Thursday, January 31, 2013

Megan is sneaking the bride down the back steps so the groom cannot see her!

Back in May of 2010, I officiated the wedding of Megan and Jason Gillikin. At the time, Megan was the Catering Manager at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in North Hills. She and I had worked several weddings together at that venue and I was honored to officiate for her and Jason. Shortly after getting married, Megan stepped out on her own and acquired A Southern Soiree, a wedding planning company, and her expertise, hard work and the wonderful staff she put together have made A Southern Soiree one of the most desirable and popular wedding planning companies in North Carolina today.  Go here to see some of the weddings on this blog that Megan and I have worked together on. Since she has seen both the venue side of wedding coordination and the independent wedding planner perspective and because she planned her own wedding, I asked her to write an article to share on my blog. I also asked her to explain the difference between a venue wedding coordinator and an independent wedding planner. So here it is! Thank you, Megan! 
Guess who thought to bring scissors!

Have you ever had a married friend tell you, “The wedding day was a blur and it was so difficult to take it all in?”  Well, let me tell you that your friend is absolutely right! The wedding day, the ceremony, and the reception will be over in the blink of an eye.  Before you know it, you’ve opened a few gifts and you’re off on your honeymoon. Hiring a planner won’t slow that time down, however by hiring an experienced wedding planner, you’ll be able to let go and enjoy your day – your unforgettable special moment – and the entire planning process!

Even though all brides truly want to let go and enjoy, some believe that hiring a wedding planner is a frivolous expense.   The reality is that a good coordinator can keep you on budget and make sure you spend your money wisely.
Wedding planners pin on boutonnieres. 

Most brides don’t understand the difference between a venue coordinator/catering manager and an independent event planner.  I spent four and a half years working for Marriott in various catering coordinator roles before A Southern Soiree, so having done both jobs I’ve done my best to explain some of the main differences below: 

An independent event/wedding planner has worked at multiple venues in the area, knows the ins and outs and rules of various venues, and is experienced in negotiating contracts with your florist, photographer, DJ, etc. So what might seem like a “frivolous” expense can actually save you money – and is guaranteed to save you time!  There are a few (really just a few!) venues here in the area which offer complete coordination of all details and in these cases, it is not always necessary to hire an outside planner. 

If you have a “wedding coordinator” from your reception venue, in most cases it is not the same as hiring an event planner. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing coordinators at the local venues in the area, but that individual’s job is to make sure that everything relating to the facility (set-up, food, staffing) runs properly. A planner will be a second set of eyes at the event and will make sure every detail is covered – even the little things like making sure the champagne is poured before the toasts start or loading your gifts into your family’s car at the end of the night. 
Gina was "day of" wedding coordinator for this small wedding. 

Some other things to consider:

·      Many venues do not offer ceremony coordination as a part of the package.  Many local officiants also request that you have a dedicated person to handle the ceremony logistics.  This is where it’s key to consider hiring an outside coordinator.   We will work with you (and your officiant) closely on all of the ceremony details including the processional, recessional, special reserved seating, dealing with unique family dynamics and current ceremony etiquette.
·       The planner is the “go to” person for the event (so that you or your close friends and family do not have to be this point person). Many times weddings can have 20+ vendors involved in pulling off an event. When you factor that number in with your entire wedding party, your family, and your guests, you have lots of people with questions and concerns! As your planner, we can provide answers to all those people and ensure that you only have to think about the love and joy of the day, not the details!
·       What if the cake doesn’t arrive on time or your getaway car at the end of the night doesn’t show up? Whether you like to admit it or not, most big events involve some type of crisis – and this is not typically the responsibility of the venue coordinator. Our experience gained from working in the industry allows us to anticipate challenges that our clients may not see coming.

Kailey is getting the wedding party at The Carolina Inn all lined up to process in.
      Special guests at this wedding were the Clef Hangers who made a surprise appearance at the end of this ceremony. Kailey is watching to see when to cue them to enter. 
·      A planner will attend all of your initial consultations with you and will help you select your vendors. We will review and negotiate contracts for you and will remind you of upcoming payments due to all your vendors as well.  Although a venue coordinator is often happy to provide you with vendor recommendations, they will typically not get involved in the contract or payment process.

   Even for couples who don’t mind the long hours or really enjoy being hands on, having a planner can still be beneficial to you. A planner is not hired to take over and make decisions for you, but instead to guide and assist you in making informed decisions. The event is supposed to be about you and making your dreams into reality.  The MOST important reason for you to hire a planner is to avoid all of the stress! A lot of people who plan a wedding without a professional planner become so stressed that they cannot wait until the event is over. We want you to enjoy the process of planning, then relax, be at your best, and take it all in on your big day!
If you need a wedding planner, please check out our website at www.asouthernsoiree.comand contact us for a complimentary consultation.

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