So you cannot decide whether you need a wedding planner. Many couples do not understand what wedding planners do or are worried that wedding planners will take over creative control of their day. So, here goes. My attempt to explain what a wedding planner does, take you through wedding planning services and all that you need to know to pick the services that you need in a totally non biased way (Wish me Luck).

Floristry by Wild Stems

Wedding planners broadly offer full planning, partial planning or on the day wedding co-ordination services. There are also wedding stylists who will style and design the look of your wedding.

Full Planning: (Normally costs between 10% – 15% of your wedding budget)  (Check out my Services)

Your wedding planner is involved early on in the process. Your wedding planner will help you to find a venue and come up with a whole concept and design for your wedding day. Once you have approved the concept and design the wedding planner finds potential suppliers to deliver each element of your vision. My analogy for my clients is that you are the driver. You decide where we are going and I am the engine making sure everything is in place to get us there (and giving you the occasional boost to get us there in good time).

I give my clients a document for each element which will typically include 3 options. For example, when selecting a photographer I will have an idea of what my clients like from our various meetings and then I will send them a document which puts forward 3 suggested photographers, a selection of their images, why I am recommending them and what they cost. They look at the 3 and decide who they want to meet and then I organise an appointment. If they are not happy, I find another 3 and so on. I do this for every element e.g. photographer, videographer, band. This saves my clients time looking through endless websites.

           

 

Alongside booking key suppliers, your wedding planner will come up with a concept proposal – an idea of how the wedding is going to look and the atmosphere we are going to create with the entertainment. Once approved by the couple, the concept proposal can go out to florists, caterers, cake makers, lighting companies, even hair and make-up so everyone knows what ultimate look we are going for. This means that everyone is working towards the same ultimate vision and it allows each supplier to be creative and make suggestions to the couple that they are more likely to like. As the vision develops this document is constantly updated and ends up as the go to document for the team who are styling on the day.

Your wedding planner will run the RSVP List. This sounds like a small task but this takes up a significant amount of my time day to day. We need to know if each guest is coming, what menu choice they are having and whether they have any dietary requirements so we can go to the caterers with a full list (and an accurate table plan). Your caterers will want to know where all dietary guests are sitting so that they can give them their meals in an effortless service. On the day, I always have a table plan ready with any dietary guests highlighted. Even with the clearest invitations in the world, there is often a process of going back to guests to get all of the information needed.

 

Once all of the suppliers are booked (about 12 weeks before your wedding day) we start to create the schedule of the day. This is an incredibly detailed document or every movement of every key person (honestly, if you so much as move on the day, you are in the schedule). Creating this document allows your wedding planner to think through all of the practical points and make sure we have solutions in place to make the day run smoothly. It also helps us to align all of the suppliers and make sure we have staff and services where we need them to be. A silly example that I had last week: the bridesmaid drives to the hotel to have her hair and make-up done… she gets collected by the wedding car to go straight to the church… straight away I know that I need to come up with a solution to get the bridesmaids car moved from the getting ready hotel to the reception venue where she will need it the next day. How is the bridesmaids luggage being moved to the hotel they are staying in that night etc etc. What time do I need the Father of the Bride to arrive to see the Bride for the first time – that moment needs to be caught on camera but the photographer has to leave to get the church detail shot – so we may need the Father there slightly earlier than just before the car arrives – so you need the bride in her dress earlier and so on and so forth. All of these issues come up when we are building the schedule and it allows us to think through the day
and try and spot anything that we need to think about before the day.

Then on the day, we obviously welcome all of the suppliers and make sure they set up as per the plan. We co-ordinate the set up and pack away (which is often done into the early hours). We make sure the day runs to time and that everything is perfect. We problem solve… all …day ….long. There is no wedding where everything is perfect. Something will always happen. The Best Man will talk for 20 minutes instead of the 10 he promised and we are there behind the scenes re-shuffling the schedule so that we still have the meal finished before the evening guests arrive.

 

 

Partial Planning (Ranges depending on the services)
With a partial plan you get similar services to a full plan but your wedding planner comes in much later in the process. You will have booked all or most of your key suppliers and it is all about bringing everything together and filling in any gaps.

