I have to admit - since starting in the wedding industry almost a decade ago now I have been asked many times what it is that I actually do. Let me give you a raw, unfiltered glimpse into a real day of an event planner and wedding business owner. Some people make an assumption that being a wedding planner is something like Jennifer Lopez's portrayal in The Wedding Planner. There are a multitude of reasons that that is not an accurate representation - first and foremost that she steals the groom - of what wedding planning actually is. Wedding planners are responsible for all wedding logistics, from vendor contract negotiation to day-of execution. They make the planning process as smooth and seamless as possible.
Wedding planning and coordination is incredibly detail-oriented—and sometimes emotionally intense—career choice. There are no industry-standard business hours. There are no holidays. We rarely have a free weekend. And we work when clients hire us to work - that's the bottom line.
Wedding planning may be portrayed as glamorous in the media that is out there for consumption but when you boil it down wedding planning and coordination is stressful, exhausting business. So here's a reality check, from one seasoned wedding planner, for anybody considering going into the wedding planning career.
Random Texts and Phone Calls
Wedding planners receive random messages at all hours of the day and night, from clients who have a different standard of what is an emergency than most people. We walk a fine line between when to turn off our phones and make ourselves unavailable, and when it's not worth facing a bride's wrath later. And when we're in the middle of a wedding week, we can never be unavailable. When you have a client for every weekend from May until October you really start to expect that every call or text is professional - not personal. Sorry social life!
Planners have to get up at the crack of dawn on a client's wedding day. Most times, I haven't slept well because I'm already worried about what the weather will be like, wondering if all of the vendors will show up on time, and hoping that nothing dramatic has occurred within the wedding venue overnight since I last checked on it. Not to mention, did everyone end up alright after the rehearsal dinner the night before - how about that wedding party? Then before I know it I'm on-site telling the lighting crew where to put things, and supervising the arrival of the rental equipment, and the setup of the décor. But honestly - a little secret no one usually shares with you.... most of these items come in the days preceding your wedding. So chances are I have been on site every day since Wednesday... yup. It's just the drill! And of course - a rule that I live by. I don't leave until the last guest is gone, the mess is cleaned up, and vendors have been paid.
Yup, I'm the "Bad Guy"
Unfortunately as a planner you are very few peoples best friends. It is my job to inform the rental company that they go back and get the correct chairs the bride ordered, and I'm also that person having to enforce whatever rules the bride and groom want to be observed on their big day (no pics at the wedding, no social media posting, no shots at the bar, etc.).. you get the drill. So, as a wedding planner I'm used to being the "bad guy." Whether it is a frustrated vendor, client or party guest I know that at the end of the day the last thing I want is a client handling the stress of some tough calls. That's why that bad guy is me!
Wedding Emergency Kit
My wedding day emergency kit takes up my entire Subaru Forester. I am not kidding about that. My emergency bag weighs a ton, and yet, there always seems to be something else I could add to it. It's not just about safety pins and hairspray—I have to be prepared with any wedding day supplies that another vendor may have forgotten. I carry everything from garbage bags and a cordless drill to extra linens in case an eight foot table gets soaking wet. Not to mention I carry a large stock of miscellaneous decor items and I give my clients free run of whatever I have on hand. So whether it is wooden crates or large wedding signage - it's with me! Sometimes, I even need to have a back-up plan for some of my clients planning decisions. For example, if a client is using floating candles in their decor I bring votive candles and underwater LEDs with me because when a candle capsizes from a guest bumping the table, they won't relight when they're wet. Boom - problem solved. That is why the wedding day emergency kit is my lifeline.
I don't know where any wedding vendor learned this but here's my opinion. If something goes wrong, and a guest is injured or something gets broken, the wedding planner is in charge (that's me) and it's my responsibility to handle the problem with a clear head. How can I do that if I'm chugging on your signature drink? Also - as a wedding vendor you are generally required to provide liability insurance in order to be on site at most venues. Shocker - most liability insurance won't cover the damage if the insured wedding planner has been drinking. So, you break it you buy it - with your own money.
As I continue to learn and grow my business there are always new things I am realizing come with the territory of being a wedding planner. Owning your own wedding planning business is a difficult and time consuming endeavor. But - here's why I do it. Because still, every single time I stand at the back of the ceremony after cuing my client down the aisle I cry. From their first dance to the heartwarming speeches I am stifling back tears. It is my belief that if you love weddings as much as I do that the list above will make you laugh and smile more than anything else. Planning weddings for a living, but the look on my clients faces on the big day makes it all worth it.