Do I need a wedding planner? Lily Spruce Events answers your questions.
There is one debate almost every bride faces during the wedding planning process: whether or not to hire a wedding planner. The benefits of a DIY wedding are many, and being super involved in all aspects of the wedding can be so fulfilling. However, many brides have benefited from the support of a professional to guide them through the process without losing the personal flourishes. How do you decide if a wedding planner is right for you?
We reached out to one of our favorites in the event planning space. Genevieve, founder of LILY SPRUCE EVENTS. San Francisco-based Lily Spruce Events is an environmentally and sustainable events planning company with 11 years of experience helping clients bring their grand vision to fruition in the most organic way. Today, Genevieve answers common bride questions to help us understand the role of a wedding planner. We hope her professional insight can bring some clarity to the subject.
TL: HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE WEDDING PLANNING INDUSTRY?
LSE: I cut my teeth throwing press and social events for a non-profit in San Francisco. I got married in that time, and realized, 'Oh, I know how to do this!' I ended up coordinating the weddings of my co-workers, relatives, friends of friends, and then suddenly I was doing the weddings where I had no existing personal connection. I was helping strangers! I hung onto my full-time job while building Lily Spruce. After three years, I went full time in 2012 and haven’t looked back.
TL: WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE EVENT PLANNING?
LSE: Sustainable event planning is planning and executing an event with particular concern for environmental, economic, and social issues. An example would be using a caterer that sources its ingredients locally from farms use sustainable farming practices (no pesticides or GMOs).
TL: WHAT ARE THE WEDDING PLANNER'S MAIN RESPONSIBILITIES?
LSE: Oh goodness, so many! I use this example a lot: if you think of your wedding as a staged production, we are both the front-of-house manager, director, and backstage manager. We’re making sure the vendors/actors know their call times, responsibilities and “lines” so to speak. We construct what theater people call “run of show” - which is really a fancy term for what goes down from the beginning of the day to the end of the day, the tasks involved and who is accountable. Most of all we work with the biggest “actors” on the stage: the couple, and ensure we have every detail accounted for. We’re the experts in the room, and as such we have every responsibility to think of all the things and tasks they haven’t thought of! This being our ninth wedding season, we’ve gathered what’s essential and important and done all the heavy lifting and thinking for them so they can truly let go and enjoy the day they have crafted.
TL: EVERY COUPLE MUST HAVE A VISION FOR THEIR BIG DAY. HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE THEIR VISION IS TRANSLATED IN THE RESULTS OF YOUR WORK?
LSE: Number one: we listen. We make sure we are constantly checking in and making sure we are always on the same page. We want to complement your planning and vision and make sure your gathering runs as smoothly as possible, in the most organic way. We are here to share our best advice and practices so that you can hand things off with complete trust and confidence.
TL: MANY BRIDES BELIEVE IT IS MORE COST SAVVY TO PLAN THEIR OWN WEDDING VERSUS HIRING A PROFESSIONAL PLANNER. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?
LSE: Of all the milestone events in your life, your special event, especially if it is your wedding day, is not the place to gamble. You need a professional in the ring. After all, you want to be the V.I.P., not the harried go-to person for all manner of trivia. Let us do all the thinking and planning with you so that you can properly enjoy your party and the company of your special guests. Our clients today are busier than ever, and squeezing time before work, during lunch hours, and after work to plan a wedding can be exhausting. By hiring us, you save time combing Yelps and gathering referrals of vendors. We share our little black book of vendors that have proven track records, quality customer service, and product. We’re able to cut through the chase because we’ve been in the game long enough to know the in's and outs of planning. For couples planning for the first time ever, mistakes can be made. By hiring us, they can be avoided, saving lots of headache and unnecessary stress.
TL: HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE TO STAY WITHIN THE CLIENT'S BUDGET?
LSE: It’s about being mindful, but also about providing resources and boring but essential things like Google documents and spreadsheets. Organization is everything!
TL: WHAT ARE SOME COMMON DETAILS PEOPLE OVERLOOK WHEN IT COMES TO WEDDING PLANNING?
LSE: There can be a lot! Big ones include:
- Not budgeting enough--expect when you build your budget that you will likely overspend, so be sure to pad your line items!
- Not realizing that adding things like lounge furniture, upgrading linens or lighting can cost more than you think
- Ditto hiring for shuttles: most companies require minimums. So no, you can’t piece together just a pick-up in the beginning for the ceremony, and then a dropoff for guests at the reception’s end
- Along the lines of shuttles, ensuring that enough time is built in for multiple pickups and dropoffs and knowing who is staying where (so ask this in an e-mail or when people RSVP, please!)
- Deciding on an adults-only reception or inviting kids. You’ve gotta draw a line somewhere!
- That you’ll need to take an active part in the layout of the room and underestimating how much time it takes to assign tables
- Not building a website especially when you need to communicate itinerary and key details. Guests rely on this and there’s really no excuse to set one up. So many free (and beautifully designed) sites exist now!
- Have a Plan B in case of bad weather. It’s a tough thing to think about, but a great planner will work with you on one
- Forgetting to tip your vendors. Though it is never expected, it’s always nice to go the extra mile for those working the length of your wedding day: deejays, photographers, caterers, bar staff (if they’re not part of the catering company), photo booth operators, and yes planners, but again only for jobs well done!
TL: WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST TO HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER?
LSE: You definitely get what you pay for, so hire wisely, ask for referrals, and read online reviews. This being the Bay Area, everyone is priced competitively. We are a boutique business with almost 100 weddings under our belt and nine seasons of not just weddings but social events we have planned from 35 to 10,000 people--so you’re hiring a true professional and our prices reflect that deep experience. If a company is charging for planning services that are too-good-to-be-true, take it with a grain of salt, and always always read the fine print. Here at Lily Spruce, we have several packages that we custom fit for every single client. We spend quite some time with you to determine your package, taking into high consideration all your event details, budget, guest count, locale and the overall scope of work to settle on a flat-rate price.