What a Wedding Planner Won’t Tell You!

Do you need a wedding planner? What even is a wedding planner? What will a wedding planner do for you, and what will a wedding planner definitely not tell you?

I have never been to a wedding where the bride and groom used a wedding planner – nor did I have one, so I had to do a lot of research to determine exactly what a wedding planner actually does, and why you might need one.

What is a professional wedding planner?

If you’re engaged (and if you’re reading this blog) you’re already a wedding planner, right? So why would you hire a professional wedding planner? I consulted the website of one of Christchurch’s top wedding planners, Emma Newman Weddings. Full disclosure, I have met Emma, and she’s absolutely lovely, but this is not written in association with her, or even to her knowledge.

Emma’s website states that she can provide assistance with:

  • Advice on one-off issues, or the entire process
  • Independent recommendations on the best suppliers
  • Advice on theming and styling
  • Help with wedding etiquette and hosting your special day, including help with children and other guests.
  • Sensitive and discreet support during the preparation and behind the scenes on the day including the organisation and tidying up the day after.
  • Advice and planning on how to avoid stress.
  • Assistance in setting a realistic budget.
  • Post wedding services such as organizing photo delivery, wedding albums, DVD’s, freeze dry and boxing of bouquets, return of any equipment etc.

So, a wedding planner can hold your hand through the process, right down to the coordination of the big day (which where I can see the most value).

Why use a wedding planner?

If the thought of finding and contacting wedding vendors throws you into a panic, or if you’re planning a overseas wedding, maybe a wedding planner is for you. Wedding planners generally know a lot of other wedding vendors, so they’re in a good position to make contact with them on your behalf, which can save you time.

In a way, the difference between having and not having a wedding planner during your engagement is how many decisions you make yourselves, and how much admin you do. Of course, your wedding planner can’t actually make decisions for you (unless you truly want no input into your wedding), so once they’ve chosen a vendor for you, you’ll still have to make the ultimate decisions.

For some brides, the ability to leave the stress of the details and admin tasks to a professional is worth setting aside 10% of their wedding budget. Then again, some brides thrive on the planning process, and the thousands of dollars they’d pay a planner could be spent on the honeymoon.

Signs you might need a wedding planner:

  • You can’t envision your wedding at all;
  • You’re already feeling behind on wedding planning;
  • You’re not big on/a natural at organisation;
  • You don’t enjoy the administration of wedding planning;
  • You’re having an overseas wedding;
  • You both work very demanding, full-time jobs and you don’t want to take on extra ‘work’;
  • You don’t have any friends or family to assist you; or
  • You’re having a very short engagement.

Alternative solutions to hiring a wedding planner

  • If you can’t envision your wedding at all, start a Pinterest board and go through a couple of generic ‘wedding’ searches until something catches your eye. Try to identify styles or themes that resonate with you. One of the pages to the planning pack works in a similar way – with hundreds of words for you to quickly scan through, encouraging you to circle those that appeal, and cross out ones that don’t.
  • If you feel behind on wedding planning, consider the little white book as a wedding organiser and diary. With everything set out into simple checklists as part of your daily diary, you can take one task at a time, get organised and stay on track through your engagement, without getting overwhelmed.
  • You’re not a natural at/enjoy organisation? How about your bridesmaids? Parent? Flatmate? Newlywed friend/colleague? You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much other people want to help with your wedding planning, especially those who are newly married and wish they were still organising their big day.
  • Don’t have any friends or family to assist you? Sounds like you’re having a very small wedding then, which ought to make planning a breeze! If you truly have noone to help, contact me on [email protected] and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction, for free of course.
  • You don’t want to take on extra work? Don’t make it feel like ‘work’ – attend wedding fairs and connect with vendors who’ll make the entire process fun.
  • Having a short engagement? Wedding planning can be time-consuming, so squeezing it into a short timeframe can be demanding, but don’t feel like you have to have absolutely everything, or follow every wedding custom. Keep it simple, stick to the elements you really want to have, and sans the rest.

If you possibly can afford to, I do recommend you begin wedding planning with the wedding planning bundle I offer. At $99 it’s a lot less than any wedding planner, but I guarantee it’ll get you off to a great start and keep you organised. I promise that worksheets like the ‘key contacts’ page and ‘on-the-day timeline’ will help you plan your perfect day.

Wedding planners often claim they will save you money, but here’s what they may not be telling you.

The reasons wedding planners can help you save, or stick to your budget, is because they’re likely to know which vendors are at the cheaper end of the market, and because vendors will often give wedding planners a discount in return for their referral. This works in a couple of ways – for some vendors, their life is made easier by you having a planner so they provide a discount, and they may also refer clients to the planner as a thank you. Sometimes vendors will pass discounts onto their clients, while other times they will retain discounts as a commission.

While secret commissions or kickbacks are illegal in some industries, that doesn’t appear to be the case in the New Zealand wedding industry. IMHO if you’re already paying your wedding planner a sizeable sum, it’s not fair that they’re also making money from your bookings, so it’s important to talk to them about this and  know how your wedding planner works. If your wedding planner is taking commissions, just be aware that vendors may be increasing their fees to cover that.

A good planner should have quality/preferred vendors at different price levels to be tailored to your budget.

Tips on working with a wedding planner:

  • Don’t be afraid to shop around for a planner, just as you would any other wedding vendor.
  • Know what to ask your wedding vendor. The little white planning pack has lists of questions to work through, including pricing structure, experience, and for photos and testimonials from weddings they’ve planned. As an example:
    • How long they have been in business?
    • How many weddings they have organised? Can they provide references and a portfolio?
    • How do they charge, hourly, fixed fee or % of your wedding budget?
    • Do they accept commission or are all discounts passed onto the client?
    • Do they operate on a full time basis or do they have another job?
    • Do they have insurance?
  • Meet for coffee and see if you’d want to be friends with her(/him) – if you don’t feel good rapport, will you really be able to work closely together for the following year?
  • Ensure your fiance agrees with your decision to hire a planner, and that he gets on with them too – you don’t want a third party creating any friction.
  • Before you sign on the dotted line, examine the contract. Does it include being there on the day in person (or will an assistant attend), and what post-wedding services are included?

If you’re looking for a New Zealand wedding planner, I truly have heard the best things about Emma Newman going above and beyond for her clients, so she comes highly recommended. Do you have any experience working with a wedding planner, that you’d be happy to share? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your feedback.

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