What Brides Should Know: Wedding Planners

In this installment of What Brides Should Know we look at what the wedding planners had to say. There seems to be a lot of confusion on just what a wedding planner does versus a Day of Coordinator.  Also, planners want you to know just how much is involved on there end to plan and coordinate your wedding.


Having walked in their shoes, I have the utmost respect for good wedding planners and what they do. A good planner is the lubricant that makes all the parts of such a complex event glide smoothly. A good planner will save you more than they will ever cost you. By that I don’t necessarily mean that your bottom line will be less, more that the value you get for the dollars spent will be so much more than you can do on your own.

Even the smallest wedding is a highly complex dance of timing, goods and services and style. All culminating in a day that you, as the bride, groom or mother of the bride want/ need to be able to relax and focus on the meaning of the day; not wrangle vendors, details and guests. For even the smallest budget bride, there is a planner or day of coordinator to make this happen.

Without further ado, here is what the planners had to say in their own words.


I think a lot of brides out there don’t fully understand the full scope of what it is a planner/coordinator does. Many see it as a frivolous expense, or something that’s only for the rich and famous. Not so! Also, “planning” and “coordinating” are two completely separate things, which I think some brides aren’t aware of.

PLANNING ~ Your wedding is probably the biggest event you’ll ever plan in your entire life. Contracts, comparing vendors, packages, pricing, meetings, traditions, etiquette,timelines and everything else you need to think about when planning a wedding can be seriously overwhelming and take all the fun out of planning your happy day. A professional planner will handle your planning headaches, leaving you to enjoy the process.

COORDINATING ~ A professional coordinator is DIFFERENT than a professional planner. A coordinator, in my opinion, is even MORE important than a planner. Some brides that I’ve advertised to respond saying “I’m really creative and good at organizing, so I’m handling it myself.” Good for you! But who are you going to delegate tasks to on the wedding day? Mom? Bridesmaids? Girlfriends? You want your loved ones WITH you on wedding day, not off doing the time consuming setup details and directing the vendors. The best way to ensure that everyone is free to enjoy the day is to hire a coordinator.

Amy Kemp Nixon

I would love for brides to spend one day in our shoes. We have been very blessed with brides that appreciate what we actually do for them and the amount of work we spend on our client’s behalf. However, there is always that handful that think we just get on the phone and make a couple of appointments and that’s it! A good designer/planner/coordinator will do everything on your behalf except walk down the aisle and sign the marriage license. That is what you pay for. Appointments, hours of design and changes, talking to and booking vendors on your behalf, producing a good timeline and coordinating between each vendor according to that timeline, ensuring payments are made on time, ensuring all contracts are correct, ensuring the rsvp list is updated, ensuring incidentals are all taken care of, ensuring the musicians are all on the same page, ensuring guest list is in place, etc. The list goes on.

On-the-Day Direction? Same thing happens and there is no such thing as JUST on-the-day direction. You need to meet with brides ahead of time and go over itineraries, vendor responsibilities and carry out instructions on behalf of the client. This does not happen as a show up on the day and direct. Its a misconception and brides need to know this!

Brides need to interview wedding planners and get in writing exactly what they do. Full service means unlimited service. On the Day means on the day orchestrating, with some help prior to ensure everything flows smoothly.
Elyn Rahman

This from Denise, I just love…
I was talking to someone today who pooh poohed the idea of hiring a wedding co-ordinator when she married as she said that part of the ‘enjoyment’ was the planning side of things, then I asked her about her wedding day she said she hated every minute because there was a delay in the kitchen, she spilt wine on her dress and the disco played music that they didnt like. It was soooo stressful – and I explained that is why brides need co-ordinators to deal with all that and chat to the other vendors so that they know exactly what they are supposed to be doing and when.

