Tips on Choosing a Wedding Planner

A wedding planner may be assisting you right from the beginning of the planning process and involved in finding your location, choosing your vendors and helping you create a wedding that reflects you as a couple.  Or they may be working with you later in the planning process and handling coordination of the wedding day.  Either way, you end up working very closely with them, so trying to find the right person is very important.  In my opinion a great wedding planner is organized, diligent, detail oriented, very personable, great at multi-tasking, tasteful and has the ability to remain calm and excel under pressure.Aside looking through wedding blogs and magazines, ask for referrals from friends, family, your venue or your wedding vendors.  Your wedding photographer or floral designer may have worked with wedding planners in the past that they think highly of that they can recommend to you.  If a wedding planner is not available for your date, you could ask them for recommendations of others.

Read reviews of the wedding planner from previous clients.  You can find these on independent websites like WeddingWire.com, ProjectWedding.com and Yelp.com.  Alternatively ask for contact details of past clients that you can speak with to learn about their experiences.

Take a look at their body of work on their website, blog and Facebook page.  If they have a similar aesthetic to you, it will help the process when they are recommending vendors like floral designers, photographers, rental companies and invitation designers.  I feel you can learn a lot about a person from reading their blog, Facebook pages or Tweets.  If they are actively using these platforms, their personality and style easily show through.  See whether they have any notable press or accolades.  Some vendor lists are more like advertising, where vendors pay to be on them.  There is nothing wrong with this at all.  Many wonderful vendors use different platforms to advertise.  There are also some vendor lists, which are hand picked and invitation only.  This is just something to consider if you are looking through vendor lists.

Most importantly meet with the wedding planner.  If you do not live in the same city as the planner, set up a call or a Skype video chat with them.  I have had Skype video chats with clients that live on the west coast, but are planning their wedding in New York, and looking for a New York based wedding planner.  You likely end up talking to your planner more than any of your other wedding vendors.  They are so involved in every step of planning your wedding.  It still feels strange to me after the wedding when the emails and calls stop.  I get so used to speaking with my clients weekly or even daily leading up to the wedding.  You need to make sure that you get along well with them personally, that they understand your vision for the wedding and that you can see this person working intimately with you.  Essentially you need to be able to trust this person to execute your wedding, so that all you need to do is enjoy your wedding day, and not have to worry about any of the nitty gritty details.  Let them deal with all that.

Ask plenty of questions during the meeting.  You should find out whom you will be communicating with during the planning process up to the wedding day.  Who is in charge of planning your wedding and who will be managing everything the actual day of the wedding?  Ask them if they take more than one wedding on a single day, and if so, who will be working on yours.  If you have a large wedding or multiple locations, discuss how many team members will be present that day.  Will the planner be running the ceremony rehearsal, which is sometimes the day before the wedding?  If you are planning a breakfast or brunch after the wedding, and you want them to assist in setting up, will they be available?  On the wedding day when will they start and when will they leave?  Find out how much experience they have in planning weddings and their professional background.  Request a detailed list of services and if they do not include something that you are looking for, ask if it can be added.

At the end of the day you want to find someone that speaks your language and gets you.  That will be the right person to have beside you on your wedding day.

Planning your Wedding Day Time Line

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt from Summer Street Photography when he was the second shooter for Chennergy, at our St Bart's and Per Se wedding last year.  Ever since, I have been following Matt and Kendra's work, which I really adore.  They find such beautiful places to photograph and their portraits are stunning.  Anybody who can eat lobster rolls daily is a kindred spirit in my books (check out their sweet Venn diagram).Matt and Kendra have recently been getting a lot of questions about how their clients should schedule their wedding day time lines and make the most of their photography. The main question being whether the couple should do a first look before the ceremony or not.  They asked a few of their past clients to write about their experiences.  Kendra was kind enough to ask me for my thoughts from a wedding planner's perspective, which I was honoured to add.  They also give some great advice from the photographer's point of view.  If this is something that you are still trying to decide, grab a coffee, and have a read here.

Photography by Summer Street Photography

Put Away the Camera Phones

At one of our recent wedding ceremonies, the church requested that guests refrain from photography during the service.  I was pleased to comply with this request.  The ushers mentioned this quietly to guests on arrival.  

The bride and grooom spend thousands of dollars on hiring a professional wedding photographer.  Someone who is experienced in capturing this special moment and will know how to deal with lighting and positioning.  It makes me sad when wedding photographers are prevented from creating their best work when guests pull out their iphones, androids, blackberries, point and shoot cameras and start snapping away.  This is not a moment that can be recreated.  Isn't the wedding photographer with their fancy slr equipment going to take much better pictures than a smartphone?  Facebook can wait.  I have seen pictures of the bride walking down the aisle and almost every person sitting next to the aisle pointing a camera at her.  They get in the way of the photographer's frame and all you see is a sea of cameras.  I am sure the bride and groom would prefer a sea of smiling faces of their loved ones on their special day.  

A wedding ceremony is often a sacred and spiritual event.  Live in the moment, put the camera phones away and leave the pictures to the wedding photographer.  

Helpful Hint: Number Your RSVP Cards

Rsvp_card

Using your numbered guest list, write the corresponding numbers in a light pencil on the back corner of each RSVP card.  It will lessen any confusion if a guest sends the card back and you can't decifer their writing.  I have also had guests forget to write in their name at all!  

Image via Minted

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My friend commented that this was also very helpful at her wedding.  Being a Korean couple, there were 25 LEEs and 30 WONGs in their guest list.  Not easy to figure out if someone replies "Mr. & Mrs. Lee", unless you number your cards.

Do We Need a Videographer?

This is a question that many couples find themselves asking with regards to their wedding.  They already hired a photographer who is going to take amazing pictures.  The last thing they want is to have a giant video camera on someones shoulder with a huge light following them around all day.  They feel that the intimacy of their day will be compromised and shudder at the thought of their guests being interviewed on camera.With a little bit of homework, you can avoid all of these things and have a more real-life way to remember your day than anything I can think of.  Don't get me wrong, I love still photography.  When I was planning my own wedding, my photographer was so important to me that it was the first thing I chose after booking the venue and date.  A videographer is able to capture the day in a very different way.  The way your dress moves when you walk, the way the candle light flickers, the touching Father Daughter dance and the hilarious Best Man's speech.

Gone are the big cameras.  Some companies are using DSLRs like the Canon 5D Mark II.  Can you believe how small that thing is?  How good is the quality you ask?  The season finale of House was shot with this camera.

Gone are the 5 hour long home movies that you will never watch.  The editing that is done with the footage nowadays still astounds me.  These aren't videographers.  They are film makers that create 5-30 minute movies that you will watch over and over again.

When you choose your videographer, ask what type of camera they will shoot with, look up their work on their websites and blogs, and meet them in person.  If you are going to have someone around you for a large portion of your wedding day, you always want to make sure you get along with this person and are comfortable around them.  Lastly have fun being a movie star for a day!