge.  But because they haven’t hired a planner (yet), it takes much longer to get recommendations.

There have been occasions when I have been hired very close to the wedding day, when most of the major decisions have been made already.  There’s nothing really wrong with that, but if I had been hired early and had input into those decisions, I might have helped my clients make better or easier decisions.  In this case, what my clients didn’t get was expertise to make their planning process easier.

And, of course, if you don’t hire a day-of coordinator at all, what happens?  Someone has to do the work that a coordinator does on the wedding day:  putting out place cards, making sure the tables are set properly, starting the processional on time, keeping photographers informed, alerting people making toasts, adjusting the temperature, calling cabs…and so on.  If you don’t hire a professional, who will do all the things I do?  Either you will press one of your guests into service or wheedle a vendor whose job it isn’t to do them, or they just won’t get done.

These are just a few examples of what happens when you don’t hire a planner. And just because they are intangible doesn’t mean they aren’t important.  Sometimes, the things you can’t see are the most important ones of all.

What To Expect When You Call

November 21st, 2016
Is this your vision?  Image by theblondephotographer.com.

Is this your vision? Image by theblondephotographer.com.

Do you hesitate to call a wedding planner (even though you know you need one) because you just don’t know where to start?  What questions should you ask? What are you likely to hear from her/him?  Well, I can’t tell you what every planner does, but here is how it usually goes when I answer the phone.

When you call a planner, whether you need planning services or coordinating, the first information I want to know is your name and when your wedding is.  Or, if you don’t have a date, that is also very useful information.  Why do I want your name?  Because I want to get to know you and your needs, and that seems like an essential first step.  Why the date?  Because if I am not available, then I don’t want to waste your time.  Feel free to ask me if I am available on your date.

If you’re shopping around, you probably also want to know about prices and services.  If you tell me what you need, I can tell you if it is a service I offer and, if so, at what price.  If not (or if I am already booked), I might be able to refer you to other people I trust.

After I have that basic information, I’m likely to ask you a few questions about what you need, so I can get a fuller picture of your plans.  This is also a good time for you to ask questions of me.

After you’ve had this phone call (which sometimes happens by e-mail), what happens next?  If I think we can work well together, I am likely to suggest an in-person meeting.  I always offer a complimentary 30-minute meeting so that we can get to know each other.  We are going to be working closely together, so we need to know a little bit about each other.  I think sitting down over coffee is the best way to find out.  Or, if you live out of town, we can always settle for a long, detailed phone conversation.  That works, too.

That meeting is a good time to lay out your plans in detail and find out how I will address the problems you foresee.  You can ask about my background and experience, and how I approach various situations.  Find out if the way I see your wedding is the same as the way you see it.  Make sure I have the skills you think are important in a wedding planner.  See if you think you will enjoy working with me.

If you are ready to move forward, that is the point at which I can send you a contract and a firm price for the work you need accomplished.  And then you will have booked your planner or coordinator.  Easy!