Google+ How to Decide Between Full-Service and Partial Wedding Planning - Southern Weddings

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Many brides know from the beginning that a planner is one of their wedding essentials. Whether due to guest count, complex decor plans or family dynamics, a demanding job or travel schedule, or simply a desire to have the bandwidth to focus on their relationship throughout a yearlong engagement, the reasons for engaging a planner are many and valid! If you fall into that category, you might still be wondering whether full service or partial planning is right for you. Or, if you’re not convinced, you might be wondering if a planner, even for the month-of, can be justified at all! (Spoiler alert: read through almost every one of our real wedding interviews and you’ll have your answer! :))

We’ve asked our friend Sarah from Make It Posh to send over a few questions to ask yourself as you’re deciding which type of wedding planner is right for you. And, just to lighten things up, we’ve sprinkled throughout a few of our favorite photos from a recent editorial Sarah worked on!

1. Are you easily stressed?
Planning a wedding can be very emotional, and one of the biggest emotions you feel will be stress. If you are an easily stressed gal, then wedding planning can be paralyzing. So many clients tell me that they started having nightmares during the planning stage. A full-service planner in particular can help alleviate that stress by guiding you through the entire process. She will be your advocate and your biggest supporter.

2. How organized are you?
This is going to blow your mind… ready?! It takes roughly 450 hours to plan a wedding. That is 37.5 hours a month if you have a year-long engagement, or about 10 hours per week. Add that to your 40-hour work week, hobbies, date nights (because you have to have those to keep from going wedding crazy!), school (many of our brides are pursuing their Masters degrees, taking the bar, or prepping for their MCats while they are engaged), and you’ll quickly become overwhelmed. I equate being a wedding planner/coordinator to being a project manager and implementations specialist. Each wedding has a project scope, budget, and deadline that needs to be strictly adhered to. Not only does that take exceptional planning skills, but you need to be extremely organized as well, or things will inevitably fall through the cracks. If you struggle with organization, task management, and/or time management in your personal or professional life, you’ll struggle with it during wedding planning, too.

3. Do you think that you and your mom will disagree on the planning?
Getting help from friends and family is fantastic, as long as you are seeing eye to eye. If not, better to get help from someone who is impartial and unbiased. Moms, sisters, friends, and coworkers may want to chime in at any given opportunity, which can derail even the most diligent planner, because it will cause you to second guess yourself. Many parents have a hard time understanding new trends and etiquette, as well as reconciling the costs of events. My wedding was eight times what my parents paid for their wedding, and boy, was that a hard pill for them to swallow. I spent so much time defending my decisions, explaining the whys and hows, and trying to get them on board. I can relate when my clients have the same problem. I see it from both points of view. A wedding planner you work with from the get-go can help you bridge the gap and give you some insight as to what compromises you can make without affecting the design of the event.

4. What is your motivation for hiring a planner?
Are you only looking for help with logistics or do you think you might want some guidance or opinions on the planning aspect, too? I tell my clients that full-service planning is for folks who want or need a lot of help, advice, and guidance. Partial planning is great for clients who already know what they want for design, have an interest in planning, and genuinely enjoy the process, but still need some guidance and are more comfortable with frequent face-to-face time. Day-of coordination is a good fit when the client has the ability and confidence to plan everything, and fill a planner in on all the details about a month out from the event. At that point, you just need someone to swoop in, tie up loose ends, and take over the communication with your vendors.

5. Do you have a lot of vendors in mind already?
One of the best things about having a full-service planner is the resources she can provide. It’s much easier to choose vendors when you have a narrower field of trusted options, and a planner can match you with a vendor based on budget, style, and the experience that you’re looking for. Best of all, they will likely have good relationships with the vendors they recommend. Creating a “dream team” of vendors is key to helping your event run smoothly!

6. What stage are you at in the planning process?
If you have already booked your vendors and are well into planning, day-of coordination may be all that you need. If you have already booked vendors and now need some help figuring out what comes next, then partial planning is a perfect option for you.

