Wedding Planner Q&A – “How Do I Plan My First Wedding?”

 

A Wedding Planner Asks How to Plan the First Wedding

The first wedding you plan as a professional wedding planner should come after a background of working with seasoned wedding and event professionals and/or planning many weddings and events for others for free. If you start without a firm background you could find yourself in the position of the wedding planner whose question I answer today, and it’s not necessarily the position you want to be in.

Question

I’m currently planning my first wedding, although my client doesn’t know it. But I’m embarrassed and stressed because there are some things about planning the wedding that I don’t know how to do. I believe my job is to plan the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, along with the rehearsal. This is where it starts getting complicated because it seems like you almost have to have the order of events timed out to a science. Can you help me?

Answer

It’s natural to be stressed when you first start planning weddings for a living. Emotions are high and there is a lot going on. Don’t worry, with experience there will come a time when you won’t feel as stressed because you will be prepared, in advance, for the things that may come up during the day.

Yes, you do need to prepare detailed checklists and timelines of the order of events. At the rehearsal you need to take control and, among many other things, keep the wedding party focused, make sure everyone knows their duties and their schedule for the wedding day (get their contact information in case they forget), test the audio system, run through the ceremony, practice the processional and recessional, and confirm last minute wedding day details.

On the wedding day you should have a written timeline of when the vendors will arrive to setup at the ceremony and reception, along with everyone’s contact information. Also, you must have ceremony, cocktail hour and reception timelines that are very detailed. You should share your timelines with people who need to know when to fulfill their duties.

I have a couple of concerns about some comments you made, and these are things other new wedding planners do also, not just you. My first concern is that you may have agreed to do work that you do not know how to do. It’s very tempting to agree to do everything brides want because you are eager to help them have their dream weddings, you see other wedding planners offering those services, or you want to make money. But you must keep in mind that when the bride hires you, she expects and needs you to know what to do. It is, after all, her very special day.

Only market and sell services that you can execute well. If you want to be a full-service wedding planner, and don’t have all of the skills that you need, you can partner with someone who has those skills until you learn to do them well. I suggest you consider doing this now, with this wedding. Just make sure you have a written agreement or contract that outlines each of your duties and the percentage of the pay you will each receive.

My second concern is that you’re not sure what your job is. You should have a contract that spells out exactly what your duties are and how much you will be paid. There shouldn’t be any guessing on your part, or the part of your client, as to what you are going to do to make the day run smoothly.

If you don’t already have a contract, take time now to write down your responsibilities and have your client review and sign off on it. Doing this may bring out some questions that can be handled before the wedding day, thereby helping you avoid any possible last-minute disasters and helping your couple avoid disappointment.

And if you have a pressing question about starting or running your wedding planning business, you can send me an email at questions@sharonhill.com. I will answer them on this blog or in my ezine, “Wedding Planner Tips,” which you can subscribe to here.



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