What Brides Need to Know About Wedding Planners

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I’m so excited to update you on my wedding! It was fantastic getting married in St. Paul! I really had a fantastic time. If you are also getting married in Brooklyn Park, here is a great place to start. Today I will be answering the questions you sent me.

Like I have said before, this is most relevant to people getting married in Minnesota, so if you are reading this from somewhere else just keep that in mind.

We are going to be talking about all of the things that you need to know about wedding planners why you should hire them.

One of the first things that I wanted to ask you was how far out should a bride be booking a planner or coordinator and do you like it when they book you before the venue or after the venue or like what does that look like for them?

I would say this is probably going to vary based on different planners. For me, I actually don’t prefer to book anything further than eighteen months in advance. Because so much can change if you have a two-year-long engagement so many things can change within the first 12 months and you may not even have a developed vision until you’re about 12 months out. So for me personally with long-term planning clients, I prefer it to be in that anywhere from 18 months out to even like six months out we do have that happen before and anything beyond that usually I say well why don’t you contact me in a few months. 

I have lately been getting a lot of increase for couples who are like our wedding is in like a year and a half we don’t know what venue, we don’t know what City and I’m like yeah I don’t know how to help you. When you know something, yeah and piggybacking off of that as far as that a couple having a venue before they come to me it depends on what they feel like they need help with yeah. I would be more than happy to help you find a venue if you want to hire me before you start venue hunting. That makes me aware of the fact that I have to be a little bit more flexible with my date just in case you end up booking a different date than you originally wanted because you found a venue that you really enjoyed.

So that’s why oftentimes I get most couples who have already booked their venue. But that’s not to say that I’m not willing to help them digest. I find that brides are sometimes really hesitant to share their budget with vendors. I know for me a lot of brides will say we don’t really know our photography budget and I’m like well you should kind of know it before you talk to any photographers but when it comes to budgets do you feel like Brides should be more open and honest about their budget and why.

Yeah, honestly I feel like you shouldn’t do any planning at all whatsoever other than daydreaming yeah unless you have your budget ready to go. Because it helps you to figure out who you can talk to. If you only have two thousand dollars for a photographer you’re not going to want to talk to someone who charges a seven thousand dollars. It’s a waste of your time it’s a waste of theirs and it could mean that you’re getting your hopes up for something that you just can’t pull off.

In fact, I’ve parted ways with a client before because this couple wanted to book things before they even have their budget set and don’t do that if you only have so much money I don’t need a specific number I just need a ballpark. So even if someone says I have a twenty thousand dollar budget that tells me immediately so much of what I need to know or we think it could be between 40,000 and 50,000 fantastic I know the parameters within which I’m working I’m going to do my best to make sure we’re on the low end of that. And help you to save as much money as possible but I just need to have a framework are you $10,000 are you a hundred thousand dollars I mean I’m a hundred maybe one day yeah it is very important and you know sometimes couples will come to me without the venue and they’ll ask me like for venue recommendations. I can’t really give them research if they’ve not hired me but I’ll say okay well like what you know what’s your budget that’ll help me know like if you have you know $30,000 total wedding budget.

I’m not going to send you to the Fairmont Grand Omar for your video. No who sent you deranged a Valencia for even you because your entire budget is what they’re going to charge you for venue and catering probably even more. But if you’ve got you to know an honest kind of you know a point about your budget then you can be more helpful to that you know and like just because you know their budget doesn’t mean that you’re going to try to max it out but you know what you can work with. Exactly it just gives me parameters I’m more helpful with more information yes I would rather be inundated with information than not have enough of it so having parameters and knowing your budget I don’t they see that as a bad thing in fact but my niche is budget brides that’s a lot of what I work with so I’m not scared of a $10,000 budget.

Yeah, I would love to help with one you just have just been honest with me so I know how to help I personally am incredibly passionate that all Brides hire a dedicated Day of coordinator or partial planner or full-service planner. The main point of this is to save you stress and to make sure the wedding day runs a lot better. I personally am no longer taking on weddings unless they have hired a planner because it’s just too stressful but I find that sometimes brides think oh well my sister can do this or my aunt can do this but often times they really can’t. 

So I know that you are super passionate about this as well so I would love for you to just briefly talk about the main differences, yeah a couple would experience from either one or from only having a venue coordinator. So first and foremost it’s important to note that I value of coordinators a whole lot they have a full-time job and what they do is very important and I will say that the best-run events have both a day or a month of coordinator and a venue coordinator and heck you toss in a catering manager in there as well and I am happy as a clam because you just know that everything’s going to be really smooth so this isn’t shade on venue coordinators.

