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Wedvice: Let’s Start From The Very Beginning… 2

The second installation of a four or five or maybe six part series of what to do after “yes” and before “i do”!

pink wedding tablescape

Decadent tonal pink and gold fabulousness. More pictures from this classy table top ifya scroll down. :)

Hiring a Planner

Okay, so, since I’ve already touched on hiring vendors in one of my previous soapbox rants, I want to broaden the internet horizons a bit more and talk to you about wedding planners, coordinators, designers, and developing the vision for your big day [this all takes place in step 2].

What’s in a name?

Don’t be misled. A planner is not a designer and may not be a coordinator. So, what’s the diff?

A wedding coordinator is your basic essential. It’s like the bare bones that you need for a happy, stress-free wedding day. Many coordinators are planners as well, and offer higher packages that include planning help. “Coordinators”, in essence, are around to tie up loose ends and make sense of all of the plans you have put into place. They typically step in anywhere from a month to a week out from your wedding- but not more than that. A “site coordinator” is very, VERY different than an independent coordinator. Do not let yourself be led astray on this. Nearly EVERY site has an appointed contact- a “venue coordinator”. They are not a wedding coordinator- they are venue staff who are appointed, typically not as qualified, and not looking out for the best interest of YOU- the couple. It is a rarity, as well, that any venue coordinator will stay for the entirety of your wedding. A wedding coordinator will be there from dusk til dawn, should your wedding require it, with a happy smile on their face and a determined attitude in their heart.

Some coordinators (in the Southern California area) that I know rock:

Alicia Harnden and Brittany Fitch of In The Now Weddings [That’s right! My girls!!]

Jennifer Johnson and OC’s Finest Weddings

Paola Spagnoletti and Just Chic Events

Vanessa at V3 Events

Typically, coordinators are planner in the making. They’re building up their vendor contacts and taking their time to know the industry more and more. They’re eager to work, hard, for their names and reputations. And because of that, they’re great!

A wedding planner is someone to help you guide through the industry. They are hired to help you with venue selection, vendor selection, and any details along the way. Their expertise and experience play an essential role in pairing you with vendors to fit your budget, personality, style, and needs. Many wedding planners are coordinators as well and nearly every planner I’ve met will be there with you themselves personally on the day-of, after planning the wedding closely with you. This becomes a special relationship between the couple and the professional and it is so so – I cannot emphasize this enough – SO important that the couple is comfortable and confident in their pick for a planner. Please note that a PLANNER is there to guide the couple for the duration of their engagement. They are like a wedding manager- they aren’t typically hired to inject their style or ideas or to come up with a wedding’s concept, creatively speaking. This is left to the client. I think that brides typically cringe at the thought of hiring a planner because they fear that a planner will kill their creative freedom. Quite the opposite! We are here to foster that creativity, to encourage it, be with you in it, and ensure that the vendors you hire are the ones that will work best to gel with the vision you’ve put into place.

Planners (in the Southern California area) I know that rock:

Um, ME!!! [P.S. I love you already and I don’t even know you].

Angel Swanson with Events of Love and Splendor

Courtney Toney at Joyful Weddings and Events

Kerrie Underhill of Platinum Weddings by Kerrie

Typically planners are event designers in the making [she says with herself in mind]. If they’re creative and crafty, they’re well on their way!

Event designers are the top of the line, crème de la crème for weddings. They are hired based on their beautiful past work and glowing references. They’re known for taking care of your floral design as well- as the concept for your wedding is theirs, top to bottom. This works perfect for a busy couple who wants to attend an event that is decked out to the nines! It also works for brides who just can’t seem to articulate their own vision, or who want their wedding to be more of a party thrown in their honor than they want to be mulling over the details of the party. Event designers are known for their unique and personal sense of style and their website and catalogues should reflect just that. Typically they’ll take your notes, ideas, pictures, and vision and create something fabulously YOU, with a twist only they could put onto it.

Some famous Event Designers to love:

Colin Cowie

Preston Bailey

Bliss Events Group [the girls from SW magazine]

Please note THIS: not all event designers are planners. They MAY just be florists and designers. They may NOT want anything to do with the coordination of your vendors or details. This is something to be aware of before signing a contract!

OKAY. Now that that’s out of the way…moving on.

The reason that it’s crucial to, at this point in the game, hire for yourself a planner or designer is because the BEST way to create a fabulous wedding is to bring in a professional from the beginning. I cannot tell you how many clients I’ve worked with who have already spent half of their budget on what I [as a planner] consider “the wrong thing”- or maybe the right thing, at the wrong place. Or the wrong amount of the right thing at the wrong place. It’s awful to see your clients- especially the ones who are on a tighter budget- spending money in ways that are unnecessary, which I know will only hurt them more when it gets down to the wire. But once contracts are in place, they’re binding and we’re forced to work miracles and jump through hoops to create the wedding of their dreams. So, in essence, hiring a planner right off the bat will not only save you emotions, stress, and frustration… but it will save you money. YES, you have to spend to save. Plus, and let’s be honest- there’s only so much research you can do, we know vendors. You will be booking blindly based on web ads or magazine articles or bridal shows. Everyone puts their best foot forward on screen or in print, but only people who work weddings nearly every weekend are going to know, when the pressure is on, who is reliable and who isn’t.

