Big Little Lies: “Day of” Wedding Planners

I want to let you in on a secret that may surprise you - and will probably go against everything you’ve heard and read - but I think it’s important to be real with y’all (clients, friends and strangers alike).  Here it goes:

“Day of” planning is not a thing.

[Cue gasps of shock] Okay, now that I said it, hear me out… :)

This can be such a tricky conversation but, after having two opportunities in the last week to explain the differences of what I do and what some people refer to as day of planning, I decided to write this blog post to educate brides, mothers of brides, grooms, wedding attendees, and anyone else who stumbles upon this.  

Let’s face it - weddings are a big investment.  You could be the most organized person in the whole world, but if you have never planned a wedding before, you need a qualified and dedicated planner to protect the investment you’re making, to put in the legwork to ensure it is everything you dreamt of, to orchestrate smooth and seamless transitions throughout, and to be your support so that you can relax and live in the moment (stress free!) on your wedding day.  So very simply, no professional planner worth your time or money is going to just show up on the day of the wedding to “run the show” and “make sure the cake shows up”. Here’s the good news: “month of” coordination exists!

I bet you’re thinking “Sure, Kelley, so what do you do as a “month of” coordinator that’s so different?”  My answer to that is: A LOT! (though, admittedly, it’s often hard to put into words)

Here’s a snapshot of the benefits my clients receive that wouldn’t be possible if I just showed up the day of the wedding:

I get to know you and your wishes

This is one of the biggest differences between a professional planner and someone who is just organized and likes weddings.  I take the time to really learn the “why” behind your choices for the wedding, your family dynamics, your personalities, and what you envision the perfect wedding day to be.  Armed with this deep understanding, I am able to confidently make decisions you would feel comfortable with when changes need to be made day-of on the fly (which happens more than people think).

True story: Last June, I had a bride who wanted nothing more than to get married outdoors.  This had always been her dream, she worked hard to find a gorgeous outdoor ceremony site, and during the walk-through we perfectly arranged the guest seating and the huppah under the most beautiful, full tree.  It was going to be amazing - but then, on the day of the wedding, there were wind gusts of over 35mph! The huppah would not stay standing, the fabric kept blowing all over the place, and it was basically a mess.  The venue coordinator and florist, not truly knowing the bride, strongly pushed to move the ceremony inside, but I put my foot down because I had that relationship with the bride and understood the significance to her.  I was confident that she would be fine if we took some fabric off the huppah and had staff stand by in case it started to move... as long as they were outside. A few weeks later when I told her the story during our recap meeting and she was so grateful I made that decision.  The pictures and the day were amazing, the huppah didn’t blow away, and the bride got her wish!

If you aren’t sold yet: I also had a groom last year who I learned through the planning process was very stressed by the concept of time (he always wanted to be on time), so the idea of a timeline added a lot of pressure for him.  Because I learned this early on, I was able to build in about 15 minutes of padding between all big events on the day of so that he would never feel rushed or late. If I hadn’t spent that upfront time with him I wouldn’t have known that, and he would have been stressed the entire day.  He told me at the end of the wedding that he actually loved having a timeline - I call that a win!

I am a trusted confidant

I am available to my clients for random questions and musings (or freak outs) as soon as the contract is signed.  For my month of clients, I don’t manage everything (vendors, contracts, etc.) until about two months out, but I am still available to bounce ideas off of and serve as a check to make sure right decisions are being made.

I take over pesky vendor emails a month before the wedding

The month before your wedding is “go time”.  All vendors have a ping on their calendar that says to reach out to you for details of the day.  Most of the details they ask for are the same, just in different formats. You could spend hours filling out the different forms!  Two months before the wedding, I sit down with my couples and talk through all the questions I know they will be asked. Then, when the time comes, I take those questionnaires over for my clients.

Believe it or not: I exchange an average of 250 emails for each month of coordination client I have!

Note: I don’t mean the vendors are pesky, vendors are amazing, I just mean there are LOTS of emails ;)

I am an experience designer

What does that mean? I create a timeline catered to your preferences, ensuring a smooth day for your guests, and factoring in details a non-planner wouldn’t think of like vendor arrivals (AKA I stop the band from arriving at the same time as the caterer since they both need the loading dock).  I take pride in architecting a day for you to enjoy that isn’t completely overtaken by photography, or catering, or any other item that should only be a piece of the bigger puzzle that is your wonderfully exciting wedding day.

Photo by  Metts Photo

Photo by Metts Photo

Moral of the story

Needing a day of planner is a “big little lie”.  Any legitimate planner will agree - month of services, though a bit more expensive upfront, will truly allow you to make the most of your investment across the board.  I know that was quite a bit to take in, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to learn more about month of coordination or what Haviland Events can do to contribute to your special day! Click here to inquire or here to learn a bit more about me.  

