Wedding planning is something that lots of couples believe they can take in their stride after getting engaged, and we totally get it. So many elements of the wedding planners job look so deliciously fun, but the reality that most brides deal with close to their big day is a sh*ttonne of spreadsheets, calls chasing up suppliers and a whole lot of stress.
Which is why so many brides and grooms turn to a professional wedding planner in their hour of need, with promises of taking the admin off the couple’s plate and plonking it onto their own. But what exactly is ~included~ in a wedding planning package? How far out from the big day should you recruit a wedding planner? What negotiations do they help with?
We answer all of these burning questions by chatting to Isabella the founder and head honcho at Bella Mia Events. With a lifetime of experience under her belt, Isabella is one of the most trusted and loved wedding planners in the business. She learnt the bones of a good wedding by working as a waitress, wedding coordinator and then a wedding planner, designer and stylist of her own right. In short, Isabella may have seen more weddings than ALL of us!
So here they are – all your wedding planner questions, answered.
So, how long before the big day should wedding planners and wedding stylists hook up with a couple?
Great question, this is all dependant on the requirements of the client, what they have locked in so far, and what particular service they are after. We work with clients who are at different stages of the wedding planning process, but a rough guide is:
Wedding Planning: 1 – 2 years prior
Wedding Styling: 6 months – 1 year prior
On the Day Coordination: 4 – 6 months prior
How far out should I be contacting a Wedding Planner?
The short answer – As soon as you get engaged!
We recommend contacting a wedding stylist as soon as you get engaged. Well, maybe not right away – take some time to enjoy your engagement bubble, and then wait to be bombarded with endless questions like ‘Have you set a date? Where are you getting married? Am I invited?’ before the stress really starts to kick in – just watch it happen!
In all seriousness, we love working with our couples from the very beginning of their planning journey. Our wedding planning service covers ALL aspects of your special day, so this means we can negotiate the best deals for you upfront, find the right vendors to reflect your style, and bring the best out of you as a couple.
Working with wedding planners early on is also a great way to ensure no important details are overlooked. We recommend locking in any priority vendors like your wedding venue (duh), church, transport, photography, videography, hair and makeup ASAP. These vendors can fill up quickly, especially in the spring and summer months. Having a wedding planner on board means you can lock in your dream team and enjoy total peace of mind moving forward.
How far out should I be contacting a Wedding Stylist?
The short answer – Between 6 and 12 months before your wedding
We recommend contacting a wedding stylist anywhere between 6-12 months prior to your wedding to discuss all of your styling needs – the sooner, the better, so we can secure your florist and other styling vendors, especially if you have your eye on someone in particular.
With this being said, we have over 10 years of industry experience and can tailor a beautiful styling concept for you in a shorter (or longer!) turnaround time if needed.
As styles and trends within the industry are constantly changing, our initial design concept isn’t set in stone – we can change it up, scale it back or totally revamp it to suit your taste and budget along the way. We loveee on a creative challenge!
Do wedding planners get involved with the wedding budget?
Definitely. One of our main roles as a planner and stylist is setting the budget based off the client’s vision and working with them to create a concept that is still equally beautiful, but matches their preferred spend. We are educators, just as much as we are stylists, once you start giving rough estimates of certain items it really opens the clients’ eyes to how much they need to set aside to style their ‘dream’ wedding.
This is one of our main challenges as a stylist, as the market has become very saturated with ‘luxury’ weddings over the past 3-5 years, unfortunately, people see this as the norm and don’t actually realise the amount of labour, time, effort, creativity and production behind these events, PLUS the thousands of dollars people are actually spending to style their weddings.
Did you know some brides are now taking out personal loans to fulfil their styling requirements.. CRAZY HEY?!
Usually there are over 10 suppliers on board, working from midnight the day before to bring these concepts to life. I think that what a lot of people don’t understand is that you aren’t being quoted on the product itself, a lot of the cost comes from the labour and time involved in actually building the event.
As an example, this is how much work a florist will put in for ONE wedding…
A florist will go to the markets at 4am, 3-4 days prior to their clients wedding date to pick up their flower orders which, at the start of the week, they sat down, meticulously took hours to calculate how many bunches they need, worked out what’s in season and the best way to accommodate the vision without going over budget but still keep the look beautiful, after that, they brought everything back to the shop, and started stripping every single foliage leaf off every single individual rose stem, oh but it didn’t stop there.. did you know you also have to reflex (hand open) every single petal of a rose that comes in… as much as we would love to think that this is the original condition these blooms come in, this is FAR from the truth.
They’re then usually placed in buckets of water and stored in a cool room for a couple of days to let the blooms open, they will then start to assemble the arrangements required for the day. It’s a lot of work, and all respect and love goes out to my fellow florists – they have the hardest (but best) job in the world.
I think sometimes people forget the ‘process’, we really need to consider, everyone’s back end and what actually goes on behind the scenes.
How do wedding planners and stylists establish their vision for a wedding day?
How do wedding planners get their visions across to the bride and groom?
I am an extremely visual person, each styling client that locks in Bella Mia Events receives a customised mood board and computerised images of their floral scheme/tone and we recreate their centrepieces in an online format.
You can be so descriptive with your words, but sometimes that’s not enough, the client wants to see what its going to be like on the day. Select clients also organise a table mock up a few months prior to their wedding day to really get the concept right and make any changes where necessary.
