Why You Should Hire a Wedding Planner! - A photographer's viewpoint..

Recently, we’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the finest wedding planners and coordinators in the Gillette area.  Since we love the teamwork aspect of weddings, we wanted to take the opportunity to answer a question that many brides and grooms have, “Why should I hire a wedding planner?”  There are so many reasons to hire a planner or coordinator for your wedding ceremony and reception. We thought we might put some of those reasons here.. and give you one of those dreaded "Top 10 lists" 

Yes.. I have to admit.. I have this love/hate relationship with those 10 lists. I LOVE to read them and then I cringe when they come up because they are one of my guilty pleasures. Joe tends to laugh at me when I sit and tick down those that have checklists. 

From my perspective as a professional photographer, I can tell you that having a wedding planner at a wedding makes our job a lot easier.  When the bride and groom haven’t hired someone to lead their team of vendors (venue staff, caterer, photographer, disc jockey, videographer, ceremony officiant, etc.), it normally falls on us to manage the schedule or poke and prod people because no one knows what is going on until we get to the reception where the DJ can take over and make announcements. And if they haven't hired a DJ, we are usually the only one who knows how a wedding should flow.. 

Sometimes, the reception site contact and ,(this is very rare in the Gillette area, from what I hear), this person is on "top"of things and can act as a coordinator at "one" location, but this usually is not the case.  Having someone in charge — someone on YOUR SIDE to manage the timeline, check all of the details, and be the point of contact for the newlyweds and the bridal party, enables your vendors to concentrate on what you hired them for – be it music, photography, transportation, decorations, or food. 

On to the dreaded top 10 list - Ready? 

1 - Aunt So-n-So, Granny, or my BFF can be my Wedding Planner/Coordinator.. Yeah.. No... Hire a professional.. 

WAIT!!!!!! Before you start throwing stuff at me or close the tab.. let me explain: a couple’s friends and family play an INCREDIBLY  important and irreplaceable roles during the wedding planning process. However, I DEEPLY and wholeheartedly believe that a couple will save themselves time, energy and stress by letting their friends/family celebrate their wedding day with them, and leaving the work of wedding planning to a professional. Here are a few reasons why I believe this:

  • I believe that the most important role that friends and family of the bride and groom can play is active witnesses and celebrating the marriage. That role is crucial and not one that is easily accomplished if they have the added responsibilities of managing the event. So, even if your friends/family members are playing an active role in the wedding planning process prior to the wedding day, hiring a day-of wedding planner will free them up to play their most important role on your wedding day.
  • On a related note, even the most well-intentioned friend helping out on your wedding day might get distracted from their official wedding responsibilities by having a few mixed drinks or catching up with an old friend. Many times, it’s best not to blur the line between friend and worker... and I've seen ugliness happen from that blurred line.. it's not pretty .. 
     
  • Wedding planning is often time-consuming and time-sensitive work. Friends and family members have their own jobs and personal responsibilities to attend to, and may not have the necessary amount of time and energy to devote to your wedding. Since weddings are deeply personal by nature, conflicts can quickly arise between friends and family over wedding-related time expectations. A wedding planner can devote many hours to your event, since it is her job to do so.
  • Friend or family member may be very creative and/or reliable, but that does not mean they have the skills and knowledge that come with experience in event management. A professional wedding planner brings with her expertise on everything from table settings to ceremony music to timelines, while your friend may have only her own wedding experience (or others she has attended as a guest) to draw on.
  • Someone needs to be in charge of overseeing and answering the questions of your army of helpers. I seen several weddings where the couple has had an army of volunteers responsible for everything from bringing salads and cakes to picking up rental tables and chairs, to hanging decorative fabric from the ceiling. While these group efforts are certainly impressive to witness, the more volunteers you have, the more complex the task of managing them becomes.. and who were each and every one of those volunteers running to? When the bride wasn't available.. it ended up being me.. I guess because I had been to more weddings than just about everyone else..But as a Bride.... think about it.. if you choose not to have a wedding planner, you will likely be the one expected to manage all the helpers.
 Wolfe-Robinson 2015 

Wolfe-Robinson 2015 

 

2. You need a reliable outlet for all of your wedding energy

I don’t often talk about my own wedding, we did it on a shoestring budget.. and got screwed by our photographer.. because I was new to town.. didn't do my due diligence and research him enough. We did the decor ourselves, I stressed over everything.. I had to deal with family drama.. (more on this one later.. ) I wanted everyone to be happy, I wanted my husband to be happy, and at the same time I was so stressed I couldn't let myself enjoy the day...

