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Week 1: Wedding Planning Fundamentals
Well Hello There!
Welcome to Week #1: Wedding Planning Fundamentals. First and foremost, I hope you’re having an awesome and positive day! I know I am. Whoo!
Congratulations on your engagement! He put a ring on it! How exciting (cue the Beyoncé track!). I’m certain this is an exciting time in you and your fiancé’s lives together, and I am
happy to be able to spend a little bit of it with you. Even if it’s just via email.
If you know anything about me, you know I like all the pretty things like décor, linen, flowers, wedding dresses, etc. but one of the things I’m great at is figuring out ways to save my clients time. So, over the next four weeks, I’m going to help you do just that. I’m going to be providing you with insights, tips, and actionable strategies that will help guide you through the process of choosing the right Wedding Planner/Designer for you given your specific wedding needs.
About Bisola Esiemokhai “BE”
Didn’t your mom teach you that you should never talk to strangers? Same concept here. So, let me first tell you a little bit about moi so that you can get to know me a bit and have some context over the next four weeks.
I am a wife to my hunky husband Edward (we got hitched in May of 2013), a
proud Nigerian with a beautiful mix of Nigerian and American heritage, a sister
to my four siblings and an aunt to my cute niece! No kids myself yet but Edward and I are looking forward to that day. I have over 8 years of experience planning weddings and events and I have been a full-time professional Wedding Planner and Designer for over 2 years. Yup, I ditched my corporate gig and I do this full-time. Best decision ever!
My design style can be summed up in these five words: detailed, romantic,
modern, bold and distinctive. I believe in creating beautiful wedding moments that really tells a couples love story and makes people feel a specific way. My
planning style is very strategic, efficient and focuses on elevating stress and
saving my brides a lot of time.
In fact, I believe that wedding planning shouldn’t be a never ending to-do list and you should really enjoy the entire process. If you’d like to take a look at some of my work, you can take a peak right over here: www.EventDesignByBE.com.
"Here is the biggest factor in hiring your
Wedding Planner/Designer: It’s all about the Planner."
Now, enough about moi! These next four weeks are about you, lady! I want to help you find the best Wedding Planner for you. I believe that every couple, no matter their age, location, wedding size, budget or style, deserves to have a stress free wedding planning process and a unique and gorgeous wedding day. In fact, when I look back at my wedding with my hubby, Edward, I am reminded of the importance of having an awesome Day of Coordinator. Yes, you read that right! Even I had a Wedding Coordinator on my Wedding Day. The people, the moments, the stories, the details. It all goes by SO quickly, and a professional Wedding Planner is the only way you can really sit back, relax and enjoy your wedding day.
About This Four Week Guide
I believe so much in the importance of a great Wedding Planner that I have designed this guide to be as
non-self-promotional as possible. There is no hidden agenda here. I am sincere in wanting to help you find the perfect Wedding Planner/Designer for you and help guide you through this time consuming and somewhat frustrating process.
I have people who sign up to this guide who are local to Atlanta, GA, I have brides who are from other areas in Georgia or other states, and I have brides who are in Timbuktu (not really but you know what I mean; brides from around the
world). Wherever you’re from, the reasons for hiring a Wedding Planner are universal: you want your wedding vision to come to life, you don’t want to spend all day and night planning your wedding and you don’t want to worry about anything on your wedding day.
These next four weeks will give you a guideline and a foundation to start off with when searching, meeting and choosing your ideal Wedding Planner.
Week 1: Wedding Planning Fundamentals
This week, I will get you up to speed on the wedding planning industry. With wedding planning being such a perceivably “easy” field to get into (don’t even get me started on that haha), there are more wedding planners now than ever. I feel like there are as many Planners as there are Starbucks coffee shops, one on every corner. Statistically speaking, I’ll bet you $5 that you probably personally know at least two people who are trying to “make a go” at being a planner. Am I right? With the industry being so diverse, it couldn’t be more confusing for couples, like yourself, to sort through all of the conflicting information, various portfolios, articles, prices, and options. Who has the time for all of that? I know you don’t.
My husband, Edward, and I
B + E Savannah, Georgia - Featured on Bella Naija
So, I am here to be your voice of reason. I have the insider’s perspective that you want, and I’m happy to share my experience and knowledge with you.
