The Truth About Planning YOUR Wedding

Hello Readers!

It has come to our attention recently that many media outlets, including NATIONALLY recognized morning shows like Good Morning America, have started hosting segments that try to engage the “bride on a budget” by offering “tips” to help reduce expenses on your big day. And to be really honest, we freaked out – on our client’s behalf, and on behalf of every engaged couple across the country. These tips are SCARY and for the couple that is uneducated as to how the world of weddings works (and most couples are not familiar with how hard planning a wedding can be (and that is totally OK by the way!), these “tips” can lead to tears and horrible experiences on what should be the most celebrated and beautiful day of a couples’ life. So, we thought we would take to our blog and debunk  a few of these tips and offer an explanation as to WHY they really are not helpful.

Emily + Michelle, courtesy of Carasco Photography

Emily + Michelle, courtesy of Carasco Photography

Most important, we want YOU to know that many of us in this industry are trained, talented professionals, and that we are  passionate about delivering our services flawlessly to you on your day so that YOU can have a beautiful, stress-free wedding. And when I say beautiful I am not only talking about a stunning gown or beautiful floral, but a planning process that is seamless, allows you to express your creativity, identities and love for each other while being stress free and properly managed. THAT is truly the essence of a beautiful day, right? When all the pieces come together and allow you and your betrothed to be fully present in every important moment that happens on this most important of days!

Brittni + Steve, courtesy of Carasco Photography

Brittni + Steve, courtesy of Carasco Photography

Debunked Tip #1. You do not need to hire a Professional.

On Good Morning America just this week, Ginger Zee, along with her “planner” suggests that couples not hire professional photographers for their weddings, because their pricing can be so “expensive”. This segment has us absolutely HORRIFIED. Here is what we know – the very talented photographers that we work with have the hours, skills and training to shoot this most important day, capturing both the most important posed and candid moments. I recently spoke with a friend who, against my advice, hired a non-professional photographer (neither she nor her wedding are included in this blog, and sadly she is one of several stories that I have heard like this).

such a fabulous moment captured by Jeremy Lawson photography!

such a fabulous moment captured by Jeremy Lawson Photography!

Sadly, this amateur did not understand lighting, so many of the shots did not turn out, and she missed really important moments, like the bride walking down the aisle with her father. I am heartbroken for this friend,  because  she now does not have these memories captured on film. Wedding photographers, and also wedding cinematographers, simply stated, understand the flow of weddings and the moments that matter and need to be captured. You are getting their editorial expertise, their lighting know how, their understanding of lenses and their artistic abilities. Do not be fooled into thinking that anything other than a professional will get you professional looking photos that you will not only cherish but enjoy for the rest of your lives.

A beautifully candid moment of Stephanie, courtesy of Jeremy Lawson Photography

A beautifully candid moment of Stephanie, courtesy of Jeremy Lawson Photography

 

Kate and the tiniest members of her wedding party, beautifully captured by Studio Starling Photography

Kate and the tiniest members of her wedding party, beautifully captured by Studio Starling Photography

 

Debunked Tip #2 – Use the venue’s “in-house” linens

This “tip” is most disturbing! As most everyone in the industry knows, most venues do in fact carry “in house” linen, however, it is white, polyester, and most often does not fall all the way to the floor. There are plenty of linen companies that provide beautifully pressed linens (many venues do not press in house linens!) for your day, and when you think about it, this is a most important meal that you are sharing with your loved ones – is it not worth having clean and pressed linens dressing those tables? To be fair, there are some venues, like hotels and country clubs that provide linen options, but typically, the “in-house” is more of a service type linen than one fit for a wedding. If you are not prepared for that, you can be horribly disappointed on your wedding day! And no one wants that. Case & Point: THIS is where a professional wedding vendor can be crucial – because we KNOW these kinds of things, and you may not.

beautiful and simple linens made this spring baby shower simple, elegant and celebratory! Photo courtesy of Hardy Boii Enteratinment

beautiful and simple linens made this spring baby shower simple, elegant and celebratory! Photo courtesy of Hardy Boii Entertainment

 

Debunked Tip #3 – Ask for “Deals”

In today’s world, everyone is trying to spend wisely, and be smart with their money. We get that. Mainly because we are also trying to do that, both with our business and in our personal lives. However, many engaged couples come into the planning process and meet with vendors and immediately think that bargaining down pricing is ok. It really isn’t, and here is why – there is leg work, and labor, and time and effort put into every service that your vendors give to you and your day.

