So I have had many a chats with couples at places like a We Thee Wed wedding show, and they dismiss my services because they already have a venue coordinator at their venue. Now when I hear this two things happen. One, I kindly respond with my prepared speech what makes a wedding planner different. Something that I have told couples over and over again, which is basically this blog. Two, I secretly scream out in my head in frustration because both of our jobs are being sold as the same, be it by the venue coordinator themselves or someone else, and **spoiler alert** – THEY’RE NOT!
Now I must preface this blog with one thing…..I LOVE VENUE COORDINATORS!! They are amazing at what they do, they know their venue inside and out, they are a HUGE help to my couples and even to me. This blog is NOT to bash on what they do, but instead to share the differences between them and myself, a wedding planner.
So to keep it simple, let’s look at the key differences:
Venue Coordinators are brought on with the renting of a venue. They are there for everything that specifically deals with the venue. The venue and it’s staff takes precedence. If they have tables, chairs, linens, tableware, etc. they will handle all of the above. If they handle the catering, they will focus on the kitchen staff as well.
Wedding Planners are brought on by a couple to help with their wedding no matter the venue. They are there for everything that deals with the couple. They will handle the items that your other wedding professionals were not hired for and even some that they were hired for. Their first priority is the couple.
Your Hired Wedding Professionals
Venue Coordinators can sometimes provide you with a list of preferred vendors for their venue and some may ask for a final list of your vendors before your wedding.
Wedding planners will provide a list of wedding professionals based on those they know will do a good job, are within your budget or align with your style. They will coordinate the arrival time and setup of all vendors before the wedding. Wedding planners review contracts to make sure everyone is protected. They will manage the wedding professionals making sure things are on time and that they have everything they need to get their job done and done well.
In general venue coordinators will ask what your timeline is with your DJ for the time you are at their venue and then they will make sure that correlates with what they need for their staffing.
Wedding planners will create a detailed timeline for you. They will work with your wants and needs and also the wedding professionals you hired to create a timeline for your ENTIRE day. From the moment you wake up, to lunch, to the ceremony time, to the first dance song to the grand exit, EVERYTHING will be timed out by your wedding planner. They also help keep everyone running on time throughout the entire day as well.
A venue coordinator works during the venues business hours and is split between every couple that is utilizing their venue. Let’s say they are booked for 40 weekends out of the year and only two days a weekend. That means 80 couples. If they have multiple rooms available to rent, like a hotel or banquet center, double that number. This doesn’t include luncheons or events that happen during the week.
A wedding planner does have business hours and most work within those business hours. But lets get real here, I don’t stick to my business hours. My couples work day jobs and generally do wedding planning after work. I do my best work after my child is in bed. So yes, I have business hours, and sometimes I enforce them for my sanity, but in general I am ALWAYS available. Depending on your wedding planner they will have a set number of couples they work with. The average I see is between 20-30 weddings A YEAR. Larger companies take on more, but me personally I take on between 6-12 weddings A YEAR. This means you get so much more personal attention from a wedding planner because they have the time to give it to you.
Look, is having a venue coordinator awesome? Yes! But please don’t dismiss having a wedding planner too. Both do entirely different jobs. Both have a place, working hand-in-hand together, in your wedding day.
P.S. A venue coordinator will also not have an emergency kit available to you, go dress shopping with you, fix a shoe, put on boutonnieres, sew a dress, get the right cake to your venue when the baker sends a horrible one, get flowers removed that don’t belong, find you an embroidery shop that can make a gift the night before the wedding….just to name a few things I have personally done. 😉
Something I have seen time and time again on local boards for wedding planning are questions about RSVP’s. Now I’ve already written a blog about invitation etiquette, and I lightly touched on RSVP’s, so if you just want an overview you can skip to that blog now. Within this one I am going to go into much more detail on just your RSVP card and the process of collecting that information.
RSVP Card Basics
Let’s start with the basics of your RSVP card by taking about the type of card. Yes there are types, as in a postcard, online or one you put in an envelope.
- PROS: Very easy and quick for people to do, and generally leads to more RSVP’s actually coming in.
