Confessions from a groom: his take on hiring a professional Wedding Planner, aka their WEDDING DAY "MVP."
By Lindsey Sachs
Your future self will thank you.
Just think - the hardest part of your journey is actually complete. You’ve found your person after a life-long quest (likely filled with both hilarious and complicated twists and turns) and your dream wedding celebration is upon you. All the feelings of relishing in your engagement surround you, yet the need to start wedding planning is looming. You’re about to make a significant investment to design a wedding day that reflects your love story and connects you with your friends, and family, but where to start?
As you consider the people and professionals who will support your planning journey, you come to the question of whether or not to hire a Wedding Planner. Speaking from personal experience (as a life-long event planner myself), I am grateful my husband Chris and I said "Yes!" and hired a Wedding Planner. The result is what I wish for all couples.
The gift of peace of mind, the ability to be fully present and in the moment with no distractions. When does that ever happen in life? Your wedding day deserves to be one of those days.
A professional Wedding Planner is likely to become a trusted confidant and your wedding day MVP! They’re not only a trained sounding board offering empathy and sound advice, they’re at the center of the action, coordinating with the venue, each vendor, and your family too. Wedding Planners manage behind the scenes so you can spend more time on things that truly matter. If they weren’t there, take a moment to imagine the distractions you may face...not ideal right?
COLLECTIVE/by Sachs enjoys learning from couples who've explored hiring a professional Wedding Planner. This time, we're curious to hear a groom's perspective and asked Louie, a recent groom from Minneapolis, for his take on making the decision to hire a Wedding Planner and why they not only found their wedding day MVP, but now, a long-time friend.
CbS: When you first started planning your wedding, did you and your fiance Liz consider a wedding planner as part of your budget?
L: Believe it or not, a Wedding Planner was not a major consideration when we first started budgeting. We’ve always thought of ourselves as fairly capable folks when it came to do-it-yourself projects. What we discovered throughout the process was that planning a wedding was only slightly harder than a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle of a polar bear blinking in a snowstorm. The nuances of every decision coupled with the sheer volume of decisions that needed to be made was daunting. Picking a venue was easy, but once that was done, we needed three appetizer choices, a floor plan, a style of lighting, a napkin color, chair type, tablecloths; we even had to decide how we wanted napkins to be folded. I promise you when we started this process, napkin styling was not in the, “I totally expect to have to make a decision like that” book.
In the end, we sought out someone who would be more versed in the underbelly of the industry than we were, as making every decision from scratch was like swimming in quicksand. There is a plethora of information out there, and the internet is great, but it can also deliver an overwhelming amount of ‘perfect’ ideas (many of which take some combination of Martha Stewart and a professional interior designer).
CbS: What process did you go through to find the right Wedding Planner for you and what questions were most important to you in making your decision?
L: The path to finding our wedding coordinator was a bit unorthodox, in that we thought we were looking for someone who could help navigate some of the pitfalls that come with wedding planning. We also believed that someone who could remove the stress of the process was important. Turns out that just about every wedding planner in the business claimed to deliver a ‘stress free’ wedding day. That was one of our biggest mistakes. We originally contracted with someone whose actual slogan was a “Stress Free” wedding. Avoid that person. That person will take over your wedding by believing that their opinion takes precedence and they know what’s best for you.
It was by sheer good fortune that we made that mistake and ended up with Sammie, and someone who had a truly vested interest in our happiness. Before we were even aware that she was a Wedding Planner, she was already sharing ideas with us. It might have been something as simple as best practices when looking for music or fun ideas for the reception, but she never promised a stress-free day. In many ways that made her recommendations come from a place of authenticity. She was actually removing some of the pressures associated with that aforementioned stress by being an engaged and interested individual. Turns out, while we originally thought we were looking for help in planning a wedding, what we needed was a like-minded partner in the process. Because of it, we also gained a good friend!
CbS: What services did your Wedding Planner provide?
