Congratulations! You’re engaged, the corks are hopefully still popping and the planning journey just got very real. But, where do you start, how do you know if you need planning help and what planning services do you need? With many levels of wedding planning services available from different sources, how do you choose which is the right one for you?
You will meet many suppliers who will be happy to provide help and advice. However, at some point, you may decide you need professional help as a wedding planner will have the all-round knowledge to cover all your bases. Let’s look at where you might seek wedding planning advice and what you can expect.
It is not unusual for your venue to provide a wedding coordinator to assist you. In some rare cases, they may also employ the help of a professional wedding planner. However, in the majority of cases, this will fall to the venue Event Manager or Coordinator. A Venue Coordinator will assist you in any aspect of the wedding that involves their venue, including catering, food service, wedding breakfast timings and any in-house supplier recommendations.
A Venue Coordinator or Event Manager generally won’t be involved in any financial planning management. They are also not responsible for any part of your day leading up to the reception or any outside suppliers that you engage such as photographers and entertainment. Their priority is the venue and the services provided by the venue. It is also common for venues to also have a shift change during your wedding so that the person you have been in contact with in the run-up to the wedding will not be there for your entire day, if at all.
Often, your wedding caterer will offer some event management as part of their fees. This typically covers what we refer to as ‘front of house’ and will be limited to delivering the reception drinks and canapés, managing the delivery of any food service and possibly the evening bar if they have included this in their service. They are not there to manage external suppliers, deliveries, set up, financial planning or making sure you get to the church on time.
For those couples looking for a traditional wedding, a Toastmaster or Master of Ceremonies is often someone they look to work with. Toastmasters can work well with your Wedding Planner, Venue Co-ordinator and/or Catering Manager as they will make all your formal announcements and provide a basic level of timekeeping for the whole day, ensuring that none of the key formalities are missed. Again, they are not typically there to manage any external suppliers, deliveries, financial planning or set up.
Very occasionally, you may come across a venue stylist that offers planning advice as part of their styling service. Generally, this will be limited to setting up your venue prior to your ceremony and making recommendations on alternative suppliers.
For a complete solution, professional wedding planners offer a number of services depending on your requirements. The important factor to consider is that a wedding planner’s sole purpose is to plan, organise and manage every aspect of your wedding day to perfection and they can combine all of the above, bringing every part of your day together, managing overruns and shortfalls, and acting as your MC.
Most good wedding planners will offer a range of bespoke services centred around the main levels of service, including Full-Service Wedding Planning, Partial Wedding Planning and On-the-Day Management and Coordination. Let’s look at a typical set of planning services in detail:
This involves picking up the final stage of planning around two weeks prior to your date, checking that everything is in order and that nothing has been missed. The wedding planners will then create the full day itinerary, including all contact information which is issued out to every supplier involved on your day along with yourselves. They are there on the day itself, before any of your other suppliers, to ensure everything goes smoothly. Depending on your needs, they will stay until either the first dance or the end of the evening.
Partial planning is usually a bespoke service and covers all situations where you have taken your journey to a point but now need some help. You may have booked your venue only, or you may have selected your venue and caterer, or you may be struggling to book the last few suppliers. You might even be looking for styling inspiration and are unsure of how next to proceed or which suppliers to approach. Wedding Planners are there for the set-up of your wedding and are the first to arrive on the day itself. They are also the last to leave, after making sure all guests are safely on their way and all suppliers have packed down and left.
This is usually the most comprehensive offering and takes you on your complete wedding planning journey, from start to finish, looking after all the logistics while you enjoy the fun parts.
You will find that your planner becomes your ‘best friend’ during the planning process and should always be available by phone, messenger, email, Skype or for face-to-face meetings as an advisor, friend and confidante.
Full wedding planning services normally include supplier recommendations and sourcing, along with all financial management. They will provide recommendations on the best suppliers for your wedding and undertake all contract checking and negotiations. Working with you all the way, nearer the day they will provide a detailed itinerary which covers not only the wedding day but also any set-up and breakdown days, managing all supplier requirements and logistics. Most planners will also be available to manage your guest list and RSVPs, as well as any ceremony rehearsals or dinners.
The styling of your wedding forms part of the planning process and your planner should work with you to achieve a ‘wedding look’ that is creative, inspirational and exceptional, whilst remaining personal to yourselves. They will be on-site on set-up days to manage suppliers. On the wedding day, they should be on-site before the first supplier to ensure that everything is ready and set up in accordance with your wishes. With full wedding planning, your planner should only leave once all of your guests have safely departed and your suppliers have cleared down and are on their way.
Regardless of which level of service you choose, your wedding planner will work closely with your Venue Coordinator, Catering Manager and other suppliers to ensure that your day goes exactly as planned.
This blog post was written by Vanessa from RandFWeddings.
If you would like to ask Vanessa any other Wedding Planning questions, feel free to drop her a line.
About the Author
Vanessa is a multi-award-winning wedding planner and wedding industry awards judge. Vanessa has appeared on BBC Radio, Wedding Magazines and is the Wedding Planning Expert for both Closer Magazine and the Magpie Wedding Blog.