- CONS: Not everyone is technologically savvy and it can turn them off.
- PROS: Cheaper for return mail as you can get postcard stamps.
- CONS: Rarely, but can get damaged more without an envelope to protect it.
- PROS: Traditional and what people expect.
- CONS: Postage can add up.
In the end I recommend at least doing one paper form of RSVP as well as offering an online one if you can. The reason I do not say to only offer online, is because you still have people that are not capable of doing it. Be kind and just send them a paper one too. Also, don’t forget that you still need to put a stamp on it. You ALWAYS put a stamp on the RSVP card. Otherwise, you are making it hard on your guests and you will have so many more that do not RSVP that you will have to reach out to (more on that later). The bonus my clients have with me is my online planning portal. My clients can send for a online RSVP request and then it automatically updates their guest list and seating chart. Boo-yah. Talk about efficiency and organization.
What should I put on the card?
Now let’s look at what should be put on your RSVP cards. The very top should have something written about the RSVP due date.
This date is EXTREMELY important. I always recommend to my clients that they set the date to be one week before final numbers are due. Traditionally they need numbers about 1-2 weeks before the event, so set your RSVP to three weeks before. WHY? So now you have a week to reach out to everyone who has not RSVP’d yet. And there will be MANY unfortunately, as that seems to be the norm now.
And YES you need to reach out to every single one who has not RSVP’d by the deadline. You do not want to have to guess and provide more seats and food “just in case”. Call them, text them, email them…..whatever you normally do to communicate with these people. And if they don’t get back to you, set another deadline. “If I don’t hear back from you by Friday, I will mark you down as not attending.” I am more than willing to help make phone calls to guests for my couples because getting a call from a wedding planner is different than from a friend. I always get the answer I need very quickly because of my position in the entire event.
What is that weird “M” line for?
The next line seems illusive to some people.
That line is for people to fill in their names aka “Mr John & Wilma Smith”. Now, traditionally it is for the guest to fill in, so you leave it blank but there is two things I will say here.
One, if you want to write in your guests names then do it. Tradition has flown so far out the window on things, that it really doesn’t matter anymore.
Two, if you do not write in their names you need to number your RSVP cards. For some reason there are people cannot grasp the concept of putting their names on things and send it back blank. Then instead of not knowing who it belongs to, you can look at the number and compare it to your guest list. I recommend either hiding the number in a dark spot on your card or buying UV pens and a blacklight flashlight. It just makes it look better to not see a hand written number on your card. If you can’t do either of the above, just number the cards and Miss Manners will look the other way, I promise.
The most important part of your RSVP card
Next on the card there is some version of the actual RSVP and an added line I ALWAYS recommend adding.
First for the actual RSVP it can be done very simply, or creatively, as long as both you and the guest understand which is a “yes” and which is a “no”. The added line is something like the following, “___ of ___ guests will be attending” or “___ seats have been reserved in your honor”. The point of this added line is to stop people from thinking they can just bring whoever they want. You have a set amount of people for that RSVP, AND YOU MUST FILL IN THE NUMBER OR ELSE IT IS TOTALLY POINTLESS. Now it doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while you get rude and inconsiderate person who crosses off the number and adds in their own. No, you cannot uninvite them as much as you and I wish you could. You do need to contact them and let them know that they will not be getting three seats instead of two. Then they have the choice of declining now or not. Stick to your guns and always blame the venue size for legal reasons that you can only have so many guests.
Don’t forget the food!
Lastly, if you are doing family style or buffet, then your card is done. But if you have meal choices for your guests to pick, then you also need to include that on your card.
Pretty simply leave a line with your meal options and the phrase “Please Initial Your Meal Choice Below”. Now sometimes you will get people putting in numbers or an “X” instead of initials. You can call those people and get a definitive answer if you want. Or you can keep in mind that they are family and if one ordered fish and the other beef, they can switch plates if they get the wrong one.