Here is the biggest factor in hiring your Wedding Planner/Designer: the Planner is the one who leads you in coordinating everything. Therefore, your selection should be centered around the Planner herself (or himself). This is where many couples make their biggest mistake. They assume that a Wedding Planner is a Wedding Planner, and that as long as they have a nice website, pictures and some experience, they’ll be able to do a competent job at planning their wedding. I know that this isn’t your thinking (wink wink), but it is a common misconception that often leads to a couple not enjoying the planning process and ultimately there being a lot of stress and problems on the day of the wedding. This almost sounds silly to say, but we all know that a “tool” like a website with pretty pictures doesn’t tell whether a person is a good planner or not – it’s the expertise, knowledge, experience and craftsmanship of the Planner that does.
In reality, a wedding day is arguably one of the most difficult things to plan – dozens of vendors to coordinate with, loads of decisions to make, many different personalities to work with, deadlines and tight timelines, design elements to create and coordinate and the pressure that you only have one chance to get it right. To top that off, every Planner’s vision and approach to planning will be different. Therefore, not only is it important to find a Planner who specializes in planning weddings, but also, connecting with the unique style of your planner is incredibly important.
It’s no surprise to say that wedding planning is a general term and each Wedding Planner can vary on how they execute their specific wedding planning process. Overall, planning is the unique blend of these three factors that defines a Wedding Planner:
1. Planning Style: Each Planners style of planning a wedding is completely different and it’s important to ask specific questions in order for you to understand the distinctions between the Planners you are considering hiring. How have they built systems or resources within their business to make your planning process easier for you? What does their planning process focus on? (saving you time, elevating stress, creating a beautiful wedding at all costs, getting you featured in a magazine?). Does the Planner frown upon meeting in person and only works electronically but you work better with in person meetings and physical copies of documents? It’s important to understand a Planners planning style in order to make sure it aligns with your unique wants and needs.
2. Design Style: Many people assume that all Wedding Planners have the ability to design weddings, which is not a correct assumption. I know of several Planners who would run in the opposite direction, screaming expletives, if you asked them to create a table design based on your theme or color scheme. So, if design, details and décor are important to you, make sure your Planner can provide you with that service or that they work with another vendor who provides that for them.
For planners you are considering that also do design, it’s important that both of your design esthetics align. For example, if your wedding vision is barn yard themed and your speaking with Planners that have a modern look and design sense, then there is a disconnect there.
3. Personality: This has arguably the biggest impact on how much you will enjoy your wedding planning process. Think about it – you will be spending anywhere from a couple of months to over a year with your Wedding Planner. They will be with you more than any other wedding professional that you hire for your wedding, and honestly, you’ll probably be in more communication with your Wedding Planner than your mother or Maid/Matron of Honor at times! Your Planner will not only be present for some of the most intimate, personal and private moments during your planning process and on your wedding day, but it is their sole responsibility to ensure those moments unfold exactly as you requested. That is why it’s important to select someone who you feel you can trust.
You can see how much the personality of your Wedding Planner can impact your planning process and entire wedding day. You pick your best friends to stand beside you on your wedding day because you like them, you trust them, you get along with them and you know that they have your best interests at heart. Similarly, you should choose the Wedding Planner that you like, trust, get along with, and who you know will have your best interests at heart. Simply put, if you don’t like your Wedding Planner, you will not enjoy your wedding planning process and potentially your wedding day. If you enjoy their company and their presence, and trust them and their expertise, then you will love your wedding planning process that much more.
A Wedding Planner’s unique blend of planning style, design style and their personality create their own individual “brand” that you must connect with. If you don’t connect with one of these three factors, then you are only setting yourself up for disappointment.
Planning Tip #1: Identify how you work best with planning a large and detailed event. Understand what style of Wedding you want and know what kind of personality you will connect well with. Find a Wedding Planner who will match your unique style.
Planning Tip #2: When in doubt, ask Planners your questions. Don’t make assumptions, and don’t allow their assumptions that you know what they’re talking about lead to a misunderstanding.
Before we get too deep in the conversation about wedding planning over the next four weeks, I want to define a few terms that you may come across throughout your search.
