Guest Post: Why a Wedding Planner?

Good morning bridettes! (Er, and groomettes if you’re out there too. Hi!) Let me drag you away from your Friday Friday dance for a second, because today we have a guest post from one of Cape Town’s top planners, Barry Geyer of Event & Design. Not all couples feel like they need or have the budget for a planner, but I think it’s easy to forget what a difference a good one can make not only to the way your day ultimately looks and feels, but to your stress levels as well. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has to make this decision for themselves, but a think a lot of brides and grooms discover that planning their wedding isn’t as easy as it looks, and if you can afford it, having an expert take charge can allow you to really enjoy the process and still have it look the way you want it to. Just like you might regret taking on that plumbing problem when the tap suddenly springs a leak, or you wouldn’t think about representing yourself in court. Anyway, Barry’s here today to share his opinion – let us know what you think in the comments!

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Hello Cap Classique readers! As someone in the wedding industry, I believe that having a wedding planner is paying for peace of mind and having time to enjoy the wedding day that you have dreamt of your entire life. Let’s imagine a situation where two newly-engaged couples are planning their wedding. Couple A (let’s call them Anton and Angelina) at first think that a planner is an unneccessary luxury, but having been advised by a friend, decide to check them out anyway. Couple B (who we’ll call Ben and Bianca) immediately shrug off the idea of obtaining a wedding planner’s services and decide to plan their day all by themselves. Let’s look at how these two couples’ wedding arrangements might typically pan out!

Anton and Angelina make a few appointments with various wedding planners and soon find one whom they feel comfortable with and can relate to. To their surprise, the cost of his services is no more than that of a good photographer, and after considering that this service will extend over twelve months, they contact a few of his references and are convinced. They sign the contract and complete a detailed questionnaire. They then receive a detailed budget proposal and after accepting this, a proposal of four suitable venues which take their specific needs into account. The planner presents them with a tabled comparison of the costs, terms and conditions, services provided, catering details and availability for these venues, as well as pictures of previous weddings held there. Anton and Angelina confirm the two venues they like the most, and visit both on a Saturday morning with their planner. They fall in love with one of them and, as the planner has already made a provisional booking, he confirms the venue straight away. He provides them with recommendations for the best and most cost-effective service providers that are available on their wedding date, and after allowing them to visit the providers websites and discuss them with him, he arranges for the florist, photographer, decor consultant and caterer to visit with them at the venue. He also arranges for samples of cutlery, crockery and glasses to be present at the venue.

Anton and Angelina have a great meeting with their service providers, who advise them on flowers available on their wedding date, decor which will suit the venue, etc. The photographer discusses a few angles and the layout for the day, and shows them more of his portfolio. After sampling the local estate wine, the couple discuss a possible menu with the caterer. One week later, they are taken for a tasting at the venue where the chef prepares the menu they have discussed and they are able to make their final decision knowing how the food will taste and how it will be presented. The planner also arranges for a mock-up of the final table setting and flowers, and they are delighted to see it looks exactly as they imagined. They make one or two small adjustments and confirm the menu and wine. A few days later they receive a revised budget and they realise that as they have a bit of extra overtime pay at hand, they are able to afford some of the special silver items they had both loved so much. They pay an agreed amount to the planner, who immediately attends to paying the necessary deposits and securing all provisional bookings. Anton arranges their honeymoon, including travel arrangements, accommodation and restaurant bookings through their planner. It’s so easy!

Meanwhile, Ben and Bianca have also been looking for their perfect venue. They spend a whole weekend driving from one venue to another. By Sunday afternoon they’re exhausted and confused, but the search isn’t over. Two great venues promise to send their terms and conditions, but no luck. On the other hand, two dodgy venues have sent ridiculous quotes and a set of confusing terms and conditions. After spending a further two weekends driving around and quarreling, they find a venue they both like and which is available. It’s way over budget and they’re not entirely sure what’s included in the price, but they settle on it anyway. They then look at their To Do list (pulled from the back of a wedding magazine) and realise they still have a lot to do. As they both work full time, it’s difficult to get to everything and they find themselves falling behind schedule. They decide to ask Ben’s Aunt Petunia for some assistance and she immediately starts arranging some surprises for her favourite nephew…

Unfortunately, everything spirals downwards from there. Ben and Bianca find they have to stick with the crockery and cutlery from the venue since the budget doesn’t allow for anything else. The florist they wanted is no longer available since they forgot to pay their deposit on time. The cheap photographer they have booked now tells them she is only available an hour before the wedding and an hour after the reception starts. If they pay her for extra time, it will land up costing more than their first choice photographer, but they’ve paid their deposit so they have no choice. They also discover they will have to use the venue’s in-house caterer, an inexperienced chef, because bringing in an outside caterer will incur an additional charge. Nobody told them this when they made their initial booking.

As if this isn’t bad enough, Ben and Bianca are bombarded with booking forms, pro forma invoices, contracts and terms and conditions. They spend evenings setting up internet banking, paying deposits, sending proof of payments and trying to keep track of everything. What was supposed to be a memorable time, turns out to be filled with stress and chaos.

Then the wedding day arrives… Anton and Angelina wake up to a relaxed breakfast – massages and manicures on site for the girls (organised by the planner of course!) and time by the guest house pool for the boys. The makeup and hair stylist arrives and the bride gets ready for the wedding surrounded by friends and enjoying sparkling wine and snacks. At the reception, the couple have a ball with the food arriving on time, and the service providers knowing exactly what to do and when. Afterwards they retire to their lovely decorated hotel room (arranged by their planner) and next morning enjoy breakfast with their family before departing on their dream honeymoon. Since they paid a retainer into the planner’s account beforehand, he attends to all final payments, return of rental items, breakage charges, etc. On Anton and Angelina’s return., they find a final statement of account in their inbox and the balance of the retainer returned to their account.

Ben and Bianca have a different experience. the bride struggles to get through her hair appointment on the morning of the wedding, receiving numerous calls from service providers asking for directions to the venue and sorting out one crisis after another. The groom has barely slept since he was finalising the cash bar, picking up the liquor, overseeing the delivery of rental items and set up at the venue. He and his best man spend the morning carrying tables and chairs in the blazing heat. The couple arrive at their wedding stressed and exhausted, and don’t enjoy their special day as much as they would have liked. During the reception, the bride has to keep the caterer and DJ updated. The morning after, family and friends help them to sort out collection of the rental items. They leave for their honeymoon, which is interrupted by calls and emails from the venue and service providers regarding lost and broken items and final accounts to be paid. As a result, they spend quite a bit of time in internet cafes.

So the question is… which couple would you like to be? The choice is yours: Choose wisely and have a glorious time!

Images: 1 – Peartree Photography; 2 & 4 – Greg Lumley; 3 – Joe

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