Denise Meredith



Real bride Jessica had this to say
As a recently married bride, the one thing that I’ve had the most difficulty with in regards to vendors has been the fall-out when something goes wrong. When I sign a contract and pay a fee for your service, I feel that whatever I paid for and what is included in the contract should be included in my wedding. Jessica

To which Layla replied
To the real bride, Jessica: I also handle complaints afterwards for my brides. Vendors respond quickly to me. I am bringing them business all the time. They do NOT want a coordinator to know that they did not quickly resolve a complaint, b/c I will tell any other brides that ask me about them, that they don’t deal well with problems after the fact.
Layla D. Smith

If you are a bride, you owe it to yourself to at least explore the possibility of having a planning or coordinator by your side. It is the single best way to be sure that you are free to enjoy one of the most special days of your life .

Your Wedding Vendors Are a Valuable Planning Tool

It’s always fun to sit down with other industry insiders; I just never know what insights I will gather for you.

All the parts and pieces to make an event Monday I had lunch with Kristin and Mark from Classic Party Rental and Vicki from Branching Out Event Designs. The conversation turned to brides, naturally. It occurred to us that if brides knew the depth of knowledge that most wedding professionals had they would really begin to recognize what a valuable resource they are.

More than anything, a true professional knows darn near everything there is to know about your local market. They have worked all the venues multiple times, they have worked with the other members of you team and more importantly, they know what works and what doesn’t. They also know all the secrets that you would take years to uncover. All you have to do is ask.


Let me give you a little for instance. While touring the 70,000 sq foot warehouse at Classic Party Rental we came across a stack of long narrow bench cushions. Nice, but hardly earth shattering until Mark told us how they used them. Nashville is graced with a full scale replica of the Parthenon. These pads were created to fit the ledge that lines the interior and also the massive steps that line the outside. These pads give you the ability to turn the whole building into a massive cocktail lounge, inside and out. As many times as I have worked at and attended events at the Parthenon I never even considered this possibility. Of course, I had never asked. Not any bride I can think of would have thought to either.


Most likely a bride would walk in with all the pictures she had pulled off the internet and said something along the lines of “I want this.” If instead, she had contacted them early in the process and said “I am having my reception at the Parthenon, do you have any interesting ideas” they would have been happy to supply her with many.

Vicki echoed the same sentiment; so often brides come to her with an attitude of micro-management rather than one of seeking her expertise. When they find out that the flowers they must have are out of season or out of budget they are at a loss. If they would have just asked in the first place Vicki could have given then a list of alternatives that would have fit their design concept but been in budget and in season.

Moral of the story is don’t try to do all this on your own in front of the computer and a handful of magazines. You are paying professional not only for the goods and services they provide, but more importantly for their knowledge. You might as well use it.

Undergoing MyBlogLog Verification

So Why Did You Hire A Wedding Professional?

A giant shout out to Saundra over at {planning …forever events blog} for her post today, Don’t Box In Your Wedding DJ. Here is the line that really got me thinking, “You’re hiring a professional, let them do their job.”  Dang right, girl!


It too often happens that brides, in their quest to create the wedding they have been dreaming about forget that the professionals that they hired may have just a touch more experience at this stuff than they do. OK, more than a touch.

I am not saying that you should let the people you have hired run rough shod over your dreams, I am saying listen to them and don’t try to micromanage them. You hired them for a reason. If all you wanted was a laborer, you would have gone to Craig’s List.


The smartest thing you can do is to give your ideas to your vendors and ask how best to execute it. Let them use their, talent, experience and expertise to make it work for your unique situation.  Would you like some examples?

o    If your baker tells you that you really don’t want whipped cream icing on a wedding cake for your outdoor August wedding, believe them.

o    If your alteration expert tells you that a 2 point bustle will not hold up your cathedral train, believe them.

o    If your wedding planner tells you that you had better have a rain plan, believe them.

o    If your florist tells you that there is no way candles will stay lit for your event on a windy hillside, believe them.

o    If your florist tells you your venue won’t allow rose petals on the aisle, believe them.

