Finding a florist, mailing out invites, booking a ceremony site—most brides-to-be don’t know where to begin on the basics of planning their big day. Add in all the other arrangements that need to be made, plus all your other stressful everyday efforts, and organizing your wedding can be downright daunting. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to becoming a bridezilla before walking down the aisle. Enter the expert: the wedding planner.
“A wedding is only one day, but it’s all the days planning it that makes or breaks it,” says Nicole Walesch of b.inspired events. “Most people today are really busy—it’s nice for brides to delegate work or have someone to send them in the right direction.”
After he pops the question, hiring a wedding planner may be the best decision a bride can make. With years of nuptial know-how and a network of vendors, these professionals can be an invaluable investment. “The Internet is a great resource, but you don’t know who’s reliable,” says Amy Rubins, owner of Fête Perfection. “We can recommend reliable, conscientious, affordable vendors to a couple—that’s a big time-saver.”
Wedding planners can be a big money-saver, too. Their potentially cost-cutting connections with retailers can help budget-conscious couples. “When you hire a planner, you’re hiring their relationships with vendors in the industry,” says Amy Zaroff of Amy Zaroff Events + Design. This means deals, discounts, and upgrades for you.
“It’s all about maximizing your budget, and a planner can help you save so much,” Walesch says.
While there’s a cost associated with hiring a planner, pricing varies, so even brides on a tight budget can afford help. Options range from hourly rates and day-of assistance to full-service arrangements.
But finding the perfect planner can be easier said that done. Plan on booking someone early on in the engagement—this leaves time to find the right fit. Personality is key. Keep in mind that you’ll be spending more than six months with this person, and if you’re uneasy in the initial consultation, conflict will probably arise later on. “Go with who you feel comfortable with,” says Joan Nilsen of Ambiente Wedding & Event Planning. “You want to click with your planner, because they’re with you the whole day.”
You’ll also want to keep in mind what kind of event you want when you’re choosing. Planners sometimes specialize in different kinds of weddings, from destination weddings to ethnic occasions. Some even offer in-house services. “We want to take the event from start to finish within our own expertise,” says Zaroff, who offers customized event design and graphic design, as well as planning. “We collaborate with vendors that can fulfill the design and fulfill the production we create.”
Adds Amy Fuerstenberg of Mi Mi Design, “It’s a niche market. A background in design can be helpful and that experience makes the service a little more well-suited than a traditional planner.” And it’s true—having a hand in everything from the stationery and flowers to the linens and lighting can help streamline the look. At the end of the day—after the vows have been said, the toasts raised, and the bouquet tossed—it’s important to remember what your wedding’s all about.
“When you hire a planner, you can be a guest on one of the most important days of your life,” Zaroff says. Adds Fuerstenberg, “You often get stuck on the idea of the event. Remember to think of it as a celebration.” With a consultant on your side, it’s easier to enjoy yourself.
And when your big day arrives, all you’ll have to do is smile at the one you love and leave the rest to the experts.
Continue to pages 2-7 to pick up some tips and tricks from expert wedding planners!