A resume advertises your skills and responsibilities related to wedding planning. These may including the ability to plan meticulous itineraries or organize stacks of vendor contacts and agreements. But any wedding planner will tell you that their job responsibilities go far beyond the tangibles. Working with clients throughout the multiple stages of a wedding often means being part therapist, part referee, and part couple whisperer.
So while you might ask, what does a wedding planner do, the real question is, what doesn’t a wedding planner do?
Here are some of the common emotional stages engaged couples go through before saying “I do,” so that you can be prepared for each one and put your wedding planner skills to use!
You’ve received a voicemail. You hear the chime of a new text, and at the top of your inbox, an email with the subject line “We’re Engaged!” awaits. Your clients, or potential clients, are basking in their post-engagement glow as they gush to family and friends that they’re getting hitched. They can’t contain themselves any longer and are ready to start planning, and that’s when they start sliding into your DMs.
It’s a euphoric time for the to-be-wed. While some have everything in place and just needed the official green light, other couples might be overwhelmed—not at the idea of spending their lives together, but at planning a memorable celebration to mark the milestone. From budgets to bridesmaids, DJs to donut walls, wedding planning is a whole new language to many. As a wedding planner, it’s essential to go into every initial consultation with an open heart and open mind.
He said “yes!” Now what? You might be the first call for a couple who are ready to start planning today, or might you get inquiries asking, “What does a wedding planner do?”
Hopefully, your wedding planning business website or marketing materials give, at the very least, a snapshot of your planning services, but learning if a couple’s vision aligns with your experience starts with a conversation. Begin your consultation, whether in-person, on the phone, or via Zoom, with these helpful questions to set the stage and understand expectations.
Pinterest boards and Instagram inspo is fun, but getting down to brass tacks with a couple can be a challenging and emotional process. If they have started mapping out a budget, there might be sticker shock.
Minimize the self-doubt by letting couples know that the beginning stages of a wedding can be a time of learning and listening. It is perfectly normal to get emotional and even overwhelmed—that’s where your expertise shines!
Your bride has watched every episode of Say Yes to the Dress. She has a binder full of her dream dresses, printed out numbers so her bride tribe can rate their favorites from one to 10, and has a white Yeti filled with chilling champs.
But in reality, half of the bride tribe was late to the dress try-on appointment, your bride only has an hour to try on four dresses, and the consultant only pulled ball gowns but your client wants mermaid silhouettes. Cue the flower-girl-to-be having a tantrum.
As a wedding planner, you’ll find it is not uncommon to go above the call of duty. You can turn what might be a colossal disappointment for your client into a silver lining. Adding another complex layer for today’s couples is social media, which can create unrealistic wedding expectations.
The first step is to help them create a budget. So they know where they’ll want to allocate spending and where they’ll need to find creative, cost-friendly solutions.
Build a Solution Oriented Framework
Identifying each individual’s priorities creates a framework for where you’ll need to dedicate much of your focus. One partner may be a gourmand whose priorities include food tastings early on in the wedding planning process. Their only focus is to choose a suitable caterer, create the menu, and select wines that pair well with entrée selections. Another partner might have a Pinterest board dedicated to tablescapes and color palettes.
Identifying the components they both find less critical—for example, wedding favors or over-the-top save-the-dates— is a smart way to prioritize your wedding planning expertise.
As a wedding planner, it’s helpful to anticipate any potential conflicts before they arise. If your clients’ dream venue is booked solid for the next two years or is just outside their budget, be prepared with creative solutions.
Perhaps they would consider a Thursday wedding for a fraction of the cost? Having alternative options in your arsenal at all times will ensure the slightest spark doesn’t become a roaring flame.
Your couple is madly in love, but they’re also wildly different. One wants to spend a Saturday relaxing. Another has their heart set on a wedding registry experience replicating a Broadway musical number. They want a party full of laughter and TikTok dances.
Engaged couples may think they know each other inside and out. However, when it comes to the various stages of wedding planning, they might realize they have very different approaches. Cue the tension.
To alleviate some of the stress, identify tasks for each that align with their strengths. For example, one partner can be in charge of keeping track of RSVPs as they arrive in the mail. They can update the guest spreadsheet, or even better, making updates via the planning app you’re all using to communicate.
At the same time, the other can focus on table assignments based on that information. Divvying up responsibilities and communication expectations will help keep behavioral surprises at bay.
Terror and Anxiety
The venue has left three voicemails looking for a final headcount. Five guests have requested a keto-friendly meal. Your clients just read a scathing review online about the DJ you recommended. Two bridesmaids still need alterations.
And everyone is looking to you to assuage the panic that goes along with the many stages of wedding planning. Your first piece of advice might be to recommend your clients download a meditation app!
First, remind your clients (and yourself!) that you’re a pro. While this might be their first wedding, it is not yours, and you know to expect the unexpected. Using your wedding planner checklist helps ensure everyone is on the same page.
Next, remind your couple that their primary focus is enjoying their day and that you’re there to execute the plan. They might still be tempted to elope. Worrying about the weather and everything going according to plan is perfectly normal.
Today’s couples are typically juggling a lot of stress at one time—career, home life, family relationships, and more. Planning for a milestone event can be overwhelming in the best of circumstances But when there are outside challenges to consider? Even more so.
For many couples, the rehearsal marks a realization. All the planning they have done and all the work their wedding planner has put in over the months and years is coming to fruition.
Extraordinary weddings don’t happen by accident. Each stage of a wedding to remember unfolds with meticulous planning and careful consideration for every moment. As a wedding planner, watch as the stress a couple has been holding onto evaporates, and they let themselves place complete trust in you.
Emotional Intelligence and the Stages of a Wedding
Can planning a wedding be an emotional roller coaster for both the couple tying the knot and the wedding planner? Yes. Is it a wild ride? Yes. Is it pure exhilaration and worth every minute? You better believe it.
As you’ll learn, being there for your clients is about much more than modifying the floor plan multiple times and negotiating for the band to play an additional hour at the reception. The emotional stages of a wedding are all part of the process, but you’re up to the task!