After many years of being in the wedding industry, I STILL get asked by close friends and family, “so, what do you actually do?”
There is a LOT that goes into being a wedding planner and the roles we take on to make sure you have the most special, memorable and STRESS-FREE day. You might justify not hiring a wedding planner simply because there isn’t much education out there helping couples understand what a wedding planner does to take stress off their clients. Studies have shown that a couple planning their wedding within an 8-12 month span spends roughly 300-500 hours planning their wedding without a wedding planner. Hiring a wedding planner merely cuts that time in half, as they are bringing experience, expertise, vendor relationships, and pre-formulated organizational systems to the table. I want to break down the roles of a wedding planner for you. What does a wedding planner actually do?
Project management encompasses many categories and usually falls under the general term of “planning.” Planning includes (but certainly isn’t limited to) prepping EVERYTHING for the wedding, hiring and managing vendors, managing and understanding the logistics and flow of the day, and organizing checklists, appointments, due dates, and payments. It also includes coordinating timelines, floor plans, plan B’s, etc. The list quite literally goes on and on and on.
Wedding planners make sure to know all your deadlines (the last day to make floral adjustments, the due date for song selections for your live band, when head counts are due for catering, etc.) so you don’t have to! We are the ones who read the contracts, take the phone calls, sit in the meetings, negotiate prices, and so much more behind the scenes. We know that you have a million other things going on (work, school, opinions of others, social life, etc.), so we spend hours managing that side of the planning process for you. That is why you hire a wedding planner, right?
There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to planning and A LOT of responsibility to create a seamless experience for someone else, but we take the responsibility head on and find joy while doing it. Tasks that fall under project management are:
Onboarding vendors is one of the most important and time consuming portions of wedding planning. It takes a lot of networking, research, filling out inquiry forms, emailing back-and-forth, making sure you connect personally with the vendor, reading through contracts, negotiating, etc. and it can be an intimidating process for a client who doesn’t know what they should be looking for.
It’s a wedding planner’s job to build a vendor A-Team for wedding day. An A-Team are vendors who fit your design vision, are within your budget, and are a good team player. You will likely hire 15+ vendors to execute all the moving pieces for a wedding day, and a wedding planner takes the front seat of the onboarding process for their clients. This means doing the research, reaching out to vendors who would be the best fit for your day, getting quotes, reading through contracts, meeting with them, etc.
A wedding planner takes the lead in making sure all bases are covered which includes cross-checking vendors. Are you having a string quartet for your Ceremony but they need four armless chairs? Does your venue provide your caterer all the necessary kitchen and serving utensils they need to properly serve your guests? Does your florist provide the candles you need or do those need to be outsourced? Cross checking all vendors is HUGE and you cannot skip a beat when it comes to these details. This is a part of the planning process that not a lot of people see or notice.
A lot of people assume vendor management stops at hiring all the necessary vendors, but that is certainly not the case. Vendors need to be kept in the loop as things are always moving and changing — designs are tweaked, head counts change, new ideas develop. Someone also needs to oversee questionnaires that vendors send, deadlines, appointments, coordinating load in information, arrival set up times, strike expectations, etc. Vendor management lasts up until the wedding day.
Does it feel overwhelming yet? That is not our goal to overwhelm you! Our goal is to educate you on why wedding planners are worth the investment. It’s an investment in YOU to make sure you have the best day you could imagine.
Designing is a HUGE part of wedding planning. Almost every photographer will ask before you hire them, “What’s the style of your wedding?” Every florist designer will ask, “Do you have a color palette you are working with?” Your family/friends will ask you what the vibe is of your wedding. It’s ALL intertwined.
A wedding planner is also a designer, as they take the responsibility of helping you narrow down your stylistic direction, create a cohesive color palette, and use elements of you and your partner’s relationship to share your story through the details. For most wedding planners, there is a designing process that starts in the beginning stages, but dives deep into it about 8 months out from the big day.
In our initial meetings, 90% of our clients say something along the lines of, “I have an idea of what I want in my head, but I don’t know how to make it all happen.” That is exactly where we come in and take those ideas, descriptive words, inspiration photos and turn them into a cohesive design. Every wedding planner is different, but we start with design boards that give an overall feel for the day to make sure we are headed in the right design direction. From there we create a full design lookbook that gives a deeper understanding of how the day will flow with all the designing aspects. The lookbook includes color palette, tablescape blueprints, realistic rental pieces from local rental companies, linens, floral inspiration, paper good templates, floor plans and layouts, the logistics of production, and so much more. This process alone takes around 3 months!
A stylist is also a role of a wedding planner, and this is where we come in on the day of your wedding and execute the design we created together. We’re styling the tablescape, folding your napkins, lighting those candles, putting out the signage, building structures onsite (like large escort card walls), styling the flat lay, making game day designing decisions, etc. It also includes breakdown at the end of a VERY long day. Wedding day is full of hustling, but it’s the thrill we live off of!
PRODUCTION AND STYLING
Production is all about keeping the moving pieces…moving. It’s managing vendors and the set up. It’s overseeing the flow of the day and making sure everything is running smoothly and on time. It’s taking the design we’ve created together and executing it with your A-Team of vendors. It’s being ready to put out fires (hopefully just figuratively) and switching to plan B’s if it’s needed. We are the go-to person all weekend for everyone.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. Thank you to all our clients and couples who’ve invested in us as their wedding planner and trusted us along the way. Wedding planners have your back and will become your biggest advocate during your wedding planning process. Who doesn’t want that?
Disclaimer: Not all wedding planners are the same. This blog and the roles described are true to what Vance Taylor Designs provides for their clients.