Adam Sapic from the Wedding Insurance Group in conjunction with professional wedding planner Vanessa Harness from Rocks and Frocks Ltd teamed up to discuss why hiring a wedding planner is so crucial no matter how large or expensive the wedding may be.
After seeing a shocking headline where a bride was dumped by her fiancé after missing her own wedding due to a series of avoidable mishaps, they decided to explore the value that a wedding planner can bring to the big day. The discussion details real-life examples of how planners have provided quick solutions to a range of unpredictable challenges and discuss the risks unmanaged weddings may face.
Adam said, “It was such a shame to hear of that poor bride’s wedding day. It’s an extreme example of how things can go wrong; however, I reached out to Vanessa to ask about her experiences and how she dealt with challenges that are more likely to occur. A lot of couples understandably choose to plan most of their wedding. On the day itself, they will be too busy to coordinate and allocating that responsibility to family or friends is risky due to their probable lack of experience. This is why Vanessa and I felt it was important to highlight why a hiring a planner is a good investment.”
Time is the biggest challenge for couples
Vanessa and I start discussing the biggest and most obvious challenge, time. The couple should be relaxed on the big day, not running around organising suppliers and worrying. Nine times out of ten, allocating such responsibility to a family member will not result in a smooth wedding due to a lack of experience.
Vanessa continued by saying ”There was a local wedding taking place in a marquee at the groom’s home. The father of the groom was tasked to perform last minute touches and ensure suppliers arrived and set up promptly. As a result, he was running late to the ceremony and got stuck in a massive traffic jam. The mother was furious because the father missed the entire ceremony.”
The itinerary; a wedding planner’s biggest asset
I wanted to dig deeper into the routine of a wedding planner. It all starts with an itinerary. Rocks and Frocks create one for all days prior to the wedding and it’s distributed to all suppliers. Because Rocks and Frocks are fully clued up, they can co-ordinate other suppliers much more effectively such as communicating with the photographer to ensure they are present at key moments throughout the day maximising the opportunity to capture those crucial shots.
Vanessa told me how some photographers who have worked at unmanaged weddings said other suppliers constantly asked them about the wedding schedule because there was a lack of communication from the couple. Interruptions like this added pressure on their ability to take those all-important photos.
Couples can create their own itinerary in advance but here lies the eventual problem if an unmanaged wedding runs late. During the summer, the ceremony venue may need to prepare for another wedding; the registrar has other couples on the day, choirs and musicians hired for the ceremony have other things to do afterwards. Before you know it, the day gets later and later which adds uncertainty down the line.
The difference between a wedding planner and coordinator
Sometimes the venue may assign a wedding coordinator and the couple can mistake this person as a planner. I asked Vanessa about her opinion. “In many cases, the co-coordinator provided by the venue is there to look after the couple from the moment they walk through the door. This may not extend to suppliers arriving in advance and requiring info before setting up. If for example the wedding runs late and there is no planner, communication between the venue and wedding party can become sparse leading to problems similar to what we have detailed above.”
Co-ordinators commonly work in shifts, therefore; the person who has been dealing with the couple for 12 months may end up finishing their shift between dinner and the first dance. The next co-ordinator may be unfamiliar with the couple creating uncertainty. It’s the planner’s job to find out all of this information in detail beforehand so they know exactly what is happening.”
Wedding planner services and fees
How many weddings have you attended that was managed by a professional planner? After asking that question to many people I know, the responses indicate that most weddings occur without a planner. Let’s use two common explanations.
If the couple hasn’t got a budget for a planner, consider this. A wedding planner’s livelihood depends upon a superb network of wedding suppliers. Planners are also capable of ensuring your budget is apportioned to provide the best suppliers that meet both your creative and financial brief, especially if the couple lack experience dealing with the wedding industry. This can ensure that the planner’s fee is a good investment overall.
How should couples choose a wedding planner?
You spend an enormous amount of time with your planner. The couple and their families must get on with the planner. If you don’t get on, things can get tricky that’s why it’s crucial you choose wisely. Here are Vanessa’s top tips:
• Always have a meeting and take advantage of a free consultation. If there is no creative spark there and then during the consultation, chances are the relationship will never work for the couple or planner. If the couple is struggling for ideas, the planner should be able to draw enough information to give them a resonating vision of what the wedding will be. If that ‘eureka’ moment doesn’t occur, or you do not instantly feel that this person is someone you trust implicitly to deliver your exceptional day then move on to the next consultation.
• Ask if the planner has appropriate insurance. Suitable cover shows a distinct level of professional integrity.
• Ask to see the planner’s portfolio including an example of the wedding day itinerary during the consultation.
• Ask to speak to a previous customer as well; don’t just rely on online testimonials.
• Ask the planner how long they will be with them on the day. Instead of being with you on your day for a time limited period of say 8-10 hours, we are always at the wedding before the first supplier and leave after the last guest has left regardless of time.
• You’ll most likely require a planning team with a minimum of two people. You never know when you’ll need an extra set of hands especially ensuring all guests are safely on their way after taking advantage of a free bar.
Check out some more tips from Adam at www.weddinginsurancegroup.co.uk