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A Bride's Guide: How I Chose My Wedding Planner

Wedding planner

Hello, my lovely couples! I'm writing today to answer one of the most common questions I see brides ask on social media chat groups is, "Do I need a wedding planner? Is it really that important?" The short answer: Yes! Let me explain why and provide you with some tips to find the best wedding planner for your special day, making it a much less daunting task. With several crucial factors to consider, such as budget, personality, communication, and location, finding the right person who aligns with your vision is key to bringing your dream wedding to life. In this blog post, I'll share my personal journey and offer insights on how to select the perfect wedding planner.

First, let's talk about why hiring a wedding planner is essential. As a professional photographer in the wedding industry, I've captured weddings of all sizes, from intimate elopements, to destination weddings, to grand 600-guest events. Based on my experience, the most successful weddings, regardless of their scale, have always involved a professional wedding planner. Being a bride myself this year, I was certain that I wanted a wedding planner not only to ensure a smooth and successful wedding but also to free myself from the stress on the big day. I am thrilled to say that having a wedding planner was a game-changer for me. She expertly handled various aspects before and during the wedding, making everything run seamlessly and alleviating all my worries.

Recommendations and Online Research:

When I started my search for a wedding planner, I turned to Facebook groups and asked for recommendations from people who had previously used their services. While Google can be overwhelming with ads and unrelated information, reaching out to real couples who had firsthand experience proved to be invaluable. Recommendations from trusted sources can provide reliable insights and narrow down your options. Another valuable tool is the platforms you've probably already heard about: TheKnot, WeddingWire, and Zola. The reason they are helpful? You can search for people in specific areas, or you can broaden your search. If you want someone local to you that you can meet before hand, you can look in your area! And if you want someone who's already in your location, you can change your search to match that location as well. They also have reviews from past couples who they have helped, so make sure to look at ALL the reviews! Definitely take note of the good things they say, but also make sure to take a look if they have any 4 star or lower reviews (take it with a grain of salt, be open to hat they said about this team and see if it's something that might apply to you), then make sure to schedule a call with them! I don't recommend booking blindly based on reviews, make sure you mesh and that your planner can bring your vision to life. Another valuable recommendation would be to ask your photographer for people they have worked with, because us wedding professionals are more than willing to make a referral for those we know will get the job done. I've worked with many planners before, along with other vendors, and I am ready with a list of recommendations for whatever my couples need. ;)

Determine the Type of Wedding Planner You Need:

Wedding planners come in different types, each offering unique services. Some planners handle decorations, coordination, and vendor communication, while others specialize in day-of coordination. Consider your specific requirements and the level of involvement you desire. For me, I chose a planner who could handle all aspects, from design to coordination, to relieve me of extra responsibilities.

I wasn't sure at first which avenue I wanted to pursue, so I met with a few different planners to get a feel for their vibe and if we meshed, and also what exactly they offered. Some of the planners offered just month-of coordination, which meant they would make my timeline for all the vendors, go over seating charts with me, decoration ideas, logistics I still needed help with, and then of course be there on the day of to make sure everything stays on time and that things are going where they are supposed to go, and people are where they are supposed to be. They also do a lot of behind the scenes work that I can't even begin to describe but is super helpful. Then there are those who also help with the vision and decoration of your wedding, they will do a whole vision board with you before the big day and make sure that you are getting everything you need, they will order decorations for you so you don't have to, they will talk to other vendors for this and negotiate the price so you get the best price. AND they will physically put your decorations where it needs to go and bring your vision to life! Once I found one that I meshed with, I just had to decide if I wanted her to do the decor or if I wanted to do it, and for me personally I decided to give it all to her. Anything I wanted the found and put together, and If i brought decorations myself for them to use (memorial photos, bubbles, etc), they put it out for me as well. P.S. I found this planner through a bride referral who said "You NEED her! She was worth every penny." And they were absolutely right!

Communication and Compatibility:

It's important to find a wedding planner who understands your vision and communicates effectively. During consultations or interviews, assess their listening skills, responsiveness, and ability to comprehend and execute your ideas. A planner who resonates with your personality and understands your wedding goals will ensure a smooth and enjoyable planning process.

I had a delightful experience with a planner who was not only professional but also personable. We instantly clicked. She was always prompt in her responses, always keeping me in the loop with updates and progress. Her ability to translate my ideas into tangible concepts reassured me that we were on the same page. Something you can ask is for them to tell you their typical wedding day flow, what they handle, and what's been the weirdest/wackiest situation they've had to handle on the day of someones wedding. It may give you some good insight to their problem solving skills, or just give you both a good laugh.

Experience and Expertise:

When choosing a wedding planner, consider their experience in planning destination weddings or weddings similar to your vision. An experienced planner will have insights into the logistical challenges specific to your chosen location and will know how to handle them effectively. Inquire about their past clients, and any destination weddings they have successfully executed, or what their dream wedding to work on is as well.

Vendor Network and Negotiation Skills:

A wedding planner with a vast network of trusted vendors can make your planning process more streamlined and efficient. They can recommend reliable professionals for various services, negotiate contracts and rates, and ensure that everyone is on the same timeline. A planner who can coordinate and communicate with vendors on your behalf will save you time, stress, and potentially money.

