Congratulations on your wedding! Planning a wedding can’t be that difficult can it? All you really need to do is choose a date and a few vendors right? What do you need? Ceremony venue, reception venue, and probably some place to get ready as well. No big deal. While you’re at it don’t forget the caterer, photographer, videographer, florist, hair stylist, makeup artist, tux rentals, transportation, band or DJ, invitations and printing, thank you notes, and the list goes on and on. Even once you have selected all your vendors there are still lots of decisions to make. What’s the menu going to be? What are the colors going to be? Would this work with that? We want a band but where do we find a good one?

Many people enjoy the process of planning and if that’s you you’re going to have a lot of fun but even if that is you one thing I have noticed about a lot of my clients is that in the months leading up to the wedding there are A LOT of other things going on as well and they simply don’t have one of the greatest commodities required for planning a wedding and that is TIME! I find lots of couples are in the process of buying a home or moving to a new home. Many clients are planning their wedding from out of state which can present a whole other set of obstacles. This is where a wedding planner becomes a total life saver.

Wedding planners (as the name implies) plan weddings for a living and this means they have lots of experience not only in the planning process, but they also have lots of experience with time lines and the logistics of planning a wedding. In addition, experienced wedding planners will have worked with a lot of different vendors. Instead spending lots of time searching the web for vendors that match your taste a wedding planner can do that footwork for you and present you with several options. More often than not, based upon their experience they will have a few suggestions for you to immediately review. This is one of the key benefits of hiring a wedding planner in my opinion, in that you can just communicate to someone what you envision your wedding being and they can present you with a few options that will match your criteria. Even better, because of their experience sometimes a good wedding planner will come up with an idea that you didn’t even think of that you might like even better than your original vision. In addition they can also help you with planning around a budget.

From my point of view one of the HUGE benefits of a wedding planner though is having them there on the day of your wedding. As a wedding photographer I get to see all the behind-the-scenes things that can go wrong at a wedding. Weddings are really dynamic events and you can plan to the Nth degree but when it comes down to it there are many things that are beyond your control such as the weather, guests or vendors being late and various other manifestations of Murphy’s Law. When the unexpected happens with a wedding planner on the job it’s really not such a big deal because they are probably expecting it, have dealt with it in the past, and know exactly what to do to get things back on track. My observation has been that couples who hire a wedding planner are often COMPLETELY oblivious to things that aren’t going according to plan on the day of their wedding and that’s EXACTLY as it should be!

I remember a particular wedding on New Year’s Eve where it was just a comedy of errors. Jean Marks of Jean Marks weddings was the planner in question but she handled everything on the spot, solving problems that may have otherwise been a total disaster. As far as the couple knew, everything went perfectly and I have to say it’s one of the most memorable weddings I’ve had the pleasure to shoot! I’m reasonably confident that if Jean wasn’t on the job things would have turned out quite differently. At another wedding in 2008 there were torrential downpours. Prior to the guests arriving at the reception a small lake had appeared in the wedding tent. Wedding planner Amy Piper of Signature Events was right in the middle of it all, shoes off, pants rolled up, wading in the water and moving wooden palettes around to construct a raised platform (that was not only functional but looked nice as well) so that the guests wouldn’t have walk through water to get to their tables. I’ve worked with Amy on a number of occasions and one thing is very consistent; the events she coordinates run smoothly!  This past summer I worked with Victoria Kelly and Keri Clavin of Clavin Kelly Events. Victoria and Kelly also had two assistants with them as well. They handled all kinds of details simultaneously at different locations from making sure each venue was prepared and ready on time to coordinating the transportation of all the guests from the hotels to the church, the church to the reception venue, and then from the reception back to their hotels. All four of them communicated via headset walkie talkies which allowed them to keep in touch even though they were often at different addresses.

If you’ve been considering a wedding planner for your wedding but you’re on the fence, if time is a concern and if you don’t want to worry about anything on the day of your wedding I’d highly recommend hiring a good wedding planner. I can personally vouch for the following vendors as I’ve worked with them and their work and attention to detail is absolutely superb.

New England: Amy Piper – Signature Events

New York: Victoria Kelly and Keri Clavin – Clavin Kelly Events

San Francisco/Bay Area: Jean Marks – Jean Marks Weddings

Happy planning! Cheers, Joe