There are so many simultaneously moving parts when one is planning a wedding and executing it. Many people assume it’s all about doing the pretty; trying on gowns, cake & food tasting, makeup, trials, and shopping sprees until they later discover it’s actually a daunting task and has many hills to climb. Planning a wedding goes hiring a decorator, photographer, venue, and other vendors. You are literally trusting a lot of money with tens of various vendors. Most of whom you are meeting and working with for the first time. And with money involved, a lot of things are bound to go wrong.
I have met couples whose wedding photographs and videos are yet to be delivered two years after their wedding. Some clients paid money to vendors who never showed up at the wedding. Other vendors delivered work that was way below the agreed quality.
Some couples go through the wedding planning process with so much stress that their “most beautiful day” becomes their worst. Others have even been diagnosed with depression right after their wedding.
As much as hiring a planner is another cost addition, you have got to ask yourself; “Is saving this money worth my sanity?”
But also, a planner can actually save you a lot of money among other advantages as discussed below. So by hiring one, you could be hitting THREE birds with one stone; save money, your sanity, and have your dream wedding.
1. Stress reliever
Planning a wedding is a full-time job, and between your daily job and social commitments, it can get overwhelming. By their wedding day, most couples are exhausted and just want to get done with it. However, the most important day of your life shouldn’t feel that way. A good planner takes the baggage off you but still works with you through each decision while educating and empowering you to make the best choices possible.
A wedding planner will coordinate all of the pre-wedding details, but will also be your day-of coordinator, taking care of little and big issues that come up so you can focus on the most important thing – getting married! Your planner can schedule appointments, deal with vendors, and work through the nitty-gritty issues of your day.
2. A wedding planner is different from a wedding coordinator or designer
The “Wedding planner” term gets thrown around quite a lot these days. Even companies that entirely do event designing call themselves planners. However, there is no way an event designer can decorate the venue and simultaneously manage caterers, cake designers, music, ushers, drinks, guests, and all other vendors. Additionally, decorators are dealing with other clients and won’t have the luxury to invest much time in your function.
When you pick a venue they often give you a “wedding coordinator” from the venue to help coordinate the day. This person is NOT the same as an independent planner. He or she is the venue’s manager and their job is to make sure that everything having to do with the venue facilities runs smoothly. While they are helpful, they do not cover the scope of what an independent planner does. They are not concerned with budgeting, vendor sourcing and management, and all the other activities a planner would help with.
3. A planner is your quality control expert.
Even though your wedding is the only wedding you’re working on, the vendors you’re hiring are working on many events at the same time, with multiple clients. A wedding planner has reliable vendors they know and trust to do great work and will do a vigilant follow-up to make sure they fulfill their promises or as per the contract.
Working with various vendors is risky because most likely, this is the first time you are planning a wedding and you are mostly working with these vendors for the first time. The planner has most likely worked with these vendors before or someone in their network has. So they know which vendor is reliable and a good fit for your function.
Wedding planners have been in the industry for some time. They know what things should cost and the difference in value. They can help you navigate the often confusing waters of wedding industry price tags and balance your budget around YOUR priorities.
Your wedding planner will be able to help you get the most for your money and score discounts, getting you the best deals. Since they are always giving vendors repeated business, they are able to bargain for some discounts. Most of the time, fellow vendors give planners discounts rates as part of their marketing strategy.
5. A planner is your “choice” guard
Planning a wedding- especially in Uganda – involves a lot of people. Relatives, friends, and well-wishers all have an opinion on how this or that should be done. Most of the time, they mean well but it becomes overwhelming for a couple. On the other hand, you have relatives or friends who have a personal relationship or deal (talk of commissions) with some vendors and they would prefer to give them business regardless of the quality of service. Add money to the equation and emotions go off flaring.
Parents are a blessing but sometimes they assume their way is always the right way – especially when it comes to planning such huge events. Most parents actually assume that they are the main celebrant at their child’s wedding or introduction. So they take charge of everything and become inconsiderate of the bride or groom’s opinions. It can also get awkward if outside opinions come with money attached. A wedding planner is a great resource in this scenario, as they can help diffuse any tension and act as a scapegoat to swat these ideas away from the couple.
