There’s no such thing as “just” when it comes to Wedding Day Coordination

I get a lot of requests for Wedding Day Coordination that begin: "We just really want someone that can keep the flow going and keep us on schedule."

Let's break this down:

Keep the flow going.

What is "flow" when it comes to a wedding, anyway? I interpret it as that magical mix of timing and logistics that makes your wedding feel joyful and unplanned, while at the same time using every moment allotted to you by the venue and your vendors to the best possible advantage.

How does flow happen? Well, it doesn't "just" happen. A wedding day coordinator will normally put in 20-30 hours of preparation before appearing at your wedding. This includes collecting all of your contracts and paperwork and reviewing all policies to ensure understanding of everything you have arranged and what you are entitled to; research into your wedding design; confirmation of venue and vendor policies; and understanding you and your families' preferences and decisions about what you want to achieve on the day. Often the coordinator will condense this information into an event plan. Twenty to thirty hours. And that's just pre-event.

Keep us on schedule.

On the day of the event, in order to keep the flow going if it gets hung up or stops, a wedding planner may have to deal with a multitude of issues behind the scenes. Here are the most common ones:

prep time, especially hair and makeup, not going as scheduled
transportation and parking woes
decor issues: wrong color, wrong piece or fit
missing items and going back for them
lateness of vendors or bridal party

Even if everything goes 100% perfectly (and the reality is, it doesn't) a wedding day coordinator still must be constantly available to act as a surrogate host, direction-giver, traffic controller, scheduler, and people-mover. They must be on site well before you or any guests or vendors arrive, and stay on site long after everyone has departed. These duties will take 12-16 hours to complete on the wedding day itself. Not to mention 1-2 hours of rehearsal time explaining the procedures to the wedding party and family; and the little post-rehearsal errands that always seem to come up.

In sum, while your wedding day planner's job is to "just keeping the flow going and keeping everything on schedule", in order to do that, they and their staff must put in upwards of 48+ hours of solid on- and off-site work that culminates in your well-run wedding day.

Top signs you do NOT need a wedding planner

I know, crazy, right? Why would The Portland Wedding Coordinator blog about not needing a wedding planner? The plain truth is, not every wedding really needs one. Here are some signs that yours might be one of them:

1. You are very laid-back about the look and feel of the wedding and don't need for things to turn out or look a certain way.

2. Your event has very little etiquette, protocol, or time constraint

3. Culturally, the expectations of family and guests of your ability to host a party experience are low.

4. Your guest list is small (less than 40) people, and you don't have friends and family coming from out of town

5. The how-this-will-all-come-together is pretty cut and dried. Logistics are really easy, and your vendor team has all worked together before in that venue. Additionally, you are not creating a script or schedule that deviates greatly from what's been done before.

{ Daily Reblog } Tips and Tricks to Attending Bridal Shows

We are starting to get back into bridal show season and I though I'd share a few tips on how to get the most of your bridal show experience and how to avoid "bridal show overload." 

Bridal show attendane

Gear Up!

First things first, make sure to have a good breakfast or lunch before attending the show if it doesn't have a food function offered. Many times samples of cake or even champagne are offered, and these can wreak havoc on an empty stomach.

Bring a water bottle so you stay hydrated while you're walking around. Sometimes all that air-conditioned, recycled air can dry you out and leave you feeling fatigued.

Finally, make sure to wear comfortable shoes since you'll be doing lots of walking.

Be Prepared!

Use your show time efficiently! Make a few sheets of labels with your name, address, email, and wedding date if you want to avoid standing in lines to enter drawings or raffles. At the same time, remember that if you provide personal information, you'll probably receive mail and email from those vendors. If you provide a wedding date , most vendors will stop contacting you once your date has passed.

Understand the show timeline. Is there a seated food function, or seminars to sign up for? What time should you arrive in order to get a seat for the fashion show? Make sure you take a look at the program offerings; that way you get the most out of your admission fee.

Make a list of items you still need from your wedding checklist, and target those booths first. Otherwise you could spend precious time wandering the aisles! Also, bring notes or pictures to help your planning along — for example, if you're looking for jewelry and accessories, bring a picture or swatch of your attire.

If you plan on hitting the gown sales, avoid wearing heavy foundation or lipstick, as products are bound to smear. You can always stop by one of the beauty vendors for a touch-up once you're done shopping!

Finally, Enjoy Yourself!

You'll probably receive lots of brochures and business cards. Try to sort through them as you go through the show, otherwise you could wind up with a heavy bag that just gets recycled!

In the end, be sure to have fun and enjoy yourself! Don't be overwhelmed by the choices; in the end you'll be sure to find some great ideas and hopefully, put together a winning team for your wedding day.

A version of this blog post originally appeared on February 22, 2010.

What are the different kinds of wedding planning services, and how much do they cost?

Portland-oregon-wedding-planner-costs-reviewsMy assistant and I at a wedding in Boston in 2003. Many thanks to Craig Strong (yes, the Lensbaby inventor) for the photo.

Today's big question: "What are the different kinds of wedding planning services, and how much do they cost?" I can only answer this for my own business, and please know there are MANY fantastic business models out there. This is just what has worked for me for the past 14 years:

I offer three main types of planning, all with set, flat fees. After I meet with my client, I am able to create a customized proposal for them – sometimes all with one type of planning; but many times using elements of several, to get them exactly what they need.

Hourly consulting: We meet at my office, or at a specific place (e.g., invitation store, venue tours) and work on a specific project. Typically, after the project is complete (I find them a venue, we co-create decor designs or themes), I do not work on-site at the wedding.

Wedding month-of coordination (Also called "Day-Of Coordination"): The client leads all the planning themselves, but comes back to me about two months before the wedding and shows me all vendors booked, and explains how they would like the site to be laid out, how they want the day to flow. My assistants and I then take it from there and create/distribute the event plan communications, and coordinate at the rehearsal and at the event.

Full planning and design: The client is in creative control, but I lead the planning process, in that I push action items to the client. (e.g. "It's time to book your caterer"; "It's time to create your overall reception design".) This is our most popular program of service.

Planner-led vs. client-led is a spectrum; ask your coordinator what options are available to you based on your preference and budget.

You can read more in detail about these planning types and get pricing information over on the business website: ejpevents.com

I hope this info is helpful to you – please leave any questions in the comments, or email me! Are you a couple who has found the perfect wedding planner? Tell us about him or her!  Or – are you a wedding planner, who has found success in a different business model? I would love to hear your ideas.