Where to begin?
Hanna at Just Imagine Weddings and Events has given me all of the answers about wedding planning. I don’t know about you, but the idea of planning a wedding just seems like a mammoth task. With so many different aspects to organise, people to please and things to buy, I think it would be easy to become a Bride-zilla. For many, this will be the first time they’ve had to organise an event to this scale and this maybe part of the reason why wedding planners are popular. Keep on reading for industry certified advice!
We Asked: Just Imagine Weddings and Events
What tasks do you take part in?
Hanna: “From a planner’s perspective, we can be involved as much or as little as you want us to be. As a minimum I will visit the venue and speak with all suppliers involved so I can run the wedding day knowing exactly what is going on because after all, I have to know all of the answers and make sure everything is thought of; how many plug sockets are needed, who’s arriving at what time and where everyone is meant to go.
I can attend cake tastings, and would never turn one down if I was invited, however these are the things that I will usually arrange for my clients to attend and get their feedback afterwards. Appointments that I will attend are ones where my expertise and/or opinion is necessary such as venue visits, viewing styling items or furniture and supplier meetings. Things like dress fittings, cake tastings and hair and make up are down to the personal taste of the client however if they wanted my opinion I would gladly attend.”
From this information, it seems as though a wedding planner can completely guide you or can just offer assistance with the day-to-day organisational process. I think this is great, as for many the idea of somebody taking over can seem daunting. As a control freak myself, giving all of the power to another person is something that I struggle with at the best of times!
2. What are the first and last things that you plan for a wedding?
Hanna: “First is budget, if you don’t know your budget you do not have a starting point. The type of wedding you will have depends entirely on your budget. Decide on a figure and then break it down to categories i.e. flowers, catering, venue etc. once this is in place get quotes and start booking, the earlier you book the more likely you are to get the suppliers you really want to work with. Some of the best venues, suppliers and vendors are getting booked up 2 maybe 3 years in advance!
I wouldn’t say anything was ‘least urgent’ but there are elements that can wait until later in the planning stages such as the finer details. Most urgent is making sure you do your research into what suppliers you want to work with and more importantly whether they are within your budget. Once you have determined this, get booking and the finer details can be sorted at a later date.”
Planning a budget definitely seems like an important guideline to set early on so that you don’t end up going overboard. It seems as though setting a budget per category and then making a few enquiries for each category would be a good start for anyone.
3. How easy is it for a client to stick to budget when planning their day?
Hanna: “Not easy at all. Many people get carried away with spending and often get side tracked to what they have budgeted for because there is just so much out there to choose from and so many talented suppliers offering a range of wonderful services. I would suggest keeping a spread sheet and REGULARLY checking it and keeping it up to date because before you know it those ££s spent here and there very quickly add up to thousands! Also decide early on what miscellaneous categories are coming under your budget or not i.e. honeymoon, dress, rings, a wedding planner because these too can take a healthy slice of that pie.”
A person with a spreadsheet is a person with a plan! I love this idea. It will keep you and your partner on top of exactly what you’ve spent where, and also where you may need to cut down if you’ve spent too much! With Hanna’s mention of a honeymoon, I think it’s good to point out here that not everyone wants to spend all of their money on a wedding.
4. How long do you prefer to work with a client prior to their event and why?
Hanna: “I wouldn’t say I have a preferred time but the longer the lead time the more choices of suppliers I am able to offer the clients, the shorter the lead time the fewer options there will be.”
This is probably the case with any kind of organisation; the further ahead you are looking the more people available. Makes sense! But this of course depends on your plans; whether there is a special date you want your wedding to fall on, or your work schedule etc.
5. Do you attend all of the weddings that you plan?
Hanna: “Absolutely! I attend every single one of my client’s weddings and this is included in all of my services as a planner, my job wouldn’t be complete without doing this. I am usually the first to arrive and last to leave, I coordinate and manage everything on the day and am the point of contact for all involved on the wedding day. It is a very busy day indeed but incredible and an absolute pleasure to be a part of.”
To me, this would just fill me with confidence. Knowing that someone is on hand throughout the day to organise any little issues and to make sure it all runs smoothly is so comforting.
6. What has been the most bizarre request that you’ve gotten from a couple?
Hanna: “Hmmm, I wouldn’t say I’ve had bizarre requests as such, I’d say the most extravagant is arranging a helicopter to land to drop off some guests to a client’s wedding. That was pretty impressive.”
That’s one way to make an entrance! It’s great to hear that you really can make these kinds of things happen with a little helping hand.