Assistant: Many Planners will bring assistants with them to your wedding. Typically the assistant will help execute certain aspects of the wedding day (e.g. ensure wedding party and vendors are on time, set up the ceremony and/or the reception venue or set up an escort card table).
Associate: Some Wedding Planners aren’t the only Wedding Planner at their company. Sometimes, the Planner that you meet with, speak with over e-mail or book with may not be the Planner who shows up on your wedding day. Some studios have “Associate” Planners, meaning that they have several Wedding Planners who all work for the same company. The danger to this (as I talked about earlier) is that each Planner has their own unique vision and style. If you book with one because you like his or her style, you may end up with another who has a completely different style.
Budget Analysis: A comprehensive look at what kind of wedding your budget can provide for you. Your Planner with take your wedding budget, and other factors like theme, guests counts, etc., and create a detailed budget spreadsheet for you that lets you know how your budget will be best spent. Your Planner will then walk you through the budget he/she created.
Design Proposal/ Design Board: After completing your budget analysis, your Planner/Designer will put together a design proposal/board and show you design concepts/ideas and suggestions. There are many Planners that do not do design so if design, décor and details are things that are important to you, make sure you choose a Planner that is also a Designer.
Consultation: The initial meeting you will have with a wedding professional prior to booking them.
Vendors: The individuals you will select and entrust to help bring your wedding vision to life.
Get Acquainted Session: Many Planners use this term in place of “consultation”.
Mock-up: A tangible table display that pulls all of your wedding details together so you can see how your reception will look before the big day (e.g. linen, napkins, stationary, floral arrangement, chargers, chairs, etc.). Some Planners may do this in your selected wedding venue or at their studio.
Walkthrough: Usually a 30 minute to 1 hour meeting with a venue coordinator where you, your Planner and the venue coordinator walk through the venue and ask questions about the facility as it pertains to your event. For the venue that you select, there is also a final walkthrough where you confirm all details with the coordinator. Caterers are usually asked to attend the final walkthrough to get specific instructions and your Planner should ask all other vendors to attend as well, especially if the vendor has not done a wedding at that particular venue.
Wedding Design: Wedding planning and wedding design are two different things. Wedding design focuses on bringing a specific theme or concept to life by utilizing design elements such as lighting, draping, linen, table decor, seating, florals, etc whereas an individual who is just a Wedding Planner focuses more so on selecting appropriate vendors, logistics and timelines. Although some Planners may have some skill in selecting design elements for you wedding, a Wedding Designer has a lot more of the skill and resources needed.
T + E Traditional Nigerian Igbo Wedding Morrow, Georgia
The Importance of a Wedding Planner
Before you dive too deep in your search for a Wedding Planner, I recommend that you take a moment to evaluate how important a Planner is to you and your wedding day. This isn’t meant to be a rhetorical statement nor am I implying that a Wedding Planner is the be-all and end-all for you. Every couple will place a different level of importance on a Wedding Planner, and so I am simply saying that it’s crucial for you to define that level of importance for you. It’ll make your vision that much clearer when searching for Planners, meeting with them and ultimately choosing one for your wedding day.
Planning Tip #3: Make a “top 5” list of the most important aspects
of your wedding day. If having a seamless and stress free day ends up on this list,
then you know a Wedding Planner is fairly important to you. Furthermore,
depending on where it ends up on this list, it’ll give you a better indication
of how much of your budget you’ll want to allocate to it.
That concludes the week 1. Whoop Whoop! Next week, I’ll be discussing how you can begin to search for your Wedding Planner, what to look for and how you can appropriately compare apples to apples. In the meantime, I would love to hear your feedback. If you found this week’s article helpful, please e-mail me and let me know.
If you’d like to be social with me, you can head on over to my Facebook where I share interesting wedding related articles, tips and tricks, behind the scenes planning and design info and my latest weddings, Instagram where I share images from my day-to-day life, client and industry events and my personal style and fashion sense. If you’d like to learn more about me and what makes me tick, you can also visit my little pocket of real estate on the internet at www.EventDesignByBE.com.
Until next week Mon Cherie! Dream big and stay inspired!
All Rights Reserved. Photo credit: Fotos by Fola, Event Design by BE