In the end, contacting them with your questions is best
You can follow all of the above and you will still end up with questions unanswered when you get your cards back. If you need more information or someone has not RSVP’d yet, CONTACT THEM ASAP. Don’t leave anything to chance. The goal in this is to do everything you can to make RSVP-ing easy for your guest and yourself and in the end have the least amount of headaches possible.
As a bonus, some people like to add fun things to their RSVP cards, like song requests. That is absolutely something you can add to your RSVP card at the bottom. And if someone requests the Macarena, kindly forget to put that on your DJs list for me. Thanks.
When wedding planning, one of the biggest questions that will come up, mostly from others, will be “Are you having kids at the wedding?”. Let’s break it down this way, you’re going to fit into one of these two types of people:
ONE: Ah, the squeals and cries of delight as a child is twirled around the dance floor. That totally makes me smile.
TWO: If one more kid trips on my dress on this dance floor, or cries one more time, my head is going to explode. This is why I didn’t want kids at the wedding.
If you fall under group number ONE, please continue reading. If you fall under group number TWO, please stop reading and refer to my blog on how to properly tell your guests your wedding is adult only. The current wedding planning blog you are reading is not for you.
So now that I know I have the attention of the right couples, let’s move forward. While wedding planning, you have decided to have kids in attendance. Awesome. But you also know like most people do, that kids have the attention span of a gnat. (I am a mother myself so I can say that.) What do you do to ensure that they have a fun time, but so do their parents? You make them feel special and give them something to do.
Here is my list of things that you could do for the kids attending your wedding, be it your own child or someone else’s.
1. You plan to use bubbles for your exit of the ceremony venue, or maybe as part of your grand exit, what better way to treat the kids right then by getting them bubble guns. Young kids already have a hard time blowing bubbles, and bubble solution is like a magnet to dress clothing on anyone under the age of 18 (or over for that matter). So contain the solution and make it easier for them. BONUS POINTS if you get the ones that light up.
2. If they are your children or close to you, have them help with the ceremony. Be it as an assistant usher, or a reading/poem. Just including them in the wedding ceremony gives them something to look forward to. That means they pay more attention, not always, but it helps. Just remember that it will not go perfectly and you must have patience.
3. Have an activity table set off to the side for just the kids. Fill it full of crafts, coloring books, toys and puzzles. Things that will keep them coming back for more. TIP: When it comes to the crafts ALWAYS use self adhesive items, never glue. And NEVER small items that suck to clean up like glitter. You think bubble solution is bad, wait till little Bobby shows his mom his newly decorated tie with Elmers and glitter.
4. Don’t have room for a table? That’s ok. As you are shopping for your wedding items, keep an eye out for fun things they can do individually at their seat. Then you create a little box or bag that they can have at their table and play with in their seat.
5. If you have the space at your venue, have a separate room for the kids to disappear to. Fill it with fun, games and a movie. More importantly, have a babysitter that will be in the room so that parents won’t have to worry. It keeps them entertained and their parents can still kind of get a night off.
6. Desserts. What kid doesn’t love desserts, or more importantly frosting? I know my daughter could care less about the cake, all she wants is the frosting. So make it fun for the kids. Have an area set up when they can decorate their own cupcake. In fact, make your entire cupcake bar a DIY station and then all of your wedding guests can have some fun. In fact there is a company that does this for you. Their name is Crave Custom Wedding Cakes, and they do all the decorating, but your guests pick it all out. TIP: If you make the bar yourself, put down a drop cloth – tape down the edges if necessary. It will make cleanup a lot easier on you or the staff you hired.
7. Here’s something that will serve multiple purposes: a favor and entertainment for your guests. What I’m talking about is a photobooth. There are so many different kinds out there now that they can fit within anyone’s budget. Keep it simple with some DIY or go all out and get a Mirror Me Photobooth. Wedding guests of all ages will appreciate the fun this can bring to your event. Plus, with everyone getting a print of their images, that covers your favors as well.
8. You’re more than likely going to have a wedding toast done. Maybe by a wedding party member, or a family member, either way it’s pretty much going to happen. So instead of having the kids toast with their soda or water, give them something fun: Milk and cookies. Honestly, just give everyone milk and cookies. I like champagne, don’t get me wrong, but milk and cookies is so different and so fun, and who doesn’t like milk and cookies?!
