WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER... BY JENNA HEWITT


Wedding dining floral design

As a wedding planner it's my job to create beautiful weddings that are executed seamlessly. Behind every great wedding is an inordinate amount of fine planning and detail. Crazy amounts. But that level of detail is often underestimated and if you want proof of this, ask any couple who have planned their own. With hindsight, would they have decided to book a wedding planner? Probably. A year and a half ago my husband and I bought a period (run down) property. It needs a lot of work, it's a project, and I have spent the last year and a half planning the renovations and, as part of this planning, I suddenly got a taste of exactly what it feels like to plan a wedding from my clients' point of view.. A little like wedding planning, planning a house renovation is not rocket science but, when you are investing a good deal of money, time and (let's face it) a little bit of your soul into something, this creates a degree of pressure. Added to that the fact that there are so many choices out there linked to pretty much every element and coupled with a lack of experience, things become, very quickly, quite overwhelming. Throw into the mix that you want it to be perfect and just as you've envisioned and you want to arrive out the other side having enjoyed the experience, you can start to see how some expert help might be a god send. As I said to my husband (around two months into planning the house, after countless hours Google searching, internet trawling and Instagram stalking, boring the pants off my friends and family and talking to countless suppliers) "what I really need is a me (wedding planner) but for houses."


Beautiful boutonnières

So what are you paying for when you decide to work with a planner like myself? Firstly experience. I've been in the events and hospitality industry for over 20 years at the time of writing this and 6 years of this have been running my own business. I know and work with the best suppliers in the industry, but, more than that, I understand the subtle differences between what each of these suppliers can offer, and how to marry that with each client's specific style, tastes and way of working. This supplier knowledge will short circuit you hours of research (and self doubt as you question whether or not you are making the right choice/have missed something). My experience is in the running of high level events and the weddings I manage are high quality, luxury experiences. These events require the best team that is brilliantly managed to pull off what, on the face of it, should look effortless. This takes skill, dedication and a huge amount of responsibility.

Alongside the planning of the wedding comes an insane amount of administration: booking of suppliers; co-ordinating suppliers; reading contracts; writing the wording for your invites and other stationery; managing guest RSVPs; putting together a seating plan; planning how the day will flow and how the set up and take down will happen; managing your budget, quotes and invoice payments; co-ordinating deliveries; site visits with suppliers; start and finish times; riders and technical specs; tracking payment schedules... This is just a few items of the long admin list and that is before you get to decsions on styling pieces. I'm not sure about you but I have enough administration in my own personal life to sink a battle ship let alone taking on anymore. Yes, there are plenty of fun parts to a wedding - but there are equal amounts of dull and mundane parts to wade through. Do you really want to be involved with this part (and do you have the time and energy to be)?


I could bore you with endless examples covering every aspect of the planning process but, let's take the band and the detail associated with them. That is one supplier and one element (assuming you have just one band/live music act). To start with there's stage choice - do you need one and what size? What material? What aesthetic? When do you get access to the venue to set up and take down? Which is the best supplier to deliver on your brief? Is the quote reasonable? Do the venue have specific regulations with regards to protection of their own floors when you lay the stage? What about sound, technical kit and lighting (are the band providing or do they have a technical rider for you to provide)? Who is the sound tech on for the event? When are the band loading in, setting up and sound, checking? How many sets are they doing and of what length? What about break times and set lists? Do you want them to play the first dance (and is there a fee involved for them to learn it)? Is there a noise limiter to be aware of at the venue (and if there is, what is the level it is set at and how is it reset if tripped?)? What are the venue last times for live music and will they allow a DJ beyond this limit? Do the band have a food/drinks rider and who is communicating any meal/dietary requirements to your caterers? You see? That's for one supplier (and a relatively simple one). You can imagine the list once you throw a marquee into the mix. Being a wedding planner is not about faffing about with pretty candles and flowers - yes the styling is a major part but the actual remit of the role is a whole host more than that.


Jenna Hewitt, wedding planner

As well as my planning and project management skills you are also investing in me for my design and creative skills. A wedding is a visual spectacle and the design is a huge part of the atmosphere of the event. It also gives you a chance to stamp your personalities on your celebrations. I won't begin booking in the creative suppliers until we've held the styling session at your venue and I've created your digital visual look book - capturing every element from flowers through to seating and stationery. This is honed with you until it captures the essence of what you want to create.


Then there is the C word... in this case standing for "confidence." As your wedding planner I am your right hand lady, your confidant, your trusted aide, your partner in wedding crime, there to help you navigate each element. Going anything alone, and especially when it is something unfamiliar to you, can tie your brain up in knots. I'm there as the sounding board, the voice of understanding and sanity, the calming influence, the unbiased opinion.


Floral wedding arch in blues and white by All for Love London, planning by Jenna Hewitt

I'd say 70% of my role is the design and planning and the remaining part is in the execution - this is about making sure that everything gets delivered, created and runs exactly as you have imagined it (and that anything that doesn't, you don't have to concern yourself with because this will be taken care of behind the scenes). It is very rare these days that I offer an on the day wedding management service. The reason is simple - because I much prefer executing something that I have been planning and have lived and breathed for the last year then taking over someone else's plans. My brides know, on their wedding day, that I know their wedding plan as well as, or if not even better than, they do. Every last detail. This means, on their wedding day, they can actually do what they should be doing - ENJOYING EVERY MINUTE. But this delivery doesn't just encompass the wedding day itself - it covers the set up and the break down. Who wants to go back to their venue the day after the wedding and start collecting up the flowers, the left over favours, the lost property...


Lastly, but not least, you are investing in handing over the worry to me. Let me wake up at 3am thinking about the vegan menu options for your Aunty Barbara (true story). Let me handle the tricky guest who wants to bring their child despite the "no children" rule. Let me handle the responsibility of deciding how much wine to commit to ordering. Let me worry about whether the venue has a steamer for your dress (I carry my own). Let me be concerned about the wet weather plan and when we will make the final call on this on the day. Let me brief the Best Man. Let me worry about the timings. Let me fix the stain on the marquee carpet when the gardener decides to water the flower urn arrangement (and it leaked rusty water... Again, true story). Let me handle it, so that you don't have to. It's your wedding, you deserve to float on air.


images thanks to Katie Julia, Lucy Davenport, Laura Harvey