What Does a Wedding Planner Do?
What Does a Wedding Planner Do?
Although it seems a simple question, the answer to “What Does a Wedding Planner Do?” changes with each couple a wedding planner works with. So, let’s get right down to it! The following is a summary of the primary duties and skills that wedding planners are responsible for, from Engagement to Honeymoon!
And it all starts with a simple conversation…
The initial consultation between the planner and the couple serves to set the groundwork as to what the couple is expecting from the planner and what the couple is planning to do. The client may be the bride, the groom, the mother or father of the bride, the mother or father of the groom or any combination of these people.
When a wedding planner first meets with a couple, the conversation should consist of simply explaining the packages available and briefly discussing the type of wedding the couple wants. Typically, a wedding planner is hired for either Full Service or Day-of Coordination, and it is imperative that the planner fully explains to the couple what is included in each of their packages.
Day of coordination involves taking care of all the logistical details of the wedding on the day of the wedding itself.
Full Service planning involves everything included in Day of Coordination plus a lot more, such as managing budget, vendors, venues, and all the nitty-gritty details that go into planning a wedding.
So, in order to know exactly what a wedding planner does, you’ll need to know the difference between both forms of wedding planning services.
Let’s start with the simplest of the two.
Day of Coordinator
Most brides have looked forward to their wedding day since they were little girls, and many don’t want to let anyone else plan the details of their wedding other than themselves! Having said that, these brides also recognize that their wedding day should be about enjoyment and bliss, not stressing over every detail going according to plan and choreographing each segment of their wedding to perfection. In this case, you will need some help.
Since these brides have already taken care of all the pre-wedding preparations, and all they need is help on the day of their wedding, what they’ll be looking for is a Day of Coordinator. So what does that look like:
A Day of Coordinator’s first responsibility will be to look over the contracts for each vendor the bride has chosen to hire. The coordinator will then contact the vendors approximately one week prior to the wedding and introduce themself and ensure that they have accurate day of contact information for each of them.
To ensure a smooth wedding day, a wedding planner develop a detailed timeline incorporating the photographer’s timeline, DJ or band’s timeline and their own timeline for the entire duration of the wedding. The bride, groom, their families, the photographer and DJ should approve the timeline to ensure everyone is in sync. A copy should be handed out to everyone in the wedding party at the rehearsal, as well.
The wedding planner should ensure that everyone who is in the wedding party or will be escorted into the ceremony attends the wedding rehearsal, if possible. The phrase “Day of Coordinator” is a bit of a misnomer as includes the wedding rehearsal and sometimes coordination of the rehearsal dinner as well. This is best opportunity to hammer out all the scheduling details with the bride and groom.
On the day of the wedding, the wedding planner should arrive at the venue early enough to supervise all vendor set-up and answer any questions that may arise. Planners should ensure that the bride, groom, DJ/band, florist and photographer are all informed in advance of each event (grand entrance, first dance, cake cutting, garter toss, etc.).
The wedding planner should be the liaison between all the vendors and the bride/groom on the day of the wedding. This will enable the bride/groom to enjoy the day with their friends and family instead of having to chase after vendors. It is the wedding planner’s duty and privilege to ensure that the client’s vision is implemented.
Once the time for the ceremony approaches the wedding planner should begin distributing the personal flowers and ensuring everyone is in place according to the timeline. They are responsible for ensuring each person in the wedding party (ushers, greeters, etc.) are fulfilling their responsibilities and that guests are being treated properly. Once it is time for the ceremony to begin the wedding planner (or their assistant) should be ready to queue the music and keep the processional flowing as planned.
After the ceremony is complete the wedding planner should ensure the guests are quickly ushered to the reception venue and the wedding party is at the appropriate place for photos to begin. This is one of the most crucial and overlooked segments of the wedding, but if executed correctly it will ensure a smooth and timely start to the reception.
Even after everyone clears out, planners should make sure all the client’s personal property and wedding gifts are properly packed and secured in a vehicle, hotel room or storage room.
Full Service Planner
Of course, not all brides envision their wedding as Disney fairy tales, or perhaps they have but are too busy with their careers and just can’t be hassled with the details of planning their perfect wedding, so they’ll enlist the services of a wedding planner to take care of them each step of the way.
As mentioned, Full Service wedding planning is comprised of everything included in Day of Coordination in addition to months of planning and perfecting prior to the big day.
Let’s get started!
In some way or another, the budget will affect every decision of the wedding. Very early in the planning stages, the wedding planner should initiate a detailed discussion with the couple as to their budget for the wedding.
Despite its importance, don’t think the budget is set in stone, either. As the bride and groom evolve and change, so will your plans for your wedding. You may eventually realize that the wedding is too great of an expense and reduce their budget, or more commonly, you may realize that their dream wedding is going to cost more than you had realized and this will raise the budget.
Once the budget is agreed upon, it is time to begin researching venues. Comparing venues can be one of the most complicated jobs for the couple, but it is also where the wedding planner can provide the most value to the couple. Each venue you are considering will probably include different rental items, price their food and beverage differently and may figure tax, tip and service charges at different rates.
The sooner you rule out the wrong wedding venues, the quicker you’ll find the right one. Venues are often booked over a year in advance so don’t delay for too long!
Once you find the right venue ask the wedding planner to have the venue/venues hold a date while you are making the final decision. Once this decision is made a deposit needs to be paid, the wedding planner will facilitate this process for you. There is nothing more frustrating/disappointing than having to start looking for venues all over again because your wedding date was taken the day before their deposit was received.
Once a venue and date are selected and confirmed with a deposit, it is time to begin selecting vendors. Just as is the case with venues, many of the best wedding vendors (photographers, videographers, florists, etc.) can book a year or more in advance. To ensure the best selection of vendors you want to quickly begin booking appointments for vendors within your budget and style. The wedding planner will guide you through this process and coordinate all for you as well as attend those appointments, work through the contracts, etc…
Turning Magic Into Reality
After the venue and vendors are booked and secured, the couple will need the wedding planner’s help with everything else that makes a wedding the magical day they always envisioned.
Next consultation and assistance with everything from the selection of the bride and bridal parties’ attire, flowers, cake, décor, and music. Also helping with the Save the Date cards, wedding invitations, rehearsal dinner invitations, menus, place cards, programs, etc. Even if you don’t need the wedding planners help with all of these items it is their job to ensure that you are on track with getting everything done in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Since every wedding will be entirely unique, the answer to the question, “What does a wedding planner do?” will never be entirely complete. But nevertheless, take away this message: it is their primary duty as a wedding planner to satisfy the concerns that you as the bride and groom had when you decided to look for a wedding planner.