9. Is your wedding outdoors? I know it’s not often in Ohio that we get amazing weather, but if you plan it right, you can have a lot of fun planning an outdoor wedding. Make sure while you’re choosing between wedding cakes and linens, that you fit into your budget something for yard games. Again, not only is this for the kids but for the adults as well. TIP: Get a bounce house. They’re cheap to rent and have a huge impact and if you get a big enough one, adults can jump too. In fact, scrap you’re whole vision and just do a carnival themed wedding and then give me a call so that I can be your wedding planner. I am so in!
10. Your bouquet toss. Kinda fun and also kinda archaic. I remember being a single lady at a wedding and being pushed onto the floor to catch the bouquet, and frankly I found it embarrassing. It has honestly started to become a very old tradition, and not always done anymore. All that aside, whether you decide to through a bouquet or not, you should throw a candy bouquet for the kids. It’s like the wedding version of a pinata.
11. MY FAVORITE: Set up a photo scavenger hunt for the kids. Place a card at their seat and on it list items they must find at the wedding. There’s two ways to capture the images. If they have a phone, they can use that and have their parents send them to you. Or you could have disposable cameras. Now frankly, disposable cameras are so old fashioned and I never recommend couples put them on tables like they used to. All you get is horrible pictures with maybe 10 good ones and the rest was a waste of money. BUT for this instance I think they are very kid friendly for use and worth it. But again, if they have their own phones then you can save that money. On the list should be pictures that you want of your wedding day. Things like: a couple dancing, your dinner, someone wearing blue, someone toasting, etc. It’s kind of fun to see what the kids capture and it’s always from their perspective. It really can get you some fun pictures too.
Hopefully that gives you a few ideas as to what you can provide for your little guests at your wedding day. As a wedding planner, I say thank you for doing everything you can to help keep the children from destroying items you have rented. As a parent, thank you for giving me my sanity for the evening.
As you can probably guess, I get asked a lot of questions about wedding planning. So I added a new page to my website to cover my most frequesntly asked questions and I thought I would also share them here in blog form. So here you go!
Q: Why should I hire a wedding planner?
A: The easiest answer to this is that chances are you have never planned a wedding before, or even an event of this size. Wedding planners have. It’s what they do for a living. They have knowledge and expertise that only someone who has planned a wedding before can possibly know. We have been there before and can help point you in the right direction and save you some time and money in the process.
The more detailed answer is that wedding planners do so much more than you think they do. Budgeting, venue searching, vendor selection, contract reviews, creating a timeline that works for what you want but also what your vendors need, corralling your wedding party and sending them down the aisle, even things behind the scenes that you won’t know about and probably never will. (If you get the chance to ask me about the “Pinterest Fail” cake, please do.) Wedding planners are also the point of contact for everyone on the day and can make decisions for you so you don’t have to because they know exactly how things should be and how you would want them. On top of all of that, you need to look at the time involved. Research shows that it takes an average of 250 hours to plan a wedding from start to finish. That’s a lot to add onto your everyday life, no wonder people get so stressed with wedding planning. Just with my wedding management package alone I spend an average of 35 hours on each couples wedding day.
Q: What is the difference between a planner, consultant and coordinator? And which one are you?
A: A wedding planner is there from start to finish. They help you with everything that has to do with your wedding and keep things organized and progressing as you plan. Depending on what you want they can be involved every step of the way or serve as more of a consultant throughout your planning process.
A wedding consultant is just that. Someone that you can reach out to and ask questions of while you are planning your wedding.
