4 Lessons I Learnt The Hard Way
Images by Elizabeth In Love
I’m the type of girl who has always dreamed about her wedding day – I’ve always known exactly who I was going to marry (my high school sweetheart Nathan) and exactly how I wanted the day to look and feel. When the time finally came to plan the wedding I had been dreaming up for years, I could not have been more excited! I've always been obsessed with everything wedding, now making a career out of this love, and nothing excited me more than starting to create look books (there was no 2 years ago!), going through floral arrangements and attending menu tastings. Since I knew exactly what I wanted, I thought I had absolutely no need for a wedding planner. I thought a wedding planner would just come in and take over, leaving this control freak in the passenger seat. I was convinced that a wedding planner would somehow cause me more stress, so hiring one was definitely not a necessity.
This is the story of how my well-thought out, meticulously planned wedding day really could have benefited from a wedding planner...
My wedding day can be summed up in one saying: “What can go wrong, will go wrong”.
I could literally sit here and create a numbered list of problems we encountered-like how the videographer got stung by a bee mid-ceremony or how the guitarist we hired for the cocktail hour left sick- however, I will stick to a two key areas, the venue and décor, and how the whole planning process and day-of really could have used an expert.
When picking a venue, we were very limited in our choices since we had a guest list of 350, therefore, we ended up with a banquet hall whose décor did not exactly meet my vision. I thought I’d better hire a decorator, so I began to look around. To this day I’m still not sure why I chose the company I did. For starters, we were getting married in Hamilton and they were a Toronto-based business. I thought I couldn't find what I was looking for more locally, however, since working with many amazing local vendors for the magazine, I know now I couldn't have been more wrong.
So this brings me to…
Lesson #1: Wedding planners know reliable vendors!
There was no need for me pay a premium for a Toronto company to decorate my Hamilton venue. A wedding planner could have made recommendations for a local company who could have provided the same service.
To continue on with the tale of the decorators, not only were they far away, they actually created problems for me on my wedding day! To save on cost, we were told we could use the same chairs for the ceremony and the reception, and if we paid a small fee, the décor company would have staff hang around to move the chairs. Perfect! (Or so we thought). The company only sent two staff members to move more than 300 chairs with no dollies. This obviously took far too long, and when it started to rain during our outdoor cocktail hour, my guests couldn't enter the hall because they were still setting up! And this nightmare brings me to…
Lesson #2: Wedding planners have
experience in event logistics and can foresee
situations in advance and help avoid problems.
And, in the end, could I at least say I was happy with the décor? Nope. They actually sent the wrong coloured chairs! When I complained on-site, they told me there was no time to switch them. Then, when we went to pay our balance and told the owner that we did not receive what we actually ordered, they didn't seem to care and offered no compensation. Reiterating Lesson #1- Wedding planners know reliable vendors!
Most venues, like ours, offer a venue coordinator, and here is where I think most brides make the mistake of thinking they do not need to hire a wedding planner. I’ll start with the lesson learnt here…
Lesson #3: Venue Coordinators
are NOT Wedding Planners!
Although there are many venues that have excellent coordinators, in most cases, couples only meet them the day of their wedding. Therefore, the coordinator has no idea what the couple has exactly planned for the day or what is important to the couple.
For example, on my wedding day our venue coordinator held back our ceremony by almost 30 minutes! While I'm sure there was a valid reason for this, she never let me know. I was held up in my bridal suite having a mild panic attack because I am never late! I feel that if I had a wedding planner, who had known my borderline-neurotic personality, they would have handled the situation (and me) a little better. Being extremely upset and feeling that I had lost all control minutes before my wedding was no way to kick off the happy occasion. A wedding planner, who after months of working together, would have figured out my personality and communicated more effectively, creating a better experience.
After our ceremony and pictures, we headed into the reception and I must say, the rest did go pretty smoothly, however, I did learn one more reason why I should have hired a wedding planner before the night was up. In our dealing with the venue, we were pretty specific when it came to food and drink, actually creating our own custom menu and specialty drinks list. To inform our guests that these drinks were available, we created menus on chalkboards and placed them on the bar. Approximately an hour into dinner, the venue coordinator informed us that the bar had run out of certain ingredients to create a few of the drinks. Although the venue should have been prepared with supplies, there was not much we could do at that point but create new drinks with what was available (especially since we had paid a premium for these beverages). So there I was during dinner, all done up in my gown, wiping down chalkboards and attempting to invent drink recipes on the spot. And so here come the next lesson…
Lesson #4: Wedding planners will take care of
tasks and problems you shouldn't have to.
I should have been enjoying the evening with my new husband and the wonderful guests at my wedding, not running around like a chicken with its head cut off (in a ball gown, no less). Wedding planners can help ensure that you enjoy the day that you put so much time and money into.
When you look back on your wedding day, you may think, “Oh, I wish I used a different colour scheme” or “Oh, I should have worn my hair differently”, but what will matter the most in the long run, is not the minor details, but how you felt during the planning process and on the day of. Although there were many amazing moments on my wedding day, I still do dwell on what went wrong.
After planning my wedding on my own, I now know the best way to ensure that your experience is a happy one is to hire a planner.