Let’s set something straight right away. The vast, vast majority of couples are not using a wedding planner – in NZ or around the world, so if you’re planning your own wedding, you can rest assured you’re in good company.
But I read that I need a wedding planner?
When you see wedding planning posts such as “Why you need a planner” or like “Are planners worth it” (written by a wedding planner), remind yourself that while you may need a wedding planner, and a wedding planner may be worth it, they’re also the exception, not the rule.
I am not sponsored by any wedding vendors, so I can give you my honest and objective opinion without affecting advertising prospects.
What you need to know if you don’t have a wedding planner…
If, like most, you’ve chosen to plan your own wedding, stay on track and organise like a wedding planner would with these simple and easy to follow tips.
A reminder: (the She Said Yes motto…):
Your wedding does not have to be expensive to be perfect, and it does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Don’t try to plan your wedding all at once.
The reason “wedding planning” can appear to be overwhelming is because you’re trying to do it all at once. When you book a holiday, you don’t expect to organise flights, visas, insurance, accommodation, accommodation, tours, meals and shopping excursions, not to mention time off work (and dog-sitter) all at once, would you? I certainly don’t. Think of planning your wedding like organising your next trip. P.S. I’m currently booking my next Hawaii trip and you can save $40 every night you book with this.
Start your wedding budget before you begin organising your big day.
If you hired a wedding planner, one of the first things they would ask is how much you’d set for your wedding budget. Why? Because they’d work to your budget (and stick to it). A wedding planner shouldn’t try to tempt you to spend more than you initially wanted to, and neither should you allow yourself to be tempted. If the price is too high, don’t even say hi! Just made that up.. don’t mind me. Relevant to budget, and for those interested, a New Zealand wedding planner costs between $4 and $10,000 for a full organisation and day-of coordination.
Create some structure and order in your wedding planning.
Personally, organisation has to be physical. I love my iCal but my social life actually lives and die by my physical diary. I need checklists (and the satisfaction of ticking things off), columns, dates, note pages, sometimes even just room for squiggles… and for me, wedding planning is no different. I needed to put pen to paper, have my guest list, budget template, checklists and wedding planns altogether, as well as my daily diary. Enter the little white book. Integrate wedding planning in day to day life, approach tasks month by month, and tick them off as you go.
Or, if physical isn’t for you, download an app, power up your excel guest list and budget templates, set iCal reminders over the next few months in your phone (invite your fiance!), create a dedicated email address for vendor contact, and actually give wedding planning a plan.
Prioritise and Compromise.
Your wedding planner would ask you which elements are most important to you, and prioritise them in terms of budget and organisational timeframe. Your planner would help you allocate and stick to your wedding budget around these priorities, and encourage you to compromise on other areas. I would advise you to totally cut out many other elements too… Not only should you prioritise them as being most important (and perhaps splurge-worthy) but actually go out, book and spend on those elements, so that you don’t risk falling short later on.
Interpret & Understand your Contracts and Vendor Agreements.
I cannot stress this enough, as I have heard from and seen many a bride who has rushed into a vendor contract without really thinking about what it entails. Wedding planners have the experience to know what to look for in a contract, but with an extra five minutes of thought, and sometimes a second opinion, you can take care of yourself too.
Coming from a legal background, I feel very strongly about this need, so I created the planning pack to include all the questions you need to ask of your vendors to understand their, and your, responsibilities and obligations. Because New Zealand doesn’t really have “wedding insurance” – this is all the more important.
Don’t plan your wedding all by yourself.
Brides-to-be often joke that their fiance has nothing to do with wedding planning, but most often that’s because they’ve taken charge, and their partner doesn’t know how to get involved, let alone help. Make decisions together, and call in the advice of a trusted friend or relative too.
Keep on top of things to avoid stress down the line.
Part of a wedding planner’s job is to ensure you address those things that need to be organised, in a timely manner. You too can organise yourself that way – and I’m totally here to help. If you subscribe to my emails and include your wedding date, I’ll send you emails which correspond to your personal countdown. The little white book will also be your daily/weekly/monthly checklist and reminder.
Wedding Day Delegation.
Your wedding day is your day off as a wedding planner, okay? The planning is done, and coordination is to be delegated. Friend, family member, responsible venue staff and other vendors, and especially your bridal party are on hand to get their hands dirty if need be. You. Are. Not. Create an on the day plan and a list of contacts (both are in the LWB), photocopy, distribute and delegate.
Simplify and Personalise.
This isn’t specific to those not hiring a wedding planner, but is even easier for those that are planning their own wedding – by default, everything will be the most personal choice. Keep is simple, too, focus only on those elements of a wedding that really, truly matter to you. Related Article: The Life Changing Magic of Wedding Planning.
Don’t overdo the DIY.
As a wedding planner will tell you, DIY doesn’t necessarily save you money, and it certainly won’t save you time or stress. If you’re planning your own wedding, spend your time getting a schedule and system together, and spend your money on those things that will really make a difference to the way you feel on your Big Day. Don’t give in to the expectation to have everything, and to DIY because you feel financial pressure. If you’re doing DIY for a fun activity, then by all means, but don’t DIY your wedding for the sake of extra fluff.
Manage relationships and expectations.
An excellent wedding planner will not only negotiate with vendors, but also with family members, especially where difficult issues are concerned. If you feel that there may be arguments, a third party can be a useful intermediary to involve – just to keep the peace. If you’re not using a wedding planner, consider whether there is someone else on neutral territory you can ask to help with family divisions. More than anything, though, be very certain of what financial contributions entail – do your parents also want to contribute their wedding planning wisdom… for example?
Do your Research on Wedding Vendors
As well as asking all the right questions and understanding your contract, ensure you also do your due diligence on each vendor – whether that’s asking for referral couples, or talking to others in the industry to see if they have a good reputation. Wedding planners will know the industry, but you can quite easily find out too.
Get Yourself a Wedding Planning Book
A final word on wedding planning and wedding planners – do you really need one?
Of all the beautiful and magical weddings I have ever been to, none of my friends have used a wedding planner – and neither did we.
However, if you have any qualms about your ability to do what it takes to make your dream day come true, and you don’t happen to have experienced friends who are willing to forfeit a little bit of their enjoyment of your day in order to play overseer, then if you can afford it, a wedding planner may be exactly what you need.
You don’t need to make up your decision right away, you can always get started with wedding planning and find a wedding planner in a few months if you need one.