As a planner, my main role is to ensure my client gets the best service in the market regardless of their budget. That is precisely what we are paid for. This is the basic reason we do not take a commission from the vendors we work with. Taking commission from them is a double-edged sword that would jeopardize our relationship with the vendors but worse, compromise the quality of service these vendors provide.
6. Knowledge Base
This is likely your first time planning a wedding. Planners have been in the industry for years and are experts in protocol, etiquette, and everything it takes to pull off a magnificent event. They are a HUGE and readily accessible resource for education and guidance. A professional wedding planner also takes on the role of your lawyer or hires one to create or review contracts with every vendor, negotiate terms, prices, and everything in between.
7. Timeline Professionals
Wedding planners work on a clock. Every second counts. A wedding day has many activities, many vendors, as well as many guests. Ensuring that vendors arrive in time (even days before the event), do their job in a timely manner while ensuring quality and cohesiveness is a task that requires experience and good communication skills.
Many events take place during a wedding: getting ready, the ceremony, taking photos, dinner, speeches, performances, cake cutting, your first dance, and leaving the venue and tearing down within your contracted time just to name a few! Accomplishing all of these things before time runs out can be a challenge! Timelines make sure everything runs smoothly, in the correct order, and within the allotted time.
Time alone together is often overlooked by a couple planning their own wedding! We always try to schedule a few minutes after the ceremony and before your grand entrance for you to take a moment together. It is so easy to get swept up in the party atmosphere. It is important to schedule time to take a breather and remember why you are there in the first place: each other!
Vendor setup/breakdowns is another detail we see omitted from planning. Vendors often need to arrive hours or even days before the wedding to set up and stay well after the newlyweds have made their exit to break everything down. You have to account for this time in your timeline!
And finally, transportation times. If your ceremony and reception take place in different locations, make sure you account for the time it takes you to get from one place to another. Consider traffic, alternate routes, and possible weather delays in your timeline. Are you providing transportation (to and fro) for your wedding party and distinguished guests (parents, VIPs)? Will they have to make multiple trips? If you plan for all of these things, you will have a more accurate timeline!”
8. The glue that keeps it all together
Your wedding day will involve numerous vendors who need to work together to ensure that the day goes smoothly. A planner understands how each vendor relies on the others. He/She serves as the team captain who coordinates the complexities of the timeline with all its moving parts. Having many teams on one site also means conflicts can arise and cause delays or worse. A planner will work to build good working relationships with vendors and ensure they work in unison for the common good.
9. Concept development
The wedding planner is not the event designer but is the first vendor you meet when planning a wedding. They should be. A planner will listen to your ideas or vision and create a plan to bring it to life. And because they work with various event designers (decorators), they know which designer will be able to bring your envisioned wedding to reality.
As a planner, I always try my best to learn a client’s character and lifestyle and what makes them tick. The plan is to create an event that is a representation of my client’s individuality.
Experience is one of the most important things at an event. It is what people will remember years after attending tens of other weddings. The question is; what do you want a guest to feel when they enter your reception and what do you want them to remember when they leave?
10. Your family and friends deserve to enjoy your day to the fullest
If anyone should enjoy your wedding or introduction, it is your parents, siblings, and close friends. They deserve to sit, drink, eat, and absorb every single moment of your wedding. However, that is the direct opposite of what happens in Uganda and Africa in general; while your “not-so-close” friends and relatives, sit and watch every single second of your wedding, your best friend and siblings are running around to ensure everyone else is having a good time. By the time the wedding is done, they are exhausted and have missed all the memorable moments.
But here’s the sad truth, as much as your confidants volunteer to give their all on your wedding, most are not familiar with the amount of work that has to be done. After hours of work, they are eventually exhausted and abandon their tasks for a break. I have been to functions where all the committee members sit and leave guests stranded: no one to show the incoming guests where to sit, no one is serving drinks – or everyone is serving only their close relatives while others simply look on with envy, and many other incidences.
Hiring a planner means you are relieving your confidants of duties so that they can sit back and soak in every special moment. But that’s not all; having a team of experienced professionals man your wedding day means you can rely on us to ensure every vendor performs to their optimal potential.