How to Work with a Wedding Planner 101

You’ve decided to hire a wedding planner, congratulations! Hiring a wedding planner is one of the best decisions you can make once that ring is on your finger. Maybe you hired a planner because you’re simply too busy to handle all of the details or you just want to know that you have someone in your corner. Whether you’ve decided to bring one on for “Day Of” Coordination, partial or even full planning, there are some tips you should follow when working with your planner.

1. Listen. Your planner has experience (I hope) in the wedding and event planning industry and knows what they are talking about. It is your planner’s job to steer you down the right path and away from danger. Think of them as the selection you always want to pick in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Option one: ignore the planner, option two: listen to the planner. Know what happens if you pick option one? You get eaten by a dragon/fall off a cliff. It seems so simple, really. You’re investing some of your wedding budget into this planner, so don’t brush off their suggestions. For instance, if you’re hosting a wedding that requires you to bring everything in from tables to chairs to catering and lighting, listen to what your planner has to say. If they recommend that you have one set of chairs for your ceremony and another set for your reception, spend the extra money and do it. If  you don’t, don’t blame your planner that the chairs didn’t get moved in the right amount of time. A good planner will tell you what can and can’t be done, and how to get things done the right way. They aren’t trying to spend more of your money, they are trying to make your day run smoothly.

2. Read What They Send You. There will be countless contracts that go back and forth during the wedding planning process. Each vendor will have a separate contract and those contracts will contain what they are (and aren’t) responsible for. Your planner will read the contracts and even negotiate them, but they will also assume that you are taking the time to read them as well. Planners aren’t mindreaders and they can’t figure out what you did or did not read. For instance, we sent a contract to a client once outlining everything they had selected for their venue, along with all of the costs associated with it. They signed off on it but when it came time to put the deposit down, they screamed that the price was wrong and that they never agreed to it. “It” being the contract that they signed. Planners can’t spoonfeed you everything. Be an adult and read what  you are signing.

3. Read THEIR Contract. Speaking of reading…your planner will present to you a contract which will include what they are responsible for (well, we do, at least). This will be an outline of everything they will be taking care of and what you have contracted them to do. Go over this multiple times and ask tons of questions before you sign. Did you want your planner to be responsible for something that isn’t in their contract? Speak up! Don’t want until your wedding day to ask why certain things aren’t being done, because you may hear “it’s not my job”. As much as I don’t like to make that an answer, there are situations where my team and myself are so busy doing our jobs, that it’s unfair to expect us to do someone else’s. Trust that your planner is doing the best that they can to complete their tasks and if they can pick up someone else’s slack, they will. But know their job.

4. Trust. Hiring a planner is a difficult decision because everyone wants control of their special day. I understand that because I am an OCD control freak and no way was I allowing a planner to do anything for my wedding. If this is you, then don’t hire a planner. Seriously. It’s OK to be like this. Some people just can’t allow anyone else to do anything for them because they know that no one can do it better. I relate and understand. That said, if you hire a planner, you have to trust them. Trust their suggestions, trust their everything. I’m not saying not to question them, by all means, if you have questions, then ask…ask away! But you have to trust that they are there for you and in your corner and that you are their only priority. Personally, I protect my clients and know how much trust it takes. I respect that and do my best to give them the day that they envisioned.

5. Hire Their Vendors. This one is tricky because it will test just how much you trust your planner. Many planners take commission from vendors, which means their recommendations are complete bullshit. I can’t recommend someone I don’t trust and that I wouldn’t work with, and no amount of money will buy my recommendation. So, if I’m recommending a photographer, DJ, officiant, etc. know that it’s because I trust them and would work with them on my own events. While I am more than happy to reach out to new vendors and someone that you suggest, I can’t speak for them and therefore, I can’t guarantee solid service. What sucks about that is that if they screw up, then my company gets blamed. Your DJ ignored your timeline that I put together with him because he was drunk and never did a wedding before in his life? Yup, you’re going to put that on me when really, it wasn’t my fault, wasn’t in my control and it wasn’t my vendor. It’s not our job to jump behind the DJ booth, grab the mic and take over. You hired him, he’s your problem.

6. Be Honest with your Budget. You’ve pinned everything but don’t know what anything costs. Why should you? With thousands of blogs out there telling you that you can have your dream wedding for 4 pennies and a bag of sand, why would you think that it can’t be done? Because it can’t be. Planners know what things cost and that’s why we need to know what you are willing to spend. We’re not judging you, we just need a number. I will assist my clients with their budget and then do the best I can to keep them inside those numbers. Sometimes, it’s not always possible and there are extras that come up, or the vision changes or we need to go slightly over to make something work. It happens. But always be honest with the total amount that you want to spend and let us handle how to break it up.

7. Show up to your Appointments. Planning requires meeting with vendors…a lot of them. We will give our clients countless recommendations until we find the right person to work with them. However, we require that our clients meet with many of these vendors to make sure that they click. If you don’t meet your vendor before your wedding, bad things can and will happen. I had a client never meet her DJ before her wedding, and that DJ flaked on the rehearsal, and was a disaster on the actual wedding day. In fact, all he cared about was getting paid (and I have the countless text messages to prove it). Had she met him before the wedding, maybe she would’ve gotten the bad vibe from him and never hired him in the first place. We know the vendors we are recommending, but we want to make sure that you like them too. I will schedule appointments for my clients, and all they have to do is show up. Never ever cancel last minute (unless someone is dead) and never ever flake. It makes your planner look really bad, and yes, that’s a problem. If you need to cancel, 48 hours notice is best. By the way, that DJ that flaked, was not one of our vendors. Duh.

Those are my top 7 tips for working with a wedding planner. You’re investing in them, so spend your money wisely. Ask questions, read everything, and know that your planner is always on your side and fighting for you.

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