So, essentially, I felt the pressure to impress everyone while simultaneously burdening no one.Talk about a recipe for a melt-down! A GOOD wedding planner/coordinator can HELP with that.. So many of the brides I work with feel that same pressure, particularly when it comes to the insecurity over how much wedding talk to share with their loved ones. I deal with just the photography side of things.. and they want to SHARE IT ALL!!! Why?!?!?! Because wedding planning is both exhilarating and exhausting, brides need a dependable outlet for talking about their weddings—and a professional wedding planner/coordinator is exactly that outlet and person to get excited WITH and help take some of that PRESSURE off of the bride. 

 Wolfe-Robinson 2015

Wolfe-Robinson 2015

3. You need to hire vendors you can trust

Think about it this way, it probably took you at least a few months if not years to find the perfect match in your future spouse, and now you need to find your perfect match in your wedding vendors, and FAST! A professional wedding planner/coordinator is a lot like a matchmaker, only instead of finding people his/her perfect mate, he or she helps match couples with wedding vendors that match their vision, personality AND BUDGET!! ( NOTICE BUDGET IS IN THERE!!!!)

Without a wedding planner/coordinator, most couples base their decisions about vendors on online searches or recommendations from friends. While those tools are valuable, most professional wedding planners/coordinator have extensive networks of vendors with whom they have worked closely, and whose work they can vouch for, so they can both set you up with great quality vendors as well as steer you away from vendors that wouldn’t be a great fit for you, your budget, or your style...

4. Your venue’s “wedding planner” isn’t really your wedding planner

In Gillette it's REALLY rare but some..venues have a “event planner” on staff, typically the couple’s main point of contact with the venue. While these planners are valuable at that location....do not expect them to take care of ALL your wedding needs. Their job is to ultimately represent the interests the venue, not the couple, and they aren't really there to be for YOU....

The site event planner’s job is to:

  • make sure the venue staff is doing what they are supposed to do
  • make sure no damage is done to the venue. And while some site planners are willing to do some extra set up for the couple, many will not do things like setting up escort cards and decorations or consult with vendors on anything other than arrival times.

The Bottom line is: Even though your venue may have a “Event planner,” chances are that person is not a substitute for a professional wedding planner/coordinator.

5. DING! DING! READ THIS!!You need help figuring out the budget!!!!

I have never wired a house or a barn.. and I wanted to do it on my own.. (using this because Joe is a Master electrician by trade for his usual job.. when he's not doing photography..)But, imagine I wanted to take on that task while Joe was away..and I went to a electrical store and was promptly asked what my budget was buying electrical gear. I would have NO idea where to even start, since I don’t know what gear I would need and what that gear might cost.

Wedding budgets are exactly like that. Most couples have never thrown a celebration like a wedding before, so why would they expect themselves to know how to budget for a wedding? A professional wedding planner/coordinator can help you figure out a budget for the event that’s just right for you. EVEN if YOU ARE WANTING to DO A LOT OF DIY STUFF A PLANNER/COORDINATOR CAN HELP YOU!!!! I AM SERIOUS!!! 

6. You do not always have time to plan a wedding

Planning a wedding is a lot of work. Some experts even estimate that the time a couple spends planning their wedding amounts to about 15-20 hours per week (basically a part time job) throughout their engagement, sometimes more.... Not every couple has the time/energy for that after jobs, hobbies and social lives. A professional wedding planner/coordinator can take a large chunk of the planning time off of your plate.

