fee.. fi… fo… FAQ … [A giant post about Wedding Planning, Fees and Stuff]

Q: Do we need to hire a Wedding Planner? Like, isn’t that just for brides in the movies!?
Oooh! Here’s my first piece of advice:
It’s YOUR wedding, you can do, or not do, whatever is right for you. It doesn’t matter whether Wills and Kate did it first, or whether no-one else is doing it that way – when you find the thing that works for you, do it, regardless!
New Zealand brides have a tradition of DIY, and if that suits you, and fits into your lifestyle, fantastic.
But.
If you’re finding the process of planning your wedding overwhelming, or you’re just too busy keeping your everyday life going, a Wedding Director can be the secret to your success.
A consultation with The Wedding Whisperer is a really good way to figure out whether you need to,  or even want to, hire a Wedding Director, or if you just need an occasional check in to make sure you’re on the right track.
On the wedding day, someone has to be the first one there, making sure everything arrives and is in place.
And someone has to be the last to leave, with everything packed down, tidied away, and safely locked.
In between there are thousands of little details that need to be choreographed. That’s a huge responsibility! It makes sense to have someone experienced keeping an eye on your plans as they unfold.

So what does a Wedding Planner actually DO?
I can’t speak for other wedding planning services, but here’s how it works at The Wedding Whisperer: What we DON’T do, is sweep in and take over the process, according to some set formula.
The first thing we do is listen. We want to hear your dreams, no matter how crazy. We want to know what you already have planned, what your preferences are, how much wriggle room is in your budget.
We take careful note of the details that are vitally important to you, as well as the things you’re feeling worried about. Then we work WITH you, letting you do all the fun stuff, and making sure the boring, frustrating, and time-consuming [but oh, so essential] stuff gets done as well. You get the benefit of the knowledge and know-how that  we’ve gathered through years of coordination, and the perks that come from our relationships with vendors we’ve worked alongside in that time.
The Wedding Whisperer is simply working  to help your entire day go as smoothly  as possible – having a Wedding Planner gives you both peace of mind and sound, professional advice. Your Wedding Planner is a professional who knows the wedding industry, and has  resources to plan your wedding with you.
[In my opinion, there’s no such thing as  “just a few hours of wedding co-ordination”. Not if  you’re doing it well. If you really, truly think you only need someone to ride herd for an hour or two,  then you don’t need a wedding planner, you need a temp PA.]

What kinds of people use a Wedding Planner?
People just like you.

Every wedding is different. Some clients want a professional wedding planner to plan their wedding from start to finish for them. Some are traveling into the area, and struggling to pull the details together from a distance. Others are  working professionals, of full time parents, [or both at once] who simply don’t have the time to get all of the planning done themselves. Most commonly, the couples I work with have started the planning process themselves, and somewhere along the way have found it’s all a bit too much, and call us in to help. The key is that your  wedding is perfectly planned and carried out, so that you can relax and enjoy every part of the planning, as well as the wedding day itself.

 How can we choose the right Wedding Planner for our style of wedding?
Just like everything else about your wedding, there are choices to be made, and you need to take your time and consider your options before committing to one or the other. Choosing the person who will choreograph and direct your wedding is HUGE, but the most important thing is really simple:
Do you feel confident in this person to carry out the task? There’s absolutely no point in entrusting your wedding plans to someone else unless you feel comfortable leaving it all to their direction.
Price is way, way down the list. Many wedding planners offer a “free” service, and the old adage is true – there really is no such thing as a free wedding breakfast! No matter how much we love weddings, they’re hard work!
You should know that even if you’re not being directly billed by the person who is doing all that hard work, you can be sure you’re paying for it, one way or another, whether that’s in kickbacks from the vendors, or a percentage added to the quotes and accounts.
When you hire The Wedding Whisperer, we agree on the price before we begin, rather than a percentage of the total spend, [otherwise where would be the incentive for us to find you the sharpest price?!].  That means that there are no nasty surprises and no hidden costs. We  hire the wedding professionals best suited to your requirements, not the ones who have the biggest kickbacks.

Whenever there is a decision or question, we ask, ”What is in the best interest of our bride and groom?” and go on from there. In a nutshell, we work for you.