If you think you can’t afford a planner…. you can. Trust me. Remember what I said about the saving money part? NO budget is too small. If you think you don’t need a planner… you do. I hate to say it! But I promise you- I’ve yet to meet a bride who has regretted working with someone during their engagement. More than that, I’ve never even HEARD of a bride regretting hiring a coordinator just for the day of. Which is why I count that as an essential. I know money is a big concern but think of it this way: the average, established photographer in southern California is charging anywhere from $4000 to $8000 for one of their packages- and they are important! Planners, for full service, are in a comparable range and may even tend to be a bit lower than that depending on the services desired… and they are with you ten times more than that photographer will be. They may not be providing you with pictures, but they ARE working more constantly for you in the pre-wedding process. Trust me when I say that even hiring a Day-Of coordinator will be worth their weight in gold! And if there are businesses like mine in your area, there’s a coordinator who is training up an assistant or associate who doesn’t have as much of a name or reputation, who would love to work your wedding for a smaller fee. Don’t hesitate to ask. Don’t get sticker shock after the first quote. Don’t get discouraged!

Stepping down from my ‘box now.

We’re leveling with one another… if you must- MUST- plan it all on your own without the help of a pro, here’s where you’ll need to start with the “vision” of your wedding.

When I spoke about hiring vendors, I talked about picture clippings from magazines, saving pictures from websites and blogs, etc. THIS is when you should start to do this. Sign up for websites like The Knot or Wedding Channel. Stalk blogs like Southern Weddings Magazine, Style Me Pretty [and of course, you’re HERE already!]. Save things you like. From your pictures, determine your style! This will help so much when narrowing down a venue. If you’re looking at tons of venues that don’t resemble- at all- the pictures you’ve clipped, try looking again. Try re-thinking either the picture clippings, or the venues. Think about your wedding as a cohesive styled unit. It must go with the backdrop it’s placed in! If you search for your venue around the style that you’re going for [garden-y, chic, modern, ocean view, spanish, rustic?], then it will make the planning process even that much more of a cinch!

We’ll pick up right here next week. Until then, enjoy the photos:

pink centerpieces

I loved the idea of focusing on a total color scheme and keeping it subtle. The array of pinks easily came to mind when I found these great [and ridiculously good looking in shape and color] bottles of Francis Coppola’s Sophia Pinot Noir Rose wine! I found a funny little gaudy gold vase, and I was in business!! Of course the gorgeous cushion-tuck linens and gold chiavari chairs were a MUST for this classic scheme.

journal and pen wedding favors

These fun, funky journal favors with pens were a tribute to my sister- I’m not sure she’d love any other favor more than a tiny journal! I liked the hand-made quality and the pink on pink look of it, so I wrapped them together with a gold ribbon and set them to the side for each guest.

gocco escort cards

I used alternating shades of pink for the escort cards, which were pinned to a board covered in pink and gold damask paper [hand-made and oh-so-soft!]. The delicate “lace quality” ribbon that they hung from was to die for! The cards were printed in gold ink using my Gocco and I love the way the gold shows so richly on the pinks.

rose tablescape

I allowed Kristin at The Treasured Petal to pick whichever flowers suited her for this arrangement. We weren’t going for extravagance in flowers for this particular table, so she kept it simple with alternating hues of pinks and added some green for dynamics.


The real favors- two raspberry white chocolate truffles in these delicious little gold boxes- sat on top of each place setting. Tied with a blush pink velvet ribbon- the texture was just perfect.

truffle favors

Gold chargers based white plates with a splurge for the salad course- this incredible pink and gold rimmed plate from Z Gallerie added the perfect dimension to the table. Not sure how well you can see it here but we added more interest to the dinnerware by using these gorgeously detailed casual water glasses from Pier 1 Imports as well.

favor box liner

Oh yah, forgot to mention that we lined the truffle boxes with a gorgeous hand-made paper as well, cut to size. It was in the same paper family as what we used above for the escort card boards. Truly magical! And in case you’ve forgotten, the whole table and details collaged, one last time:

pink tablescape

pink tablescape

Of course all the credit goes to:

Jonilyn Photography

The Treasured Petal

Signature Rentals

Dress My Chair

Without all of their utter fabulousness I would be at a loss. And I cannot WAIT to start previewing my brand spanking new tables which are going to be shot within the month. I know. You’re thrilled, right? Right!

Hope you loved me as much as you have in the past- that’s more than enough to last me a lifetime!


A. Auer