I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. Listen and take their advice. Isn’t that why you hired a professional in the first place?

Stay tuned to Saundra’s blog; she is promising a series on this.

The above examples are all true stories.

In Defense of the LBD

I ran across a post on Blogger Brides today that I just had to address. A bride was describing her wedding: 7PM Catholic ceremony; Black & white with dark red accents. She said that she had always dreamed of having her house party in short black satin dresses. Problem is that now she is getting all kinds of feedback telling her that her ladies must be in floor length gowns. BAH!

First off, DO NOT let the peanut gallery make your decisions. It’s not their wedding, it’s yours! Period. The end.

Beyond that, who doesn’t love the little black dress? The ladies you have gathered around you for this momentous occasion are going to buy whatever you tell them. With the economy in the state it is, why not pick something that they really will wear again? Who won’t re-wear a LBD that they picked out?
The Little Black Dress from Nathan Taylor for 2Be Social
I have seen so many beautiful weddings that had the maids in LBDs with black hose and matching heels. What a beautiful look. Let each of your ladies pick their own LBD. Do some magic with hem length to add a bit of continuity for the formal pictures if you must. Add a matching accessory such as a feather fascinator or a clutch and you are good to go.

You can even have your ladies pick from a single collection.

Friend of the dish, Terri Hilferty at 2Be Bridal has taken her Nathan Taylor Social Collection, had every one of the dresses in it cut to cocktail length and made up in black. WOW At the collection reveal this summer there were 15 manni’s lined up, all in cocktail length, all black in every cut and fabric you can imagine*. She is selling it to the 2Be Salons as the LBD collection. How cool is that.


What’s more, since these are all a part of the same collection, she also had shrugs cut in all the fabrics. Same shrugs, different fabrics to match the fabrics in the collection.  There is your accessory and cover up for church. I am in love!

*Like I said, Terri is a friend of the Dish, so I showed up early and help stage the reveal. As I popped these beauties on the manni’s I was head over heels at how well made these dresses were. Terri has an amaing attention to detail.The Little Black Dress from Nathan Taylor for 2Be Social

Yep, lousy photo, but you get the idea.

Now we know why Christine IS NOT a professional photographer.

You’re Engaged! Now What?

It’s that time of year, the Christmas Holidays. Traditionally in the Unites States and the UK more couples get engaged at this time of year than any other. This little statistic has stood for years and I doubt that this year will be any different. If you think there may be a tiny little box with a shiny bauble lurking under your tree I have some timely advice for you that may make the whole planning experience run a bit more smoothly.

Sapphire Engagement Ring

Sapphire Engagement Ring

DON’T TELL ANYONE! Ok well that may be a bit drastic since I know you will want to scream it from the rooftops but hear me out first.

From the moment you announce your engagement every single female that has ever loved you will want to plan your wedding. You will get more ‘helpful’ advice than at any time in your life with the exception of your first pregnancy. Inside every aunt, sister, cousin, BFF and most strangers lurks a frustrated event designer. Don’t even get me started on the Moms! Most likely your Mom has been planning your wedding in her head since the very day she found out she was carrying a girl in her womb. Yikes! Whose wedding is it anyway?

Well my dear, it is your wedding. This day belongs to you and the boy; grab hold and hang on to it. That is why I say don’t tell anyone; at least until you two have talked it over and gotten a vision of the wedding YOU TWO want.

I don’t mean plan the darn thing down to the baskets in the bathrooms. I mean get a broad generalization of what each of you has pictured for this day and reconcile those two images into a untied front with which to face the coming onslaught. That way when Mom utters the words Cathedral and Country Club you can honestly say “(the boy) and I have already decided on a garden wedding.” If you have a vision in mind you can deflect a lot of trouble in the future by staking claim to your wedding from the very beginning.

Just a little bit of wisdom from some one that has been there done that.