Giving Yourself Grace While Planning Your Wedding: A Note to the Stressed out Bride

When I talk to engaged friends and clients, there’s often a common theme: never-ending lists, never feeling caught up and worst of all, feeling like you’re letting people down.  The weight of comparison is felt because everyone is still talking about “Suzie’s” wedding and you're not sure how in the world she did it.  You are juggling work, family, social lives, health (don’t get me started on “sweating for the wedding”) and wedding planning all while having to be blissfully and happily engaged without a stress to be found in your happy, perfect life.  

Does that sound familiar?  Take a deep breath. Give yourself grace.  

My Friends, that perfection is not possible alone.  Give yourself grace and remember that this is not about who has the best party.  This is about your marriage and preparing your heart, mind and soul to be married to this person you love more than anyone else in the world.  And you know what people will really be talking about? in love you two are. 

Give yourself grace and know that the people surrounding you want to help you.

Let your mother and even your mother-in-law help. They are likely dying to be useful and part of the big day; let them be.  Give them jobs and let them be a part of this time.  Invitations need stuffing?  Have a party and invite the girls over to help.  You can pay them in wine ;)

The vendors you’ve so carefully chosen do this for a living; let them guide you and trust their judgment. If you haven’t chosen vendors yet, make sure to meet them in person or at least chat on the phone before booking so you feel comfortable with them and are able to trust them to guide you correctly and be on your team during the planning process.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed today, give yourself grace and remember you and your fiancé are so much more than this party you're planning.  You are so much more than the food and colors and song choices. What matters are the eternal things: your marriage, family, and friends. 

You are doing great.

PS: Suzie had a wedding planner who worked behind the scenes to make her wedding so memorable.  Nobody does it alone.  ;)

Top 5 Reasons I Love My Job

Most everyone that I tell I’m a wedding planner responds “ohhh that would be so fun!”  but let’s be honest, it’s not all flowers, ribbons and happy cries.  It’s 18 hours on your feet, getting yelled at by drunk uncles, making brides and mothers compromise, and a lot of stress wondering if the client is going to like the design, if the timeline is what they had in mind,  if I’m marketing myself correctly…and the list goes on!  But at the end of the day, this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was six years old.  I’ve worked my whole life for those 18 hour days to see the event space go from “omgosh there’s no way this will be done in time” to “omogsh y’all, we did it and just look. how. amazing. it. turned. out.”  Those are the moments that make this job the best job in the world. 

Read on for my top 5 reasons I am absolutely in love with what I do: 

Photo my  Metts Photo

Photo my Metts Photo

  1. I get to learn about family traditions.  Everyone has something only their family does/wears/says on their wedding day and it is so special learning the traditions that have been passed on for years.  Everything from a traditional Greek dance, like one 2017 Haviland bride will have, or wearing a necklace every woman in the family has worn on her wedding day for over 100 years. There is really nothing that compares to those special traditions and ways families celebrate their heritage and honor loved ones.   
  2. I get to be part of one of the most important days in a person’s life.  Not only just a part, but an intimate part.  I walk beside my couples during the planning process and become a trusted confidant so that on the day of the wedding, when it’s time for me to signal the bride’s entrance, it’s like I’m sending a dear friend down the aisle. And yes, I cry every single time. 
  3. I get to make people feel calm and welcome, starting with the bride and the mother of the bride, the guests, and the wedding party, respectively. I think sometimes people forget this component because they get caught up in all the other details that go into planning a wedding, but I can’t stress enough how important it is that guests feel welcome and included.  They want to know you are so happy they are there celebrating you.   Even more so, it’s important that your own wedding party feels like the responsibility of your day is not resting on their shoulders and that they can sit back and celebrate with you.  I love being able to make all of those nuances happen throughout the day. 
  4. This is an obvious one, but one of the biggest reasons I love my job is that I get to set my own schedule.  I’m able to wake up, do my devotion, and drink my coffee instead of rushing off to work the moment my alarm goes off.  Of course this also means I never really ever have a complete vacation, but my mom is quite excited I get to spend two weeks in VA for Christmas :)
  5. Finally, the community of vendors I work with is absolutely amazing.  I don’t think many industries exist where people are as supportive, helpful and collaborative as the vendors I’ve gotten to know through Haviland. This is also one of the biggest reasons I think everyone should hire a professional planner before going through the process of choosing vendors; we know who works well, who is kind, who will follow through on their promises and ultimately, who will execute your day the way you envision.