How much does it cost to hire a wedding planner?
There are a few variables, but generally: The Wedding Whisperer’s wedding planning will be  in the ballpark of $1500,   additional “on the day” services around $35/person/hour,  with variations for significant travel, or extraordinary circumstances. There’s not a simple formula for [x  number of guests + y number in the bridal party, divide by the square  root of the cost of the wedding gown…].  In the interests of clarity and simplicity, we’ve opted for a flat fee rate.
What you see is only a tiny fraction of what you get. There are many hours  behind the scenes, hours of phone calls, coordinating, meeting,  selecting, arranging, overseeing. Even at minimum wage [and let’s just  agree right here that my time is worth more than that], that time-sheet  is going to fill up pretty fast. There’s always going to be something extra that needs  doing, some cog in the machine that doesn’t mesh.  As your wedding  planner, it’s my job to make sure that’s counterbalanced, no matter how  long it takes to get done.
So, I’ve sat up past midnight hand-tying  favors, helped stitch a bride into her un-finished gown, loaned my own socks for a groom’s blistered feet, waded bellybutton deep into the  ocean to stop a boat drifting…
I don’t want to be second-guessing “is  this going to be paid for?” Sure, I’d make more money if I charged by the hour, but wouldn’t you be dreading that bill at the end of the process?!
If I sign on to co-ordinate your wedding, then I’m signing on to make sure all those disparate parts get pulled  together. I’m not the person that will say “Oh, sorry, out of time – see ya”.
A flat fee gives me the freedom to spend time comparison shopping on  your behalf, checking out details in person, and not just going with whatever is the quickest solution – it’s often the difference between ‘let me check with my couple and get back to you’ and ‘sure, that’ll do’.
And honestly, how do you charge for that? The answer is, I don’t. It’s part of the flat  rate fee, that guarantees you’ll get as close as humanly possible to the event we’re brainstormed and planned together.

Why can’t we just pay you a percentage of our total wedding budget? Well, for starters, would that be your proposed wedding budget, or the amount you will actually spend? Because those are two totally different figures, right there.
The percentage of costs is a totally backwards way of thinking. In the first place, there’s no incentive for your wedding planner to drill down the prices for the services she’ll be booking on  your behalf. The more money they save you, the less they’ll be paid. No thanks.
And it’s a crazy scale – for example, the difference  between a $4,000 photographer, and Aunty Jo with her  instamatic: The price in no way reflects the amount of work required to get good results from each – in fact the effort is inverse to the income!

So, what next?
Come and chat with us at The Corner Store during regular business hours, at no cost. You’ll be able to gather some good general advice, as well as getting an idea of how you feel about The Wedding Whisperer as a potential partner in your wedding plans.
Because every wedding  is so different, we would want to make time where we can talk, uninterrupted, about the type of wedding you would  like, the style, guest numbers, venue, budget, etc. The best way to do this is by making an appointment to meet at a time and place that suits you.
There is a $50 charge for the initial consultation, which normally takes one to two hours. A quote can then be drawn up specifically for your wedding  planning needs, based on our discussions.
Even if you decide The Wedding Whisperer is not the right choice for you, I’m sure you’ll still come away more knowledgeable about wedding planning,  and with a clearer idea of what you’re looking for.
If you would like to have a no-obligation consultation with Angel, please email her, pop a text to 021 027 04638 or phone 03 545 7531 call to set up a convenient time to chat.

What are the benefits of having a wedding planner?
This list could be endless, but I think some of the key benefits are:
Peace of mind and reduction of stress;
Saving Money: while there is a cost to employing a wedding planner, a good  wedding planner will help keep you within your budget and they can often get good deals with suppliers for you;
Saving Time:  for many couples, they simply do not have the time to plan  their wedding and hold down a career and carry on their normal  day-to-day lives like family, friends and other commitments.

I love weddings, and wedding planning is what I do every day, but even so, I have to say, planning a wedding is HARD, HARD work! Having a Wedding Planner is one way to get all that hard work done without spending great chunks of your own time and energy making it happen.
Many people find planning a wedding to be  incredibly stressful task.
Stress can put a huge strain on relationships, and turn those romantic dreams into a living nightmare. Shifting some of that stress outside of your immediate circle of family and friends gives you the room to work as a team, rather than fighting all the way to the altar.

Have you noticed that everyone has an opinion about your wedding? And that they’re not shy about telling you about it?!
A Wedding Planner can be your deflector – giving you the perfect excuse not to discuss any of the details with anyone!
One of the biggest benefits is having someone, who, in the weeks leading up to the wedding, will do all the double checking of details, coordinating the different parts coming together, and making sure that everything gets done.
On the day, a Wedding Coordinator will bustle about, quietly and calmly making sure that all that planning comes to perfect fruition,  allowing you to relax and totally enjoy  every moment of your wedding day with your friends and family.

TL/DR: I always sit down with my prospective clients to discuss their  wedding in general and then work out a quote specifically for them and their wedding needs. So, why not make that call, and we can start working together on the day you’re dreaming about!

Close your eyes and make a wish…

Today, the seventh day of the seventh month,  is the Star Festival [Tanabata] which, according to legend is when the two stars Altair and Vega  get to meet, once each year. [These two stars are usually separated by the milky way. ]

There are a variety of legends around this lunar phenomenon, but the most popular one goes something like this:

The daughter of the Sky King  would sit weaving by the river in the sky we know as the Milky Way. She worked so hard at her weaving, she didn’t get any opportunity to meet someone to fall in love with. Her father arranged for her to meet a stellar young man, The Herder of Stars, who lived on the other side of the river. He chose well, and the two young people quickly fell in love, and married.  So far so good.

The problem was that the couple were so in love that the princess no longer sat for hours weaving, and the young man forgot to keep track of the stars, which strayed all over the sky, causing havoc.

Frustrated, the Sky King separated the lovers to different sides of the river, promising that, if they worked hard, he would allow them to meet up on the 7th day of the 7th month.

