they're supposed to run the entire wedding show, and maybe even plan the entire wedding. So what could go wrong by picking the wrong planner? The stakes are very high with this vendor, as high as as any other than your venue. Compounding this problem is the low barrier nature of the wedding planner business.
What role does your planner play?
The duties of your planner will depend upon what is required by your venue and what duties you would like for them to perform. At Dragon Park, we require that every wedding have a wedding coordinator, and that the coordinator is dialed in and available to our venues at least a month before the wedding. If you didn't have at least a month-of coordinator, your wedding will be uncoordinated, that means a mess. We lock down all of the event details - vendors, guest count, timeline and floor plan - 30 days before the wedding.
What is a planner and what is a coordinator? Many will use the terms interchangeably, but we refer to a planner as one who helps plan the event, from vendor selection to decor design. We refer to a coordinator as one who coordinates the plan that has been designed, regardless of who created the design.
How couples pick a coordinator
Couples often choose their planner for the wrong reasons. We understand, they don't do this everyday. As with other vendors, some couples want to chose a coordinator who is a relative who may be gifting them the service. But, the relative should be attending, and not working, the wedding. And our venues require that the coordinator be at the venue the entire time anyone is onsite and to not attend the wedding. In fact, because this is impossible for a family member, we do not allow planner-relatives.
Some couple want to choose a friend who is entering the planning business. A discount may be part of the agreement. Again, the friend should attend the wedding and not work it. If this is a real friend, this will be impossible, and for this reason we do not allow planner-friends. A new planner is also likely not experienced and will be going to school on you. This is exacerbated if the planner has not worked at the venue before. In this situation, we think there is no discount great enough and that the planner should be paying you for giving them the experience.
Other couples search online for a planner and choose based upon a website and a conversation.
Fortunately, most couples come to our venues before selecting their planner. But when we hear that a couples has chosen their planner, we hold our breath.
How should you select a coordinator?
Regardless of your venue, select a professional coordinator who has been to the venue several times before. Of course you may ask the coordinator if they have been to the venue, or better yet, you can ask the venue for planner recommendations. At Dragon Park, we publish a list of approved planners to expedite the process. Of course you'll want to make sure that your planner provides the services that you require, can work with your planner and overall budget, and is a good fit with your personality.
You don't have to use a planner from our list, however, the planner you choose must be a professional and carry business insurance (an annual policy).
When should you hire your planner?
Most planners, we bet, would recommend that you hire them before selecting any other vendor, including the venue. It's human nature to want to tell people how to do things (heck, we're doing it here). We do find that many coordinators fall back on that other human trait, becoming comfortable by what one's done in the past, in this case sticking with the same few venues they always use. There are coordinators in Nashville who are known for going to just a couple of venues. We don't think that's a disservice to their clients who pay the planner to give them the best alternatives for their style and budget.
We think that you should select your planner after booking your venue. This way you decide your venue, not the planner. Of course, you need to pick wisely and that may be difficult for many couples, but we discuss that through many articles here. Great planners tend to book well in advance, particularly on peak season weekends.