Hey everyone, I hope you’re enjoying the warmer sunshine, longer days and blue skies that March has begun to bring us, I certainly am. It is signalling a fresh new season and the countdown clock ticking away a little louder as we close in on May. So far our planning has gone relatively smoothly. We finally posted invitations at the start of March, our menu tasting is set for later this month and our engagement shoot over Easter time. The main “thing” we're waiting on are the RSVPs. They’ve slowly started to roll on in but undoubtedly we’ll have to chase a few. Today, I want to talk about balancing stress, hiring professional help and the dilemma of being further down the line and deciding that you need someone. You know why?! Because being a Bride is really darn hard. I am admitting to being stressed, crying in front of suppliers, crying alone and generally having a tough time balancing all the tasks I need to carry out. Anyone else...?
At the start of the planning process I said, 100% Andy & I needed a professional wedding planner. One that was separate from the venue management team to run the day, ensure my style list is carried out and generally support me in the last weeks leading up to the wedding, as I had my own client work to be doing at the same time. I always envisioned having that secure, professional helping hand as I knew how beneficial it is, so today I’m going to chat about a bit of hindsight and what our planner is doing for us. Budget wise, we could only afford someone to help on the day and in the run up, unfortunately full planning was out of the picture. However now 18 months down the line, I kind of wished we’d set more money aside to go for the full hog. With the amount of peaks in stress and invaluable assistance in the starting phase it would have been a huge weight off my shoulders.
YOU NEED SOMEONE ON YOUR TEAMSo here’s where I introduce who we’ve got supporting Andy & I in the last month and in-between particular stages of our planning. We chose Andri Benson of Always Andri Wedding Design. I’d met Andri at a wedding event and was immediately struck by her warm character as well as her sharp personality. When faced with planning a weekend wedding, I knew we’d need her help. Budget restricting we opted for one of her newer packages she was phasing in called Consultation & Coordination. This offered us the benefit of having her expert knowledge prior the big day with meetings, as we required and then a full hand over a month before the big day and on-the-day coordination. Something that struck me about wedding planning as a Bride, that I hadn’t experienced before, was how lonely it can be sometimes. Whilst Andy does involve himself in paying deposits, emailing a few vendors and attending meetings whenever he can, I find myself the project manager of the entire thing. Even with the Saturday, my Dad relies on my opinions to move forward with bookings. I feel a burden when discussing with my bridal party because in reality, no ones lives have stopped just because I’m planning our wedding. I have anxiety of bothering already busy friends with my woes and find myself feeling alone. It’s upsetting. But one thing that has helped get me through some really tough times in the planning has been Andri. Whilst I may not have her managing the entire event, the advice and support she has offered to myself has been immeasurable. Q : Why hire a planner if the venue have a management team? Most venues these days have slick management teams who know how to run a wedding in their space, however that’s all they would have done. Having your own planner that you’ve hired separately ensures that you have someone there totally dedicated to YOUR needs. Your planner will have worked in a multitude of different venues and therefore know how to deal with different types of emergencies. Also, they do a lot less weddings than your venue management team. Venues can do multiple weddings a weekend whereas planners tend to do yours only on a weekend therefore they devote a lot more time into your specific event. I repeat - you need someone on your team. Someone who does this as their job, an expert in the field of planning, whom can advise you from a professional perspective as well as having done it a lot more times than yourself. Despite being in the industry myself, I personally have never planned such a big event for all of MY friends and family to attend. I’ve never had to order enough drinks for 126 people for an event that runs for 10 hours or spend a day picking out a matching bridesmaid dresses for 4 of my very different but nearest and dearest girls. Whilst I may have done it for my clients, when you add a personal layer to the event, it takes on a whole new beastly face.