I personally think it’s an injustice to them to expect the same things that you would require of a day of coordinator. Yes it’s not fair venue coordinators are there to represent the venue it comes down to the simple analogy of just think of where their paycheck comes from at the end of the day they have to make sure that the venue is protected the venue’s taking care of the venue’s in the same condition that has at the start of the event as it is at the end of the event, that people are being safe, that they are adhering to the rules, they are not there to run your rehearsal. They’re not going to be the person that you’re going to call two days before yeah because you have a panic about your timeline and things need to be adjusted. They’re not going to be the person that you pulled aside and say hey someone’s a little intoxicated we’re worried they’re going to grab the mic for a toast. That’s not the person you go to and it shouldn’t be the person you go to.

A day of coordinator is there for you

and I’m not saying that a venue coordinator isn’t there to help you. But it’s almost like obviously our paycheck comes from you at the end of the day your priorities are my priorities. I want to make sure that we get done what you need to get done so just really understanding the focus the main components the main tenants of our job. I write the timeline a venue coordinator says hey that looks great or they can we make adjustments to it your venue coordinator second-rate your timeline. No, I’m going to email it out, then I’m going to maintain the timeline that’s a huge component is understanding the timeline running it also knowing when to toss it out the window. Yes and one thing too that I have noticed, if I am working with only a venue coordinator and they’re kind of doing the timeline, they usually don’t care as much about the photos as a planner. Or the planner understands because they’ve been working with a couple of how these photos are. So a lot of times when I get timeline pushback it is from a venue coordinator which is unfortunate because they care more about the schedule of the catering and this and that and kind of being more rigid with it. Whereas the planner understands that the timeline should often be more flexible to accommodate what the couple really wants.

Yeah, so it’s something that I have noticed and you know I’ve actually had some brides where I will sometimes take my past Brides out to lunch and they’ll ask each other. Because some are future brides and we’re past brides I’ll say what are some of the food, I don’t know why I need to do it again but they’ll say oh like you guys have already been married what are some of the things that you know you regret from your wedding and I remember one of my sweet Brides said she regretted that she did not have her own planner.

There was a venue coordinator there and the venue said you don’t need your planner we’ve got the venue coordinator and the bride was setting up the decor on the morning of her wedding oh because no one else was there to do it. And she knew how it was supposed to be set up and she said she wished her if she had gone back that she would actually hire a dedicated planner. We love any coordinators because they do the job that they’re supposed to do but I think the intent here is to make sure that you’re not misconstruing them as day-of coordinators. And even when a venue offers them as a day of coordinator be sure to look into what yes um because sometimes they use that terminology so that’s something to be very aware of.

Do they do the setup? Do they do teardown? Do they run your timeline? Do they develop your timeline? Those key details that you’ll see only from an actual outside day of coordinator that you probably will not see from the venue coordinator and if the venue offers that you hold on to that person like tiny little gold nugget because that is very rare and very unexpected. So I’m noting venue coordinators don’t do that kind of stuff out there but they’re very few and far between.

You mentioned cleaning up and kind of breaking down things a lot of brides will just sort of assume that it’s the planner’s job to do the breakdown. Tear down everything up tell me if that’s true yeah. And if it’s not true how do they make sure to have somebody in charge of actually breaking down? The great question is really glad we’re covering it was actually because this is like this is one of like grinds my gears kind of situation. And this is one I’m very clear with all of my clients about. If it is normally set up by a professional vendor on your wedding day we don’t do it.

So that’s your centerpieces, that’s your DIY Photo Booth, that’s if you decide to put together your own an appetizer table. If you think through the process of hiring different vendors obviously you typically hire a florist to do the centerpieces and the reason that we structure it like this is not that we hate setup, it’s that it’s sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not that’s why we wear all black. You know because it’s sweat, but it’s more so because we want to make sure that we’re being the best coordinators that we can be on your wedding day. And we’re very expensive setup people, right? You don’t want to be paying us to do that setup, especially because you’d be surprised how long it takes to set out each and every centerpiece so for us.

Yeah, so it’s letting them know from start to finish what’s expected of them and be very clear about that so it’s not impossible. You could totally do it. We don’t do all of it for you I have very clear limitations but as long as you have a good crew who’s well informed who has happy hearts about it really is it works out. Good to know. So definitely make sure that you know who is going to be doing here cleaning up who’s going to be breaking down and have that set in stone. Don’t just assume that your planner or someone’s going to do it because if it doesn’t get done you don’t want to get slapped with a huge fine for not cleaning up. Because I said yes, which by the way didn’t touch on this at all but if you’ll humor me for a second, or get someone to bust your tables. I mean which I thought this is that’s actually the line that I use more specifically.

I’m like I’m a very expensive busboy.

