An engagement and a wedding are two exciting high points in a couple's life; but the time taken to plan it, not so much. The major components that come to mind -- venue, dresses, flowers, food, invitations and the cake -- require many more choices than what shade the roses should be or if the cake will be chocolate or vanilla.
With dozens of vendors in each of those fields, couples are faced with the dilemma of whom to use. The intricacies are seemingly endless -- table linens that reach the floor or four inches above?
For couples who lack the know-how or the time, a wedding planner can alleviate much of the work and stress.
"Wedding planning is a luxury item," Arin Zinke, owner of Zinke Design admitted. Zinke finds clients mostly through referrals from weddings that the firm has previously planned. Clients come in for a consultation structured around the client's expectations and requirements. There are various stages where a planner can step in; some people want one from the beginning to plan every aspect of the event and some wait until the week of the wedding to make sure that the bride's expectations are ultimately met.
Clients asking Zinke to design the entire occasion find inspiration for cake design, floral arrangements, linens, lighting and even dress selections. Once decisions have been made, the planner sends out invitations, maintains the RSVP, ensures that vendors arrive on the big day and takes care of every minute detail so that, as Zinke said, "couples only have to show up."
According to Zinke, by bringing in a wedding planner, couples or more importantly, the bride, experiences far less drama than she would without one. The complexities that spawn a crazy bride are prevented because the wedding planner handles all the potential catastrophes. Beyond taking care of details big and small, wedding planners can also step in when the bride and groom can't. Zinke said that most of her clients work full-time or live out of town and don't have the time to plan every feature.
But time, specifically the wedding planner's, equals money, a touchy topic in light of our current economic situation. Zinke said that the wedding season has just begun -- people are now booking events for later on this year -- but she is preparing for a lull. The events being planned are just as big; but there just aren't as many.
Help a Sister Out
Determining if your event will require a wedding planner is a big decision, one that bride Kelley Whitehead recently made. Having married this past November with a ceremony and reception at the Harwelden mansion, which she planned in just five months, Whitehead initially looked into hiring someone to coordinate the wedding from start to finish.
Through online research, she found a potential planner (not Zinke Design) but realized that she would be charged $10 per wedding guest. She decided there wasn't anything a planner couldn't do that they (the couple) couldn't do and took on the event herself.
She found un-hired help and relied on her own experience. With a fiancé that stepped out of the way, Whitehead enlisted her mother.
They began the process by thinking through as many details in the beginning as possible. In Whitehead's experience, having a non-controlling, organized parent was crucial to plan the affair in five months. Additionally, she said that having already been a bridesmaid five times, she knew how it worked.
Looking back, she doesn't regret her decision to take on the wedding planning herself. In fact, she's glad that she planned her own wedding because it made it more special; it was, as she puts it, "The bride and groom's dream, not the planner's perspective."
At times, though, Whitehead wished that she had someone to step in to answer the small, mundane questions (like that linen length question) as well as larger ones, like location. Whitehead didn't want a church that cranks out weddings each weekend, so having someone with the knowledge of all the potential places in Tulsa would have been helpful. And the minor incidents that occurred -- the caterer forgetting to bring coffee, a cake design she ended up disliking -- couldn't have been foreseen. But those little quirks are memorable.
Maybe that's what it boils down to when deciding to use a wedding planner. Without one, you'll have the memories of making those big day decisions, but the increased possibility of glitches. With one, you'll have a grand wedding (there's no question that a planned wedding takes the event up several glamorous notches) with less participation in the big day except for saying 'yes' or 'no' to what's presented.
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