It's no surprise wedding planning can get stressful. We all strive to have the "perfect" day, which is why many of us enlist the help of a professional to make our dreams come to life. That being said, it can still get overwhelming, and you may not know where to start. With the help of industry experts, we've put together the five most important conversations to have with your planner to make your big day everything you've imagined!
"It is so, so very critical to have an honest discussion about your budget with your planner. Wherever your budget falls on the spectrum, the decisions your planner makes as far as what to show you and what direction in which to take the design and scope of your vision, will be dictated in part by budget. In my experience, the budget can be an enormous source of stress when expectations are not clearly outlined up front. Once the expectations are clearly and honestly discussed, it does not have to be a source of stress at all. What budgetary expectations are and how they are outlined varies widely from client to client, as it is a very personal thing. We have some clients who don't have an exact number in mind, and want to see the 'dream' scenario for each and every possibility, and then want to have an honest discussion about the 'value' versus the 'cost.' We have some clients who have a range in mind, and want us to help them navigate the options and ideas that will get them the vision and the dream, and where that might end up within their range, and then we have clients who have a pretty precise number in mind. It is our job to break that down into a comprehensive and accurate budget outline, so we can be mindful of where costs should be coming in throughout the process. To me, budget is one of the areas where a planner's experience is critical. An experienced planner will know what works, what doesn't, what is worth spending on, and what is not. A father of the bride and CEO of a multinational corporation once told me, that for him, my greatest virtue was 'value engineering.' I took that as an one of the greatest compliments I have ever received—because it is easy to make things beautiful at any cost, but to take a scalpel to the things that don't really 'matter' in the end, and to edit with a critical eye, brings a better result in the end." —Marina Birch of Birch Design Studio
2. Family Dynamics
"Your planner needs to know if your parents are divorced and cannot be within 40 feet of one another without causing a scene, or if Uncle Dave will try to storm the stage after a few drinks. Any family dynamics that could present themselves (and present issues) during the wedding festivities need to be discussed with your planner far in advance. Not only does he/she need to be made aware of them, but you should also discuss how you would like possible scenarios to be addressed in advance, so the weekend of your wedding, you are not worried about or thinking about those issues—you can trust your planner to handle them professionally, and according to your wishes." —Marina Birch of Birch Design Studio
"As the big day draws closer, we begin having more detailed conversations with our brides about what they can expect on their wedding day. So much thought has gone into the details of choosing the flowers, the cake, the linens, etc., but now it's time to talk about the expectations for the wedding day to alleviate any potential stress. 'What exactly will I be doing before photos begin?' 'Are you going to be with me while I'm getting ready?' 'Will you be accessible?' 'When will I get to see the reception?' 'When do I eat?' We are always working on our wedding day production schedule, which is broken down into almost five minute increments; but there are just some details that can't be finalized until a week out. At this time, we like to sit down with our brides and review the entire schedule, so they feel comfortable with the plans. It is also important to send out a mini timeline to all the bridal party and family so they know where to be, how to dress, how they are being transported, and any important parking information; this way your rehearsal does not turn into a White House press conference filled with a zillion questions. This will also help tremendously with your photo schedule (although you'll have to wrangle all parties involved for photos, as somehow there's always a stray uncle or groomsman who gets sidetracked with some game they are watching on their iPhone or at the hotel bar). Always remember you can plan out every single minute of the day, but once it's here, just enjoy the moment, and let your wedding planner worry about the details!" —Sara Fried of Fete Nashville
4. Day-of Details
"It is important to discuss all the details of what happens on the wedding day; they want to feel confident that everything has been thoughtfully planned. We always provide a bride's concierge, who stays with the bride through the entire day. She makes sure the bride is ready before hair and makeup begins: that Champagne has been chilled, lunch is being delivered on time, bridesmaids arrive on time, dresses are pressed, and tending to all the girls' needs. Our bride knows that her concierge is in constant contact with her planners and is just a phone call away, while they are setting up all the details for the ceremony and reception. Other items that are important to discuss are 'the big reveal' and that the bride and groom will actually get to eat the food they've so carefully chosen for their guests. We always plan a special moment for the bride and groom to see their reception while their guests are busy at cocktail hour. It's a super fun moment to get on film and probably my most favorite of the day! We also make sure our newlyweds get to sit down, eat some dinner, and take off their shoes before joining their guests at their reception. They share a few minutes alone to enjoy each other and acknowledge they are finally married. This is a Jewish tradition, called the Yichud, literally meaning, 'becoming one.' We do this with all our clients, Jewish or not, and they absolutely love it." —Sara Fried of Fete Nashville
"This sounds super silly, but it actually gets ignored more than you would think ... I always ask every client to share their contracts with us. We keep it in their file for multiple reasons. Of course, to answer any questions they have throughout the planning process, but to also confirm details leading up to the big day, and as proper documentation on the wedding day. This works as protection on their behalf and insures that what the client wants to happen on their wedding day does happen. If a client orders a blue cake, and a pink cake comes, we have the documentation to try to rectify the issue on the spot. So I guess the 'conversation' is, share all of your details with your wedding planner, even if you told another vendor your wishes ... because there is no way that they can know exactly what you want if they haven't been told. Don't feel like you are micromanaging by sharing your requests or by copying us on emails ... think of it as more of an insurance for your big day." –Antonia Christianson of Antonia Christianson Events