7. What is the vision for your wedding?
Do you plan on a very simple celebration or do you have aspirations of a grand affair? The grander the decor and design of the wedding, the more planning required. Additionally, if you have a plethora of items that you want to hand craft or source for your wedding, then you will likely want help sooner or later with executing those projects and putting them into play on the big day. Gathering the perfect details, of course, is time-consuming and often expensive. Working with a planner who already has a collection of beautiful items can cut down on both time and expense.

8. How large is your wedding?
The larger the celebration, the more moving parts. More guests equates to more everything: tables, food, linens, centerpiece, staff… As a rule of thumb, any event with over 150 guests needs, at the very least, a partial planner.

9. Are you getting married near the place where you live now?
If you live more than an hour away from your venue, you’ll need to account for that extra travel time when you meet with vendors. And when you’ll already need your PTO for engagement parties, bridal showers, bachelorette excursions, and your wedding week, taking time off work to meet with vendors can quickly burn through any extra accrued vacation. Having a coordinator to help manage those meetings will be a Godsend!

10. How budget conscious are you?
If the answer is “very,” your first impulse might be to look for a day-of coordinator because of the lower cost. However,a partial or full-service planner can often save you the cost of their services thanks to their industry knowledge and relationships. For example: two vendors have very similar styles and packages. One is well-established and well-known. They other is very talented, but still adding to his portfolio. Both are exceptionally talented, artistic, and amazing to work with. There is, however nearly a $3,000 difference in pricing. That savings is HUGE for your budget, but you aren’t likely to find the newer vendor on your own. Or, if you do find a newer vendor whose work you love, you might not be able to get a great read on their level of professionalism from an initial interview. Wedding planners spend a lot of time networking, developing relationships, and getting to know people before providing them as a referral. The vendors your planner will recommend are vetted and responsible.

Big hugs to our friend Sarah of Make It Posh for shedding some light on choosing a wedding planner! For those still looking for the perfect planner, Sarah is based in Richmond, Virginia but works throughout Charleston, Hilton Head, and Savannah, as well. Before you go, take a peek at this short video by The Herrintons from the above inspiration shoot – so fun to see everyone in action!

Planning: Make it Posh | Photography: Annamarie Akins | Videography: The Herrintons | Venue: Seven Springs | Mobile bar: The Cozy Caravan | Classic car: First Class Limo | Bakery: The Mixing Bowl | Vintage rentals: Paisley & Jade | Linens and rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Hair and makeup: Lou Stevens Glam Squad | Wedding dresses: Annalise Bridal Boutique | Bridesmaid dresses: Bella Bridesmaid | Menswear: Tiffanys Bridal | Bow ties: Bows-n-Ties | Watercolor artist: Laura Ray | Flowers: Mona Ray | Stationery and printing: Love Laced Designs | Live portrait artist: Wyatt Ramsey | Laser cut signs: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Band: Forest Hill/Shack Band via East Coast Entertainment | Catering: Butler’s Unique Catering

Make It Posh is a Southern Weddings sponsor. Paisley & Jade and East Coast Entertainment are Blue Ribbon Vendors. Thank you for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Amber Anderson reply

    Love all of this and will be sharing away! My one piece of feedback is that the term “day of” coordination needs to die a hard and fast death.

    We are event managers and it takes far more than showing up and executing what a bride has planned. At a minimum, it needs to be called ‘month of’ to avoid confusing brides that then ask planners for discounts if they shave things down to ‘just day of’. It’s not possible to shave it down and expect streamline.

    Thanks for this great piece of education for those on the fence!

  2. avatar Lauren reply

    Did Laura Ray do the No Paparazzi print? I would love to have it for my wedding!

  3. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Lovely set of images. Gorgeous lighting!

  4. avatar Dear Monday | Virginia Wedding Videography reply

    […] Southern Weddings, Last week you shared one of our favorite films to date that we pulled together for a styled shoot dreamt up by the amazing Sarah from Make it Posh […]

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