There is a great article I recently read, "Why We Didn't Hire a Wedding Planner...But Wish We Had", that I recommend for any couple considering planning their own wedding. There are two statements the author made that stood true for me:
"Wedding planning is not the romantic experience one expects it to be."
"Until you really get into the preparations for your big day, it is impossible to fathom how much work is involved and how many details need to be taken care of."
I was not one of those brides that had been imagining her wedding day ever since she was a little girl but, not long after my husband popped the question, we did have what we thought was a wonderful idea of our wedding day in mind...a casual, fun, backyard BBQ/Pool Party, with me dressed in a flowing summer dress and my groom in a linen suit, surrounded by 60 of our family and friends. Unfortunately, we let pressure from others who scoffed at such an idea sway our decision in another, more formal direction. Although we did have a wonderful semi-formal catered Backyard BBQ affair, it was more work than either of us had originally planned and left us exhausted not from all the fun we had but all the work that had to be done to get ready for it.
If you are debating whether or not to hire a wedding planner, here are several questions you should ask yourself.
How organized are you?
This is the most important question. Are you someone who wants to be in charge of the whole wedding process? Someone who is very organized, plans detailed itineraries for your vacations and has their very own To-Do list (which happens to be me)? If so, then a wedding planner may not be necessary.
If you have a vision of your wedding day but have no idea where to begin the planning process or would rather have someone else in charge of the details then you should consider hiring a wedding planner.
Will you have help from family and friends?
In the weeks and days leading up to your wedding your To-Do list will have grown quite a bit and you may need help with completing a lot of the tasks that are left unattended on your list. Are there family members or friends who you would be able to delegate some of these tasks to?
This is especially important on your wedding day. To this day I could not tell you if the catering at my wedding was as good as everyone said it was because I was too busy checking on the DJ and making sure the cake and the favors were set out to take more than a bite from my plate of food. If you decide to do the planning yourself, do not allow yourself to be so overwhelmed with tasks that you forget that it's your wedding and that you are allowed to enjoy it!
How complex are your wedding plans?
Are you planning a small intimate wedding or a grand formal affair? Will your ceremony and reception take place at different locations? Is your venue a banquet hall with all the bells and whistles or a country barn where you will need to supply furnishing, decor, lighting, etc.?
The more complex your wedding vision is the more work that will need to go into bringing that vision to life. Having your ceremony and reception at separate venues will require additional logistics, as well as added costs for shuttles to transport guests between locations. On the other hand, having your wedding and reception at one venue, such as a hotel or banquet facility where everything, but the decor, is provided for will save you time and money. Not only do these venues provide catering and staff but they may also have an onsite coordinator who will provide many of the same services as an independent planner. If that is the case, be sure to inquire exactly what coordinating services are offered so that you are not left with last minute tasks to take care of yourself.
After discussing how you both have envisioned your day, you agree that hiring a wedding planner is definitely the way to go. You prefer to spend your special day relaxing and enjoying your family and friends instead of taking last minute calls from vendors or missing Uncle John's impromptu wedding jig because you had to deal with a catering issue. Deciding what type of wedding planner you would like depends on how involved you would like to be in the planning process. There are various types of planning services offered by different planners, but two of the most common are "Day-Of" Coordination and Full-Service Wedding Planning.
If all the planning and organizing is complete and you would just like to have someone manage the logistics of your wedding day so that you can relax and enjoy it, then you may want to hire a "Day-of" coordinator. If you are looking for someone to take the wheel and be the driving force behind bringing your wedding vision to life, handle the negotiations and manage the logistics, then a full-service planner, who will be with you throughout the entire planning process and provide complete onsite coordination from start to finish, will be what you want.
Just as there are no two couples alike, there are no two planners alike. Take the time to research and interview prospective planners until you find the one that not only offers the services that fits your needs, and your budget, but also has the personality that best suits both of you and your style.
Although there were moments while planning our wedding that my husband and I seriously considered running off to elope, when all was said and done, we still consider it to be one of the most beautiful moments in our lives that we treasure each time we celebrate an anniversary or just look up at our wedding photo still hanging prominently in our foyer.
The best advice I can give to prospective couples is that whether you decide to plan your wedding yourself or hire a wedding planner, remember that this is YOUR wedding day and it should be reflective of you as a couple. It should also be one of the most wonderful days of your lives that you remember not with a frown of disappointment but with smiles and laughter of joy. So, in the midst of all the craziness that comes with wedding planning, remember to have fun!