Expert Advice: 5 Things You Should Know About Hiring a Seasoned Wedding Planner


Tampa Wedding Planning Bridal Show January 2019  | Marry Me Tampa BayI was recently speaking to a newly engaged couple, and they asked me what advice I had for them. I told them what I tell EVERY couple…hire a seasoned wedding planner. Hands down, there is no better investment you can make for your wedding.

“Hiring a wedding planner can relieve stress, provide options, create a planning path, guide a couple through the planning process, and last but not least ensure an enchanting wedding day for a couple,” Jessica Ralph Bova, owner of Parties A’La Carte explains. “There are numerous details and factors that go into planning a wedding that can be overwhelming and simply overlooked when trying to plan without assistance.”

We reached out to our preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay wedding planners to educate you on 5 Things You Should Know About Hiring a Seasoned Wedding Planner.

Wedding Planning Advice: 5 Things You Should Know About Hiring a Seasoned Wedding Planner

The experts:

Wedding Planning Advice: 5 Things You Should Know About Hiring a Seasoned Wedding Planner

What exactly does a wedding planner do?

Jessica Ralph Bova, owner of Parties A’La Carte, explains:

“A seasoned wedding planner creates a personalized plan for each couple and checks off the “to-do list,” while still keeping the couple involved in the process. Planners offer customized services such as complete planning, partial planning, and month of planning. Full planning is for the couple who desires a customized wedding that will reflect their unique style and taste with expert guidance every step of the way. Through complete planning, planners create and maintain a couple’s budget, find a venue that fits their style, communicate with vendors to ensure their vision is fully executed, guarantee a beautiful burden-free wedding day and much more. Partial planning is designed for the couple who would like assistance with securing vendors, but enjoys being more hands-on in the planning process. Month-of-planning is for the couple who wishes to take care of the wedding planning themselves, however, they would like the luxury of enjoying their wedding day without the worry of any details. Through Month of planning, planners are able to see the couple’s vision, observe their plans and execute the details accordingly. Hiring seasoned wedding planner can guarantee nothing but beautiful memories to look back on!”

Laura Detwiler, owner of Laura Detwiler Events adds:

“The best part about hiring a wedding planner is they truly can do anything and everything you need them to do in regards to your wedding. They keep you stress-free on the day of your wedding, as well as make the wedding process fun and easy! A full-service planner usually begins by working with your budget and assisting with picking your ideal wedding team including your venues and vendors. Planner services may also include going with you shopping for your beautiful wedding dress to arranging your rehearsal dinner and farewell brunch. At other times, a Month-of-planner is hired simply to coordinate the day of your wedding so that your special ceremony and reception are totally care-free. Whatever services you may choose, the planner takes care of all the details and helps to create perfect memories!”

Kelly Kennedy, owner of Kelly Kennedy Weddings and Events shares:

“I like to think of it more as ‘What doesn’t a wedding planner do?‘ Meaning that a wedding planner, especially a full-service planner, will be by your side every step of the way and take on responsibilities for the couple that will limit feeling overwhelmed or not knowing what steps to take next. A seasoned planner will want to do whatever it takes to make sure that the couple is taken care of and make them feel at ease during the planning process. From start to finish, the planner is researching the best vendors for the couple (based on budget and the best fit), as well as assisting in designing, figuring out every logistic, giving advice on the little details such as the wording of your invitations or explaining what your place card should be inserted in so that it doesn’t fly away if you’re having an outdoor wedding. What’s great about this industry is that every wedding is different, which also means that the detail is different. My favorite quote from couples is ‘Oh, I didn’t even think about that,’ which solidifies the argument of ‘Do you even need a wedding planner?’ Yes, you do! We know the questions to ask, we have the experience, and we know what to do to provide you with the best possible wedding day!”

Lindsay Jimison, owner of Burlap to Lace adds:

“Wedding planners keep brides sane during the planning process! Planning a wedding can be very stressful, and if you have a professional wedding planner, he/she will help to reduce the stress and help make planning fun!”

Katy Turchich, owner of Coastal Coodinating adds:

“Wedding planners do everything on your wedding day to make it run smooth and perfect. Your wedding planner is your eyes and ears for the day to make sure it is played out how you have always envisioned. Planners are the miracle workers who will shield you from problems and the problem solvers who make the impossible possible.”

Elegant Boho Ballroom Wedding Ceremony Bride and Groom Portrait, White Draping Arch with Greenery | Tampa Bay Photographer Lifelong Photography Studios | Florist Cotton and Magnolia | Planner Parties A'La Carte | Downtown St.Pete Wedding Venue The Birchwood

Life Long Photography Studio | Planner: Parties A’La Carte

What advice does a wedding planner provide?

Jessica from Parties A’La Carte shares:

An important piece of advice we give is how to set a budget and what you should be spending in each category. An example would be, on average your food and beverage is 47% of your overall budget. Knowing your budget and where to spend money will help to ensure a smooth planning process. We can also advise the couple on what vendors to hire based on their needs. The right wedding professional can make a major difference in having a stress-free wedding process and ensure a couples memories of their wedding are nothing but beautiful!”

Lindsay of Burlap to Lace explains:

The best advice we can give is referrals and recommendations; do not rely on Google alone. Search engines are great for specific questions, ‘Like what is sorbet,’ but when it comes to needing good reliable vendors, we like to personally introduce our clients to the vendors we think will best fit their budget and personality.”

Katy of Coastal Coordinating adds:

“I have provided every type of advice that you can imagine. From nail polish color, to which hotel has the best hotel room rates for the guests, to what color goes best with gold. Planners give advice on the smallest to the biggest details, including what to include in the ceremony, the best songs for the reception and the most common food choice options.”

