Wedding consultants

Weddings are complicated events. There are hundreds of details that have to be planned and coordinated. And considering that few brides are professional project managers, stage directors or event planners, there is a huge margin for error.

Time is another element in planning weddings. How many working brides have the extra hours in their busy schedules to devote to the major task of designing and arranging their weddings?

Making a wedding come together perfectly at the same place and time is a job some brides feel is better left to professional wedding consultants and coordinators. Most of these companies have trained, certified wedding planners and event managers who have choreographed dozens if not hundreds of weddings.

The typical professional consultant will begin by asking you to describe the style of wedding you have in mind. You may be asked to detail all the preferences you and your beau have decided upon to make your wedding special and distinctive. Budgeting will be discussed, and you will be asked for the cost range you have in mind. When a picture of your wedding begins to come together, the consultant will make recommendations that will eventually make your wedding a flawless reality.

Consultants wear several hats:

They will counsel brides on what is within the realm of the possible based on budgets, and plan accordingly.

They also offer advice on things like wedding etiquette, invitation language, ceremony proceedings, and so on.

They can do the actual leg-work of booking, hiring or contracting for the many wedding vendors ­ like bakeries, caterers, florists, limos, formalwear, bands or DJs, etc.

They can actually manage and coordinate the events of the wedding day itself so the bride, groom and wedding party can be worry-free and enjoy the occasion.

The bride can employ any or all the services offered by a bridal consultant.
Do-it-yourselfers may just want some advice and counseling. Other brides may simply want to be put in contact with some wedding vendors. Others may want a complete turn-key wedding. Consultants are flexible, and the choice is yours.

Wedding consultant Wedding consultantsDonna Schonhoff, a wedding coordinator and owner of La Donna Wedding Expressions in Shelby Township, Mich., believes that the right consultant can help brides avoid embarrassing and costly mistakes, and that brides can save valuable time and considerable expense by using reputable consulting services.

“When looking for a consultant, interview at least three professionals. Find one who is experienced and possibly certified ­ someone who is going to be there a year from now when the wedding takes place. And make sure your personalities jibe with one another,” said Schonhoff, who also also a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants and serves as the Michigan State Coordinator.

Another key element often overlooked is vendor availability and advanced booking. Popular bands or caterers, for example, may be booked months ahead.

“Ideally, weddings should be planned for a year in advance. In our area we have certain halls or historic sites that are very popular wedding and reception sites, and some of these are booked up to two years in advance,” Schonhoff said.

What wedding coordinators have, that the brides and grooms may not, is experience and expertise in dealing with the multitude of wedding providers and supervising their individual roles.

“The most important thing consultants offer the bride and groom is actually getting them through the day of their wedding without the wedding party having to deal with the vendors or suppliers; the second most important thing is providing the right vendors,” said Lisa Manning, owner of Manning Planning in Washington, Mich.

Manning, who also is certified by the Association of Bridal Consultants, said that she has managed entire full-service weddings and personally coordinated every last detail. She has also done as little as provide brides with recommendations for a church.

Consulting services have many industry resources, and coordinators can deliver results that individuals cannot.

For example: a florist, a limo service, a caterer, a photographer, or any other wedding vendor who is hired repeatedly by a coordinator, will want to perform to the highest standards in order to retain volume business and preferred booking status. And the coordinator will consistently hire only the best. If a vendor services a one-time wedding booked directly by a bride, he may not perform as well because he doesn’t have to depend on that one customer for repeat business.

“The biggest advantage wedding consultants have, is that they can generally save money for brides. We work with various vendors so frequently that they are willing to pass discounts on to wedding consultant’s clients,” said Victoria Rohrer, a certified consultant and owner of Weddings Unveiled in Whitmore Lake, Mich. She said that she has been “fortunate to get some very good discounts” for her clients, and that she never takes referral fees.

If brides would be willing to delegate all or part of their wedding duties they would certainly save money, even after paying consulting fees. Brides and grooms would still establish the guidelines and determine their preferences, but with a coordinator they would basically be taking on a working partner.

“The wedding is still 100 percent the bride’s event; I’ll make suggestions, give opinions, or answer questions. But I’ll let the bride and groom guide me as to the ambiance they want, and we all work together,” Rohrer said.

Do you have the hours or days to take away from your busy schedule to be a project manager, stage director or an event planner?