We're all control freaks: inside the world of the wedding planner


weddingplanner_brideToday’s bride is a savvy one. She’s a bit older than her peers from previous generations, so she has a little more dough to spend and a more refined style to showcase. She’s a tech-savvy pinner who has solid DIY intentions but Hollywood wedding dreams. She also has a full-time job, a sizable social circle and a lot on her plate, even before The Question was popped. In short, she’s the perfect client for a wedding planner.

“A big benefit of hiring a wedding planner is the convenience factor,” for brides who wish they could do it all but know they can do it better with help, said David Wood, president of the international Association of Bridal Consultants. “Your wedding should not be a learning experience. It’s like a one-night Broadway show, and you want to get it right the first time.”

That show is something that takes just the kind of planning, timing and attention to detail that certified wedding planners are trained to provide. There’s a lot a wedding planner can bring to the table, but first and foremost is “making the event happen on time and under budget, because these things spiral out of control,” Wood said.  “Weddings are a very emotional business, and you can generally benefit from having a cool head involved in the planning process.”

The wedding planner’s first job is to sit down with the couple and find out their vision for the day:  The dates they’re looking at, the number of guests they’d like to plan for, the style, and a rough budget for the whole shebang.

This initial meeting, once held with a bride and her big binder of ideas, has been amped up with the use of Internet research in general and social media sites like Pinterest in particular.

“Nobody wants the last wedding they went to. Everybody wants something different — they want to brand the event to the couple — where they used to go, or where they met, or what they like,” Wood said. While the internet can give a bride a plethora of gorgeously photographed ideas, there’s a catch.

“The problem is, every one of those images has a price tag attached to it, and that you usually don’t see,” Wood said. “Every wish list has a price tag.”

A wedding planner’s job is to take the best of the bride’s ideas and dreams and formulate a solid, workable plan around them. She does her homework, contacting appropriate venues and other service providers to map out a complete proposal for the wedding — sometimes multiple proposals with different price points and number of guests. With any luck, the couple signs off on the proposal and the wedding planner.

And then the real work begins. Besides lining up vendors and reviewing contracts, the wedding planner acts as a liaison between the bride and just about every professional hired. She also is the neutral third party who’s there to give a professional opinion and make unemotional decisions, without feeling any obligation whatsoever to let sweet Aunt Dee make the wedding cake like she wants to.

A wedding planner sees the big picture amid a mound of details, and does not get hung up on any one thing. This allows the planning process to move forward in a timeframe that will ensure everything, and everyone, is perfectly ready on the big day.

Above all, a wedding planner is there to create the day of your dreams while allowing the bride and groom to enjoy it rather than stress over it. Wood said he has seen plenty of brides who try to do everything themselves, only to succumb to the stress.

“The DIY movement has increased the last-minute panic calls we get,” Wood said. It’s easy to research wedding details on the Internet, but actually pulling them all off without any professional help is much tougher. “The Internet’s not going to replace your melting cake in July, or have a backup limo supplier when your first one doesn’t show up.”

Aside from creativity and patience, it’s that ability to find new solutions to old problems that makes a great wedding planner, he said.

“We’re all control freaks. That way the bride doesn’t have to be.”