The goal of my blog is to give realistic information. I know a lot of the things I say may be a bit controversial with others in the wedding industry, but I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make sure people are educated so they can make informed decisions regarding their wedding. As stated in my last blog post, a wedding is a special moment between two people. You are bringing two people and two families together. You want this to be memorable and special. I’d like to take a look at the different types of weddings and what vendors you really need. But before we get into that the very first thing I want you to do is to decide how much money you have for your celebration. This will determine how simple or extravagant and which vendors you can afford. As I’ve said before, if you are strapped for money, please do not put yourself into debt. Do not overextend yourself. And I’m going to say this because the number one reason couples fight and get divorced is over finances! Don’t be stressed about money before you even get your lives started together! Now if you have been saving for this for some time, your parents have been saving for this big day, or you have the means to throw the party of your dreams, then go for it!
Planners and Designers and Coordinators Oh My!
Let’s get it out of the way and start with the Planner/Designer/Coordinator. Before I get ahead of myself let me first start by briefly explaining the difference between a Planner, Designer, and Coordinator. A Planner will help you plan the entire wedding. They sit down and listen to what you want and make it happen. From where to have it to the logistics. They will then work with a designer that will create all the pretty stuff. Many Planners are also Designers. Coordinators make sure everything is executed the way you and the Planner have discussed. Yes, Many Planners are also Coordinators. If your venue says they have a Venue Coordinator, that just means they have someone that will make sure the venue is set up as planned. They will not help with anything outside of their venue, this includes the timeline, keeping the event on track and any of your vendors. So know your titles! When you interview a Planner or Coordinator (or Designer) ask them what they can do for you. Ask them what their role is. Make sure they can give you the service that you need.
Having said that. You have to decide what you want to do for your wedding, and what you will need help with. Do you want to do all the fun stuff like setting up your Pinterest and making all your signs and table settings? Do you not want to deal with the logistics as far as finding vendors, dealing with hotel blocks or transportation schedules? Are you not creative and crafty and would rather do the logistics in getting the vendors and figuring out where everyone is supposed to go? Do you want to do it all? Do you want to do none of it? This is going to determine what level of service you need.
Despite what everyone says, size does matter. If you are looking at a small intimate gathering, elopement or backyard wedding (under 30 people), you are laid back and just want a real informal gathering then the chances you want or need a lot of vendors is pretty small. You probably don’t need a planner or designer. I’m always going to say you should spend the money on a photographer. Always. Unless you are doing some sort of pot luck which is totally fine. Let someone else do the food. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. But it’s one less thing you need to worry about. Music. For a small group, it’s perfectly fine having someone who is all about being the person in charge of making sure there are some tunes going on.
Now you can have a more upscale elegant small wedding…Same 30 people or less, but you want it more like a dinner party (or brunch party)…garden party if you will. You want everything to be just so and look like it came out of a magazine. You want all the things from gruyere and parmesan beignets to honeysuckle macarons. In this case, a planner and designer may be in order unless you are the hostess with the mostess and throw lavish parties all the time. Martha is your spirit animal and you are totally type A.
When you get a little bigger with your party size then you are going to need help. This is where you are going to need your vendors. But Erika, I have a big family and they can help. Yeah. I’m sure you do, and I’m sure intentions are there. In my experience, we have 20 people who are all about decorating beforehand. Then when the day comes, they find the mimosa bar and all bets are off. “But Erika, this won’t happen to me” Honey, I know…It never does. If you are having a medium to large group, save yourself the headache and stress and just bite the bullet and hire someone that will not get wrapped up in the party and forget they were there to help you on your big day. Now with this comes the conversation about friends who are vendors. Just stop. Too many times I have a couple tell me that their friend is a DJ or a bartender. This friend forgets they are there to do a job and ends up getting totally shitfaced by the end of the night and starts picking fights with people and gets too wrapped up with the party to remember they are doing a job. Invite the friend. Hire professionals. You get what you pay for and I’ve seen some seemingly great situations turn bad very quickly and friendships end. Some things are totally worth spending the money on! TRUST ME!
Now you are thinking, okay Erika so basically you are telling me to hire all these vendors. Yep. I really am. If you are having an informal gathering. Then no, don’t. But if you are having a medium to large get together with 100 or more of your closest friends and family, do yourself a favor and just bite the bullet. If you really don’t want to spend the money, then scale down and change what you are going to do for the event.
Jack of All Trades
The other thing I’m going to warn about is vendors who can do it all. Just no. If a photographer, DJ, or caterer also does planning hire them for one or the other. Do not hire a jack of all trades. Unless they are a huge company that has specific staff (more than 1 person) to tend to the different elements of your event then steer clear! People can not be in 3 different places at a time and give 100%. You are paying good money for a service and you want the best your money can get. If you think you are getting a deal and are trying to cut corners, beware. A professional knows what goes into each vendors job and will not be a one-stop-shop with minimal staff. And please don’t think your planner is going to take up the slack for a vendor you didn’t hire. Even if your planner is an expert at florals, they are going to charge you. Just go to the florist! Planners are not DJs. Hire the DJ. Planners are not photographers. And Planners are NOT caterers. We are planners, coordinators and sometimes designers. If you want more services, hire that professional. We all thank you!