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To Choose a Wedding Planner or Not to Choose a Wedding Planner
When I was the owner of a major wedding facility, I was able to observe the results of more than 300 weddings. I've seen exceptional events that will last forever in the memories of the participants. I've also seen total disasters. The difference was always in how the event was planned and managed.
It's like if you're building a house. Would you select electricians, plumbers, and carpenters, and then just turn them loose and hope for the best? Never! This is the way to sure disaster. Without overall guidance from you and/or the contractor and a clear, written contract in place, the house would be a monstrosity. Yet many people plan their weddings in just this haphazard way.
One wedding at my facility featured a seven-course meal costing well over $12,000, but there had been no time-limit clause imposed on the caterer. When it came time for dancing, only three courses of the meal were completed. The lesson here is: If it's not in writing and signed, it may very possibly not happen as planned.
To start your planning process, you'll begin with the overall concept of your wedding. You can get ideas by talking with friends and remembering details of weddings you've attended, then you can throw in your own ideas. Consider supplementing all this information with a wedding guide containing a variety of creative concepts. You'll find many good guides online and at your local bookstore.
Next, determine how much money you can realistically spend on the wedding. A budget-related wedding planning guide will come in handy. You'll learn many things you definitely need to know, including how to control your budget.
Finally, you'll want a planning guide that will show you how to write and understand contracts and proposals, so you can insure that your event happens the way you expect it to happen.
The planning process
Planning a wedding can be a complex and time-consuming process, and the end result can be expensive. Fortunately, the whole process can be broken down into smaller segments so that the expense and performance elements of each can be more easily controlled. Before you start planning, spend some time visualizing what will be necessary to create each element of your event, and start taking notes. The following outline will help you.
1. Event ideas
* Come up with the overall wedding theme and any unique aspects.
* Determine the setting, length, and size of the wedding.
* Decide on the maximum number of guests and who they will be.
* Decide on the type of food and service, music, wait staff, parking, carriage ride, etc.
* Be very clear on your budget - it controls all aspects of the elements listed above. Start thinking about priorities, in case you can't afford everything. For example, can you make do with a buffet if a formal dinner is too expensive?
* List specific details for each element such as music, food, service, and any special requirements.
* Know the type of facility you want: A hotel ballroom? A special event center? A historic facility? Each is unique, and pricing can vary considerably.
* Contact key vendors such as event sites, florists, caterers, and DJs, and obtain ballpark prices and the level of service you'll get for each price.
* Make your choices within your budget, and make note of all related costs and services.
* Finally, when your vendors are in place, make sure your exact specifications are stated in enforceable contracts. Not doing this leads to most event problems. Good written communication is the key to success. Detailed written contracts benefit both the client and the vendor, eliminating all misunderstandings prior to the signing of the contract and, most importantly, prior to the wedding. Keep in mind that a typical vendor may conduct many events per week, so if what you want and how you want it isn't in writing, something can easily be forgotten.
The topics we've covered here are only the "tip of the iceberg," but they should give you a feel for the process necessary to make your event special and successful. Your results will always be directly related to the amount of effort you put into the process, the level of detail you focus on, and your thoroughness in communicating well through written contracts with your vendors.
Putting on a great wedding may seem like a daunting task, but there are many tools available to assist you in your planning. My own planning tool, The Wedding Saving System, is the result of my ownership of a major wedding facility and my experience as a government contracting officer. These two experiences strengthened my belief that a major event will be successful only if a detailed plan and budget is developed and then followed up with excellent written communication (contracts) with all vendors for the event.
The Wedding Saving System is all about your exact written specifications with vendors, using competitive bidding to control costs while obtaining the quality you expect, and then putting it all into enforceable written agreements. Don't forget that if it's not in writing, there's a high probability that it will not happen as you planned.
Your wedding should create memories that will last a lifetime, so invest the time and effort to find the books and guides that will supply the information, strategies, and techniques I've written about here. And one final observation: A self-planned wedding will be a very rewarding experience for all attendees when the joy and self-satisfaction of the happy couple envelopes the entire event.
I wish you the very best and will be happy to assist you in planning your special day!
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