Wedding Wednesday: Using a Wedding Planner

by agirlandhermutt on March 25, 2015

Hey there! All the way back in November I started my Wedding Wednesday series. I had good intentions, but it just didn’t happen. I’ve now been married for a few months (We made it to 4 months! whoo hoo!) but I still wanted to share a few key planning points about our wedding. Maybe a few of you might find it interesting just because and maybe it might be helpful for a few of you that are looking at planning a small wedding. Or it could bore you to tears and you will want to check back here another day. Either way, it will be fun for me to take a trip down memory lane.

The last we chatted I told you how we came to the decision on who (just family), when (the day after the husband’s birthday) and the where (Destin, Fl). This time I want to talk about what it was like to plan a wedding in Florida all the way from Boston.

First, if you ever decide to do a destination wedding, get a planner. Even if that destination is in the same country, get a planner.

Yes, you could do everything yourself, but do you really want to?! Do you want to be in charge of renting chairs and securing permits that you don’t even know you need? Do you want to worry about making sure the setup is done correctly to that the arbor doesn’t fall on you during the ceremony? Or that there are enough forks at dinner? Nope. Those things were not on my list of fun things to do.

When we decided to Destin, my parents offered to help get things together since they lived “nearby”. Nearby is about 1.5 hours away. Uh no.

Destination Wedding=Wedding Planner.

Online you can find all kinds of questions to ask a potential wedding planner that include figuring out what their services are to questions about contracts and refunds to working with vendors. The questions below are what I focused on in my first round of interviewing. Before all the nitty gritty contract talk, I wanted to see if this whole planner thing was going to work for me.

*Note: Here is a great article with TONS of questions to ask a potential wedding planner. They are perfect! These are just the tops questions I would ask for a small, intimate wedding.*

My Top 10 Questions for a Wedding Planner

1. Are you available on my wedding date?- This is the most important. No reason to ask more questions if she wasn’t available on my wedding date.

2. What are your exact services? Do you offer planning up until the day of the wedding or do they also include day-of-coordination? Can you help create a wedding vision or bring my vision to life or do you only provide logistics planning? I wanted to make sure someone was going to not only help me plan up to the day of the wedding, but also be there throughout the day to take care of everything. I had a vision for my wedding that I wanted to achieve, but was also really looking for input on things for the ceremony since I hadn’t done this before.

3. What are your prices/packages available? Can we customize those packages?- I was looking for a few specific things to be included and wanted to make sure I could get those and whatever else we might need.

4. Will you be on site the day of the event or will there be assistants? How many other weddings will be on the same day? I was interviewing planners who had experience with smaller weddings and typically were a one person team. I wanted to make sure I was the only wedding happening that day so I wouldn’t feel rushed or be fighting for attention. ONLY CHILD ALERT! ;)

5. How do you best communicate? Email, phone, texts? I am a serious email person when it comes to business. I like to have everything in writing.

6. Who are your preferred vendors? A ton of the packages provided included photographers, flowers and officiate. I wanted to make sure that the vendors selected in those packages would match our style.

7. Can you work with my budget?! I didn’t want to assume that every planner could work with our budget. Some planners specialized in budget weddings and others specialized in luxury weddings. I didn’t want to get the wrong planner for the wrong budget. Also, I was super honest about my budget. Why lie and get stuck paying more than we wanted?!

*Note: We actually came in UNDER budget for our wedding. Boom.*

8. Do you create a backup plan in case of emergency? This was really important since we were looking at a beach wedding. What if it rained? Also, what would happen if one of the vendors couldn’t make it?

9. What will be their interaction with the vendors? Will they take care of all the negotiations and all that contract stuff? Basically, how much work would I need to do on my own outside of the planner’s services.

This last one I didn’t ask, but if I had to do it all over I would REALLY, REALLY, REALLY concentrate on this once since we were a destination wedding.

10. How often do you expect us to communicate throughout the planning process? No news does not always mean good news in my book. Especially when we are planning a wedding.

So a little about my experience. I asked all of these questions…except #10. I wish I would have focused on this one. My wedding day was absolutely lovely. HOWEVER, the months leading up to the day were not so much. There were weeks and at one point, a few MONTHS, where I did not hear anything from my planner. I was convinced that she had just run off with my money and I was going to be stuck with no wedding. I was getting ready to take my parents up on their offer to help get this shindig together!

She had great reviews on Wedding Wire, The Knot, Facebook and a few other spots so I was really excited when we first hired her. During the months with no contact it felt like my wedding, because it was so small, was insignificant. I promise you, no matter the size of your wedding, it is not insignificant. AND! We are not talking insignificant money either. Without being crass, we are talking a few thousand dollars for her services.

Another question I wish I would have focused on is #9, negotiating with vendors. A photographer came with my package, but I never spoke with her until the day of the wedding. I wish I would have had the chance to go over what type of photos I wanted and other moments I wanted to capture. I *love* my photos, but I wish there were a few key moments that would have been focused on. This was never discussed with my planner or my photographer.

I also ended up negotiating my own cake and reception meal. She gave me some great recommendations, but it kind of just stopped there. I didn’t mind so much in the end because I got EXACTLY what I wanted, but it would have been much less stressful if I had known from the start to just do it on my own. Possibly confusion on my part about what the planner’s services were? Maybe. Either way, it made for a few tense moments.

