Sunday, March 6, 2011

Step 9 - Decide on a Wedding Planner

(9 Months to 24 Months Before the Wedding)
You only get one shot at planning your own wedding!
Your wedding is the biggest day of your life and you have to make sure you do it right. Planning your wedding is a huge task and there are so many things you have to take care of. The question is, are you up to the challenge of planning your own wedding or do you find a professional wedding planner to plan the wedding for you?

The rule of thumb is, if you have a bit of time to accomplish tasks every week, you are well organized, you are comfortable meeting with people, can handle pressure from sales pitches, are good at budgeting and handling money, can be thorough when looking over contracts, or are dealing with a very tight budget, then you might do a good job of planning your own wedding.  If you say no to any of the points above, you might be better off finding a wedding planner to plan your wedding.

If you are up to the challenge of planning your own wedding, you will be meeting with a lot of wedding vendors, learn a lot about the wedding business, and find the right vendor that will do the best job and find someone you will feel comfortable with.  As you meet with wedding vendors, you should always invite someone along so you are always comfortable as you meet with vendors and you always have a witness to what was discussed and that also sways vendors to take you seriously.  You want to bring along either your mother, a sister, a brother, your fiance, a cousin, your bridesmaid, or a close friend.

As you plan your own wedding, you especially want to find close friends and relatives to cover assigned duties for your wedding day. You will need someone to coordinate any deliveries to the wedding reception, someone who lets the caterer know when to serve the food, when the music can play, take care of guests needs, and insure all vendors have received final payments and tips.

A wedding planner can help you create the wedding of your dreams. You will want to find one that has experience and knows what vendors are top notch.  They often have strong connections in the wedding industry already have relationships with wedding vendors, know which ones are the good ones and which ones to avoid. Some wedding planners know about obscure wedding venues that are not readily advertised, places that you won't find from a wedding website and are able to get a discount that an engaged bride off the street is unable to get because of their strong business ties and relationships.

The wedding planner will help you out in planning your total wedding, will first interview you, interview your parents, interview the groom's parents to fully understand all the needs for wedding planning.  They will help you out with your wedding theme and color scheme. They will show you how to handle the appointments with wedding vendors.  Some wedding planners handle everything and some work beside you at appointments with wedding vendors and others set up the appointments for you.

The wedding planner goes through the budget with you and helps you out to build your guest list, handle the RSVPs, coordinate everything with all your vendors, help develop seating arrangements, help find your wedding dress and find coordinated gowns and tuxedos for your bridal party, coordinate the floral arrangements, handle the decorations, find you a photographer and videographer, find you a baker for your wedding cake, find a calligrapher, find you musicians and be your assistant for your entire wedding day through to the wedding reception.

The wedding planner can also be authorized to handle paying the wedding vendors, do you cover payments or do you authorize the wedding planner to cover paying the vendors off of your joint checking account.  They will work with you to track what expenditures have been paid out and what expenditures are yet to be paid and when. An advantage a wedding planner has, they have an idea of different venues cost and can hone into wedding venues that fit your budget. If you are doing the planning you might approach vendors that aren't appropriate to your guest list size, the venue may be too big or to small. The wedding planner has a strong idea of what vendors to approach and reviews the wedding vendor contract with you.

As you begin your hunt for a wedding planner, you should identify 3 or 4 wedding planners to interview, identify the planners that mostly covers the services you want at a good price.  You also want one that matches your personality, someone you are comfortable with, someone that knows the wedding business and someone that can become your good friend, someone that is easy to communicate with, and one that will co-mingle with your family and friends on your big day.

A wedding coordinator works a little differently than a wedding planner.  A wedding coordinator basically teaches you the skills to plan your own wedding.  They typically will have one or two meetings with you, review your budget and provide you a checklist of activities, maybe leave you with a wedding organizer and provide you a list of wedding vendors and point you in the right direction to plan your wedding.  They may even set up the appointments with wedding vendors and the vendors will know a little about you such as date of wedding, your guest list count, and budget you are working with and have material waiting for you as you arrive for each appointment.

As for costs with wedding planners and wedding coordinators, there are many different cost structures.  Some wedding planners charge fixed costs, which can range from $800 to $3200, many average around $2400.  Other wedding planners charge a fee as a percentage of total costs for the wedding.  Wedding coordinators might charge by the hour or might offer a specific charge per appointment.  In the world of wedding planning, there are many types of coverages.  As you interview each wedding planner, make sure you understand what services they are offering and what duties they don't cover.

For some engaged brides and couples, wedding planning is fun and exciting, and also a learning experience.  For others, planning a wedding is time consuming and stressful.  As you meet with wedding planners. ask them for their credentials, and get some contacts with previous brides. Check them out with the better business bureau and have some good interview questions ready to ensure you find yourself a good wedding planner.  Make sure you interview a few wedding planners before deciding on one.

That's the wedding planner story, are you going to plan your own wedding or use a wedding planner.  If you decide to do it yourself, look for guidance from this blog and enjoy planning your wedding and don't forget to bring a friend along with you on appointments! See you on the other side!

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