How does a wedding planner help couples choose their venue/vendors?

Jessica of Parties A’La Carte advises:

“Choosing the perfect venue can be very difficult for a couple. A wedding planner has the knowledge of venues in the area and can help steer a couple in the right direction. When choosing a venue, the couple’s budget plays a huge role in the final decision. Hiring a wedding planner can remove the hassle caused from having to research and contact venues for specific pricing and dates. Another key aspect when helping a couple choose their venue is their vision and style. We believe a couple’s vision can paint a clear picture of what they see their wedding day like. When consulting with a couple, we ask couples specifics on what they want and do not want in a venue. From there, we are able to narrow down their venue options based on their budget, vision and specific requests. We take great pleasure in finding a venue, transforming that venue into a couple’s vision and most importantly, putting on a fabulous wedding!”

Laura of Laura Detwiler Events adds:

“The nice thing about a wedding planner assisting you in picking your venues and vendors is that they are familiar with them, and can help you pick your ideal team for your wedding day. Planners often are able to get you a better price due to their experience with negotiating contracts. A wedding planner can put together a list of choices to fulfill a specific look you want for your venue, a particular sound for your band, or even a type of photography that is desired. Making a selection from a short list can save couples loads of time and help them find exactly what they were hoping to have for their wedding.”

Brandon Wheeler, owner of Gulf Beach Weddings shares:

“Skilled practitioners in the wedding industry provide a streamlined list of recommendations/vendors at a discount who have relationships often dating back several years, saving clients time and money! It’s important to note that although there’s many levels of online coverage, this resource lacks the human touch and desired end product therein. Always work with a company who leverages modern technology while adding considerable value! On your special day, there are a number of moving parts, it’s important to work with someone who only lets you worry about one, marrying the love of your life.”

Lindsay of Burlap to Lace adds:

Budget plays a big part as well as overall style. If a client has a mid-range budget I won’t recommend them to a high-priced vendor. It would be a waste of everyone’s time. Communication is key to figuring out what the client’s vision is for their wedding. Once we narrow down the specifics, it’s easier to determine the right vendor or venue. With the help of my “little black book” of vendors, I am successfully able to point my clients in the right direction and help find them a perfect fit.

Outdoor Waterfront French Countryside Inspired Wedding Ceremony with Wooden Cross Back Chairs with Wide Light Blue Ribbon, Greenery Garland Aisle, and White Draped Ceremony Arch | Tampa Bay Wedding Planner Kelly Kennedy Weddings and Events | Tampa Waterfront Outdoor Wedding Venue Westshore Yacht Club

Andi Diamond Photography | Planner: Kelly Kennedy Events

What does a wedding planner do prior to the wedding day?

Lindsay of Burlap to Lace explains:

“I get this question a lot on initial calls. ‘What does a planner do? Can’t my mom just do it?’ You hire a wedding planner to make sure that your investment in your wedding goes as planned. You also hire a wedding planner because you and your family want to enjoy the wedding day without being pulled in a million directions. I want you and your family to attend your wedding with the comfort of knowing I have it covered. The planning leading up to the wedding day is what will make the actual wedding day run smooth. From assisting with vendor bookings and contracts to making appointments for tastings and floral meetings to detailing out a timeline for how the wedding day will run to pulling it all together is what a professional planner will do.”

Katy of Coastal Coordinating adds:

“Prior to the wedding day, we finalize the timeline, diagram, and details. We are corresponding with the vendors to finalize details for you. We are your main contact with the vendors leading up to the wedding day, on the wedding day, and sometimes after as well.”

What does a wedding planner do on the wedding day?

Kelly Kennedy Weddings and Events shares:

“The wedding day, for a planner, should end up being the easiest day of the entire planning process. Why? Because all of the planning and figuring out of logistics is done and is ready to be executed. The vendors have all been booked, the contracts signed, and now we are to make sure that the vendors are abiding by those contracts. The rental companies order has already been approved, the drop-off and set up times have already been confirmed, and now it’s seeing all of the work unfold into a beautiful masterpiece. In addition to making sure the vendors are all doing what they are supposed to be doing, planners keep the timeline flowing even before the ceremony starts to ensure that everything is on time. We are placing linens, setting chargers, folding napkins, putting the couples wedding details into place (pictures, place cards, seating charts, signs, etc.) the list goes on. We are stepping in to help with whoever needs help in order to make sure that the set up of the wedding goes smoothly. Throughout the wedding we are keeping to the timeline, communicating with vendors so they know what is coming next, and making sure that the couple is having the best night of their lives.”

Lindsay of Burlap to Lace adds:

“Wedding days are the best! People often ask me why I love my job. Well, the short answer is I crave the satisfaction of seeing my clients and their hard work come together in one magical day for them and their family. All the months and months of planning come together, and I oversee the execution of the details planned. I am there to troubleshoot and answer questions along the way, as well as make sure every last detail is perfect and exactly what my clients asked for. I keep constant communication with my clients throughout the night as well as their guests. I’ve been asked if I have a twin.”

Katy of Coastal Coordinating shares:

“You absolutely need to have a wedding planner on the day of your wedding to help fix any and all situations. Recently we had a photographer no-show, and if we were not there the bride literally said she would not have been able to keep it together, and she would not have been able to find a replacement in the last moment as we did. Having the contacts and the network helped find a replacement for the wedding.”

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Marry Me Tampa Bay editor, Anna Coats, created Marry Me Tampa Bay in 2012 to showcase the area's best local weddings and vendors. She has been featured as a wedding expert on the national talkshow Daytime, Fox13, ABC Action News, Great Day Tampa Bay, and Bay News 9 (now Spectrum).

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