7. Out of any wedding that you’ve attended as a guest or a planner, what has been your favourite?
Hanna: “My favourite are the more intimate weddings when it really is just your nearest and dearest, when clients really make their wedding personal to them. I had a client contact me from Canada who then continued to explain that they had never been to Wales but wanted to get married here because her late father was born here. It was an incredibly emotional wedding to be a part of as each member of the wedding party had all travelled to West Wales from Canada. You could feel the love and atmosphere was amazing. The style was wild, natural and romantic, the ceremony took place in the ruins of Manorbier Castle, a stunning rustic 11th century castle needing very little décor to add to it’s beauty. Mismatched vintage chairs, wild and tangled florals and candles were all that were needed to create the vision that the bride and groom dreamt of.
The reception took place in Penally Abbey, an intimate, family run boutique hotel in the heart of Tenby. Food was served in the dining room, which has been adorned with a hand painted wall decal, which adds to the already magical and stylish surroundings. The courtyard was draped with overhead festoon lighting where guests spent the rest of the evening dancing the night away.
What made the day the most magical, however, was the fact that the first time the bride and groom saw anything to do with their wedding – venue, flowers, décor etc. was the wedding day. To have that amount of trust laid onto you is a big pressure but an incredible honour especially when you see their faces and you know you understood their vision and got it right. It really was a beautiful day.”
Wow. This sounds like an absolutely stunning day that clearly meant a lot to the couple involved. I love the idea of basing a wedding on something so personal, and of course having a destination wedding would often mean a more intimate group of people. The natural theme with vintage furniture, and in a castle – sounds like a fairytale theme that would be one to remember!
8. How do you deal with very stressed brides (and grooms!)? Do you tend to do the bulk of the organisation and make the day-to-day choices, or do you run everything by the clients?
Hanna: “During the planning process I am in close and regular contact with my clients which creates a trust between us. I always make sure I have a moment with the bride and the groom (separately obviously) before the ceremony just to go over and remind them of the final details and have a sobering moment, as nerves are understandably very high at this time. I remind them to enjoy the moment and not let their nerves take over and that this is the moment that all this planning has been working towards and to take it all in and enjoy it and most of all BREATHE! I try to make them laugh as this helps calm nerves.
As a planner I do the bulk of the organisation as this is what clients usually bring me on board for but the client’s always make the final choice. I offer them a number of choices based on their preference, style and budget and from there they will make their choices.”
It just seems as though hiring a wedding planner, especially Hanna from Just Imagine Weddings and Events, will make life so much more relaxed and allow a couple to really relax, knowing that someone else has an element of control. Having someone involved in the day that has run many weddings would definitely calm my nerves in regards to logistical issues.
9. Do you think that everyone needs a wedding planner, and what about your service (and the service in general) makes it such a worthy investment?
Hanna: “No, I don’t think everyone needs a planner it’s down to your circumstance, preference and requirements. A planner is an expense not everyone has the budget to allow for however what most people don’t realise is that planners can actually save you money and be more creative with your budget. Planners have the expertise and knowledge of the industry to know how to bring ideas to reality. I would recommend at the least is having a planner come in during the weeks running up to your wedding to take over the planning as this is the most stressful part with A LOT of questions being asked from many different people. A planner will be able to take this off your hands, which allows you to sit back and enjoy the fun bits running up to your wedding.”
To be honest, I hadn’t thought of the fact that you wouldn’t necessarily have to have a wedding planner hired for the entire duration of the planning period. I completely get what Hanna is saying that a wedding planner is down to circumstance, however I think that if it is possible at all, hiring a planner would just make the experience more enjoyable and less stressful.
10. What is your favourite part of a wedding day and what part of the day do clients stress/worry about the most?
Hanna: “I love the speeches, they take you through every emotion and never fail to make me cry. However on the other hand this can also be a part of the day that those giving speeches find the most stressful. Clients will also find the ceremony stressful, as it is when they are centre of attention and a very emotional part of the day so I am sure to remind them that this is the moment that they have been planning for.
One of my biggest tips is to take it all in, the ceremony and in fact the whole day flies by in a flash like you wouldn’t believe so take a moment, look at all those people all in the same place for you and enjoy it no matter the weather!”
For a wedding planner based in Wales, I’m sure there are times where the couple has to be reminded to ignore what the weather is doing! It seems a shame that one of the most stressful parts of the day can be the ceremony, but also not surprising. This is the point at which all attention is on the couple, especially the bride walking down the aisle.
Thanks to Hanna...
I’d like to thank Hanna from Just Imagine Weddings and Events for giving me her time to put this blog post together. She’s given some great advice here and seems as though she is definitely the kind of person that I’d trust with something as major as planning a wedding. I hope that this has given you a greater understanding of what it is that wedding planners do and why it might be a worthy investment. Make sure you check out the Just Imagine Instagram account @Hanna_JustImagine.
Hanna graduated from the University of West London in Events Management and has worked in the hospitality industry in venues including The Savoy and Claridges. Having trained with and become a member of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, she has a huge amount of knowledge, creativity and passion. Just Imagine Wedding and Events is based in South Wales and works creatively with any budget to manage a special wedding day.