How much do wedding planners physically organise on behalf of couples?
The short answer – EVERYTHING
I will start from the beginning for you. If you are a ‘Wedding Planning client’ this is usually what the journey will look like:
1 // Initial Planning meeting: My opportunity for the client to get a feel for me and what I am all about, I like to meet the client before moving forward, it’s a good way to make sure we are all on the same page and comfortable with one another.
2 // The venue and church/ceremony location hunt begins! We are there to recommend venues that best reflect your style and budget.
3 // We attend walk throughs of each venue to discuss design, set up and floorplan for your numbers, we are also in attendance to oversee the negotiations relating to your venue package (price per head) and use our industry contacts to make sure you get the best price and are well looked after – ALWAYS.
4 // Once those two major things are out of the way, it’s time to lock the rest in, photographer, videographer, transportation, hair and makeup, the dress, suits, entertainment etc – we are your point of contact from now on, sending all the annoying emails and gaining comparative quotes on your behalf through various suppliers for you to choose from.
5 // Once you’ve found suppliers you like, we are there to negotiate all pricing with preferred suppliers. (Side note from team One Fine Day: This is hands-down the most awkward and uncomfortable part of wedding planning, so swiping this off your plate and onto Bella Mia Events will save you one heck of a headache.)
6 // Draw up initial costing once deposits have been put down. Costing – internal document provided by Bella Mia Events which outlines all costs associated with the wedding, this is updated as we go along with new bookings, payments etc – this is used to see the overall budget and manage it.
7 // Usually by this time we have also organised a group chat – with myself, the bride and groom for all the random queries that come during the day or at 10pm at night – this is what we are here for.
8 // Now it’s time for a little break… yes you get a break! If you really want to, use this time to source things like your bridesmaids dresses, shoes, jewellery etc all the little things. If you are planning on getting the house decorated in the morning – this is a good time to search inspo images for this.
9 // So as the main point of contact, we are there to manage and coordinate all of your event contracts, booking confirmations and deposits – we make a little diary note in our calendars of when things are due and send a reminder to you a week prior and on the day.
10 // We introduce ourselves to each and every supplier if we haven’t already sat down and met them with you, so that when the time comes they can email us to make sure no details have been missed and liaise with us directly.
11 // By this point we have spoken with your venue coordinator and are working through all of the back end with them, we liaise with you directly to organise an overall schedule and run sheet of the day. This is inclusive of all events associated with the overall running of the day from Brides Prep to Reception conclude. This will outline the time, activity and who is responsible for making this happen.
12 // Now it’s time to finesse that styling concept you have been dreaming about. At our initial consultation we touch on your style, colour palette, venue choice etc, at this meeting we really knuckle down to create a concept in line with your vision. Budget is a main priority in this meeting, it usually takes 2 or 3 weeks after that to perfect the concept as we need to get comparative quotes on different décor/ideas or research some new styles/trends that match with the clients vision.
13 // Once that is all confirmed, we are on your case to confirm your guest numbers as we are getting closer to the day and need to amend all invoices to suit your expected PAX (PAX is fancy for guest numbers in the event industry), during this time you would also be attending your final coordination meeting with the venue, finalising your menu tasting and entertainment arrangements, completing your DJ form (entry songs, cake cutting song and the all important bridal waltz).
Two Weeks Prior:
14 // Everything should be confirmed on your behalf by this stage, we are there to finesse all schedule, entertainment, venue and supplier requirements. Things like working out where that last minute RSVP is going to sit (believe me, there is always that one slow distant uncle or cousin), finalising all event documentation – contact sheet, production schedules, supplier bump in and access.
The Week Of:
15 // We contact all vendors involved in your special day via email and phone with all finalised event documentation on the Monday prior to your wedding, (we would have already corresponded with them prior to this anyway) but this gives us enough lee way should any small issues arise.
16 // You will pay your final venue invoice and any outstanding invoices that are left over, with reminders from us and help if you need.
17 // I will usually come and visit you at home on the Thursday or Friday to make sure you are not stressed and ready for the best day ever! This is where we run through the day with your families so everyone is on the same page and the day can run as seamlessly as possible.
18 // And then, finally, the day is here! You’ve woken up (well probably not because you were way too nervous to sleep) and you have a makeup artist knocking at your door at 4am.
19 // WAKEY WAKEY GALFRIEND! I will see you at about 8am on my way to the ceremony!
How often do couples meet with wedding planners throughout the whole process?
Whenever they need us. We don’t restrict our clients to a specific number of face to face or online meetings. My mobile phone may as well be glued to my hand that’s how often I have it on me. As your fairy godmother aka wedding planner, I am around to answer any queries, anytime you may need me.
…As you can now probably tell, being a wedding planner and stylist is no mean feat, Isabella is a magician and takes all the mayhem and stress in her stride, leaving you to sit back and relax knowing that everything (literally, everything) is under control. If you want to dive into what wedding planners like Isabella do on the ~actual wedding day~ you can read the hilarious wrap up here.
If you want to have Bella on your side for your big day (because, who wouldn’t?!), you can get in touch with Bella Mia Events right here, right now. Trust us when we say this will be the single best decision you make about your wedding. We mean, bar the bloke you’re saying ‘I Do’ to, of course!