From cakes to venues, planning a wedding can be quite the stressful endeavour. LearnVest shares how woman launched her career as a wedding planner and answers some of the most frequently asked questions by brides.
The decision to hire a wedding planner is a tough one for many brides-to-be. I myself was on a tight budget and chose to do all of my own planning—but I also had a super-organized mom and sister to help me.
As I look back on the year that I spent getting ready for the big day, I can’t help but recall the many late nights when I felt exhausted and overwhelmed, a few tense conversations with my family—and even a handful of moments spent bickering with my fiancé. Thankfully, I didn’t permanently fracture any relationships, but I certainly felt the pressure and had some “bridezilla” moments that I’m not proud of.
How much is your time, energy and mental well-being worth?
That’s a question that San Diego–based certified wedding planner Alison Howard encourages every bride-to-be to ask herself. LearnVest sat down with Howard to discuss what it takes to be a wedding planner, and how this professional can help you craft a dream wedding—and save your sanity.
LearnVest: How did you get into wedding planning?
Alison Howard: Wedding planning found me. I studied elementary education, so my original plan was to be a teacher. But I wasn’t inspired—it was more my parents’ dream than mine. When I got married in my early 20s, I didn’t have a planner. In fact, there was no such thing at the time. Everything went perfectly, but at the end, I remember thinking: That was a lot of work. There has to be someone out there who can help plan weddings.
I was the first of my friends to get married, so when others started tying the knot, they came to me for advice. After I had assisted several people with their weddings, a friend said, “You should start a business.” I’d always had an entrepreneurial mindset because my dad was an entrepreneur, so the idea wasn’t daunting. I interned with professional planners—and then took a chance.
So what exactly does a wedding planner do?
I oversee the logistical elements of hosting a wedding, and break up the planning into phases, so it’s manageable and less overwhelming for the bride and groom. I get to know each client, do a ton of research, suggest vendors, meet with those vendors (either with or without the client), read contracts carefully, handle negotiations and make sure that everything goes smoothly on the day of the wedding.
I have two types of packages: complete planning and partial planning. And this is typical of what wedding planners across the country offer. Complete planning is the whole she-bang, from start to finish. A client will usually approach me 12–18 months before the wedding, typically a couple of weeks after getting engaged. Then I do everything from booking the date and venue to overseeing all of the logistics on the wedding day.
Partial planning is for the couple whose wedding is generally six to eight months away or less. Maybe they’ve found their venue, photographer and one or two other vendors—but they need help finding a few more vendors, putting all of the pieces together, keeping everything organized and managing the event on the actual day.