A wedding coordinator is someone who generally comes in closer to the date of your wedding to help finalize the details and run your entire day. But it does get a little tricky really defining it as every coordinator does things differently. Some only come in two weeks before, take the reins and run the show. Some come in a month before and get a little more involved with the last month of planning to make sure things are set up right for the day. Then there are coordinators like me who dread the term “day-of” or “month-of” because I firmly believe that someone cannot come in a couple weeks before you wedding and take over one of the biggest days of your life and have it run smoothly. On top of that, I wouldn’t want to because that would be entirely too stressful. The profession of a wedding planner is always listed in the “Top 5 Most Stressful Jobs”, why make it more stressful? Back on topic, coordinators who offer wedding management generally come in two months before your wedding to finalize all your details, create you timelines and then run the day.
What am I you ask? Well that all depends on what you need. I serve as a planner for some couples and a coordinator for the rest, but I ALWAYS serve as a consultant for each and every one.
Q: My venue has a coordinator, why do I need a wedding planner?
A: Venue coordinators are wonderful and can really be beneficial to your wedding planning. But they only handle the items that are directly related to the venue. The will not create your wedding day timeline, confirm with your vendors the week before, run your rehearsal or keep everyone running on time throughout the day. A wedding planner works together with a venue coordinator to make sure everything is done right at the venue and then your wedding planner handles all the rest.
Q: I need help but I want things a certain way, will a wedding planner take over?
A: No. This is your wedding and it SHOULD be exactly how you want it. A wedding planner is there to help you get that and guide you along the way. They may have ideas and pointers, but in the end what you says happens and a wedding planner will make sure it happens just that way on your wedding day.
Q: I see the packages you offer but I need something in between, is that something you do?
A: Yep! The two packages listed under my wedding planning services are my most popular packages and what most of my couples end up choosing, but if after your consultation we determine you need something else I am more than willing to create a custom package based on your needs.
Q: Do you only refer certain vendors?
A: Nope. When a couple asks me for a referral for a certain type of vendor I ask determining questions to help me better understand what exactly it is they are looking for. It’s at that point that I know exactly the best vendor for them, send them a few options or I do a little research and find one. Even if it’s someone I have never worked with before, my job is to help you find what you need.
Q: My MOH is worried that you will boss everyone around on the wedding day, is that what will happen?
A: No, that is not what I will no. I am a manager and I will do what I need to do to get things done, but as a manager I know how to get it done the right way and kindly. Wedding vendors work as a team with one goal in mind; a beautiful wedding for their clients. I will help in getting all of them on the same page and working together. I take all of their needs into consideration but I also look at what you need to happen and meet in the middle. As for your wedding party, I am there to guide and help them. Not only should the wedding be stress free for you, but it should be that way for all parties involved.
Q: What types of weddings do your wedding packages accommodate?
A: Any and all – we cater to all types and religions.
Q: Do you charge for my first consultation?
A: No. Your first consultation is free. It usually takes an hour and we will sit down and talk about where you are in the planning process and what I can do to help. If you need more than one consultation before booking with me, there will be a fee invoiced.
Q: Why should I hire Eventistry to be my wedding planner?
A: On the logistical side, I’m extremely organized and will help keep you on task. You also get access to me from the moment you book, even for just wedding management, to ask me questions and get advice as you plan. In the end, helping you helps me. You also get access to an online planning portal where you can keep everything having to deal with your wedding planning in one place. Lastly, my pricing includes my assistant that comes with me on the day and I also have a la carte services that can be added on, some are listed on my website some are not as it really depends on what is needed. But if I can help, I will.
On a more personal side, I am transparent. I tell you how it is and I get things done. I like to drink whiskey and bake cookies. Halloween is my favorite holiday with Christmas as a very close second. I’m interesting and like to have fun with my clients and get to know them on a personal level. Also, I hate heels and avocados.
Q: How far in advance do I need to book you?
A: It all depends on what you are looking for me to do. If you are looking for wedding management, then no less than two months, but I have worked with less. For full service I recommend one year minimum. Now that doesn’t mean to wait to book with me as my calendar fills up. I ALWAYS recommend booking me the moment you decide you want to work with me. That way your date is marked in my calendar and no one else can book me in your place. Plus, like I said before, the moment you book with me is the moment you have access to me for help as you plan your wedding.
Q: How long have you been planning weddings? Are you insured?
A: I started planning weddings in 2009 and am fully insured.