My planner, Julia, was prompt in establishing connections with vendors to procure everything we needed that aligned with my vision and budget. She skillfully negotiated prices for the items we needed to rent on my behalf. This not only saved me valuable time and effort but also ensured that I received the best value for my money. Julia's expertise in vendor coordination and contract management lifted a significant burden off my shoulders, allowing me to focus on other essential aspects of wedding planning.

Wedding Timeline and Coordination:

A wedding planner or coordinator plays a crucial role in creating a comprehensive timeline and keeping everything on track. They will work closely with you and your vendors to ensure a smooth flow of events on your wedding day. Discuss their approach to timeline management and their strategies for troubleshooting any potential issues that may arise.

My planner crafted a detailed timeline for my wedding day on my behalf. She made sure to coordinate with all the vendors, ensuring they were aware of their responsibilities and arrival times. This put my mind at ease, allowing me to fully relax and savor every moment of my wedding day without worrying about any logistical hiccups. Julia's attention to detail and seamless execution allowed me to be fully present and immersed in the joyous celebration. Something you can ask is for an example timeline, or ask about the normal "run of show" for your type of wedding, and leading up to it if they do more than just day-of coordinating.


Choosing the right wedding planner or coordinator is an essential step in creating your dream wedding. By seeking recommendations, conducting online research, and evaluating their experience, communication skills, and vendor network, you can find the perfect fit for your needs. Remember that a skilled planner can alleviate stress, handle logistics, and create a seamless wedding experience, allowing you to embrace the joy of your special day fully. So, go ahead, invest in a wedding coordinator, and make your wedding planning journey a stress-free and memorable one!

This is about to get a little bit longer, so if you're at a stopping point, that is totally fine! But if you want some pros and cons from a photographer's perspective on why you should get a coordinator, then keep reading!

As a professional photographer, I have witnessed firsthand the immense value a day-of coordinator brings to a wedding. Their presence not only ensures a smooth flow of events but also allows the bride, groom, and their families to fully immerse themselves in the celebration. Let's dive into some pros and cons of having a coordinator to shed more light on why they are a crucial part of a stress-free and memorable wedding experience.

aaannnnnd, back to the action!

From the perspective of a professional photographer, I highly recommend getting a day-of coordinator, and if possible, a professional planner/decorator. Here's why:

Pros of Having a Professional Coordinator:

  1. Smooth Execution and Stress Reduction: A day-of coordinator acts as the "bad guy" when it comes to keeping the timeline on track and ensuring the wedding day runs smoothly. They handle any necessary adjustments, communicate with vendors, and address any issues that may arise. By taking on this role, the coordinator eliminates the need for the bride to stress over time management, allowing her to fully enjoy the day.

  2. Efficiency and Simplified Communication: A wedding planner/designer, in addition to being a coordinator, is a godsend. By hiring a professional planner, you only have to deal with one vendor who can handle all your planning and decoration needs. This not only simplifies the process but also ensures that everything is done efficiently and up to your expectations. It's often challenging for family members to accurately estimate how long it will take to decorate a venue, but with a professional planner, you can trust that they will handle it flawlessly.

  3. Comprehensive Timeline Planning: While photographers can assist with creating a shooting timeline, a dedicated coordinator can collaborate with all vendors to plan the entire timeline of the day. They will have a detailed list of when each vendor is arriving at the venue, how long they'll be working, and how to contact them if needed. This level of coordination ensures a seamless flow of events and allows vendors to deliver their services effectively.

  4. Vendor Coordination and Price Negotiation: A wedding planner/designer can coordinate with vendors on your behalf, ensuring that you get the decorations you need for your wedding. They take this responsibility off your plate and handle price shopping to secure the best deals. Trusting their expertise can save you time, as they have already vetted vendors and know who will provide the best value. Their negotiation skills can lead to cost savings without compromising quality.

Cons of Not Having a Professional Coordinator:

  1. Increased Stress and Responsibility for the Bride: Without a coordinator, there have been instances where issues arise during a wedding, putting the burden on the bride to make decisions and keep things running smoothly. This additional stress can hinder the bride from fully enjoying her big day. Remember, this is your special day, and you deserve to relax and revel in the joyous moments.

  2. Challenges with Family/Friend Coordinators: When a family member or friend takes on the role of coordinator, others may not take them as seriously due to their personal relationship. This can lead to difficulties in enforcing timelines or managing guest behavior. Additionally, family or friends may not fully comprehend the scope of responsibilities that a professional coordinator handles. To ensure a seamless experience, it's advisable to entrust these responsibilities to a dedicated professional.

Bottom Line:

GET *Clap* YOU *Clap* A *Clap* COOR *Clap* DI *Clap* NA *Clap* TOR *Clap*

Trust me on this!

Investing in a day-of coordinator and, if possible, a professional planner/decorator is one of the best decisions you can make for your wedding!! They play a vital role in executing your vision, managing the timeline, coordinating with vendors, and reducing stress. By entrusting these responsibilities to professionals, you can focus on enjoying your special day to the fullest. So, go ahead and secure the services of a coordinator. It will be a worthwhile investment that ensures a stress-free and memorable wedding experience.

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Makenzie's Design Photography

Hi, I'm Makenzie! Your quirky/fun elopement and destination wedding photographer, and your best friend that will be with your every step of the way till you say "I do!"

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