Are you considering hiring a wedding planner to co-ordinate your wedding, or do you think that a wedding co-ordinator is an unnecessary indulgence? Says Barry Geyer, founder and owner of Event and Design, a Cape Town-based wedding and events co-ordination company, planning a beautiful and memorable wedding takes time, thoughtful planning and careful organization, and making use of a professional co-ordinator ensures that the wedding party is able to relax and enjoy the Big Day.
To demonstrate his point, Barry presents us with two scenarios – that of Couple A, who have made use of a wedding planner, and Couple B, who have not. Let’s examine how these scenarios typically pan out…
Couple A Meets Their Wedding Co-ordinator
After browsing wedding directories and bridal magazines and getting a few recommendations from family and friends, Couple A scheduled appointments with their short list of wedding planners. After asking a few preliminary questions and looking at portfolios, they soon found a wedding planner with whom they felt comfortable. To their surprise, the cost of his services turned out to be no more than that of a good wedding photographer. After contacting the references he gave them, they signed a contract and completed a comprehensive questionnaire detailing their wedding requirements. They were all set for a good working relationship which would endure through the next twelve months.
With the formalities taken care of, Couple A talked to the wedding planner about what they were willing to spend on their wedding. The planner worked out a detailed budget proposal for them, based on this figure. After accepting this initial budget proposal, they received a further budget proposal, detailing four potential wedding venues. The wedding planner presented them with a tabled comparison of each venue, detailing the venue’s availability, costs, terms and conditions, the services each provided, and catering details. Also included, various pictures of previous weddings held at each venue to give Couple A some idea of what could be achieved at each one. After discussing the merits of each venue, the planner escorted Couple A to their two favourite venues. He had co-ordinated events at these venues before, and so had significant value to add. Guided by his recommendations, which kept their specific needs in mind, Couple A made their choice and the planner made a provisional booking.
Sourcing Service Providers
Service providers include caterers, décor and equipment hirers, florists, wedding dress seamstresses, photographers and the like. Due to his considerable experience, the wedding planner was able to provide them with recommendations regarding the best and most cost effective service providers available on their wedding day and, after looking at their websites and chatting about the options, he arranged for meetings with the florist, photographer, décor consultant and caterer at the venue. The wedding planner also arranged for samples of the cutlery, crockery and glasses to be presented.
Couple A enjoyed meeting all the service providers at the venue. They decided on the décor and the best flowers for the time of year that they were getting married. The photographer discussed how he would shoot the wedding and presented his portfolio. That done, Couple A sampled the local estate wine and discussed the menu with the caterer.
Leaving nothing to chance
One week later, Couple A returned to the venue to sample the menu, as arranged by their wedding planner. Now, they would know exactly what the food would taste like on the day and how it would be presented. The wedding planner also arranged for a mock-up of the table settings, including flower arrangements. There were a few small adjustments to make, but for the most part Couple A was delighted with what they saw.
Couple A had received a financial windfall recently and decided to use this money to add some fine wines to the menu. A few days later, they received a revised budget. Everything now confirmed, they paid an agreed amount into the wedding planner’s trust account and he immediately set about paying the necessary deposits to secure all provisional bookings. While the wedding planner set about settling the deposits to secure all provisional bookings, Couple A got about the business of arranging the honeymoon. Things were proceeding very smoothly indeed.
Now, what about Couple B?
Couple B was desperate to secure a venue. They spent several weekends driving from venue to venue, quarrelling amongst themselves as they did so. After receiving a few exorbitant quotations and trying to make sense of the complex terms and conditions of each venue, they finally settled on a venue because it was available and they were tired of looking – even though it was out of their budget and they still weren’t entirely sure what was and wasn’t included in the price.
The venue booked, they felt happy that they’d achieved something. But when they examined their checklist – pulled out of a bridal magazine – they were dismayed to see how much still needed to be done. But with both of them working full-time, they just didn’t have the hours in a day to get the job done. Couple B was rapidly falling behind their schedule.
Spiraling out of control…
Stressed Couple B was bombarded with booking forms, pro forma invoices, invoices, contracts and terms and conditions. Now, they spent their evenings creating new beneficiaries on internet banking, paying deposits, sending proof of payments and simply trying to keep track of everything. What was supposed to be a fun process was turning into a nightmare.
The photographer that they had booked – at a very good rate – suddenly told them that he was only available from one hour before the wedding to one hour after the start of the reception. To secure his services any longer, he told them, would cost extra. This ratcheted up his fees to more than their first-choice photographer – whom they opted not to book since he was too expensive. But, alas, they had already paid his deposit, so had no choice but to pay him the extra money.
Then, the florist they had provisionally booked indicated that she was no longer available – Couple B had neglected to pay her deposit on time and so she had taken another booking on the same date. There was a mad, last-minute scramble to find a replacement. Next, Couple B discovered that the catering would have to be done by the venue’s in-house chef, and not the catering company they had planned to use, as additional costs applied to outsourcing this function. Nobody had pointed this out to them when they made their booking. If that wasn’t bad enough, they now had to stick with the crockery, cutlery and décor that the venue supplied, as their budget had reached its limit.
Couple A enjoyed their Wedding Day…
On the morning of their Big Day, Couple A enjoyed a relaxed breakfast next to the pool of the guest house booked for them by their wedding planner. The bride and bridesmaids were treated to aromatherapy massages, manicures and pedicures, all organised by the thoughtful wedding planner. In the early afternoon, the make-up artist and hair stylist arrived and they readied themselves for the wedding…while enjoying sparkling wine and snacks.
The wedding service went off beautifully and was followed by a wonderful reception. All service providers had been thoroughly prepped and everything was timed to perfection – the food, the speeches and the entertainment. The happy newlyweds retired to their hotel room and, the next morning, they enjoyed a breakfast with family before departing on their honeymoon.
Their wedding planner attended to all the final reconciliations and other details – overseeing the return of rented items, sorting out payment for breakages of glassware and crockery and so on. On their return from honeymoon, Couple A found a final statement in their inbox and that the balance of the retainer they’d paid the planner for his services had been paid into their bank account.
But Couple B’s wedding day didn’t go according to plan…
It was their wedding day, yet Couple B was still not done with the arrangements. While the bride had her hair and make-up done, she had to field calls from service providers and sort out one crisis after another. The groom still had to finalise the cash bar, pick up the liquor, oversee the delivery of rental items and set up the venue. He and the Best Man spent the morning fetching and carrying various items in the blazing heat.
They arrived at their wedding service stressed and exhausted. During the reception, they were unable to relax and enjoy the occasion. The bride had to keep the caterer informed on when to serve what course, while the groom had to update the DJ on the next item on the schedule. The next morning, poor Couple B couldn’t enjoy a late start and a lazy breakfast; they had to be back at the venue to oversee the collection of rented items. And they had no opportunity for a glorious honeymoon; receiving numerous calls from service providers regarding lost and broken items and final accounts that had to be paid.
Which couple would you rather be – A or B? The choice is yours!
Author: Barry Geyer of Event and Design, adapted from a feature in the Cape Wedding Guide 2008/2009