I’ve been in this business awhile and let me tell ya…. I’ve seen some things.
While I don’t think I’ve ever photographed a single wedding that didn’t have at least one small hiccup or awkward pause, most usually go off without a hitch.
(lol, see what I did there?)
But then there are those weddings where things start fine and slowly start inching their way towards disaster. And in almost every case, the mishaps could have been avoided.
As much as I love just showing pretty pictures and telling couples’ love stories, it’s time to get real with you all. This is my new blog series, featuring Houston’s top wedding vendors, aimed at giving you honest and relevant wedding planning advice. They aren’t holding back, and neither am I.
We know that you’ve likely never planned a wedding or other major event before and there’s a lot you might now know. After all, they didn’t teach wedding planning in grade school. So since we do this every weekend, we know what works and what doesn’t, and we know the most predictable wedding faux pas, awkward scenarios, and snags.
So subscribe to get wedding planning advice delivered right to your inbox!
How to avoid awkward or stressful moments: HIRE A COORDINATOR/ PLANNER.
90% of all the weddings I’ve shot that DID contain some kind of scheduling / timeline or other logistical or practical complication were all weddings where there was no professional wedding coordinator. I understand it’s an added cost but trust me you need it. Please don’t assume that your friend or family member can fill this role because there is SO MUCH MORE to wedding planning than just setting up table decor and picking music. You need someone to help build your custom timeline based off YOUR specific wedding day details, sunset time, guest count, ceremony length, wedding party size, vendor specs and logistics, must haves, and personalities. You need someone to coordinate with each vendor and confirm start and end times. You need someone who can set up while you, your wedding party, and parents are enjoying your wedding day, someone to tell the Dj it’s time to start the processional, recessional, grand entrance, exit, cake, toasts, etc.. You need someone to feed your vendors, cue the entrance, coordinate food and beverage, herd family members for pictures, pin boutonnières, handle any delays or other changes, holy moly this list goes on and on. And on.
Kelly of So Sweet Bridal added, “Planning a wedding is like another job. It requires time, patience, hours, constant communication through emails and phone calls etc. Planning a wedding can get super overwhelming especially if someone has a full-time job already or has a family to take care of etc.”
You might think a friend can handle this task and they might be able to take on a few of them. But in addition to likely causing delays and confusion at your wedding what you don’t realize NOW is just how much stress you are going to put them under leading up to and on your wedding day. I’ve seen friendships end over this and family members in tears. I’ve seen it ruin a bride’s day. It’s a lot to put on someone’s shoulders if they don’t know what they’re doing.
Kathy of K&A Artistic Events says, “Many moms are ‘hands on” and think they can handle it (I was the groom’s mom and I certainly thought so — and I did). However – I missed out on all the events of the day as I was ‘decorating’. It is a day for the parents to enjoy as well as the couple – there are no “do-overs”. Be. In. The. Moment. Most do not realize that there is “no perfect event” – there are so many things that go on behind the scenes: vendors will be asking ‘where do I put this’ – and ‘can you help me with __’. the list goes on and on. Once I explain this to the parents, they are usually on board to hire. Because the problems will come to the Mother of the Bride if you do not have a coordinator.”
Sharon of Event planners of Houston adds, “Hiring a planner would be a huge asset and necessary expense for any couple getting married. Wedding planners/coordinators are experienced and very resourceful people. Hiring one will create a stress-free environment for the couple and their guests. They will have a cool and calm demeanor even if there’s chaos in the background. Their job is to think and react quickly without alerting the couple of guests that there’s a problem. Save yourself the headache and HIRE A PLANNER!”
She’s right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen planners put out fires without the bride or the guests being any wiser. No one knew a problem or potential disaster had even occurred.
In a perfect world where cake has no carbs and everyone is Kardashian-rich, we would all hire a professional planner and let them handle everything from start to finish. Brides would simply show up on their wedding day, looking radiant, and have an amazing time.
But we live in the real world, where money doesn’t fall out of the sky and cake most definitely will add to our waistlines. That said, a planner can actually save your money.
Karli of Whimsical Events says “The biggest benefit our clients notice is less stress. When you have a planner, you have someone to guide you through the process, help select vendors that are the best fit for you, and stick to your budget, which saves time and money. We feel that everyone at least needs a coordinator for their wedding to manage all of the different vendors that you have, create a realistic timeline, and take all of the work and stress off of the couple and their family’s shoulders.”
