What To Plan When You’re Planning To Plan

…still with me? 🙂

What are we planning together? Wedding? Birthday? Anniversary? Are we going pro with some corporate events or (one of my favorites) a non-profit fundraiser? Yes? Good. Because, at least when working with me, they will all be treated with meticulous detail, creativity and a rockstar team of vendors.

It’s my job as your planner to recruit a team that transforms a space into what you envision. So that’s where we start. I’m a direct person (people who know me, laugh here) and I’ll be upfront about what is possible on your budget or (stay with me) what things we need to let go of/get creative to make happen. That being said, I will use all of my creative resources to create the space you envision. Your planner should set these expectations with you up front and then the fun can start as you create and build something wonderful together.

Next up, venue. This is the super fun part for event planners and their clients. Touring venues, talking decor, brainstorming the transformation. I love it.

Let’s talk vendors. I have a hard and fast rule that we must have a photographer at an in-person event. No, it can’t be your friend with a good iPhone–I mean, they can take photos too and post all over social using our custom hashtag–it has to be a professional photographer. Don’t worry, planners know lots and with all different kinds of portfolios and price ranges. Depending on event, we may need florists, decor rentals/styling, printing, tables, tents, chairs, linens, serving, cutlery, disposable or not? Buffet or plated? Sound system, band/DJ, catering. Don’t worry, I have a list we can go through. All this to say, be open with your planner about your budget. It is important to plan for the event you can afford. That’s why you hired a planner. To stretch the dollar and connect the dots. We like doing that, we do it a lot. And we’re good at it. Tell us where you’re at :).

As we get closer to the event, you will start hearing more from your planner. If it is me, I like to keep a timeline for prep and a timeline for the day-of-the-event, or Day-Of Schedule. Prep timeline documents include dates of interviews with vendors and deadlines to select, meeting times between you and me, and detailed deadlines regarding details of the event, to name a few.

The day of the event, expect to see me everywhere and know that I am fully available to talk with you at any time. My goal however, is to stay as much behind the scenes as possible because this process has never been about me and the day of the event is no different. The day of the event is about you and what you are celebrating. And I will be there to make sure everything that we agreed on is going to happen.

I wish I could tell you exactly what to expect from your planner with each event. How to make each wedding a magical wonderland or each fundraiser a record breaking revenue night. But the truth is, each event is unique and variable and to do it well, you can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. It depends on budget, personality, availability, weather (for crying out loud)…the list goes on. What you should look for most in your planner is how transparent they are with you, how they listen to you and how they approach obstacles/barriers. And details. Oh please, make sure they can handle the details. Whether you think it’s a slam dunk simple project or a “I can handle it” situation, there will be details and things go wrong the day of the event. That’s not really the issue. Why? Because your planner (should be) trained to identify them, deal with them, and keep moving without ever showing anyone what’s happening behind the curtain.

So, what should you plan when you’re planning to plan an event? Find a good event coordinator, and let them do it.

Wedding On A Budget

The average wedding costs $30,000, according to The Knot, and the farther east you go, the higher that number climbs.  The most special day of your life is certainly worth investing in, but what happens when you simply don’t have the budget for your dream wedding? How do you decide what to spend on and what to pass on?

The first thing I suggest you do is find a venue.  This is by far going to make or break your wedding, but it doesn’t have to break your bank.  If you have friends who live on or own a piece of picturesque property, ask them if they will let you use it for your day.  Another version of this, if you don’t happen to know country-livin’ folk, is to find a park you love and get a day use permit.  The next tip is to reduce the size of your guest list.  Yes, you will likely offend someone who wasn’t invited, but guess what.  That’s probably going to happen anyway.  My advice is to live within your means and have a day to celebrate your love, your commitment and your families.  However, sometimes eliminating guests is not an option.  If that is the case, consider the time of year and the day you are planning to tie the knot.  Winter, Friday and day time weddings can save you money, allowing for your larger guest list.

When it comes to the invites, try electronic vs. printing and postage.  It’s not a huge amount of savings, but when you are on a tight budget, every little  bit helps.

You’ve heard of cupcakes or pies vs. traditional wedding cake.  This is a way to save a couple hundo in reception costs.  A way to cut this number down even more is the ever helpful DIY/Pinterest phenomenon.  It’s true, a lot of times when you cut the labor costs out of things (besides blood, sweat and tears of course), you can save a lot of cash.  Things like invitations and decor can be done tastefully with a group of good friends, wine (just a little of course), snacks and an afternoon of friendship and creativity.  Assuming your venue allows the following, have a friend get certified to be your bartender and another pal to offer their culinary skills as a caterer.  Beware of this option though. While it is an effective way to cut costs, most caterers will work with you to find a solution to fit your budget and for liability reasons, we definitely recommend using a caterer if you can. Find a student who wants experience DJing (or perhaps has a small side business) to DJ your reception.

The dress.  Oh the dress.  Wait–and buy it on sale.  I’m not saying focus solely on the price, but I bet you can find a flattering style off the rack that will still take the groom’s breath away as you walk down the aisle.  And ask your bridesmaids to purchase their own dresses.  This is common these days whether you are tight on cash or not.

As a personal opinion, have a long engagement and start planning right away.  You’d be surprised the kind of deals you can find when you are not pressed for time and can wait for the best deal.  And lastly, enjoy this time even if it gets stressful.  It will only be this way once and you will want to look back and be able to smile on it.

Let us know if we can help :).