This has been a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for some time. More often than not, when I tell people what I do for a living, I get a version of this response – “Oh, it must be SO fun planning parties for a living.” While, I love my job, it isn’t as glamorous or luxurious as it may sound. Planning good events take hours of preparation and some serious grunt work in order for the day to run smoothly. Good wedding planners live behind the scenes making sure every detail is in place and when things go awry (which they do) the bridal party and guests have no idea.
So, what do wedding planners really do behind the scenes to make the day run smoothly? That’s a great question and a two-part answer. The first part is what planners put in their packages, what I call the “normal” things. The second part is what I like to call the “secret life.” These are all of the things wedding planners really do that no one knows about, but are truly the reasons why brides say, “I don’t know what I would have done without you!”
Services Wedding Planners Typically Include in Packages
Custom planning schedule or checklist: While you can find standard planning timelines and checklists online, they may not be helpful if you are having a longer or shorter engagement. They also don’t take into account things that are important to you. If having a popular band is the most important item, a local planner will know roughly how far in advance they get booked and will recommend focusing on that earlier than a standard checklist.
Vendor recommendations: Plain and simple, wedding planners know the best in the business, which in turn makes your planning experience easy and your wedding day A DREAM. They can also save you the time of researching vendors in your budget… they already know the price points.
Contract management: Planners have seen all sorts of contracts and know what to notice. Do certain vendors require hot meals? What’s the deadline to make any changes to your cake, florals, rentals, you name it. Wedding planners have you covered.
Vendor communications: This includes everything from scheduling meetings, sourcing rentals, obtaining quotes to communicating the final details and ensuring everyone is on the same page for wedding day.
Budget management: Oh, the dreaded budget. Wedding planners know an estimated percentage of budget that is spent in each category (florals, venue, etc.). They can help you create your budget and stick to it.
Site visits, timelines and logistics: Wedding planners will attend site visits, walkthroughs, detail meetings, you name it! They are there to work through all of the logistics, such as the floor plan, wedding day timeline and reception flow to make sure everything will run smoothly.
Décor & Design: Not every planner offers décor & design assistance, but no matter who you work with, he or she will be happy to be a sounding board to help you make decisions.
Rehearsal: The start of the wedding weekend! Rehearsals typically tend to be a little chaotic. Everyone is so excited to see each other, everyone is catching up and you are on a limited schedule to get the rehearsal done. Many people think they know what they are doing, but at the end of the day, they don’t. Wedding planners will get everyone lined up, walk through the ceremony and answer those little detail questions that always pop up!
Wedding Day: Most likely, there will be a team of planners to cover all of the priorities on wedding day. Your planner will be with you to help get everyone in place for the first look, get the boutonnieres pinned and help to manage the timeline. The other team members will be setting up your décor at the ceremony and reception, making sure vendors arrive on time and ensuring that everything is perfect! At the end of the night, your planner will pack up all of your décor and make sure all of your cards and gifts get sent home with a family member.
I can’t reiterate this enough, please do not leave your mom, sister, aunt, cousin or any other family members to be the point of contact for vendors or have them set up your décor on wedding day. There will be so much going on and they will want to enjoy the day with you. If your budget is tight, at least consider a month-of coordinator to help pull everything together. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “It’s the best money we could have spent, worth every dollar.”
Now that all of the “normal” contract items have been mentioned, it’s time to dive into what wedding planners REALLY do – well, our secret lives that people don’t see. Everything listed below is just from my experience, I’m sure many planners out there can add to the list!
- Steam dresses
- Button millions of tiny buttons
- Remove all tags and ribbon loops on dresses
- Discreetly intervene on rambling best man toasts
- Find missing groomsmen
- Find a bride’s missing wallet and credit card
- Help photographers gather groups for family photos
- Climb over furniture to find the circuit breaker to restore power
- Stop at convenience stores to pick up drinks and straws (can’t mess up that lipstick) for the bride & bridesmaids
- Help fainted bridesmaids
- Ensure that the toss bouquet and chair for the garter toss are ready to go (no one wants that awkward pause)
- Make sure everyone speaking is ready to go for toasts, same thing for formal dances (again, no awkward moments)
- Bustle dresses
- Find missing videographers before the first look happens
- Provide ceremony readers with the bible verses/passages
- Cut wedding cake
- Fix broken wedding dresses
- Find missing wedding bands
- Take balloons to Party City to get blown up
- Remove thousands of price stickers on wedding décor so they won’t be in photos
- Remove makeup and deodorant from suits and tuxes before photos
- Pick up sandwiches for the bridal party
- Transport flowers from the ceremony to the reception
- Make sure that the bride & groom always have their favorite drinks at the reception
- Continue with the ceremony processionals when musicians forget about song changes
- Catch items that vendors forget to deliver in time for them to return with the cake stand, extra chairs, toss bouquet, etc.
These are just a few examples, but that’s what wedding planners really do behind the scenes. Good planners do what it takes to make your day amazing. We are the masters of creative problem solving, crisis management and stress relievers. Wedding planners also have this sixth sense where we can see things starting to unfold and can address it before it’s too late. And, we have one heck of an emergency kit that should solve any possible issues.
You all deserve to have an amazing wedding and you should enjoy every moment of it!