Planners can alert you to issues with your timelines that could make or break your entire wedding day that you might not even know exist. Case in point: we often have brides that book us about halfway through their planning process, long after they’ve booked their venues, set their ceremony times, and sent out invitations. But most people don’t take into consideration the changing sunset times. So if you are getting married at 7:00pm in an outdoor ceremony…..in December… you’re getting married in the dark. Not quite the vision most couples have. Many people don’t think to check that it will still be light outside in the winter and too often venues don’t mention this, partly because they want to book in their off-season and know that some couples don’t want an early afternoon ceremony. Hiring a planner early on can save you from making mistakes that will cost you time and money, like having to send out 200 revised invitations.
Even if you can’t hire a full planner, we still recommend hiring a professional coordinator. Kelly Diaz of So Sweet Bridal says
“Even if you choose to not hire a wedding planner, a coordinator makes a wedding go as smoothly as possible. We will meet with you month(s) before to learn all about your vision for the day, family dynamics, vendors hired etc. We work with vendors leading up to the big day and are the point of contact for every situation that will arise on the day of. I would tell couples to research coordinators and see what they offer. And remember a venue coordinator IS NOT the same as a wedding coordinator.”
But keep in mind that there is a huge difference between a professional coordinator, and someone assigned to you by your venue.
Kelly sums is up perfectly, “The venue coordinator works for the venue, not for you. A venue coordinator’s top priority is the venue. Do they help on the day of your wedding? Of course. But they are making sure the venue has everything you need or paid for through them such as tables, chairs, venue rentals etc. They are making sure their venue is being taken care of while the celebration is going on. On the other hand, a wedding coordinator is working for YOU. Not for the venue. The wedding coordinator knows about your vision, your style, your family, vendor arrivals and departures, the timeline etc. Wedding coordinators oversee your day vs venue coordinators oversee the venue. If your ceremony is at a different location than your reception, then your coordinator will be there with you. The venue coordinator is limited to well, their venue. Let’s say you get married at the church then have your reception at x venue. The venue coordinator will not be there at the church with you. He/she will be at the venue. He/she isn’t with you at church telling you “hey it’s time to go” or “we have 20 minutes to arrive to venue to be there on time”. The venue coordinator may also change. Their job is specific to that location whereas a wedding coordinator is there with you from beginning to end. You have the same person with you throughout your wedding journey. Now some venues offer wedding day coordinators but it’s the bride’s responsibility to look over the contract and see what is included in that option”.
Hiring a pro means that you have someone in your corner, holding your hand through this process. They save you money, ease your stress, and create an overall better wedding experience.
We asked our favorite wedding planners how brides who are ballin on a budget could cut costs. Here are their responses:
Karli at Whimsical Events –“Transportation! You can save money on a limo by opting for a one-way transfer in a town car. For guest transportation you can reserve a hotel block for them at a hotel that provides a free shuttle. “
Kelly Diaz of So Sweet Bridal –
“They have to prioritize. They have to think and say to themselves “what is the most important and what is the least important?” and go from there. For example: if photography is the most important, then they know that may be their major investment. Some couples may not want a videographer. Well that just cut their costs by a whole lot. Couples can start the elimination process of their guests and have only people who they really want to share their day with. We live in a digital world so going digital with their wedding day can save them a few bucks. Save the dates, invitations, RSVP can add on costs to your budget that couples tend to forget about.”
Kathy of K&A Events –
“Don’t invite so many people. Everything goes up – food, alcohol, tables — linens, florals, etc, etc.” She also added:
- Photo booths are not necessary and are becoming cliché
- Programs are not necessary, and no one really reads them (except family)
- Favors are MOST definitely not needed — after all, you are giving them free food, booze and a night of dancing!
- Dessert bars CAN be less expensive than a huge cake; most guests would rather have 3 small bites of something vs a huge piece of cake that usually is dry and overly sweet. If you must have cake – have a small cake for the bride/groom to cut and then have sheet cakes in the back ready to serve up!”
Sharon of Event Planners of Houston –
“One of the biggest wedding cost saver ideas is to have an intimate wedding. Lower your guest count! A small guest count will allow the bride to splurge on other areas such as food, flowers or decor.”
If you’re looking for a planner or day of coordinator please check out our preferred vendors below:
Whimsical Events: http://www.whimsical.events/
So Sweet Bridal: https://sosweetbridal.com/
Event Planners of Houston: http://www.eventplannersofhouston.com/
K&A Artistic Events, LLC: http://kaartisticevents.com/