Hi brides and grooms-to-be, this one's for you!
I have been wanting to share my experience on this topic for a while, not only as a wedding planner but also as a former bride and current wedding music vendor. It's funny; as a wedding musician I always knew that I felt much more comfortable working with a professional planner for our wedding ceremonies, but it wasn't until I got married myself (without a planner) and then started my own planning business that I truly realized the wedding planner's crucial role both leading up to a wedding and throughout the wedding day.
My experience as a ceremony musician...
With Chesapeake Strings, my string trio, we feel extra nervous performing a wedding ceremony when there is no wedding planner, and still frequently nervous with only a venue coordinator. Many times, a venue coordinator will not check in with us prior to the ceremony, so the processional suddenly begins and away we go, hoping that everything our couple told us is actually correct (50% of the time, it is not, as last-minute changes are made at the ceremony rehearsal the day before.)
I have experienced the uneasiness of working at a wedding-sans-planner firsthand as a ceremony musician, where we have no idea when the processional will begin, we have no one to confirm the song list and order of people, and no one to double check the recessional cue. Often times we'll arrive and have to take chairs from the back of the ceremony set-up because there is no one around to help us with finding extra chairs. I always communicate with our couples prior to the wedding and tell them exactly what we'll need on site, but the bride and groom can't be greeting us and setting up at the same time they are getting ready for their ceremony!
We had a recent experience as a string trio where there was no one on site to run the ceremony, not even the venue coordinator. The wedding party had no idea where to stand or when to start walking, and the officiant and groom had already come out from the side and were waiting up at the altar. For a few minutes. It was at that point that we decided to intervene, so I talked the bridal party through what they had to do, and then sat down to play viola for the ceremony. Again, this was a wedding where I had been hired to perform as a musician. (Luckily, we were seated in back for this one so I could easily run over!)
That was not the first time our group was faced with this situation. Another time, the bridal party had just processed, and the venue coordinator went into another room to get the bride. As the guests in the ceremony room started to stand up for the bride's entrance, we spotted a number of late guests who were about to walk through the bride's doorway, down the aisle, to the ceremony site... We promptly stopped them and asked them to wait to enter until after the bride. Again, I intervened as a musician. All of our primary musicians with Chesapeake Strings are experienced in knowing how to handle these situations but I positively know that not all musicians or vendors will know how to help, nor will they feel comfortable doing so.
My experience as a planner...
In the month prior to every wedding I've coordinated and planned, there have always been multiple vendors who tell me, "We're so relieved you're going to be there to organize the events on the wedding day." Here are the 3 reasons why:
1. Vendors don't want to bother you leading up to your big day!
Although vendors are perfectly comfortable communicating with a bride and groom prior to the wedding, most vendors don't want to bother a couple with extra questions starting about a week before the wedding, and especially not on their wedding day. Frequently, the busiest vendors won't fully finalize ALL of their detail information until 1-2 weeks before your wedding, and will have a bunch of last-minute, small-scale questions about directions, set-up, time frame, location, vendor meals, or other details, depending on the type of vendor. Vendors are always beyond relieved to have a contact person who is level-headed and calm to answer final questions the week of the wedding (especially should they need to ask about last-minute changes to the services they are providing for you!)
DJ Paul Parrinello from DJ Paul Entertainment says, "Having a planner puts all the vendors on the same page. The planner creates a professional day-of timeline that tells everyone involved in the planning process (vendors, bridal party, venue coordinator) the wedding day details. The planner also manages the wedding day, supervises vendor set-up and delivery, handles emergencies, and soothes nerves, serving as a spokesperson between vendors and their couples to communicate every whim or desire of the couple to each vendor involved."
2. Your vendors will be able to produce their best work.
I recently coordinated a wedding with Meghan Rose Photography, who explained this perfectly: "In addition to a stellar couple and awesome venue, I also was able to work with some incredible vendors - including Elizabeth from East Made Event Company. I've talked about my love for event planners before, but I truly can't say it enough - please hire an event planner for your wedding!! She made sure everything went so smoothly, and since I wasn't worried about a timeline, I was free to take the best photos I could. I have to say I am just so proud of [the photos from] this wedding and everything I was able to capture as it all unfolded in front of me!"
Hiring a planner allows your vendors to focus on their jobs and create the best possible services for you. If you are investing thousands of dollars in your wedding vendors (photography, music, florist, etc.), why not invest in extra insurance in the form of a planner to ensure that you'll have the highest quality and most professional experience from all of your vendors? Happy vendors = happy couples.
3. Your vendors won't have to perform tasks outside of their realm.
As I said before, I have been hired as a ceremony musician but have assumed the role of a planner or venue coordinator on multiple occasions when that was not the job I was hired to do. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if all non-planner vendors have had this same experience at some time in their wedding careers. With a planner, your photographers won't have to constantly be checking their shot list or timeline and won't have to worry about trying to scarf down their dinner so they're finished in time for toasts. With a planner, your DJ or band won't have to ask you how to pronounce your sister's husband's last name for the third time AT your wedding and won't have to track down strangers to perform toasts and speeches. With a planner, your florist will have a clearer idea of your color palette and design scheme and can more easily execute your wedding vision.
All of your vendors will be calmer, well-fed, less stressed, and will all be completely informed of every wedding detail, change, and event happening on your wedding day. As a result, your vendor team will be happy to work for you and will genuinely strive to create and produce their best work, providing you with the most professional and personalized experience.
If you've been trying to decide whether to hire a wedding planner for your own wedding, I hope this post helped provide some insight into the inside world of wedding vendors! Also, many planners offer multiple packages at various price points to suit the varied needs and budgets of any couple. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I'll be sure to respond!