SO, WHAT EXACTLY DOES A PLANNER DO?As I already chatted about, Andri has become more of our Coordinator than full planner but I wanted to cover the nitty gritty of exactly what a “planner” does. This obviously varies between different professionals but you’ll need to understand what it is you need to pick the right one. A Wedding Planner will work from you at the earliest stage. This could be pretty much from the moment you put a ring on that finger. Ideally, you could have a budget figure in mind because that’ll determine your price range for suppliers and give your Planner a ball park understanding of what you expect. Your planner will assist you in finding venues, put you in touch with suppliers THEY recommend and guide you through every step in booking, confirming and liaising with each supplier. A lot of them assist with your budget management as well so often you can end up saving money than over spending. To use Andri as an example, she’s quite logistics based. So works very detailed on the run of the day, to discussing timings with your photographer, serving dinner vs speech time and managing the set up. She’ll discuss your plans personally with suppliers to understand how they work and ensuring they stay on the right page for your event, which can be key. Any suppliers the planner recommends, they already know how they work and can patch the right people together with the right couple. They’ll have seen them in action on another event and understand exactly how they work with other suppliers. They have the experience and knowledge base to back them up to direct your suppliers accordingly as well as having difficult conversations that you may not want to. Another example, if you have an issue with one of our venues, communication going awry and things not being organised properly, having a professional working on your team to be at meetings, email to chase and manage will take all that weight and stress off of yourself. “The beauty of having a planner is that you don’t have to have difficult conversations with your suppliers. We can do that for you” Andri Benson of Always Andri Wedding Design.
I’VE BEEN ORGANISED…but...At the start of your planning stage you may never have even come close to the discussion of having a full wedding planner. That was the same as me, there was no debate over whether to have a full planner, it was always going to be someone to manage on the day and to find someone who could offer the best service in line with that. This mainly came down to the budget, we saw the fee as something we needed to allocate elsewhere. This is where balance needs to come in and something personal I have learned through this experience. Whether you’re an organised soul, list connoisseur or super woman, some wedding planning tasks just aren’t fun. They are down right laborious and you WILL get agitated at having to organise and manage things, which don’t feel joyous. e.g keeping track and reading supplier contracts or researching mini buses. No matter how romantic and meaningful planning a wedding can be, it is ultimately very stressful. I went into the planning process thinking I’d relish in all the organisation, but quite frankly, at this point, I’m just ready to hand it all over and just get married. I’ve had enough of my pinterest boards, packing invitations, managing family drama or explaining for the umpteen time what run of the weekend (that in in particular is getting VERY tiresome). Now I’m not saying everyone will go through what I’ve experienced, but I’m pretty sure majority of Brides will remember points of stress and when they felt just like packing it all in.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?You could be quite a while into the planning but struggling to find some balance in project managing and still feeling excited. My recommendation is to definitely look into hiring a helping hand even if it’s just one of the smaller packages they offer. You may have had struggles with your suppliers, you might be struggling to get your head around the ceremony finish time and how long drinks reception should be (yep! I'm SO there) or maybe you’re swimming in a load of unfinished tasks you just can’t be bothered to look at anymore. “You need to let go! You want to enjoy the wedding day don’t you? If you have a wedding planner you CAN let go, and you CAN relax and enjoy the build up with friends, family. Not worrying about the minute detail your suppliers are doing because someone else is taking care of that. I plan weddings because I don’t want to see a Bride stress or a couple stress on their wedding day, I’ve seen it all before and I know how to handle it.” Andri Benson of Always Andri Wedding Design Q : What to look for when trying to book a planner or coordinator
WEBSITE - Look for a slick and professional website that details each and everyone of their services. SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES - Search into all of their social media pages like twitter and Instagram. They’ll use those platforms to post often about their current and past work. PORTFOLIO – Do any of their past weddings or projects look like how you envision your day. Do they have shining testimonials from their past couples? These just give you further insight into what they do and whether they’re a good match for you EMAILS - When you get in touch, expect a prompt polite and helpful email response. This bodes well for you if you decide to book them. MEET IN PERSON - Meet them in person to gauge their personality and if they “gel” with you as a couple
DON’T PANICIf you’re quite far on in the planning process, don’t just assume you won’t be able to hire someone. Reach out and talk openly about your situation with the planner you’d like to hire. As a professional they’ll be able to either guide you to another service that’ll match what you require from themselves or even recommend you to an industry peer who matches your needs. Wedding planners DO offer a range of services, whether it’s the full planning service or something we’d opted for like Andri’s “Consultation & Coordination” however if you’re in the early stage of planning, I personally would ask you to actually have the discussion on whether you can hire a planner. It’s something we probably should have booked from the start but glad to have the alternative package which has helped with our issues as we’ve gone along!! (Images taken from a shoot planned and styled by Andri and featured on Rock My Wedding, you can see it in full here).
Wedding Planner: Always Andri