My hands down #1 piece of advice when planning a wedding is to GET A GOOD EVENT PLANNER. Anytime someone argues me about this, I ask them if they ever host parties that involve a timeline/logistics/formally feeding people (and by formal I mean more than throwing guac + a bag of chips on the table). If you throw formal events, you’ll know there are HUNDREDS of things that pop up during a party.
Venue Coordinator vs. Wedding Planner.
A venue coordinator is not a wedding planner – they are who the wedding planner speaks to about the logistics of the venue (rentals, load in, load out, food, etc). Venue coordinators don’t handle things like if a button pops off, if a guest asks where to put gifts, or knowing who your family members are. They may try, but their skill set and attention is in a different area – mainly about how things affect the venue. They can only be so many places at once.
The times that I’ve gotten a timeline from a venue coordinator, it’s a basic timeline and a bunch of info that I don’t even need, like furniture delivery and invoicing. I’m thinking, “Why are you giving me this? I’m the photographer.” To ensure photos go as smoothly as possibly, what would be helpful is if someone gave me a breakdown of which family members must be included in formal portraits and allotting the right amount of time to cover it. Venue coordinator ain’t going there but you know who will? A good wedding planner!
What is really going to happen if I don’t hire a good planner?
Ok so what if you don’t hire your own planner, or hire a bad one – then what happens? The rest of your vendors aren’t prepared and have no idea what’s happening. You, also, will feel like you have no idea what’s happening. Then we have to interrupt you at the wedding while you are trying to have a conversation with your college roommate who you haven’t seen in 7 years to ask if you’d like to start the speeches now or later. You will get pulled many ways and start to get frustrated. You might even get angry at all the vendors because no one seems to be doing their job properly. As a wedding photographer, how can I do my job properly when I’m only allotted 5 minutes for family photos because no one is keeping things on schedule? I can’t tell you how many times myself, the DJ, or the videographer have to step up to conduct a wedding because the coordinator is more concerned with whether their outfits match than how your timeline is going.
It’s those little things that you want someone to anticipate/think about/plan for you.
Bride is all ready for portraits but the bouquet hasn’t arrived? Awesome, it won’t be in the photos.
How do I choose a good planner?
When hiring a wedding planner, I recommend asking for a referral. Someone who has personally worked with them before. Don’t go off online reviews. I have worked with planners who have 5-star reviews who were horrible beyond belief (this can be true of any vendor). Also don’t base who you choose off of their social media following and if everything looks good in their portfolio – that does not determine whether they can execute.
The trend I’m seeing right now is many wedding planners are more concerned with aesthetics and getting published on blogs than the actual logistics of the day. They spend hours coming up with unique ideas and how to make things pretty but when it comes to logistics, they simply don’t care. If that’s the case, they should call themselves Wedding Designers and not planners. A good planner creates an OCD Excel sheet and their priority is that your day runs smoothly. They answer emails in a timely manner. They communicate to all your vendors and know what time is best for what so you don’t have to think about ANY of that on the day of.
In general, planners who are good also have experience in corporate events. When you work corporate, you have to have things down to a tee. It’s not the type of job that only looks good on Instagram. Event Planning is an extremely difficult job to do well, and the ones who work corporate get it. Deadlines are everything.
Logistics first. Aesthetics second.