Guest Post: Planning Your Wedding Day with a Planner – by Jenna

Today I want to feature another vendor who has some great thoughts on planning your wedding day. (Of course she does, she’s a wedding planner!) The goal is to give you some answers to questions you might have about the role of a wedding planner. I’ve teamed up today with Jenna from Heart and Arrow Weddings! I met Jenna at a styled shoot last April when she stepped up to help plan the whole collaboration! (The photos in this blog post were taken at this shoot.) I sent her a list of questions that I know I had when I was planning my own wedding. I love her answers – they explain so well what to expect when considering a wedding planner. Let’s get started! 🙂

How long have you been doing wedding planning? What is your favorite thing about planning weddings?

I’ve been wedding planning since 2016, so this will be my fifth season! I love seeing everything come to life on the big day and watching the joy on the faces of my couples as they celebrate their “best day ever” with their family and friends.

What kind of brides and grooms do you love to work with?

I love working with DIY brides as I relate to them fully. I love creating and putting my own personal stamp on things and I really encourage others to do the same. A wedding is so personal and unique to you and your finance. It’s your opportunity to let what makes your relationship special shine. My favorite time of the year for weddings is Fall (September and October). The weather in the Bay Area is just beautiful and the nights are still perfect and comfortable.

Why should I consider hiring a wedding planner to plan my wedding?

Not everyone needs a full-service wedding planner. But everyone really does need someone to help with wedding management (also know as “day or month of” coordinating). Couples spend so much time, money, and effort planning their special day and it is imperative that there is someone there to execute their vision exactly as they planned. Having a coordinator is like having a double of yourself. They will meet with you and hear all of your ideas. They’ll get to know your vendors, and really spend time putting together a timeline and plan to execute your day flawlessly.

Many couples think their friends, family, or even their bridal party can take care of this task. However, this is a big mistake. Those whom you invite as guests to your wedding should remain guests, who get to fully experience and support you personally on your day. Coordinating a wedding is a full-time, full-day job. There are many times that I don’t eat or use the restroom for 8+ hours. Things are busy and hectic. Do not burden your loved ones with this. Hire someone to help and spend the day you worked so hard on relaxing and really enjoying with those who are near and dear to you.

I love this! As someone who knew NOTHING about weddings when planning my own, I thought it would be great to save money and have all my friends and family help set up. Now that I have seen so many different weddings “behind the scenes”, I think differently. I recognize that it is a GIFT to your loved ones to hire a planner. Let them be present during your wedding day by hiring a day-of planner, if not someone to fully be in charge of planning your wedding day!

Amber

What is the difference between a day-of coordinator and a full-on planning experience?

The big difference is the time that will be spent by your planner. A full planning wedding package includes everything from helping you find a venue to sourcing your vendors. You can expect to meet with your planner to go over your vision and they will curate a list of venues and vendors that suit your budget and taste. They will be there throughout the whole experience to guide you, to work with your vendor team, to help with design, etc. Then they will be there on the day of your wedding to make sure everything is perfectly executed to plan.

A day-of coordinator comes in during the last 6-8 weeks before your wedding. You have selected your own venue and booked your own vendors and have planned all the details of your wedding. They are there to help tie up any loose ends and to be a point of contact for your vendor team in the critical weeks leading up to your wedding day.

They’ll meet with you so you can explain all of your plans and they will help you craft a timeline. They are also there to give advice and make sure all your vendors are confirmed and know what is expected of them on your big day. On the day of your wedding they’ll be there to execute your plans just as a full-service wedding planner would. They will coordinate your vendors, set out your personal items, run the ceremony, and help keep everyone on the timeline all day long.

What can I expect to spend on a wedding planner?

This completely varies by region, experience of the planner, what services they provide, etc. Wedding management (day-of) usually starts around $1,200, partial wedding planning around $3,000, and full-planning around $6,000+. These are super ball-park numbers. Planners can cost a lot more.

Do I get to give you my ideas for my wedding, or do you give me options to choose from?

Both! Wedding planning is a complete collaboration between the couple and the planner. I’m here to listen to your ideas, find out what is more important to you, and make that dream a reality!

How involved will a planner be on the day of? What does this look like?

SUPER involved! A planner is the head of the day. They are the person that all of the vendors and even the venue will look to for information about the day. They control things like where the vendors set up, what the timeline looks like, how the tables should be laid out, etc. Your planner is the mastermind of the event.

What if things get behind schedule? Will a planner be able to help with that?

The number one most important thing the day of the wedding is the timeline. Timelines need to be flexible and account for sudden changes, but they also need to be followed. It is the planner’s job to manage the timeline. I make sure to let my couples know all day where we are with time.

Sometimes couples decide to change things – like perhaps they want to extend happy hour so they can have more time for photos, or they want to have their toasts before the meal, etc. With every change to the timeline there is always a consequence. Either something loses time or needs to be cut entirely. This is where the planner will help a couple manage the time and find a happy medium so that everything important to their day happens.

If things get behind schedule, I always make sure to let my couples know that we are behind. Then we decide what to move or shorten or even cut entirely. It is their day, so they call the shots. It is my job as their planner to make sure everything that is completely important to the day happens and that at the end of the day everyone goes home happy.

My photographer wants to help make the timeline – how does this work when planning your wedding day?

I always like to involve other vendors (who want to be involved) with the timeline. Typically, I meet with couples about 6-8 weeks before their wedding and we start timeline creation. If they know all the small details (a lot of couples are still finalizing them) we will finish the timeline right away. Otherwise, it remains a work-in-progress until about 1-2 weeks before the wedding when we have our final meeting and finalize the timeline.

At this point, it will be sent out to all the vendors for review. My highest priority at any wedding are the photos. I am a strong believer that photos are the only thing you have left to truly remember your day after it is over, so they are of the utmost importance. I always consider any feedback on the timeline from photographers.

On the day of, I am working the most closely with the photographer to make sure they have gotten all the important shots. If that means delaying a grand entrance so we can get all the family photos during cocktail hour or delaying cake cutting so we can get sunset photos, so be it! In short, the timeline is always up for debate. The only time it isn’t is when a couple puts their foot down and wants something a certain way. It is their day after all.

How will my planner work with my other vendors before the wedding and then on the day of?

It really depends on the level of planning service. For full and partial planning packages your planner will be very involved with your vendors. They will likely be their only point of contact and liaison between you and them. They’ll help with the contract process and join you for meetings with your vendors if needed. They will do all of this plus everything a day of coordinator will do.

A day-of coordinator will work with your vendors during the last month before your wedding. They will help make a schedule of final vendor payments, introduce themselves to your vendors as their contact, and be there to answer vendor questions. They’ll provide the vendors with a timeline and be their point of contact on the day of the wedding. They will also read through your vendor contracts and make notes of any special requests, vendor meal requirements, etc. and make sure these things are taken care of. On the wedding day they will make sure that all vendors arrive on time, are set-up, have what they need and be on hand to make sure the night runs smoothly. They will typically be the last person out at the end of the evening and make sure all the vendors get packed up and out safely.

What’s next?

Thank you, Jenna, for spending the time answering these questions about planning your wedding day! I know I LOVED reading through your thoughts and information. This would have been so valuable to know when I was engaged!

If you’re looking for someone to help with planning your wedding day, send Jenna an email!

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