Erin, Andy with Michelle before walking into their reception

Erin, Andy with Michelle before walking into their reception

We have timelines to create to make your day run smoothly, and they are detailed, almost down to the minute. To do that, we need to speak with, email with, and meet with all of the vendors involved, and our couple, to make sure that everyone is on the same page and moving forward together as a team. This takes time. Typically, it can take  3 to 5 hours a week to bring together a wedding during the most simple of coordination packages, known here at MDE as “Month-Of”. It also includes 2 to 3 people on site for the entirely of your wedding; which is usually a 10 or so hour day. When you do the math, it all starts to make sense. Leg work costs time, and time costs money.

I often give my clients this example when they ask how flexible our pricing is – My family owns a restaurant in Chicago and if someone were to walk into that establishment and say, “I would really like THIS steak, what can I give you for it?” that it would probably not work out, because there are hard costs associated with each and every item on that menu, from ordering the item to prepping it, and so on, and those are not negotiable to the restaurant, and therefore are not negotiable to the customer.

Although for some of us in the industry, our product is service based (planners provide a service, versus say a floral designer who provides a product with the floral, or a DJ who provides the music), we still have these same hard costs associated with our successfully delivering our product to our client. Contrary to popular belief, wedding industry professionals do not triple the mark up on items because it happens to be wedding related. There are a finite amount of weekends in a year, and a finite amount of weddings that professionals can work. And, everything we do has a “date due” factor, and seasonal availability, which can certainly factor in pricing, but not without reason.

The smile on our groom's face says it all! We love a beautifully orchestrated day! Michelle with Jamie + Andrew

The smile on our groom’s face says it all! We love a beautifully orchestrated day! Michelle with Jamie + Andrew

How do you approach this delicate situation then you might ask? The answer is simple: With openness and honesty. We suggest that you know your budget going in, and don’t be afraid to discuss it with your planner, or any vendor you are working with. Ask questions up front, so that everyone involved knows your parameters and can best accommodate them, or, if they cannot, then they can suggest the right vendor who can if they are unable to. And be prepared for your vendors to be honest with you; part of our responsibility to you is expectation management, so we may have to tell you that the image you fell in love with on Pinterest is not a reality within your budget. However, really great vendors will also provide you with alternatives, inspired by that very image that fit your wedding parameters. Again, Case + Point: this is where the hours of experience and professionalism that comes from working with professionals really comes in handy (see what we are getting at?). Please note: Wedding professionals love NOTHING more than clients who are absolutely THRILLED at the end result. We LIVE for this. And consequently, you get amazing pros working on your day. That is a win/win in our book.

we work hard to make ALL of the details of your day flow beautifully, and are here for you! Christa + Michelle, courtesy of Carasco Photography

we work hard to make ALL of the details of your day flow beautifully, and are here for you! Christa + Michelle, courtesy of Carasco Photography

Debunked Tip #4 – Make your own centerpieces, or, ask a florist for “yesterday’s flowers”

A couple about to experience their wedding has a LOT on their collective plate. They are welcoming friends and family, getting emotionally and physically ready for the day, taking photos, exchanging vows, etc – that does not leave a whole lot of  time, realistically, in the days leading up to the wedding to properly design centerpieces. Additionally, if someone does not know what they are doing with design, this can be disastrous, stressful and more expensive than working with a florist. Speaking of florists, most every floral designer that I know does not collect flowers from events after they are finished to reuse them the next day, and there is a reason: they have been sitting out at another event for hours, and have most likely begun wilting or at the least not looking fresh. In fact, Random Acts of Flowers is a non profit organization improving mental health through the power of giving flowers. RAF volunteers collect donated flowers from weddings, memorial services, florists, special events, grocery stores and churches – to recycle and repurpose them into beautiful bouquets for delivery to patients in area hospitals, nursing homes and hospice care centers. THAT is a beautiful thing to do with florals at the end of an evening. And again, something a planner or wedding pro might know and you might not (which again is OK, we do not expect you to have all the answers, THIS is why we exist!) – This is not something you want to be dealing with on your wedding. You don’t need the stress of pulling all-nighters the week before the wedding to finish too many projects and stress about the end result.

