I was in my twenties when I first heard of wedding planners. My first thought was ‘what a ridiculous idea!’ because it never occurred to me that anyone would need someone to tell them how to get married. In my thirties, I actually briefly flirted with the idea of becoming one because I love weddings, and I’d had such a good time not only planning my own, but two other weddings that had gone off very successfully, as well. In the end, I decided not to take that particular plunge. While I love writing advice for brides, I still think that most people are more than capable of planning a perfectly nice wedding so long as they have a little advice from friends, family, and resources…well…like this one and NtB’s soon-to-be-published book.
But over the years, it’s become clear to me that some brides do seriously benefit from hiring a wedding planner. Others (and this was me all over) would only cause ulcers for all parties involved by trying to use one. How to know which bride you are? Well, here are a few questions that should help you figure out whether or not to hire a professional to help you make your dreams come true.
How much time do I have for wedding planning? This is a biggie. If you’ve decided to get married on a very short schedule while working full time, a wedding planner could be very helpful in saving you valuable time on legwork and research. After all, there are a lot of reception locations and florists and photographers in the phone book and chances are you don’t already know which ones are just not worth the trouble of talking to whether because of budget, comptetance, or conflict with the style you’re looking for. A good wedding planner will know local resources and be able to steer you toward the ones that will fit your budget and style. If you’ve got the time and inclination to do the homework youself, though, a planner might not be terribly helpful.
Do I feel confident that I can organize things myself? This is even bigger than the time issue. If you know you can organize things and feel that you’ll be able to cover all the bases, then why would you even consider hiring someone to do it for you? On the other hand, if you don’t know a lot about weddings, or you tend to be disorganized, it can be a huge stress saver to know you’ve got someone with you who can tell you what’s missing and help you sort through the unfamiliar language to figure out what’s actually covered in your contract.
Am I trying to plan something long-distance? If you can’t be where the wedding is going to be held, it’s important to have someone on the spot who can deal with emergencies and finding resources where you plan to be. If you have a trusted friend or family member you can rely on, then that’s great. If you don’t, then a planner might be the way to go.
How much of a control freak am I? And this is where I would have driven some poor planner to drink. If you’re most comfortable leaving details in someone else’s hands, then a wedding planner is terrific. You can tell her (or him) what you want, and how much money you have to spend on it. You can then pick from pre-winnowed choices and leave the planner to deal with many of the details including last-minute emergencies on the big day. If, on the other hand, you’re the sort who needs to see every option and fine-tooth-comb every contract, and head off your own disasters, you’re probably better suited to being a wedding planner than hiring one. Save yourself the head-butting.
If you look things over and decide to hire a planner, be sure to do your homework. Get references from recent brides and grooms. Ask about your potential planner’s organizational skills, flexibility, and contacts. Find out how professionally they handled payment schedules and meetings. Read your contract carefully. Try to guage how well you’ll get along with this person. If you find yourself disliking or mistrusting her, don’t hire her. After all, you’ll spend a lot of time working with this person even if you want to leave nearly all the details in her hands. You don’t want to spend your wedding day with someone whose personality you find grating. You don’t want to leave important decisions in the hands of someone you’re not sure is up to them.
Whether or not to have a planner involved is a very personal decision hinging on a combination of circumstance and personality. Make the decision based on what works for you.