9 Things to Know If You Aren’t Hiring a Wedding Planner

Wedding planners are pros at designing and executing a couple’s perfect wedding day vision, but if your wedding is less over-the-top and more go-with-the-flow, you could get by without hiring a wedding planner at all.

For couples on a tight budget planning a simple ceremony and reception, hiring a wedding planner may not be the best use of your funds (or the planner’s skillset). The wedding planning process is only as complicated as you make it, and plenty of couples have memorable, beautiful weddings without the help of a wedding planner. 

“Not every couple needs or wants a wedding planner,” says Jamie Chang, wedding planner at Mango Muse Events. “If you’re working with a tiny budget, those dollars really have to be allocated efficiently. And in most cases, spending a big portion of your small budget on your wedding planner just doesn’t make sense.”

MEET THE EXPERT

Jamie Chang is the owner and destination wedding planner at Mango Muse Events, a wedding planning and design firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area that orchestrates uniquely personalized destination weddings both near and far. She has spent the last 10 years helping couples design their weddings all over the world.

If you’re not planning on hiring a wedding planner, here are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure your wedding runs smoothly.01of 09

Start and stay organized.

“You’ll be getting a lot of emails with or without a planner either way, but they will multiply exponentially when you’re planning a wedding on your own,” says Chang. “Being organized in your email will really help you when you’re in the thick of things.” The organization is key to making sure nothing falls through the cracks. Keep a master list of tasks to get done throughout the planning process, contact information, and add dates and deadlines to your calendar. Many couples find that creating a separate email address for all wedding-related communications helps them keep the planning emails separate from work and personal emails, which can pile up quickly.The 27 Best Wedding Planning Books To Get You Inspired and Organizedhttps://c7316582bbb9fe095f2b6db29062882c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html02of 09

Book vendors early.

Wedding planners have deep networks of vendors they can reach out to for a last-minute event. If you’re not hiring a wedding planner for your big day, you’re better off getting on your vendor’s schedule well ahead of your wedding day. Booking early will help ensure you get the vendors you want and reduce stress in the months and weeks leading up to your wedding once you know your vendors are locked in.https://c7316582bbb9fe095f2b6db29062882c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html03of 09

Dedicate a few hours every week to planning.

Wedding planning is a job, and if you’re not going to pay for it in money, you’ll most certainly be paying in time. “You don’t want wedding planning to take over your life, but simultaneously you need to get stuff done,” says Chang. “Dedicate an hour or two a day and/or a chunk of time on the weekend to wedding stuff. That way, you’re still moving forward, but it won’t consume your life.”https://c7316582bbb9fe095f2b6db29062882c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html04of 09

Designate someone as your day-of manager.

It’s expected that you’ll experience at least a little pre-wedding stress. There are a million decisions you have to make, contracts to sign, and emails to respond to. However, wedding day stress is completely avoidable if you designate someone to handle all of those last-minute decisions on the actual day of the wedding. 

“They don’t need to do everything for you, but you need someone as the point person who can make decisions on your behalf that isn’t you because you want to be able to enjoy your wedding day,” explains Chang. 

Your day-of manager should be someone you trust to make the decision you would make without having to ask you, like a close friend or relative. Barring an actual emergency, like catering canceling at the eleventh hour or your officiant coming down with the flu, you shouldn’t be involved in any of the minutiae of your big day.05of 09

Seek out advice from professionals.

“You don’t want to be getting your planning information from other [couples],” warns Chang. “That’s just the blind leading the blind.”

Couples are only the experts in planning their own weddings, while wedding planners often have tens and hundreds of different types of weddings under their belt. Chang suggests following wedding planner blogs or other vendor’s blogs to get the tips and advice you need.06of 09

Lean on your vendors for their advice, recommendations, and referrals.

The wedding industry is a small world no matter where you’re getting married, and many of your vendors have worked with each other and many other vendors on previous weddings. If you need a recommendation for a cellist, a live wedding painter, or another specialized vendor, chances are your photographer or another vendor can point you in the right direction. 

“You definitely don’t want to abuse them or ask them for something that doesn’t fall in their scope of work, but utilizing their help as much as you can will make the process easier and faster for you,” adds Chang. https://c7316582bbb9fe095f2b6db29062882c.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html07of 09

Review contracts closely.

Weddings are a big investment. Most of your vendors require a contract and oftentimes at least a partial deposit in order to secure the goods or service. Make sure to read all contracts carefully before signing so you know exactly what you’re getting into when it comes to non-refundable deposits, cancellations, overtime and travel fees, etc. Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Contracts08of 09

Trust your vendors.