Legend further adds that the first time the couple tried to meet, they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. The princess wished with all her heart to cross the river, and a flock of magpies came and made a bridge with their wings so that the couple could cross to meet each other.

It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet.

And I told you that story because… one of the traditions of Tanabata is to write a wish onto a piece of paper, and hang it in a tree, hoping that whatever the equivalent of “a bridge of magpie wings” is for you will come to pass.

And I wondered, what would you write? One of the most powerful parts of the wedding planning process is simply KNOWING what you want. Once you have that, you’re so much closer to actually achieving the wedding of your dreams.

I regularly speak with couples who have no idea of what they want or don’t want for their ceremony and celebrations, and most often it’s because they honestly haven’t thought that there were options open to them. Fair enough, since every wedding they’ve ever attended or watched on TV has been pretty much the same as the next one.

There are a myriad of different ways to celebrate, and depending on what’s important to you, you’ll want to spend more of your money and time and energy making those parts work. So tonight, if the sky clears enough to see the milky way, take some time out to dream, and wish, and plan in broad brushstrokes, for the celebration you really want to create.

 


A quiet hour to work on invites

Following on from the word-smithing workshops, I spent a quiet hour brainstorming invitation working on invitation wording with a bride (let’s call her Jess) and her family.

Although this couple’s specific circumstances are unique, the fact is that the traditional wording rules don’t fit many modern families anymore. I’m sure there are things in this bride’s story that will have relevance for many other couples, so I thought I’d include it here.

Invitation etiquette dictates that whoever is paying for the wedding is technically the Host, and as such, gets to have their name/s as the invitees on the wedding invitation. Jess, her fiance Steve, and all their parents are chipping in towards the cost of the wedding, so the options are fairly wide open.

Jess has a close relationship with her parents and wants to include them by name in her invitation wording.  And here’s where it starts getting tricky, because Jess’ parents divorced when she was still in school, and her mother has remarried. Jess has an excellent relationship with both her stepfather and her Dad’s longtime partner, considering them all to fall into the parents category, so she would like to include them also.As far as I am aware, there is no standard formula that fits the simple math of four different first name/last name combinations, just on the brides side!

I very sensibly suggested using a simple catch-all of “Jess and Steve, along with their parents…” And that’s where it started getting tricky.

While it shouldn’t matter one bit that Jess’ Dads partner happens to also be male, Jess and Steve both understand that  Jess ‘s side of the family have had the luxury of several years to get used to the idea, where almost no one on Steve’s (quite conservative) side of the family have any clue about the dynamics of Jess’ family. Jess and Steve reason that by including these details, calmly and without comment, in the invite, they can perhaps help one part of the process of smoothly joining two quite different  families.

To some extent they’re right.  A clearly worded invitation is one way of saying “Jess has a Dad who happens to be gay, and we’re perfectly fine with it”, without directly making a big issue out of the fact.

In theory that means that if anyone chooses to be scandalized, then they can quietly decline the invitation (or have histrionics if they must) well away from the wedding itself. This is the beginning of paving the way for an open and honest relationship between the two families, promoting tolerance in both directions – Jess isn’t aiming to shock the conservatives in Steve’s family, but she’s also not wanting to create a situation where her family is required to justify, defend, or explain themselves.

In the end, it’s a fairly long invitation, but it’s a thing of great beauty, and I sincerely applaud this young couple for their sensitivity to the needs of their guests.

What Could YOU do with One Quiet Hour to Work on Your Wedding?

The Wedding Whisperer recently launched a service called ‘One Quiet Hour’, where The Wedding Whisperer meets with a bride, or couple, or whomever, to intensely work on the current challenge they are facing in their wedding planning process. There are so many different strands to keep track of that you can begin to feel completely overwhelmed.

A Quiet Hour gives you 60 minutes of expert advice that you can really trust, based on the experience of hundreds of weddings. Even if you’re doing something totally and completely different [and to be honest, that’s rarer than you’d think] there’s still a wealth of knowledge that can be applied. You’re not expected to be an overnight expert – and, since you’re not planning on doing this again any time soon, it makes sense to tap into The Wedding Whisperer’s wisdom and experience, rather than racing around re-inventing the wheel.

The Quiet Hour is charged out at $35 per hour and makes a fantastic gift, if you’re standing on the sidelines of wedding planning chaos and unsure how you can help.

Depending on the subject, it can take place at The Corner Store, at the wedding or reception venue, or in your home, at whatever time is appropriate. You can bring as many others along as you wish – depending what you’re working on, you might need to get your team all on one page, or just have a bit of  a heart-to-heart about some of the details – it’s really up to you!

I’m dedicating a section to the Quiet Hour, because, so far the situations I’ve brainstormed are fairly common challenges. I plan to blog some of the more generic tips and tricks, which may be enough to get you going again, or perhaps highlight how much you could do with a little bit of extra help.

Watch this space for some of the challenges other couples have overcome [No revealing details, I promise!], or make an appointment for your own Quiet Hour, and get your momentum back!

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