Following last week’s revelation that I wish we had brought a wedding planner on board for our big day, I decided chat to a wedding planner about the best way soonlyweds can make use of a planner, and common concerns couples might have about doing so. I interviewed Jodie Gay, a wedding event manager and planner with Girl Friday Weddings in Melbourne, Australia.
Why did you become a wedding planner?
After spending some time away from the workforce with my two beautiful girls, Miss 3 and Miss 1, I was itching to get back into what I loved the most: event management. After extensive research I decided that wedding planning seemed like a perfect fit for my skill base and would provide a great work-life balance (well, sometimes… it is seasonal!), plus I would be able to provide my expertise to help couples plan and coordinate their special day. That’s when I stumbled across an opportunity to work with Sarah Johnston, Director of Girl Friday Weddings, who I feel is one of the top wedding planners in Sydney, Australia.
How do you think couples can most effectively use a wedding planner?
• Let your wedding planner manage your vendors for you, eliminating the many last-minute emails and phone calls in the last couple of weeks leading up to your wedding.
• Leverage your wedding planner’s expertise and suggestions, from vendor selection to providing you tips on cost-saving ideas.
• Ask your wedding planner to set up all of your DIY decorations for you, eliminating the need to rely on family and friends.
We hear all the time that couples say, for example, “I have a friend who will be able to set up the reception tables, seating arrangements and liaise with the reception venue or caterer.” And we ask, “Do you really? And will your friend bring your vision to reality? Don’t you want your friend to enjoy your special day rather than actually working?” Of course it’s up to each couple, hiring a wedding planner can certainly provide you with someone to arrange all of this for you and provide you with peace of mind.
What are the different ways that brides and grooms can involve a wedding planner in preparations for the big day?
There are two ways: 1) have the wedding planner plan most or all of the wedding, which includes sourcing and booking suppliers; or 2) engage the wedding planner as an event manager to coordinate and manage the wedding day itself.
In the first option, couples generally engage the wedding planner around 12 months prior to the wedding; although, we have had cases where, due to various reasons, some couples may contact us a few months from the wedding and need us to source everything!
The second option consists of various on-the-day wedding coordination packages, but generally they include us confirming your vendors and developing a run sheet for your special day, as well as being there on the day to ensure everything runs smoothly (and if by chance it doesn’t, that neither the couple nor the guests have any idea about the little hiccup).
How do you ensure a bride and groom’s personality is reflected in the wedding, rather than the wedding planner’s personality?
For sure, I always hold a meeting with the couple to discuss their ideas and what’s important to them; each couple is completely different and no ceremony or reception in my eyes has been the same. It’s their day and it’s my role to make it all come to life.
More recently we are seeing a trend of commitment ceremonies, which is so lovely, and again each and every one has a different style, in particular the ceremony entrances.
Something that I think holds back couples from working with a wedding planner is the perceived cost. What would you tell brides and grooms about the cost?
Yes, the cost is always an interesting topic of discussion. On average a wedding takes over 200 hours to plan! So if your time is precious and you want to seek advice on engaging the top wedding vendors to suit your style and budget, then a wedding planner will certainly be able to save you time and money in the long run.
Your wedding planner will also confirm all vendor arrangements prior to your wedding day and create a run sheet to ensure everyone engaged understands their accountabilities for the day. And if they don’t then your wedding planner will ensure that they do!
The reason I chose not to bring a wedding planner on board is that I wanted to do the research myself, to make sure I got the style I wanted at the very best price, rather than simply taking a wedding planner’s recommendation. What are your thoughts on that?
It’s your wedding, your style and your day with your loved one that you will remember forever, so it’s important that you make the final selection on décor, celebrant, venue, photographer and anything else that’s important to you. I always provide couples with choices of vendors to choose from; many couples then make the time to meet with them to ensure they are comfortable with their style.
• During a recent regional wedding the limo company rang me saying that their GPS wasn’t working and they couldn’t locate the groom’s address as it was in a new estate! Clearly, a great reason to have a wedding planner, who can assist the limo company get the groom to the church!
• A garden wedding on a day forecast to be the wettest in Melbourne’s March history was a marquee short, which only the wedding coordinator noticed. A quick call and another marquee was delivered just 15 minutes prior to the groom and guests arriving and the massive downpour!. They had no clue about the intense phone calls with the marquee supplier that had been going on for the last hour…
To sum up, what do you think is the best way for brides and grooms to make use of a wedding planner?
Firstly, establish what you would like to gain out of using a wedding planner or on-the-day wedding coordinator. If you’re time poor, it’s just too overwhelming, or live interstate or even overseas, then hiring a wedding planner will be the best thing you ever did.
Jodie Gay has been working as a wedding event manager and planner in Melbourne, Australia, for two years and is currently working for Girl Friday Weddings. Jodie has extensive event project management experience, spanning over 20 years across the corporate and government arenas. Most recently Jodie has taken on the role of trainer and mentor for an Event Management Diploma at MWT Institute, Melbourne. Check out Girl Friday Weddings’ website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.