If this is your first wedding, nerves are normal. Your vendors, on the other hand, often work hundreds of weddings per year and know exactly how to execute a flawless event. That’s why you hired them, after all! Ask questions ahead of time if you need reassurance, but at the same time trust that they know what they’re doing. 09of 09

Go with the flow and know when to let things go.

There’s always going to be something that happens on your wedding day that you didn’t plan for or expect. The best thing you can do when that happens is to take a breath, accept it, and just make the best of it. If you let these little details get you down, you might be too stressed out to enjoy one of the best days of your life.

One hour before the ceremony, give your phone to someone else. Anyone who is trying to contact you an hour before you walk down the aisle should either know exactly where you are, or it can wait. Keep calm, relax, and enjoy this incredibly special day. 

The Most Popular Signature Wedding Drinks of 2021, According to Wedding Planners

For the past year and a half, Plan My Day and engaged couples have had to drastically alter how they say “I do,” adapting all sorts of elements of the traditional, pre-pandemic wedding. But one must-have that never changed? The signature drink.

As the wedding boom kicks off — a confluence of the postponed weddings from 2020 alongside the already packed 2021 and 2022 schedules — couples are set to sling plenty of themed cocktails with catchy names reflecting their inside jokes and beloved pets. Whether it’s shaken or stirred, the beverage trend is clear: People are ready to party.

“Tequila reigns supreme as our most asked for liquor,” Amy Shey Jacobs, event planner for Chandelier Events, says. “If you display Don Julio 1942 on a bar, it makes a statement, and expect your guests to go for it.”

Jacobs says that couples and guests alike are opting for all things tequila, from sipping versions such as Casa Dragones and Clase Azul, to full tastings with a range of styles, including Reposado and Anejo. Don Julio Blanco, Casamigos, and Patron Silver remain top choices for cocktails like the ever-popular Margarita.

Sweet and Spicy Margarita Riffs are some of the most popular wedding drinks of 2021

SWEET AND SPICY MARGARITA RIFFS

The Margarita has held its longstanding position as the drink of summer weddings, but now various riffs on the tangy tequila cocktail have taken over for warm-weather events. Wedding planner Leslie Mastin has watermelon Margaritas on the menu for all of her upcoming nuptials, many of which take place along the Northeast coast. Similarly, event designer Jove Meyer has been adding Ancho Reyes Chile Poblano liqueur and a pepper garnish for a spicy version. Other spins include tajin rims, additions of sweet and sour fruit juices like yuzu or white peach, and colorful ingredients like hibiscus-infused syrup.

GATSBY EXTRAVAGANCE

When the weather turns cool, couples have a different approach: They are harkening back to the 1920s with speakeasy vibes and post-Prohibition-era Champagne fountains, all recalling scenes from “The Great Gatsby.” Prior to the pandemic, wedding professionals predicted the “Roaring ‘20s” would inspire many couples to host weddings in 2020. It seems that post-pandemic, there is even more of a reason to pull ideas from the grandeur of the early 20th century.

“People are reminiscing over cocktails of past generations,” says Jeffrey Selden, managing partner of Marcia Selden Catering. His team has been serving up classic drinks like Martinis, and recently put on a rather dramatic Champagne tower, something he said hasn’t been requested this much in years.

Gimlets are on the rise, as are a slew of highball cocktails, such as the gin fizz. More than one planner reports that gin has surpassed bourbon as the signature drink spirit of the moment, which is evident when it comes to welcome refreshments, too.

The French 75, a blend of gin, sparkling wine, lemon juice, and sugar, is putting a twist on the traditional wedding Champagne. Gretchen Culver of Rocket Science Events likes to have flutes filled with the drink displayed on trays at the entrance to the event, setting the celebratory mood right from the start. She explains that the drink feels approachable while being “new and different” from the Aperol Spritz craze of recent years.

Tequila bars is one of the most popular wedding trends of 2021

AFTER DINNER ‘CAKE AND SHAKE’

The signature drinks continue well past cocktail hour, too. Event planner Percy Sales likes serving classic after-dinner beverages like the Brandy Alexander while guests boogie on the dance floor. He dubs it the “cake and shake,” and even offers non-alcoholic milkshakes to younger guests to sip alongside slices of wedding cake.

In fact, for all the booze-filled glasses, signature mocktails are having a moment. More and more couples opt for a zero-proof drink on the menu for guests who either abstain or are below drinking age. Josh Rosenthal, chairman of the creative beverage service company The Grand Bevy, whips up blood orange mocktails with ribbon candy tied in a bow as a garnish. The specialty drink looks just as jovial as any bartender’s cocktail, and every guest can take part in the toast.