Yeah, you do not want to be paying my hourly rate for me to pick up your tables, even if it’s disposable stuff. People leave it on the tables all the time and they’ll get hit with a cleaning fee. So even if that means warning your bridal party ahead of time, and it’s like the most minimal thing that you should do to let them know that they should run around and clear up the tables or cousins or aunts or uncles or whoever it happens to be, someone needs to bus your tables in case brides aren’t totally sold yet on hiring a planner. I would love for you to share if there are any potential disasters that you have saved a couple from where if you had not been there would have happened and been a tear.

Yeah well aside from the casual more minimal like a drunk person gets ahold of a microphone and we catch them before they start talking cleaning up stuff lots of gross stuff that the clients wouldn’t have to deal with especially in a white dress. I’d say one of the bigger ones that stick out to me is we had an event relatively recently where they had ordered the alcohol through BevMo and I was not aware if I was more month of coordination for this one and I wasn’t launched in planning otherwise I’d walk them through the Short Hills.

It’s more eyeshot towards life, and glean the details from them and I wasn’t aware that there was no one on the venue property to sign for the alcohol. Well ESMA won’t leave the alcohol without someone to sign, so the driver leaves and he calls me after he’s left and he lets me know hey, I’ve got a couple of deliveries to make I can’t be back till 5:30 and for me knowing how chilling of beverages works, I know that you need to have it in a cooler in an ice situation or in a refrigerator for about an hour and a half ideally two hours beforehand if it’s room temperature. and the cocktail hour started at 5:00 so that means that he wasn’t showing back up with alcohol until 5:30. And who knows what temperature it would be at. So I mean you could bet your bottom dollar that I was good talking people and just I mean I have no idea what they would have done they would not have had alcohol and even when it got there it wouldn’t be cold. So I called the distributor I was calling the driver back and forth I kept saying stuff like I know it’s not your fault yeah I’m aware of that, I’m not mad at you but clearly, I hope you can understand how frustrating the situation is.

I wasn’t aware of the fact that there was no one on property, I will do my best to rectify this. is there anything that we can do to get this there sooner and they agreed and they got it on the property at 4:30. So 30 minutes before cocktail hour started and some of the beverages were already chilled. So like more golden there but I didn’t know that fact beforehand so all of this panic but I mean it was probably 30 minutes back and forth phone calls with dispatch with the local store that was delivered from with the driver I mean that would have been a lot for a guest to handle.

Sure and then they probably wouldn’t have known how to handle yeah might not even know that was happening until I got to talk to her and suddenly they’re like where’s the alcohol and no one knows what’s happening the clients still don’t know that that happened. Maybe if there was no planner the client might have put down themselves as the contact while the client probably doesn’t have their phone with them. Yeah I know I didn’t really have my phone with me during the wedding because like why would I have it so that could have been terrible like so bad.

Yeah, I imagine the Cal soul-crushing to get to your reception and realize that no I had a drink because it didn’t show up.

I want to know what your best piece of advice is for couples who are at the beginning of their planning process for a Brooklyn Park Wedding. 

One thing that I asked even before I get to the budget portion of things there’s what are your priorities. Because your priorities will strongly indicate where we should allocate portions of your budget. So if food is really important to you,

you can bet that I’m going to make more room in that area of the budget to make sure that we get all of the bougie booty stuff that you’ve want at your wedding. So I think the first and most important step is setting your priorities. Whether that means that you sit down with your spouse to be, or you both sit down separately and write down your top three priorities each and then get together and compare. So photography is the most important thing to a bunch of my clients. So that helps me to know okay so, not only do we need to make sure that they pick an excellent photographer, they have to gel with them and we definitely do engagement photos. I need to make room in the timeline. So while it may not be a monetary thing, we’re making more room for the budget for a photographer, that tells me as their planner their time I need to have more grace where photography is concerned. We need to make more space for this. whereas if a couple said our main focus is to hang out with all the people that we love, we can’t wait to get to the dancefloor right I’m going to be firmer on the timeline.

I’m going to let the photographer know ahead of time hey they really want to get to the dancefloor. That’s one of the main components of this I want to honor the time that you need to get photos done to let you know that their entire like. What they really want to get to you today is the dance floor so hearing the priorities and setting your priorities is one of the most important and most overlooked parts of wedding planning and you have to start there because that’s your foundation. And without that, you might just be like yeah sure we’ll spend $5,000 on florals. But then I can be like, but I don’t really like them you know. So maintaining your priorities provides a good foundation that helps you to communicate with your vendors better and helps you to get the best out of your wedding day.

Prioritizing and really communicating those to your vendors is going to be one of the best things that you can do to get the best out of both your engagement and your work and your wedding day.




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