The story broke yesterday about a wedding planner ruining couple’s wedding day. To read it click here. I saw it being shared on Facebook and even on the international wedding groups. The wedding planner was arrested and I would love to hear more details and while we wait, I wanted to share my thoughts on the story.
South African wedding industry is fast growing yet it is fairly young and there is a lot happening at the moment. Many believe that wedding planning is a glamorous job, others believe it is easy money to make, media popularization and dramatization of weddings led public to believe that wedding planners are overly narcissistic beings out there to get you. Seasoned professionals are frustrated by current stereotyping and while we all have a good laugh and vent about it, serious damage is happening right now. Every year we see influx of new wedding planners popping up out of nowhere, making noise and then disappearing. It is a bit like a Wild West of Weddings out there. Inexperienced planners (and inexperienced suppliers in general) pose a great risk to weddings.
Having said that, every wedding planner had to start somewhere. Every professional wedding planner had her or his first wedding and yes, there are incredibly talented and passionate newcomers entering the market and they are very welcome. Where does this leave bride and grooms getting married now? How do they spot a genuine wedding planner who will dedicate themselves to making a wedding day come true (whilst earning a healthy living out of it) and an inexperienced wedding planner who will pose a risk to their wedding?
Here are three simple tips on choosing your wedding planner (or any other wedding supplier):
- Research. Professional wedding planner will have a number of social media platforms – a Website | Blog, Facebook Page, Pinterest, Twitter and most importantly an Instagram account. Study these platforms and access continuity of their work – do they have a style and does it appeal to you? Every reputable wedding planner will credit photographers for the images used, planners who misrepresent themselves by passing the work of others as their own will not credit the photographer. From the start of my wedding planning career I have never once, ever, used an image on my website or social media that did not belong to my company. Many planners use professional images as supporting images for their blog stories so don’t be deceived by a “What’s Hot Right Now” article with amazing images and the planner’s own work. Look at the oldest blog posts of the planner’s real weddings and more recent posts, is there growth, innovation and trend setting element? Has their quality improved over the years/weddings? Has their work became more polished? As wedding planners we learn from every wedding and it is within every passionate wedding planner to do more, to be better with every new wedding. Recommendations from friends and family is very important, but ask other wedding suppliers for recommendations. Wedding suppliers work with each other on numerous occasions and you will get a more accurate feedback.
- Meet and ask questions. There is nothing I love more than a bride who took time to prepared a questionnaire for an initial meeting. This shows me she is serious about her wedding and it give me an opportunity to impress with my answers. A professional wedding planner will not be offended by your questions, and may offer you even more information you did not even consider. Your wedding planner should be able to show you a more extensive portfolio in a form of printed photos, albums, mount prints and other relevant materials and NOT just what’s on their website. I would even ask the planner if they have “behind the scenes’ photos of a specific wedding in their portfolio. Listen to your gut feeling and access the planner’s background and credentials by asking straightforward questions. The initial consultations allows for both parties to find out if there is synergy.
- Budget. Weddings require adequate funding and anyone who offers a “great deal”, “discounts” and “special rates” might be lying to you. Please use common sense, even if you have never planned a wedding, use market related prices to guide you. For example, consider how much would you spend at a fancy restaurant for a three course meal + drinks, now multiply that by your number of guests, then add 10%service charge and don’t forget that to host a wedding at a desired location will require venue hire = estimation of cost for location, food, drinks and service. Please don’t forget about all the other services that make a wedding a successful event. A professional wedding planner will always discuss your budget first, before making any decisions or committing you to anything. She/he must present you with a cost forecast for the entire wedding, help you understand overall cost of your wedding for all suppliers involved and advise you accordingly.
Weddings are priced at a market related value of raw materials, consumable products and man power required to produce and execute a wedding. An event takes hundreds of hours to plan and 12 hours to execute and on average a wedding requires minimum of 6 companies to supply products and services
As I mentioned earlier, every successful planner had their first wedding. There are amazing new wedding planners out there and a couple should give new planners an opportunity. If new planners are upfront with the clients about their experience and offer sheer commitment to the success of the wedding then they should be give a chance. And if you are a new planner on the market then I recommend that you find a mentor, an established wedding planner, who guide you, troubleshoot with you and help you plan successful weddings.