Saturday, January 12, 2008

Onsite coordinators vs. Independent Planners

Explaining the HUGE difference

I had 12 minutes before my clients were due to arrive at the florist on Friday, so I was really excited to take advantage of the time and read the new In Style Weddings. It's a great magazine, and their new wedding website is supposed to be launching soon. Anyhoo, I get to the etiquette secion and here's what I read,
"I'm having a destination wedding at a venue that employs an in-house planner, and she hasn't consulted me on some decisions. How should I handle this?"
While the answer given was good, it was very much incomplete. Here's why; the answer didn't explain that perhaps what the bride was expecting the planner to do, wasn't at all her job. You see, an onsite (or in-house) planner is typically only responsible for things that happen onsite and that are relative to the site and its staff- and NOTHING else.
So, then what's the difference? I'm going to clear this up once and for all. The best way to find out what exactly your "included" planner will do...ask. Here are a few really good questions. And yes, the crazy seeming ones, I have actually had to do.
"Hello Onsite Planner (insert name here)! I have a few questions for you. Yes or no answers please."

"Will you...
1. Call all the vendors on your preferred vendors list and see if they are available for my wedding and in my budget? And if not, will you get me 3 more options who are?
2. Create a budget for me for everything wedding day related?
3. Write and hand out both wedding party and guest list itineraries?
4. Compile all the goodies for the welcome bags and make sure all the hotels get them just before guests arrive?
5. Give me stationary and etiquette advice?
6. Keep my mother at the cocktail hour, far from me during photos, with a full gin and tonic and away from crazy Uncle Steve?
7. Schedule and attend all the vendor meetings with me?
8. Review all the contracts I'll have to sign?
9. Prepare a detailed timeline for my day as well as one for all the vendors working at my wedding?
10. Go out and find my new father-n-law size 12.5 brown leather lace free yet wedding appropriate shoes when his sole falls off during the ceremony and make sure that you're back in time for him to be introduced into the dinner reception?
11. Call and confirm all the vendors have been paid, are going to show up, if they need anything further, and that they do in fact know not to say anything about the surprise grooms cake.
12. Find a replacement tuxedo for the best man the morning of the wedding when it arrives blue and not black?
13. Help me create design options for my wedding?
14. Research and find favors, a unique escort card display and super cool fun things for my guests to do at my wedding?
15. Help me plan a welcome reception, grooms outing, bridesmaids luncheon, and rehearsal dinner? Oh, and a farewell brunch too? Oh, but not all at your site of course.
16. Figure out all the rentals I'll need, order them, and then oversee the installation?
17. Stay for the entire wedding and then check under every single table for lost shoes and purses after everyone leaves?
18. Run the rehearsal?
19. Email me when you find flip flops on clearance at Old Navy and then fight with them until they agree to send all 775 to you, even if it does clean out their stock?
20. Have an emergency kit prepared for me and my bridesmaids?
21. Make sure there are hsopitality baskets in the restrooms?
22. Politely explain to the make-up artist that my eyes look ridiculous so I don't have to feel awkward?"

Here is one thing I want to make perfectly clear- onsite planners or coordinators are wonderful and very helpful and are responsible for an enormous amount of work that you will never even realize. I just feel that its important to know that what an independent wedding planner such as myself does, is not what 95% of onsite planners do...2 different job descriptions. Picture above, me and Jen Dube (onsite planner for Casa Ybel- and she rocks.)

Oh, and the 775 flip flops- the UPS guy thought he had seen it all until that delivery. And my husband, well, he "pointed out the 17 boxes in my living room" every day until we were down to 12 boxes. Now, "Remember when we had 775 flip flops? The 600 left seem like nothing huh?"

101 Destination Wedding Planning Tips

From the editors of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons