Ok, so you've read my past blog post about whether you need to hire a planner, contemplated it and made the wise decision to invest in your wedding day to make sure you enjoy it and someone else stresses over it!
A topic that has come up a lot lately in my wedding planner circles centers around the influx of "newbie" planners on the scene and their oftentimes aggravating and occasionally detrimental procedures in the wedding industry. I want to preface this entire post by saying I love and encourage newbie planners-everyone started somewhere. It is not my intent to bash newbies because it was not that long ago I was a new planner either. However, there is a difference between "hobby" planners and "new planners". If that's confusing to you, let's go ahead and get that out of the way.
What is a new wedding planner?
A "new planner" is one that has made the determination that he or she wants to be a wedding planner. How they arrived at that decision could be a multitude of ways: Maybe they planned their own wedding and realized they were really great at it, maybe they are a sadist and like to suffer, perhaps they really hate spending time with loved ones on weekends and beautiful sunny days and want to avoid them at all costs. Perhaps, like me, they accidentally fell into it and realized they had a knack for it. Whatever the reason, this person has made the decision their big dream is to help clients plan their dream day. That is awesome! This person is going to start by maybe planning a friends wedding for cheap and then a friend of a friend until they are taking new clients. Taking courses, shadowing or apprenticing with a more seasoned wedding planner and making lots and lots of mistakes before they ever take a paying clients money. This person might take a certification course, they will get their business license, insurance, and bank accounts in place. They will plan and prepare for a business and will slowly take on maybe a handful of weddings their first year in business and slowly build from there. There are many variations of this journey, but that is oftentimes the most common. This is the wedding planner that you can book for cheap early on in their career if you have a tight budget, one who is passionate, who cares about you and your wedding and who will do everything in their power to make sure you wedding day goes smoothly because they understand work ethic and the ramifications of not doing a good job. This type of wedding planner will increase their rate with every wedding they do until they reach their market standard for not only pricing, but experience and know how. This wedding planner will eventually become a seasoned pro with years of industry expertise and will go on to lead a successful planning business with many satisfied clients.
What is a hobby wedding planner?
*disclaimer-I don't mean everyone named Linda is like this, it was just a name that popped up in my head, a placeholder if you will for the character we all know and abhor. Sorry Lindas.
A hobby wedding planner is your cousin Linda. Cousin Linda is sweet enough, maybe a bit bored and perhaps very Pinterest obsessed. Cousin Linda is the person who volunteers to plan your wedding - partly because she thinks the idea is just fancy and partly because she can get the scoop on you and your fiancés pre-marital stress so she can dish the gossip to aunt Sally who can then be super condescending to your mom about it. Cousin Linda might work a full time job or might be a stay at home mom. She thinks the "idea" of being a wedding planner is just oh so fun and she has already planned to wear her hair just like Jennifer Lopez in that movie for extra effect. She does this because she knows she will have the ability to drink and party like a family member but with the bragging rights of "putting it all together". After all, who doesn't love throwing a good party? Linda will show up to your wedding whenever she guesstimates is a good time. Linda will not have any idea what to do with a BEO. She won't know who the captain of the catering team is or how to properly and respectfully address them. Linda is not going to do a thorough check of the timeline and layout to make sure things are set in the proper way at the proper time. Linda is not going to notice imperfections and issues with rental decor items and insist that the company fix them because they aren't what the couple wanted. But you better bet Linda is going to be the first one to the open bar flirting shamelessly with the young bartender who just wants to do his job, get paid and go home. Linda might even volunteer to be your photographer too! Because cousin Lindas husband got her a DSLR for Christmas and she's been taking lots of pictures of her cat and nephew so she's mastered the auto function on that thing pretty well. Cousin Linda will somehow make it through your wedding day without burning down the venue, throwing up on the bride or breaking any bones and she will chalk that up to a shining success. She's going to take this high of planning your wedding and she's going to start marketing herself to other people because "it's just so fun!". Linda will have her husband set her up a website and will order business cards on Vistaprint and will go on to ruin a few more couples wedding days until she eventually finds it not to be fun anymore and goes back to selling mascara on Facebook.
