Photography: Ashley Slater Photography
A full service planner plans weddings for a living. Simple enough. For myself, that means that I will tackle any wedding related task that the bride and groom throw at me, and then some. It means I work an unlimited number of hours doing whatever it takes make all your wedding dreams come true. It means that I handled every detail from floral design to event design to day-of management and more (all the tasks listed in parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series). I’ve not so delicately referred to myself as a “wedding slave” to my full service clients, although I guarantee you its much more enjoyable and rewarding than that description would lend you to believe.
However, some planners do limit the number of hours the work or have more restrictions than I do. So don’t assume that this is an unlimited everything option with all planners. Even I have a few boundaries, I have to draw a line somewhere. I think some others are just better at defining that line than I am.
I think this is the post that most of you have been waiting for. Very few people really seem to understand how this relationship works. The bride wants to know if she should talk to the photographer or if I should. The photographer wants to know if she should work on the timeline with me or the bride.
I know some planners are really controlling and they don’t want vendors communicating with the brides without their involvement. It seems like they’re being overbearing. But the reality is, if something goes wrong on the wedding day, it always falls back on the planner. They’re just being cautious.
My personal rule of thumb is if it’s a vendor providing a service, I want the bride and groom to be involved. Photographers and the couple spend an enormous amount of time together, I would never suggest you merely let me hire them without a consultation between the bride and groom. I’ll pair you up with some of my favorites and then the ultimate decision us up to the bride and groom. Same goes for hair and makeup or catering, I know what I like to eat and can tell you some of my favorite chefs, but I’m not going to decide who has the best chicken or steak and I’m not going to tell you how to wear your hair on your wedding day – I’ll just steer you in the right direction.
I will do a lot of the leg work for my clients. I’ll make the initial contact and see if my favorite vendors are even available. I don’t want to waste my clients’ time. I’m here to narrow down who’s available and within their budgets, but the final decision is up to the bride and groom.
Once the vendor is hired and all the imperative details have been discussed, I usually take over more of the technical details and final logistics. Likewise, if it’s more of a behind the scenes vendor – we’re just using them for charger plates or linens, I don’t include the bride and groom in on that. It goes back to people that I’m subcontracting to make the wedding come to life (read more from my event design post here). Those vendors can deal specifically with me, I’m here to make the bride and grooms lives easier, not add to the list of people they need to talk to.
Dear Vendors: I want to work together. I feel like we have a common goal – at the end of the day we want a really happy married couple. If I talk to you about a potential wedding and the bride and groom don’t book, please don’t take it personally. If I talked to you at all about it – that probably means that I was rooting for you, they just didn’t think you were the right fit. We’ll work together soon. And I promise I wasn’t wasting your time with a meaningless inquiry. I’m going to bust this myth wide open – wedding planners to not control every vendor that’s hired at a wedding.
Something helpful you can do prior to the wedding season, keep me up to date on your pricing. That helps me match budgets and brides right away. Once they’ve booked, you’ll probably communicate with me a little more. But on matters of opinion, I want the bride and groom involved. Conversations with them are by no means off limits, I just want to be kept in the loop.
Dear Clients: Don’t be afraid to tell me why you like one vendor over another – it might make the rest of the process a little easier. The more insight I can get from you, the better. I need to be notified when you change your mind about things or if you decide to invite extra guests. Communication, communication, communication. I can’t stress it enough. Share copies of your contracts with me so I have full access to all fine print. Remember I am a professional and you have hired me to do a job, however it’s a really fun job and you should be enjoying this engagement period and I want you to enjoy working with me too!
Do you have other questions about working with a wedding planner? I’m happy to help and shed light on the subject however I can.