When you want to know how to build a boat, bake a cake or take great pictures, you learn from the pros, right? When you want to know how to plan a wedding effectively, efficiently and within a budget, you must ask the wedding professionals.
There are a few questions that I’m regularly asked by readers of Wedding for $1000, and they aren’t all regarding weddings on a budget. Some of the most frequently asked questions are about how to make wedding planning less stressful overall.
Rather than speak from my experience, I reached out to every professional wedding planner and event coordinator I possibly could, asking for their answers to the following two questions:
1. What is the most difficult part of planning a wedding?
2. How can wedding planning be made easier and more efficient?
I received an astounding amount of responses, and I’ve collected the absolute best answers to share with you here.
Let It Go
One of my absolute favorite responses is from Debi Buckley, Certified Wedding Planner and Owner of Southern California Wedding Resources: “Wedding planning feels the most difficult when circumstances happen that are out of your control. I have been lucky to work with brides who, although they may still get overwhelmed in the process, realize there is no such thing as a perfect day and can laugh it off when unexpected situations occur.”
Photography by Paul F. Gero / Paul F. Gero Photography. Used with permission.
“I love this picture because it truly portrays the advice I give to all my couples, to take a breath and enjoy a special moment in silence together on their wedding day.”
How can wedding planning be made easier and more efficient? “Simplify, simplify, simplify! If you have to choose where to spend money remember that most guests will not care about the favors, they will remember how happy you seemed, the atmosphere, food and how much fun they had!”
Get Up Close and Personal
Megan Leonard Productions specializes in beautiful East Coast outdoor summer weddings in Martha’s Vineyard, New York, Vermont and Washington, DC. Megan tells me that she likes to get together with her couples every six to eight weeks for a face-to-face meeting.
“I’m a huge fan of meeting in person. I’ve found an evening meeting with a couple of glasses of wine can nail down decisions that take weeks to decide via email.”
Photography by Jocelyn Filley of Filley Photography. Used with permission.
Limit Your Advice Intake
Jessica Janik is the powerhouse behind The Invisible Bridesmaid, and her approach to wedding planning instantly puts her clients at ease: she gets to know them personally to create “an elevated version of their vision, turning their idea into something they never even thought was possible.”
Her best advice for keeping a wedding easy and efficient? “Try not to listen to everyone else who is shelling out advice. These people mean well, but their advice might not be right for your wedding. Keeping a sense of self when making decisions is imperative; it saves precious time and tremendously reduces stress!”
Photography by Susan Shek Photography. Used with permission.
Get It in Writing
“I am a firm believer in getting a menu and timeline in writing early on,” says Katie Crowley, Executive Event Coordinator at the Mystic Yachting Center. “This acts as an itemized proposal and the event flow. Once this document is in place, we can change it 100 times over, but having it puts things into perspective. Seeing it on paper makes it real.”
You won’t get a guarantee in writing, but at the Mystic Aquatic Center, you’ll almost definitely get photobombed by a beluga whale at your wedding!
Photography by Charlie McCarthy. Used with permission.
Taylor Curley is the Lead Planner for Simply Elegant Group, a national wedding company, and she finds that the most challenging thing is helping the couple narrow their focus. Weeding through their many inspirational images to determine the wedding details they ultimately desire is critical to staying on budget.
“Making wedding planning easier is all about efficiency,” she says. “All of our clients have access to a Simply Elegant-branded wedding workbook that is customized for them. This workbook is a 15-page catch-all tool designed to give every couple all of the tools that we planners use to create their perfect wedding. Having efficient planning tools that guide the couple through the wedding planning process with the help of an amazing wedding planner makes the whole process easy!”
Photography by Jamie Beth Photography. Used with permission.
Figure Out Who’s in Charge
For Marilisa Schachinger, Wedding Planner and Event Designer of Martel Events, the most difficult part of being a wedding planner is managing realistic and healthy expectations between the couple and family members, especially if numerous people are involved in the planning process. “I typically request that they let me know who the key decision maker will be both in regards to the style and budget.”
Photography by Haley Sheffield. Used with permission.
Make a Day of It
As the CEO and Founder of Elite Events by Tawanda, Wedding and Event Planner Tawanda Sims gets incredibly involved in wedding planning, working hard to make every wedding a dream come true. She focuses on the practical needs to bring all the details together. Her favorite way to make wedding planning more efficient and less time consuming is to take one day with a bride and groom and scheduling as many vendor appointments in one day as possible.
“Most couples have jobs where they work 9 to 5, so they are not available until the weekend, but most wedding service providers have events on the weekend. So when I can gather all vendors in one day to meet and greet my couple it works out best. The couple gets to go home with more than one contract to review, reflect upon and decide on."
Photography by Manolo Doreste. Used with permission.
Ask for Help
Krystel Stacey Tien is the Founder, Creative Director and Lead Stylist for her company Couture Events. Her suggestion for bringing the stress levels down while wedding planning is to find the right kind of help:
“Hire a planner that you trust who will, in turn, help you book vendors that they trust. This way you don't have to second-guess your choices. As long as each vendor does their job and your planner does theirs, you should have nothing to stress about. Also keep an up to date checklist, we love our online system for this so you can make sure you are getting things checked off and you aren't missing anything.”
Photography by Bryan Miller. Used with permission.
Make Budget-Conscious Decisions
Heidi Hiller of Innovative Party Planners would love it if Pinterest had price tags. “Many brides come in with pictures of their dream wedding and ask what it would cost to reproduce it - not knowing all that went into making the picture come together. All too often the pictures are staged photo shoots, while others are from weddings with huge budgets. They have no idea what any of it costs and it is hard to be the one to disappoint them with the real cost estimate.
Her absolute favorite client is one with whom she connects and whose trust she earns – and who can make decisions quickly! It makes the wedding planning process efficient and easy when the couple can have a definitive answer to her questions.
The photo below is from a wedding where the bride loved bright colors, peacock feathers, and Moroccan details; Heidi created a richly textured, beautifully styled reception.
Photography by Shawn Hubbard. Used with permission.
Whether or not you plan to work with a wedding planner, everyone should set realistic expectations. What do Wedding Planners need from the couple and their families? “Besides a Fairy Godmother wand?” says Andrew Roby of Andrew Roby Events. “It would be amazing if couples would take the time to do some research about what they’re hoping to accomplish with their wedding. We never want to state a couple cannot have what they want. However, it is never safe to overpromise something when we know it might be outside of the couple’s budget or against a law. Doing a little homework and establishing an idea of a budget allows the planner and couple to set realistic expectations.”
Photography by Mary Kate McKenna Photography. Used with permission.
For Regina Brooks, the Owner and Lead Planner at Régine Danielle Events, the most difficult part of wedding planning is when it’s all over. “It's bittersweet and difficult after working with and building a bond with my clients to not have as much contact with them after the wedding. We consider our clients our friends and it's sad not to be working as closely with them anymore.”
Photography by Candice C. Cusic Photography. Used with permission.
Special thanks to the following top wedding planners, event designers, photographers and other wedding vendors for their wonderful advice and information.
Devora Millman of BG Events and Catering in Boston