We got married when we were 25. I always joked that between Connor’s mom essentially being the mayor of Conway and my huge family, we had to have a destination wedding to cut down the guest count. We got married in Morrison, Colorado, with the Red Rocks in the background, and it was such a magical day with one big BUT. We didn’t hire a wedding planner or even have a designated coordinator. Just typing that out makes me cringe, knowing what I know now. I wanted to write this blog post to make it crystal clear why after my wedding, my most significant piece of advice to everyone I ran into that was even THINKING of getting engaged was to hire a wedding planner. Here is the chaos that ensued on our big day.
I THOUGHT I had a plan. I met with the venue coordinator. I had a florist (whom I didn’t know wouldn’t come in and place the arrangements); I had met with our DJ and given him a (joke of a) timeline. I had asked my sister to be the point of contact. What happened? I got questions NONSTOP ALL DAY LONG. My poor sister and Mother In Law (bless their poor souls) got put in charge of decorating and answering all the questions when I couldn’t be found.
I dared to be annoyed by the poor DJ asking me timing questions ALL NIGHT LONG. (In my mind it was “he knew the order we wanted to do things- why is he asking!?!) Order does not equal timing.
It was incredibly chaotic. Even though I was sure I had thought of everything, I clearly hadn’t, so I ended up frustrated, stressed, rushed, and being told what to do by my precious angel photographers. And my sister and MIL didn’t get to enjoy such a big, important day.
Fast-forward 5 years later, with years of experience under my belt and I have found the biggest reason to hire a wedding planner is that SOMEONE will coordinate your wedding. You will be able to pass on the burden of making sure everything goes as planned to someone else. Now, who that falls on can be one of a few people. As a professional in this field, this is what I see most often:
You depend on the venue coordinator. Having a vendor coordinator is invaluable, but they are not wedding planners. Unfortunately, many venues tout that they have a coordinator who can handle it all! (We mistook this for an actual wedding planner when we married.) The venue isn’t trying to be misleading; they have a different definition of what “handling it all” means. The job of the venue coordinator is a big one! The position of a venue coordinator can be boiled down to this: they ensure that vendors follow the venue rules. Often they will tell vendors where to set up and where they can put their things, and they may help with some technical executions. They do not ensure that the vendors follow their contractual obligations like a wedding planner because that isn’t the function of their position. They typically do not check in with vendors during planning and weeks before to ensure seamless logistics.
Here’s what ends up being the most hurtful to your investment: It falls on your photographer. Instead of your photographer being immersed into their craft that you likely paid THOUSANDS of dollars for, they are working a timeline. They coordinate wedding parties and family portraits. They are working a timeline instead of focusing on the candid photos you will treasure forever. Let your photographer do what they do best! Think about it this way: your photographer wants to do the best possible job that they can for you. They are honored that you chose them to capture the day. Now they will do everything possible to ensure you get the perfect pictures and that everything happens as it should. That’s what takes their focus away: trying to be everything simultaneously. (And photographers, this is your sign to put in your contract that your couples must have a wedding coordinator outside the venue coordinator!)
You have a family friend coordinating. This seems like a GREAT money-saving solution. Besides, your day is so simple! You’ll tell them everything they need to know to make it run smoothly. The problem: you don’t know what you don’t know. You may not have considered so many details and nuances if you have never coordinated a wedding. Before you go with this option, you must ask yourself: Can you effectively communicate every detail and logistics of what needs to happen? This takes a generous amount of time and energy. Be honest with yourself and ask whether you have that space both emotionally & practically.
So that’s the moral of the story, folks. Hire a wedding planner, whether your event is big or small. It will make for a happier, stress-free day for all. You can check out our packages for wedding planning and design here.
Aura Events + Rentals is a boutique event planning firm specializing in micro-weddings and gatherings. Based in Northwest Arkansas, available for travel.
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