L: We originally hired Sammie to do a lot of the day-of coordination for the actual wedding day, but to the idea of a partnership, we ended up with that and then some. Like most professions, she took the time to understand what we were looking for, some of the problems guaranteed to arise, and what we had already done on our own. With that, she was able to incorporate herself into the overall process while making suggestions that benefited along the way. She helped negotiate with some vendors while counseling us on best practices with others. She was even able to work with existing partners to bring everyone under one cohesive concept. Most impressively, on the actual day, she moved seamlessly through the event, adapted to hiccups, and even left a 6-pack of PBRs as an inside-joke gift at the end of the night.
CbS: What advice would you give other couples searching for a Wedding Planner?
L: If given the opportunity to share some insight on the advantages of a Wedding Planner, and I have, one of the biggest things I would recommend is to have a solid understanding of your own goals. There are literally thousands of reasons to include an expert in your planning process, but if you think it’s just to interject along the way then you may end up with the wrong personality like we did. The buzzwords surrounding ‘stress free weddings’ and ‘day of experts’ can be lent to anyone with a clipboard and 8 hours to kill on a Saturday. Instead, write down some of the biggest concerns that you have regarding the process and where you think you would most benefit from an outside perspective. If it’s the overall look and feel, seek out someone who calls out in their offerings that they specialize in design. That person will lend a different expertise than someone who is ‘detail oriented’ or a ‘problem solver’. If you know your families don’t always see eye-to-eye, maybe you’re looking for someone who has a background in civil litigation (not really, but maybe). For us, in hindsight, that was someone who saw themselves as a part of the event and not just another vendor for hire.
CbS: Come wedding day, describe the feeling of being able to trust your Wedding Planner leaving you and Liz to be free to enjoy the day?
L: On that actual day, since we had built a partnership with our Wedding Planner, it was easy to turn over control and let her do what she was best at. A good Wedding Planner, or coordinator, has created their value in the days and months leading up to the wedding while laying the foundation for what’s to be expected. If we were needed throughout the event, Sammie was there to point us in the right direction, and if we weren’t, we were free to enjoy friends and family while she worked quietly in the background to make sure all pieces fell into place. With everything that goes into planning a wedding, it was a nice change of pace not to feel like we had obligations on the big day. It may sound cliché, but in many ways, it felt like things magically fell into place and the day came together almost organically.
CbS: Additional thoughts you think would be helpful for couples considering a Wedding Planner?
L: If you’re considering a Wedding Planner, a Day-Of-Coordinator, or something in between, I highly recommend doing a bit of homework and research before making a final decision. Meet with several individuals or groups to get some perspective on the many offerings that are out there. It will serve as an opportunity not only to understand the value of the different services, but also to help you figure out what you really need. It’s also wise to understand what different providers do and do not offer as a part of their packages. With our early mis-steps, we found that certain providers have a base offering that comes with fees for additional help. That’s fine if you only need the bare minimum, but don’t expect that person to be there when you’re looking for advice or a quick phone call. That sword, however, cuts both ways. When you find someone who truly believes in what they do and their ability to bring your visions to life, you end up with a partner who in many ways will go above and beyond to earn your trust and not just your business.
Wedding Planners are skilled at adapting to and anticipating all needs for the day. Their services become invaluable for the price of their time and expertise. Services often range from Full Service Wedding Planning and Design, to Month-Of Coordination, and Day-Of Coordination. Typically, their services represent 2%-10% of your wedding budget. If you’re considering hiring a Wedding Planner to lead your wedding day team, don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss; Wedding Planners are flexible and willing to adapt services and investment to meet your goals.
Fast forward to the day after your wedding. You can’t believe the celebration has come and gone and now, the memories are what you passionately hold onto. Take it from Louie and give yourself (and your better half) the gift of no regrets and a clear memory of your day. Being mindful and present with one another during your entire wedding day is one of the best gifts you can enjoy together, aside from saying “I do!” You deserve it.