floral designs can be simple and lovely, like this one from Asrai garden, photo courtesy of Jeremy Lawson Photography

floral designs can be simple and lovely, like this one from Asria garden, photo courtesy of Jeremy Lawson Photography

Floral designers are really talented human beings. The ones we are lucky enough to know and work with impress us over and over again with their amazing talent. They LIVE to express your vision, and flowers are, hands down, one of the most fun and visual parts of the planning process. They have hours and hours of expertise and training and can make suggestions for your day that are exciting and fresh and budget friendly. If planners are the taskmasters of the day, floral designers are the painters, who bring your day from concept to canvas in striking detail and beauty.

They can also be beautifully decadent, like this gorgeous table, by Designs by Sean. Photo courtesy of Domino Arts Photography

They can also be beautifully decadent, like this gorgeous table, by Designs by Sean. Photo courtesy of Domino Arts Photography

Debunked Tip #5 – You don’t “need” a planner

Ok, so we may be a little biased here, we admit that. But here is what we know – we have been SO blessed to work with all kinds of couples who have had all kinds of weddings, and wedding budgets, from the very elaborate, to the very eclectic and everything in between, and what we have found is that these people depend on us for our logistical know how, our understanding of the industry, and our ability to manage your wedding day so that you can enjoy it. Having a planner is looked at in many cases as a luxury item, but in reality, it really is an investment in your day, and your sanity.

Emily + Michelle help Jenny with her bustle, one of the MANY things a planner helps with during your wedding day. NOTE how calm Jenny is as she waits. This comes with investing in a planner. Photo courtesy of Green House Loft photography

Emily + Michelle help Jenny with her bustle, one of the MANy things a planner helps with during your wedding day. Photo courtesy of Green House Loft photography

Planners, like us here at MDE, pride ourselves in our expansive knowledge of etiquette, local vendors and flow. All we do is work on weddings. This is what we live week after week. In most areas of our lives, when we are embarking on an experience that involves all kinds of unfamiliar territory, we hire professionals to guide us through the process, providing unparalleled expertise, insight, and management. Planers are EXACTLY that. We are your guide and your resource, and your trusted advisor. And we take what we do very seriously. We attend courses to get certified, we talk to one another, we get constant feedback from clients and we always seek to improve our services. This is who we are, and when you invest in a planner (and it is in fact an investment) you are getting all of that PLUS the passion that we have for our jobs, which we absolutely have to love, because it is a lifestyle, not just a job.

Michelle brings a thanksgiving tablescape to life on WGN

Michelle brings a thanksgiving tablescape to life on WGN

We work Holidays, and weekends, and outside in the heat and rain, and you cannot really do this job if you don’t love it. ALL of that becomes available to you when you decide to work with a planner. The best part? Most every planner we know, present company included, provides various services meant to tailor to various budgets and various kinds of involvement in your day. From the WeddingChannel.com, “Unless you really think the most “fun” you and your family can have is tying ribbons on 150 favors and shuffling last minute seating changes, there are better uses for your time. Plus, you don’t want to be tired on the day of your wedding or stressed about whether a last minute decor item will arrive on time…” Read their full article by clicking here

weddings are magical! And we love our jobs. Photo courtesy of Jen Lynne Photography

weddings are magical! And we love our jobs. Photo courtesy of Jen Lynne Photography

We love what we do. It is special, and unique and exciting. It is also hard work, occasionally stressful and sometimes exhausting – yet NONE of us would trade it for the world. And because of that, we have mountains of experience just waiting for you to tap into. We are committed to excellence every day, and think it is only fair that we, along with our fellow wedding + event industry colleagues not only be compensated fairly for the work we do, but represented fairly to all those people getting engaged who are looking for help. We are here waiting for your call! We hope that this helps to educate engaged couples out there that all of us are here to bring your day to life in a most spectacular and professional way, and allow for the day to be full of love for YOU, YOUR friends and family. Happy Planning!

Michelle, Emily, and Sterling on site at an event. Photo courtesy of Domino Arts Photography

Michelle, Emily, and Sterling on site at an event. Photo courtesy of Domino Arts Photography