A Hobby Planner is fine...
...as long as nothing goes wrong
It's easy to be happy on a sunny day. There are times having a hobby planner or a friend of family member plan your wedding works out. These are the times that you've planned most of it yourself, you have a crack team of vendors, a fairly simple wedding and LITERALLY NOTHING GOES WRONG AT ALL. To put it in another way, this is like filling a retail position with someone in high school. There is system already in place, they don't have to think much and if any problems arise they just go to the manager. If you are comfortable trusting your wedding day to the girl that writes passive-aggressive Alessia Cara lyrics on her twitter, so be it. But be aware that this person is not a professional and when any problems happen they are heading straight to you to take care of it.
...if you don't want someone who cares
Hobby planners who charge you $500 will tell you "its not about the money" for them. They are totally right. But it's also not about your wedding either. A hobby planner is going to do a good job when it comes to discussing floral arrangements, ceremony decor and fun songs to play. But if there logistical problems, vendor contract concerns or any multitude of "not fun" things that happen and are part of my job, a hobby planner will not deal with them. Because as much as it isn't about the money for them, it also really isn't about your wedding. A hobby planner does this because it's "fun". As soon as it stops being fun, the hobby planner bows out of the situation. At the end of the day, this person doesn't really care about you or your wedding, they care about their likes on instagram, playing with flowers and living as a bride vicariously through you. When it comes to your wedding day, you want the Olivia Pope that will handle it, stylishly and flawlessly.
Wedding planners are not like oatmeal.
There is no instant, simmer for 5 minutes, or overnight version of a wedding planner.
Wedding planning has so many fun aspects: working for yourself, creating your own schedule, getting to deal with pretty things, fun clients and doing tastings. But there is SO much more to wedding planning to that. Before you get to that point, you have to put the work in. There is no fast track to becoming a wedding planner, just like I can't watch House and immediately diagnose all of my friends medical ailments (although sometimes I feel like I can). Just because you've planned a successful party doesn't mean you are a professional party planner. You need to put in years of learning, trial and error and hard work to earn the title. The reason I get to enjoy certain "fun" aspects of my job that I often share on social media is because behind the scenes I've already put in the grueling late nights, hours pouring over emails, contracts, layouts, reformatting guest lists and consoling crying brides when something goes wrong and then having to play bad cop and fix the issue for my client (sometimes having to be not so nice to vendors). I don't post about driving hundreds of miles to deal with a pretentious venue coordinator or a dj that hates wedding planners. I don't post about sweating in a dress in 90 degree heat helping a florist finalize arch arrangements or wearing rain boots that unbeknownst to me have are broken and no longer water proof and squishing through a cold, wet, muddy farm. I don't show you the bridesmaids who get DRUNK and try to fight literally everyone because the day isn't about them. I don't post about the "I told you so" moments when a client goes against my suggestions and books someone or something that doesn't eventually work out and I certainly don't rub it in their face, I deal with it and fix it to the best of my abilities. I don't post about feeling the loss of a couple who decides to call off their wedding day, and how my heart breaks for them and I wish I could do more. I don't post about when family members or friends are lost to illness, accidents or otherwise during the wedding planning process and sitting down at a table and crying with a client and then having to not only be the consoler but also make sure things still run smoothly because someone has to get it done.
I don't post about these things because they are part of me and I take them seriously and not as something to brag or complain about. I take this business as seriously as I take my personal relationships, health and well-being. I strive to make a client happy no matter what, even if it is seemingly impossible to do so. I love making long term friendships with my clients. I like being the person they know they can turn to, no matter what and they can rely on me as a professional and a friend. I adore when clients refer me to their family and friends and know that I'm going to take excellent care of them just as I did with their own wedding. There are so many "not fun" parts of my job that a lot of hobby planners will not deal with because it isn't serious enough to them. These are the are the reasons you need to hire a real planner and not some "overnight oats" version because when dealing with the most important day of your life, you want someone who will treat it as such.