“It’s so fun to see kids’ eyes light up when they find out it’s for them,” Rosenthal says.

5 Ways Hiring a Wedding Planner Can Actually Save You Money

At first, though, hiring a wedding planner might seem like a luxurious splurge. Of course, having someone to make your big day run as smoothly as possible might seem like a good idea, but at what cost? When it comes to making the most of your budget, a wedding planner can actually help you save more on your bottom line.

“The value of hiring an experienced event planner for your wedding or special event cannot be overemphasized,” explains Kourtney Perry, a wedding expert and founder of 7 Centerpieces. “A good event planner should be able to save you the cost of their services plus much more, which may amount to 10 to 20 percent of your total event costs.”

Everything to Know About Hiring a Wedding Planner

But, how? We’re glad you asked. Keep reading to learn why a wedding planner can be the best investment for your big day.

Double Down on Vendor Discounts
For Megan and Clint Rorie, hiring Plan My Day for their upcoming vow renewal a year after their micro-nuptials was a no-brainer. Not only did having a team of professionals give Megan some extra support as her husband tours for work, but it also helped curb price-gouging, which was something the bride knew was inevitable.

“​​Most vendors we worked with had between a 10 to 15 percent discount for us because we were using this planner,” Megan explains. “This doesn’t feel like much, but when you’re booking things that are thousands of dollars, it really adds up.”

According to Joanna Kwok, co-founder of a Canadian company called Honour & Blessing, not every planner will be able to score you a sweet discount. However, they might be able to help stretch your dollar in other ways.

How to Make the Most of a Wedding Planner’s Services
“Behind the scenes, wedding planners spend a lot of time building relationships with fellow vendors,” she explains. “Even if vendors don’t offer us discounts, we know they will always go the extra mile for us —like more flowers or photos—which results in a great wedding.”

Unlock Exclusive Access to Vendors
Believe it or not, a wedding planner can be the gatekeeper to accessing the top vendors for your big day. “​​A little-known fact is some vendors turn down weddings when the couple doesn’t have a planner,” Kwok explains. “For vendors who have been in the industry, it makes a huge difference when there is a planner because they can focus on what they are actually hired for.”

She adds that many venues also require couples to have a wedding planner and coordinator to book in the first place. Sure, this perk might not save you money upfront, but it’s priceless to get your dream location.


Curb Contractual Complications
Planning a wedding is a long, complicated process, so you’re bound to experience a few bumps in the road. Fortunately, a wedding planner can smooth out the nitty-gritty, which can ultimately help your bottom line.

“[My planner] got me out of a contract when a vendor was attempting to add a bunch of fees,” Rorie explains. “Since they recommended this vendor and wanted to preserve the relationship and trust we had built, they were able to get a contract dissolved and a full refund for me when things turned sour.”

At the end of the day, wedding planners are professionals — and can be your best advocate to troublesome vendors.

Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Contracts
Keep Track of Your Budget

We’re not going to sugarcoat it for you: staying on budget is more difficult than it seems. One moment, you’re looking to upgrade your table settings. And, the next? You’re thousands of dollars above budget. While there are plenty of ways to keep yourself from sliding down this slippery slope, a wedding planner can definitely help.

For example, Katie Lupo and Nick Springer enlisted Caitlin Dobbins of Honey + Thyme Events to plan their micro wedding in North Carolina. And, though the couple purchased a micro wedding package, Dobbins helped shed some more light on what their budget would allow. “She certainly helped us retain realistic budgetary expectations, both in where we needed to spend and where we could save,” the bride said.

Free Up Your Schedule
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your busy schedule doesn’t come to a screeching halt when you’re planning your wedding. Many couples are juggling the wedding-planning process with demanding jobs, a laundry list of chores, and personal obligations. Fortunately, a wedding planner can help you save on your most invaluable currency: time.“Just like when someone is learning something for the first time, it takes at least double the time, effort, and energy to do something,” Kwok says. “With a planner, they have the experience of doing many weddings and the couple can just relax and do other things.”

Since your wedding planner is spearheading the entire process, you can spend your newfound free time cleaning your apartment or whipping up a home-cooked meal. (Think of all that money you’ll save on takeout!) And, above all, you’ll be able to spend the entire wedding day savoring those special moments.

“Everything had been planned out step by step and we didn’t have a thing to worry about, we didn’t even think to worry,” Springer explains. “We got to enjoy every second of our wedding, spending it with each other and our friends and family, rather than stressing over the details. If anything went wrong, we didn’t know it. Everything seemed to go perfectly.”