Why hire a wedding planner? The best ones do a lot more than plan
Here to help: Chicago-area wedding consultant Kristina Taheri assists a bride. "A reputable planner can anticipate and avoid challenges before they happen," Taheri said.
Planning a wedding? Whether it's a month away or a year away, one of the ongoing decisions is to do it yourself or hire a wedding planner.
Bridal magazines say you should use a professional, your cousin says she did fine without one, but you wonder about the cost and losing control of your wedding. After all, who wants someone like “Franck” from “Father of the Bride” putting swans in your front lawn?
Some brides assume that the reception site manager will take care of everything. They wonder if a wedding planner will even pay attention to their ideas.
But even if you are ultra-organized and have the advice of your mother, sister, and recently married best friend, a wedding planner can save the day.
“A reputable planner can anticipate and avoid challenges before they happen,” said Kristina Taheri, a Chicago-area wedding consultant whose business, Kristina Taheri Special Events, is based in west suburban Hinsdale. “She is responsible for coordinating all of your service providers as a team in order to have a seamless wedding.”
Since your planner has worked on so many weddings (you asked about her experience level, right?) you benefit from her creativity and knowledge when communicating your own ideas.
Experienced wedding planners have not only handled many kinds of weddings, they have already bailed out numerous brides during the inevitable unexpected events.
“Clients appreciate our know-how for the things they anticipate, but they don’t always understand that it’s the heart-stopping surprises that experienced planners can handle without batting an eye,” Taheri said.
Recently, she said, she assisted with a full Catholic wedding mass at Holy Family Church in Chicago. The entire rehearsal had to be translated into French for the groom’s Parisian family.
“Trying to remember the right words for votives, slim tapers, center pillar unity candle in English is difficult enough,” she recalled. “Now try those same words in a foreign language. Mon Dieu!”
Taheri also had to ferry guests who missed the transport from the church to the Drake Hotel reception, found a French-speaking server at the site, and spied a wedding crasher who was discretely asked to leave. All of those efforts were behind the scene of what guests and hosts saw as a seamless evening.
“The planner also is an objective buffer between parties,” Taheri said. “A common concern is accommodating divided families so there are no hurt feelings. We’ve seen it all and are willing to take the blame as needed in sensitive situations. “
Many families need facilitators when, for example, a father walks the bride down the aisle, but the stepfather is invited to lead the father-daughter dance. Taheri can cut off guests from the bar, provide emergency sustenance for bridesmaids’ low blood sugar, insist on one gluten-free, vegetarian, kosher meal from the chef, and keep very tall wedding cakes steady.
“Been there, done that,” she said.
You may fear that a planner will be too expensive. But a planner should actually save you time, money, and stress. Brides who are trying to do it all themselves are frequently overwhelmed by the abundance of information available. Without guidance on how to make a thousand decisions, it’s all just a blur.
Wedding planners have actual working relationships with numerous vendors, site location expertise, and professional education, which they leverage to maximize your buying power in order to stay within your budget.
As an example, Taheri recalls saving a bride’s family a small fortune for a recent wedding for which planning was in full swing. Both families were excited, big-name sites had been reserved, coveted vendors had signed contracts and details were coming together when the bride confessed that the groom actually had not yet quite exactly proposed.
“Because I had ongoing professional relationships with her vendors, we were able to get her some leniency on the finances and some flexibility with dates,” Taheri said.
Before long, the boyfriend officially became a fiancé. Taheri arranged a six-month postponement on all obligations and the wedding went forth.
“Today the couple is happily married and expecting their second child,” she reports.
Although most established planners prefer to work with brides from the beginning stages, Taheri and many other planners also offer partial or “day-of” services. Planners charge for their services in different ways: per hour of service, a flat rate fee, or a percentage of the budget.
“You can typically expect to pay about $1,000 to $3,000 in the Chicago area for “day-of” services, based on your planner’s level of experience. Full service planning ranges from $3,500-$8,000 and up,” Taheri said.
“However you contract, you will still be heavily involved in decision-making, tastings, design sessions, and all the fun stuff,” she said. “That’s the point, right?”