Your Bridal Consultant … Wedding Insurance
By Patti Herioux
With Love, Event Planner
Strap on your seatbelt and shoulder harness, here you go! Planning your wedding is going to be a wonderful roller coaster. Most of this process will be fun, like trying on fabulous dresses to selecting the luxurious papers your invitations will be printed on to tasting all the delicious food options for your reception. Unfortunately there will also be some not so fun tasks. Like times when you are frustrated and don’t know what to do next and when you wish you had somebody outside of the situation to talk to. Thus was born the bridal consultant!
Bridal consultants can seem like a frivolous and unnecessary expense at the beginning of the planning process. You may wonder, how hard can it really be to plan a party? However, I have yet to meet a couple that had a wedding coordinator or planner that didn’t feel like it was some of the best money they spent when all was said and done. To make the consultant, no consultant decision you need to be well informed of your options and know exactly what you will spend that money for.
PLANNERS VS. COORDINATORS
There are two different types of wedding consultants, planners and coordinators. You may be asking yourself, what is the difference? Knowing the difference and knowing what makes sense with your wedding will be key to making this decision.
THE WEDDING COORDINATOR
As you start to sign contracts you will find that most of your vendors tell you that you will have a “wedding coordinator” through their company. They aren’t lying to you, but what they are providing you is a coordinator for their own particular part of the day. The limo company will have a “coordinator” that helps you select your vehicle and set your itinerary. Your church will have a “coordinator” that helps you select music and readings. Your caterer will have a “coordinator” that helps you select your menu. You get the picture. So, why would you spend more money when you have all these coordinators already at your disposal?
It’s not because you have a money tree in the backyard, it’s because you don’t yet have a true wedding coordinator. A true wedding coordinator is the person who knows all elements across the day. She will know that you start hair and make-up at 8:30 a.m., that the limo is picking you up at noon at the hotel, that you are processing in to Canon in D at the ceremony and that your first dance to that special Jason Mraz song will be happening at approximately 7:20 that evening. Who else will know these details? You will, of course! But, do you really want to be running the behind the scenes of your wedding day when it is your time to be the main event?
A true wedding coordinator knows the details of what has to happen from the moment you sit in the make-up chair to the last dance of the evening. She is there to enact your plans and to make sure that all of your vendors are aware of what is happening throughout the day. A coordinator steps in prior to the wedding day to help you layout timelines and to run the day of, however she is not with you through the entire planning process.
THE WEDDING PLANNER
On the other hand, a wedding planner is there with you through the entire planning process. She will be your advocate and confidant. From recommending and selecting your vendors, to signing contracts, to helping you design the décor of the day, she is there.
Having a planner comes with a lot of perks. For one, you are working with somebody who has done this many times. She knows how to plan an event of this scale, the ins and outs of the industry, and can lead you through the process in a much less stressful way than you end up taking if you go it alone. She can save you oodles of time and money with her connections and knowledge.
A planner does all the functions of a coordinator, but is instrumental in making the plan, not just in enacting it. The planning process starts with venue selection. This process can be exhausting in the Chicagoland area based off of the shear volumes of venues available to you. A planner will match you up with venues that are within your budget and meet the specifications of your vision.
The second step with a planner is to hire your vendors. From your calligrapher to your photographer and everybody in between! A wedding planner has a list of recommended vendors that she will have worked with and can attest to the caliber of their work. Because of her working relationship with potential vendors, she is able to negotiate effectively and help you find your best match.
After you have your location and your vendors it will be on to décor and ambiance. This is basically the entire look and feel of your day. A planner is a huge asset, especially to those of you who are not visual by nature. She will walk you through linen selections, options for your room layout, flowers and centerpieces, lighting effects, and all the details of the day.
Lastly, your planner will layout your timeline of events for the day. This will involve the times and locations of every event that has to happen for your vendors and your wedding party. When the day arrives she will be there to give you direction as to “what comes next.”
WHO DO I HIRE?
Depending on how motivated you are, how much time you have for research and vendor visits, and how much help you think you will need, you can make the planner/coordinator decision. Not everybody will need or want a full service wedding planner, however it is my believe that every couple should have a wedding coordinator to run the day of. The average downtown Chicago wedding is around $35,000. Think of your planner or coordinator as an insurance policy on that investment, then sit back and enjoy your once in a lifetime day!