Highlights of having a planner? Every single item on the day of the wedding was taken care of. My family didn’t have to help with any type of setup or breakdown of the ceremony site.

Our planner and her assistant setting up our tiny but VERY sweet ceremony site.

My flowers, done by my planner and reasonably priced, were gorgeous.

They also served two purposes. The side bouquets on the altar became part of our table setting at our dinner and my bouquet was the main centerpiece.

I was able to get ready knowing that everything was being done to my specifications.

Our wedding was super simple, but there were people to coordinate and a PA system to set up (for music and so the officiant could be heard over the waves).

Our beach house reception dinner was beautifully put together without me having to purchase a million place setting items.

If I had to do it all over again, I would totally use a planner again. Despite being pleased with the end results, I would have picked a different planner. Those months of stress of no communication just weren’t fun. I had more grey hair than blonde at some points. I would definitely have picked someone who included an all-inclusive package like the one we chose though. And I absolutely would have focused on communication style and vendor selection a bit more during my interview process.

Fortunately, I’m never doing this again. ;) Right husband?!

Next time I will chat a little more about fun stuff…our outfits and being a DIY-ish bride!


Still getting back into it…

by agirlandhermutt on March 23, 2015

Hi folks! Just a quick drop-in to say hello! This is a nice little brain dump of what has been going on in my life.

Last week was a little bit of a hot mess. I started off the week with my debit card number being stolen online and charges for that added up to about $6k. Fortunately, my bank knows that I’m not in the market for a remodel of my living room and was able to quickly cancel the charges. There is a special place in hell reserved for people who mess with other folk’s money.

Do you know the best way to go on a no-buy challenge? Have your debit card cancelled unexpectedly. ;)

I somehow managed to mess up the start times for a fitness class that I love not once, but twice. I made the most of it though and discovered a class called Kettle & Core.

I decided to take it easy since it was my first time using weights since my surgery. Poor decision. My instructor decided to call me out on how I needed heavier weights. Normally I would be embarrassed but instead I was smug and pointed to my incision mark. Um recovering from surgery over here! Hey. At least I was there!

I did discover that my neck does NOT like crunches. Funny, my abs don’t either. ;) It is just way too much constant pressure on my incision. It feels like any minute my neck is going to come unraveled like Raggedy Anne and my head is going to roll off. Maybe a better analogy would be Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas?!

My husband was traveling last week so I got to do a little lazy girl cooking in the kitchen. I try to keep things normal when I’m cooking for the both of us, although he will eat ANYTHING I make, and try new/lazy things when I’m cooking for just myself.

This time I decided to go the tortilla pizza route. Just a tortilla, sauce, pepperoni, a little cheese and a crap ton of arugula with balsamic drizzled on top. It was weird and delicious all at the same time. Plus, for those of you that remember I’m on Weight Watchers now, it was just 5 points for the whole sucker! I managed to slam 2 down.

While I was being lazy in the kitchen, Korky was busy getting into anything and everything. He just gets super antsy when one of us isn’t around as much as he would like. To calm himself he likes to knock over the kitchen trash, pull out my chapsticks from my purse (that I have no idea how he grabs off the bed!) and “knocks” on the front door to go out every 10 minutes. I bribed him the whole week to behave through treat after treat after treat after treat.

I’m so cute and I have something on my lip that I probably found in the bathroom trash. That I ate about 3 times.

Oh, and yes. He IS looking a little homeless puppy right now. He gets groomed tomorrow and I think the whole house is ready to be a little less hairy.

On Thursday I met with my book club and proceeded to eat all the rest of my 49 weekly points in one sitting. Seriously. One piece of bread was 6 points. Don’t get me wrong. It was totally worth the splurge.

Mustard Chicken at Not Your Average Joe’s. Ugggghhh. So good.

We also discussed the book. Like for REAL discussed the book. This month’s book was Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. Gilbert is the author of Eat, Pray, Love, which I loathe, so I wasn’t surprised to find that I didn’t really care for the main character in this book either. I liked the book for the most part, but I found a lot of the text to be just filler and totally unnecessary. Anyone else read this? Thoughts? Or did I totally lose you when I said Eat, Pray, Love totally stunk?

In weather news, it is still cold as crap and it snowed on Saturday.

Isn’t it so pretty?!

Saturday was the Beer Advocate Extreme Beer Fest. We dragged our feet a little on getting tickets and decided to volunteer instead. I’m so glad we did! We had a good time doing something different from our normal weekend schedule and we got to try some really interesting beers. Jalapeno Apricot? Yes!

Sunday was a day of rest. I slept in ridiculously late, went grocery shopping and wondered around Target for about two hours. It was just lovely!

This week promises to be pretty busy and I’m ready to get going!

See ya soon!


Health & Fitness Update

March 12, 2015

Hi folks! I’m coming to you with all kinds of news! GOOOOOOD NEWS! First, I made it back to Zumba last Friday night! I had to take it easy and even stepped out of the room for 10 minutes to cool down, but I did 40 minutes of moving around! My incision was super red […]

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