Wedding Planning Secrets

If you are planning a wedding chances are that you started the process without having a clue.

Ya, ya there is ton of information on the web and a bazillion books to choose from, but just how good is most of that information? Not very, at least in my opinion. Besides, who has time to sift through all of it? I have been sifting through it for years and most of it makes me laugh and some of it is downright scary. I have finally found someone that tells it like it is in a simple easy to understand way: Susan Southerland.

Don’t even think about planning your wedding without watching her new video, Wedding Planning Secrets. Susan takes a no fluff, no bull, just the straight story look at what you need to know to plan an event this big. She talks honestly about budgets and setting priorities. There are great organizational tips and the tools to make them happen for you.

She explains just what an event designer is and why they may be one of the most valuable members of your team. The section on cakes and catering gives you the low down on what you need to know to contract these services and what to look for as you interview them.

This isn’t one of those books that encourages you to spend, spend spend; nor does it tell you can have a celebrity wedding on $5000 if you “just follow these 5 tips.” This is the closest thing to the real knowledge and tools you need that I have ever seen. Her tips and explanations are valid regardless of the size of your wedding or the size of your budget.

Whether you are a DIY bride having a tiny wedding at home or a diva bride getting married in a Manhattan Hotel with a top notch planner by your side, you need the information that Susan is dispensing to navigate your way through.

Now, my friends, you know me well enough by now to know that I don’t blow smoke and I know that this post is pretty high praise. Yep, I really do think this dvd is that important.

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Guest List Bloat

What is guest list bloat? It’s that place you find yourself when you want an intimate, elegant wedding and distant family, marginal friends, co-workers and your parent’s business associates have magically ballooned your guest list to 300+ of your “closest friends.”

Sometimes it can feel like a run away train that has taken on a life of its own. You feel powerless to stop it and you are left wondering where your meaningful intimate wedding disappeared to. It’s under there somewhere. It’s just not very pretty; kind of like a thong on a 300lb woman.

There has never been an easier time to reclaim your dream and you can do it with one sentence: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Whether you are feeling the pinch or not you can use the economy as your excuse. You can even tell people that it just didn’t feel right to spend all that money when so many are suffering.

The best trick to saving money on your wedding has always been to whittle down the guest list. Having said that, it has been too easy to get caught up in the “oh, just add this person” game. You feel bad for not including them. Now you have an excuse you can live with: It’s the economy, Stupid!

No need to feel bad when you pass that co-worker in the hall; “With the economy and all we are really having to limit our guest list,~sigh~” When Mom tries to force Great Uncle Harry’s third cousin onto the list, you can put your foot down in style; “Mom, you know how tight a handle we are keeping on the budget, what with the economy and all.”

It’s out there, use it! Have the wedding you want and lay the blame on that nasty old bear prowling Wall Street.

Flower Friday Advice

I have heard the same thing this week from 2 planners and a florist: When they asked a bride about the floral and décor budget for their wedding the brides said, ”Well I don’t really have a budget.”

I don\'t want to hear this.

Grrrrr. Let me tell you what wedding professionals hear when you say that, “I don’t want to tell you because you will spend it all.”

Here is what they think. ”OK babe, is it $500Rose bowl cwnterpiece with calla and gerber daisy

or $15,000.

Wedding decor by Ilex in Nashville

Give me some direction so I know where to go”

When you approach a planner or florist or a designer of any kind, they can work with in your budget if they know what it is. Even if you don’t have a firm budget you have to have some idea of a ballpark dollar figure. Be honest with your vendors, lowball a little if you feel you must, but, good grief, give them some idea.

It doesn’t matter if your budget is tiny; a small budget stretches the talents of a true creative; it makes us think harder. Don’t get me wrong, everybody prefers working with a lavish budget but it isn’t always the case. If you are honest from the beginning you will be much better served by the professionals you choose. Believe it or not; we really do want to make your day special.