Amanda interviews Cindy about all sorts of wedding planning stuff. We bust some of the biggest myths about wedding planning and help you figure out if you actually need or want a wedding planner.
On Colorado, hiking, aerobic capacity, and elevation sickness.
Let us regale you with our tales of not being able to keep up with Beth. (A high bar for anyone to reach, let’s be honest.)
“If you’re gonna get stupid, just drink some scotch.”
Have y’all noticed that Amanda NEVER edits shit out when I ask her to?
Never. She’s forcing you all to listen to me telling you, repeatedly, to listen. Sorry. I am who I am.
Somehow, this has devolved into discussion of Cindy’s allergies.
So, arbol chiles. What’s your response:
- What the fuck is an arbol chile?
- Oh yeah, arbol chiles are in everything.
The Actual Point of Today’s Podcast: Do You Need a Wedding Planner?
If so, how do you find one? Amanda asks Cindy all the questions you never knew you needed the answers to about wedding planners.
Why Do You Need a Wedding Planner?
Ask yourselves a few questions in order to decide whether or not you need one:
Do you have 10-15 hours per week for the next 12-18 months to plan your wedding? Because that’s the average, according to recent reports. Maybe you…. have a life? Social plans? Hobbies? Or this is just not a thing you want to spend your limited time on?
If you don’t have that extra time just sitting around unclaimed, you might want to hire a wedding planner. Wedding planners save you a fuck ton of time!
Do you know how to plan a wedding? Do you have any interest in learning?
If not, then a wedding planner might be the answer. We do this for a living and we know what we’re doing! You totally can teach yourself and figure it all out if you want to, but see above about the time, and maybe you … don’t want to? That’s fine! You can pay someone to do this for you.
Are you good at things like research? Are you a master of Google? Can you communicate clearly with people? Are you organized and able to keep track of lots of small details without losing sight of the big picture?
Be really honest with yourself on this last one. It’s a major component of wedding planning, and if you don’t have the skills and you don’t want to learn them, your big day might be rather full of chaos.
A Major Bonus to Having a Wedding Planner: We know all the best vendors!
This is a big bonus to you as you are planning. Wedding planners can refer you to reputable vendors who fit your needs, style, and budget. Unfortunately, there are a lot of so-called vendors out there who will take your money and run and there are even more inexperienced vendors who are new in the industry and don’t really know what they’re doing yet. It can be hard to figure out who those are before you book them, especially if you’re on a tight budget and you’re looking for prices at the lower end of average.
Plus: a team of vendors that have worked together before have an established rapport and routine with each other – which makes your wedding day run smoothly and cohesively.
Wedding planners also have (usually unwritten) lists of people you shouldn’t work with. If you’ve been listening, you know that as an LGBTQ+ couple, you’ll have to make sure your vendors are pro-marriage equality. The wedding planner advantage is: we’ll recommend vendors who are excited to celebrate your wedding or we’ll have those awkward conversations for you.
Myths About Wedding Planners
Myth #1: A wedding planner will make your wedding look just like everybody else’s wedding.
There are some shitty wedding planners out there who are just trying to recreate their own dream weddings over and over again, but the vast majority of wedding planners are actually really kinda tired of doing the same dang wedding over and over again.
We really want you to have the wedding that YOU really want.
And it can actually be easier to fall into the trends that are dominating Pinterest if you don’t have a seasoned professional to help you figure out how to make your unique ideas and personalities come to life in the form of linen colors, flower arrangements, and uplighting.
Myth #2: Wedding Planners are expensive.
All wedding shit is expensive. Photographers, caterers, venues, florists, whatever – it all costs a ton of money.
But the wedding tax is a myth. Wedding vendors aren’t out to screw you (for the most part, there are always a few bad apples). Most of us love celebrating love and we want to make your day awesome!
However, we all have to make a living. We have to charge an amount that covers our actual take-home pay, our overhead expenses, all the taxes (most wedding vendors are self-employed and pay both the employer and employee share of those), advertising so you can find us in the first place, equipment, paying any staff on our teams, etc. All that stuff adds up.
We’re further limited by how many weddings we can reasonably do in a year. A full load for a wedding planner is somewhere around 10-20 weddings, depending on how many are full-service versus wedding management (aka “day-of-coordination”). So… think about a median salary in your area; double it to account for taxes, overhead, staff, and all those other expenses; and then divide that number by an average of 15. That’s what a wedding planner needs to charge, on average, per wedding in order to make ends meet.
Here’s an example:
The reported average salary in the US is just under $50,000.
So a wedding planner would need to charge $100,000 in a year to make that.
Let’s say she works at capacity and does 20 weddings per year.
That means she needs to bill, on average, $5000 per wedding in order to make ends meet.
In my experience, most wedding planners (myself included) are charging between $1500-$3000 for wedding day management – the most popular and most frequently booked of all wedding planning services. So, the reality is, we’re likely undercharging and working our butts off to make ends meet because we really, really love what we do – and we want you to be able to afford to hire us.
Math aside, please remember that you generally do get what you pay for. If you’re hiring someone on the low end of the range, or well below what’s average in your area – be wary.
Wedding Planners can save you money. And so much time.
In some cases, more than you’ll spend to hire them. It’s also our job to help you make a realistic budget and stick to it.
But even if we don’t save you a single penny, we’re going to save you all of those hours of time. Remember that average of 10-15 hours a week? At $10 per hour, your time planning a wedding would add up to $5200.
I know, right?!
