Wedding planners are OK if you’re a celebrity couple with a six-figure budget, but what if your means are somewhat more modest? Is it really worth hiring a wedding planner? What are the advantages and the pitfalls? What, in fact, do wedding planners actually do?
I happen to be a big fan of wedding planners, and as wedding photographers and videographers, we’ve worked with some incredibly talented ones on both real weddings and styled shoots. So I asked four of my wedding industry sisters to give me the low-down on planning and how they help couples achieve their dream day.
So why should couples consider hiring a wedding planner?
One of the main reasons couples look for professional help with planning their wedding is that they simply don’t have enough time to do all the legwork themselves.
Yorkshire-based Luxury Wedding Planner and Stylist, Pamella Dunn reflects:
“Most of us live in an era where we struggle to find extra hours as we rush from one demand on our precious time to another. Often just finding time to even think about what you might like for your significant celebration is tricky.”
Read on for some excellent advice from Pamella about finding the right wedding planner…
Couples who live far from their wedding venue often appreciate the peace of mind that a wedding planner can provide, as Sue White of Yorkshire’s The White Wedding Company explains:
“Many of my clients live and work remotely from their chosen wedding venue and find it difficult to organise their wedding themselves from a distance – the perfect reason to hire a wedding planner who is on the ground and has the benefit of a network of local contacts and suppliers. I have planned wedding for clients from as far afield as Dubai. the US, Australia and even a bride from Mexico who I didn’t meet until the wedding day itself! However, most have a family ties with Yorkshire and have chosen this stunning area to hold their wedding celebrations but find they don’t have the time to get home on a regular basis and when they do they need to use their time efficiently and effectively.”
This is an issue for many of our Viva la Wedding Couples, whether they are planning destination weddings outside of the UK or are coming from abroad to enjoy the beautiful landscape and heritage venues a British wedding can offer.
A wedding planner takes the stress out of bringing all the different elements together to make your wedding special, as Lucy Wright of Yorkshire-based Lucy Wright Events explains:
“Being that ‘Go to ‘ person at the end of the phone to help with any questions or situations throughout the planning process and on the day being the person who looks after every detail ensuring that the band arrive at the right time, the guests know where to park, the cake knife is by the cake, the toilets are all clean, the catering staff are all smart and briefed on the days timings etc.”
That’s a great point, as photographers and videographers we can see the difference when there is a wedding planner to co-ordinate. Less stress, more fun!
4. Creative Input
Wedding planners are an incredible source of creative styling ideas, Lucy elucidates:
“With so many ideas and possibilities for weddings these days from Pinterest, Instagram, magazines etc.., I can assist couples with creating the right look or style of wedding by offering advice and being happy to say ‘that could work but have you thought about trying this…’ which sometimes families or friends are too scared to say as they may upset the couple. I am realistic and practical with my ideas and suggestions.”
It’s true some of our Viva couples are endlessly creative and have the time to spend making hand-made decorations and special touches to add a personal flavour, but if that’s not your strong suit, then why not hand over the reins to a creative wedding planner?
Sonal Kholia of Carriages Weddings and Events explains what a buzz it is to have that creative input:
“ We love putting together mood boards and bringing a whole new theme to life, we love seeing the couple get excited when they find the perfect cake or the perfect band and we just love the buzz and the chaos of it all on the day. However, the best part is when you see all the guests on the dance floor at the end of the night alongside the bride and groom having a brilliant time – it makes everything worthwhile.”
5. Saving Money
Yes, you read correctly! A good wedding planner can actually save you money. Here’s Sonal:
“Wedding planners work with a range of different clients who all have different budgets and different expectations. A wedding planner’s primary interest is to ensure that his or her client is happy. A good wedding planner will be able to organise a great wedding on any budget – the priorities will just be different. So, whether you’re looking to spend £10,000, £50,000 or £100,000 plus, a wedding planner will make it happen.”
“Experience in the industry means a wedding planner knows how much a supplier should be charging and if you are getting ripped off. They can negotiate discounts on your behalf, sometimes get you preferential rates or simply tell you when you’re over spending on something which isn’t a necessity and need reigning in.”
6. Expert Knowledge
Wedding planners have a wealth of experience behind them, as Sonal points out:
“When you hire a wedding planner you are hiring someone who knows the industry like the back of their hand. This means he or she can point out any flaws and potential problems before they even surface. Many brides and grooms have a certain vision of their big day and though it is the wedding planner’s job to try and bring this to life, sometimes things just aren’t practical from a logistical point of view and so it always helps to have an expert opinion on hand.”
This experience is invaluable. At Viva la Wedding, we occasionally have couples approach us who are disappointed with their video and want us to re-edit. There’s only so much we can do to save a video that’s been poorly shot. A wedding planner with good knowledge of suppliers can help you avoid this kind of disappointment.
Carriages Weddings and Events specialises in planning Asian weddings. Sonal explains that there are some considerations that are specific to planning Asian weddings:
“When it comes to Asian weddings the numbers are usually a lot higher. You’re generally looking at an average of around 300 guests, which means it’s important to take certain things into consideration. For example, if there is a large turnaround time between the Indian ceremony and the evening reception then you need to ensure there is an alternative holding area for your guests to relax in while the room is getting ready.
As with guest numbers, other aspects of the day tend to be on a larger scale sometimes, such as the décor and DJ set-ups, which means your floor plans and dimensions need to be accurate to ensure you’re utilising any space you have as effectively as possible.”
As Wedding Photographers and videographers we are very experienced in covering Asian weddings, so we are used to dealing with the larger number of guests and making sure we cover all the important cultural and religious customs. When dealing with a large event like this, having a wedding planner to co-ordinate can take a weight off the couple’s mind.
7. Wedding Planners aspire to be the best
“The Asian wedding scene is constantly evolving and so rather than just one, we have a range of different heroes who we take inspiration from. Whether it’s Mark Niemierko, Mindy Weiss or Neeta Raheja, their work, which spans across different continents, is a great guide for us to be constantly learning and evolving from.”
OK I’m sold! How do I find the right wedding Planner?
Here’s some great advice from Pamella Dunn to help you step into the magical world of wedding planning, confident you are heading in the right direction:
- Have you chosen a date, place and venue?
- Have you a budget you will work to?
- Are you a creative looking to DIY your wedding, with support from family & friends?
- Do you need help with the design and styling?
- Do you need help with the administration, the coordination and on the day management?
- Have you identified key suppliers who you can work with?
“These considerations will help you highlight where you will want additional support, advice and guidance. The answers will be quite different for every couple but using the services of experienced professional planners for all or part of the above will allow you those moments to reflect and take in the whole experience, confident in the knowledge you are in safe hands.”
“The next step is to shortlist planners who fit your brief and arrange a consultation. These are invariably complimentary and will give you a good idea if you are a good fit. Personality, compatibility and a good close working relationship will be vital. An experienced planner will have all the answers, and more that arise during this exciting time, and will often not only be the planner, but your designer and stylist too. They will save you hours of research and add value to your budget. Their advice and support will be invaluable, they will be the calming confidant, fully understanding how you are feeling at each stage. They will be inspiring and thought provoking, discussing ideas with you that have meaning to you both as you celebrate your love for each other.”
And to conclude, I leave you with the wise words of Lucy Wright:
“I always tell my couples “If an orchestra needs a conductor to make all the instruments create a beautiful sound together, a wedding needs a wedding planner to bring all the suppliers together to deliver an unforgettable event”
A lovely analogy, Lucy!