“On The day” Wedding Co-ordination (Costs from £700 upwards)
Not at all on the day actually. A wedding planner will meet with couples 6 – 12 weeks beforehand and go through all of their wedding plans in serious detail. From that we build the schedule mentioned above in the full plan. We go away and speak with all of their suppliers and make sure everyone understands where they need to be and when. Your wedding planner will look through the schedule and try and spot anything that we do not think the couple have thought of. The difference here is that beyond the administrative work beforehand, we point out things that need to be done and it is for the couple to do it (That is compared to the partial plan, where if tasks need doing, we do it). On the wedding day itself, we do everything we would do if it was a full plan. We welcome and brief suppliers, we set up the tables and any other areas as per the briefing given to us by the couple, we run the day and make sure it all goes smoothly and we problem solve. For example, at an on-the-day I did recently, as the guests arrived from the ceremony and all wanted to use the toilets the power went so no-one could flush. I instantly got the back up generator going whilst we worked out what had blown the fuse and then we were able to swap the power back over once all was resolved. Actually to this day the bride and groom do not know that even happened!

SO – WHAT NEXT? Really think about where you need the help. What are the elements that are stressing you out and find someone who can help you with those things. If you are having an outdoor wedding (marquee or tipi) then I cannot recommend enough you having someone who is there for the set up the day before as it is exhausting. We, as wedding planners, are often ill after a wedding because we have run around so much and I often think, thank goodness it is not my wedding day or honeymoon.

If you do think you need a full or partial wedding planner. Find out how your wedding planner works and what it is that you need. Less hands on wedding planners will obviously be cheaper but understand exactly what you are getting time wise. If you work in the day time are you able to speak with them in the evening. Does you planner limit meetings and contact (some planners limit you to so many contact hours). The more contact you get the more expensive your planner will be. How many weddings does your planner do a year and how many will they take on in one calendar month? This is a real indication of how involved they are in your day (unless of course they have a team behind them). Do they have a back up solution if they are hit by a bus or their child is seriously sick – seriously you never know!!! Do you want a planner who details in the practicalities or do you want a planner/stylist. Some planners do not style but have stylists that they work with. Some do both to varying degrees. You need to think about how much styling advice you are likely to want. It is worth mentioning here,that if it is the styling that intimidates you more than the planning, there are stylists who you can hire to come up with a styling concept for your wedding who will also come on the day to set it up and make sure everything looks as it should. 

In the words of one of my Brides (for whom I did on-the day):

“Of all the many wedding decisions we made, having Katie be part of our day was genuinely the best decision of all!! I’d never really heard of having a wedding day co-ordinater but now I can’t stress enough how much of difference Katie made and actually feel panicky at the thought of a wedding without her! Not only is she helpful, professional and completely on it, but she is so friendly and lovely to work with! In the run up to the wedding Katie went above and beyond to ensure all suppliers had been spoken to, that all the timings made sense and that we had all the little things in place that we’d otherwise not have thought of. Then on the day, Katie made me and my husband feel so relaxed and that everything was under control. I don’t know who we originally thought would do all the little jobs e.g. lighting all the candles and lanterns, welcoming the suppliers such as the band when they arrived, lighting the fire pit, turning the fairy lights on when it got dark, building the jenga, keeping track of timings and speeches etc. etc. the list goes on!

Katie made a day that I imagine could be stressful into a day that was fun, relaxing and allowed us to focus on celebrating our marriage with all our friends and family without having a single worry. We can’t thank Katie enough, she made our wedding what it was and we’d recommend her to anyone!xxx”

 

    

Quick Help List:

  • Do I want help in finding and booking suppliers for my wedding? {FULL PLAN OR PARTIAL}
  • Do I want help in creating the concept and design for my wedding? {FULL PLAN}
  • Do I want someone to take the pressure off so I can enjoy being engaged {FULL PLAN OR PARTIAL PLAN}
  • Do I need help pulling it all together at the end {FULL OR PARTIAL PLAN}
  • Do I want someone there co-ordinating the set up and pack up {FULL OR PARTIAL PLAN} – this is especially relevant for an outdoor marquee or tipi wedding. The set up and pack up phase is physically demanding and TRUST ME you do not want to be doing it the day before your wedding.
  • Do I want someone there on the day doing all of the little things behind the scenes e.g. lighting candles, putting out displays, welcoming suppliers and getting them set up, making sure everything runs on time, responding to any suppliers queries so they don’t bother you, dealing with any problems that arise {ON THE DAY – ALSO FULL AND PARTIAL}
  • Do you want someone to look over all of your plans and try to spot anything you have missed or talk through your planned schedule {ON THE DAY}