Myth #3: A wedding planner will make us use vendors from an exclusive list and won’t let us pick our own vendors.
With some exceptions, wedding planners are happy to work with whatever vendors you’ve hired, or help you find whatever vendors you want, whether or not they are on our lists. Our lists, generally, are recommendations, not mandates.
There are some who do require you to use “their” vendors. Usually, this is because they want to make sure you are hiring professional vendors who know what they’re doing, who have insurance, and who aren’t going to fuck it up.
Myth #4: We can plan our wedding ourselves.
Wedding planning is like any other service. You can do things like cut your own hair, change your own oil, clean your own toilets… and many people do. But you might prefer not to learn those skills or just not to do them! And you might want to make sure the job gets done by someone who’s skilled and experienced at doing it.
You can plan a great wedding without a planner if you’re willing to put in the time to learn, but you might not want to. And if you don’t want to? That’s a great reason to hire a planner.
As a sidenote: just like DIY is not always less expensive and does not always turn out the way you plan, making a wedding happen without a planner may end up adding more to your budget than the cost of a planner and might not turn out how you hope, since you don’t have years of experience with event flow and wedding day timing and managing vendors and all of that jazz.
Myth #5: Our friends and family can handle everything the day of the wedding.
Everyone needs someone to handle some things. You cannot be in two places at once and there are going to be things that need to happen in a place you won’t physically be or at a time when you are otherwise occupied with things like getting your hair done, taking photos, or, um, actually doing the whole getting married thing. (Yes, there is often stuff happening during the ceremony itself.)
You don’t have to pay a wedding planner to take care of this stuff, but you cannot do it all yourself.
You can have a great and detailed plan for setup and breakdown that your friends and family will handle. But they will then be working at your wedding and someone will have to manage them and that will probably have to be you.
(Incidentally, if you need help making a great and detailed plan and you aren’t hiring a planner, you should really consider splurging on a very affordable wedding planning subscription.)
What Does a Wedding Planner Actually Do, Though?
Ok. It’s almost midnight, I’m most of the way through a glass of wine, and I just cannot type this up right now, so please just have a listen. We do All the Things for you is the general answer.
(If anyone is actually reading these show notes, please let us know.)
Q: Why don’t you drink at weddings, Cindy?
A: Because I drink after weddings, Amanda. I can’t drink at weddings. I have shit to do and I’m running a marathon while I do it and I’m just trying to stay hydrated, so booze is the enemy.
All your wedding vendors are just running a #Marathon4Love. 4U.
What’s the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator?
Planning: figure out wedding vision, establish budget, research vendors, decide what kind of decor to have, figure out what to eat. All the shit that needs to happen in advance of the wedding, so that the wedding can happen.
If you hire a wedding planner, they’re almost always going to coordinate/manage your wedding as well, but that’s a different thing.
Coordination/Management: make the dang day happen! You, as the people getting married, are going to do all that planning junk above (for yes, 10-15 hours a week) and at some point before the wedding, you’ll meet with your wedding manager to go over all the details and basically hand off the plans.
What your wedding manager will actually do, typically, is: make a detailed timeline, create checklists/organizational docs, confirm all the details with all your vendors before the wedding, managing vendors and timing and changes and solving any problems big or small that arise, setting up your personal decor items, attending to your needs as well as guests, wedding party etc. and just basically doing whatever needs to get done in order to make the Thing happen the way you want it to. We also show up with a big kit of a seemingly-random, but actually quite sensible, items that may be of use throughout your wedding day. Advil, bandaids, scissors, tape, zip ties, twine, safety pins, and about 87 other things. See earlier, that #Marathon4Love deal.
BREAK. IN. YOUR. DAMN. SHOES.
Cut off the tags on your dresses.
Open the vents on your suits.
Cut open the pockets that come sewn shut.
How do you hire a wedding planner?
First, find one you like. We’re all up in your business on your wedding day, and if you’ve hired us for full planning, we’re basically your BFF through the whole process. Point being: we spend a lot of time together, so it’s real wise to make sure we LIKE each other. Don’t hire people you don’t like.
Also don’t hire homophobic assholes.
Don’t hire anyone without TALKING to them first – in person, on Skype, on the phone, whatever. You need to get their vibe and you can’t do that in email.
We all do our best work when we like the people we are working for. Don’t waste your money on people who don’t like you, or who you don’t like.
First, find a wedding planner!
You could start with Google, but you can expedite the process with some great vendor directories, like these:
Catalyst Weddings (a Super Gay sponsor!)
Bridechilla (also has a podcast + a great FB group)
Or, ask your friends who’ve already gotten married. They definitely have opinions.
Hire a Wedding Planner.
The simple act of hiring one will drop your stress levels way down.
Married people surveyed after their weddings say that hiring a planner was one of the best places they spent their money.
“I’m your buffer. I’m the bubble that stands around you and makes sure you get to eat your dinner.”
Free Facebook group for engaged couples
Wedding Planning Subscriptions: Get one!
It’s like having me in your back pocket the whole time you’re planning.
- super organized wedding planner brain dump of how to plan a wedding, online with 24/7 access
- how-to videos, worksheets, checklists, spreadsheets, vendor evaluation forms, and the rest of my professional templates – the same ones I use with full planning clients
- on-demand wedding planning help/advice in our private Facebook group
- real-time answers in our monthly live planning calls (or submit your question in advance and watch the recording later if you can’t make it live)
- weekly accountability emails
- plus a whole community of other people like you that you can learn from and share ideas and inspiration with