Wedding planner: hire or DIY?

As a child of the early ‘90s, my first exposure to wedding planning and coordinators was Martin Short in the Father of the Bride remake. Charmingly eccentric with an odd continental accent and affectation, his wacky performance as Franck Eggelhoffer cemented him in my brain as the quintessential wedding planner (weird, but you know, I was seven).

By the time I found myself planning my own wedding, I’d seen enough underachieving rom com wedding films (My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Singer, The Wedding Planner, Runaway Bride, My Big Fat Greek Wedding…) to give me pause and wonder if I really needed a coordinator at all. Planning a movie wedding looked easy and full of wacky misadventures (like swans in the bathtub) to look back on and say, “what ho, good fun.”

Yet, the reality for most couples is that a wedding is the biggest, most elaborate party they’ll ever organize. No one actually wants to have rom com snafus plague their big day; they just want it to go smoothly and according to plan. So do you really need a coordinator? Whether you go it alone or hire somebody to see to the details, here’s some tips to have the best day possible.

If you hire a planner for the long haul: the busy couple rests easy knowing all the fiddly details are being dealt with by- not them. A professional takes the stress out of planning, regularly navigates the choppy wedding waters, and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. The planner may also have insider industry knowledge to suggest vendors and help the affair come off seamlessly and on budget.  With a planner, couples can relax and enjoy their engagement and wedding day.

What you need to know: A planner will cost 5-10% of the budget so you’ll save time but not money. However, the investment may be worth it for ease of mind and convenience, especially for a destination wedding. Be sure to ask questions in your first consultation. Does the planner belong to professional organizations? How much time will be dedicated to planning? Will the planner work more than one event the day of your wedding? Do you feel like this person understands your vision well enough to carry it? Shop around until you are confident.

If you hire a planner just for the day: Many couples choose to have a planner on hand just for the big day. This can strike the best balance between having someone else handle everything and doing it all yourself. The assistance is less comprehensive than a full service planner but wedding days are stressful enough without worrying about things going wrong (because something will go haywire). This person will ensure your wedding day goes smoothly by coordinating with vendors and troubleshooting for you. This also frees up your friends and family to just enjoy themselves and be in the moment with you.

What you need to know: You might not need to employ the help of an independent planner. Many venues offer on-site coordinators for the ceremony and reception. The cost for this is often already included in the rental fees. This person will help you through the major stuff associated with your venue including tasting, floor plans, cost estimates, and overseeing setup and take down for the reception and ceremony.

If you DIY: Budget conscious couples may opt to go it alone to save money, while others prefer the autonomy to best reflect their vision and style. Even with a large wedding, keeping an organized binder to track contracts, vendors, and due dates and a thorough month to month plan will do the trick.

What you need to know: If your venue offers all inclusive packages, you might be able to manage it on your own and not even require a planner for the details. Regardless, solid organization and planning will take a lot of stress out of the process. Don’t wait to the last minute, there will invariably be a lot to do already. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. On the big day, it’s useful to put a trusted friend or family member in charge of the last minute details and to act as a point person for vendors.

With any option, perspective is key. The day doesn’t have to go perfectly to still be a perfect day.

Did you hire a planner or go it alone? How was your experience? Other tips? Hit up the comments.




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