On a similar note, there is often a great deal of wedding planning that has to happen during working hours (Monday-Friday 9-5pm), as many vendors and venues keep regular business hours. Again, many working couples can’t take the time off of work required to get some of that planning work done. A professional wedding planner/coordinator can handle the daytime hour tasks required to make sure your wedding is just as perfect as you dream it will be.

7. You need help focusing your vision.

One of the greatest blessings of getting married in the era of Pinterest is the wealth of inspiration and ideas that couples have to draw from. However, that blessing can turn into a curse when it comes time to narrow the focus and put together a cohesive event that truly reflects a couples’ personality. Joe actually calls it his "Pin-ddiction" HAHA! 

Oftentimes, one of the couple’s biggest struggles is finding their final wedding look from among all of the pictures, pins and blog posts they like. Bringing a vision to life can be tricky  and a professional wedding planner/coordinator can help you incorporate many of the elements that inspire you and your groom so it represents the BOTH of you in a cohesive and wonderful way.

8. You have tricky family dynamics to navigate.

Nothing brings out a wealth of family dynamics quite like a wedding. Couples often have to navigate not on their own — but also their families’ — expectations about a single day. Naturally, it’s no surprise that tensions can arise between family members during the process of planning a wedding. A professional wedding planner/coordinator can be a great objective resource in tricky family situations.

So if it's  a couple’s parents insist on being kept in the loop and involved in the decision making, a divorce in the family has left bad blood between exes who need to be kept apart at the event, or a cousin on the guest list has a reputation for disorderly conduct at social events, a professional wedding planner can help you navigate tricky family territory. You can count on him/her to answer your mother’s questions about etiquette, make sure that guests who do not get along are seated far apart, and diffuse tense situations on the wedding day without the couple having to be involved.

As a photographer, I've ran in to situations where certain family members couldn't stand next to one another.. or even be in the same photos as one another. A wedding planner/coordinator can help YOU navigate those murky waters and get around those tense situations with grace and panache. 

 

9. You can’t be in two places at once.

This is A HUGE ONE... and why I believe strongly in the value of at a minimum day-of wedding planner/coordinator for every couple.

Many couples choose to have their ceremony and their reception in separate locations. Obviously a couple can’t be getting married at the ceremony venue while they are setting up their for reception at their reception venue at the same time.

Even weddings where the ceremony and reception are in the same location often need an extra set of hands to ensure that set-up of the event is done on time. Many event venues have strict time limits where couples are only allowed access to the space for a few hours (or less) before their wedding, so it is near impossible to juggle getting ready for the event and getting it set up on time. A professional wedding planner/coordinator will likely have juggled multiple-location and time-crunched events before. 

I have shown up at ceremony sites, and decorations have not been done.. and get a call from a frantic bride asking if we can get the decor set up... including the chairs and everything. It's not our job, it's not what we are getting paid to do.. are we going to leave the bride with nothing done? Would that be the right thing to do on her special day? But if she had a Wedding Planner/Coordinator, she wouldn't have had to worry about it.. and we wouldn't have had to do it.. And if we had shown up a half hour later, we wouldn't have had time to do it..... She was lucky that day. So do yourself a favor and hire a day-of wedding planner/coordinator at a minimum...

10. You should be 100% present for your wedding day.

Your wedding day happens once, and it can never be repeated. So, why not invest in someone who can free you from every responsibility other than drinking in every moment of that day? You’ve likely invested a great amount of time, energy and resources in your wedding, so you should get to enjoy it.

The greatest joy I derive from my work comes when I can see my couples living in every moment of their wedding day, because that means that they will actually get to remember their wedding, they have smiles in their photos.. I get to capture those genuine smiles in their photos.. I don't like seeing the stress in the eyes of the bride because she's worried if Uncle So-n-So is getting too handsy with one of the Bridesmaids.. or someone is upset because they didn't get to give the bride and groom a hug.. HIRE a Professional to handle the little details so you can enjoy your day.. 

Love, Light and Blessings to You and Yours!!

Joe and Tiffany