13+ Things Your Wedding Planner Won’t Tell You

Wedding planners and pros from across the country reveal the messy side of making your wedding day unforgettable. Here's what they wish brides knew.

By Amy Zerello

I keep secrets.

At one wedding I planned, the cake went missing after the bride and groom cut it. The bride soon asked where the cake was. Turns out the servers had taken it upon themselves to eat it! We cut the pieces smaller and the bride never knew. Keeping things quiet is the secret behind making the bride think the wedding was flawless.

It stresses me out...

when the mother of the groom (it’s always the mother of the groom) steps in at the rehearsal to take over and change the plans. And it’s always the mother of the groom who hasn’t contributed a dime or offered even an hour of her time prior to the wedding who acts in this manner.

I hate feeling devalued.

When a potential client begins to nickel and dime me, I know they do not understand what it is I will be doing for them.

Don't forget the tax and service charge.

Many couples overlook the “plus plus” when planning a menu. Everything has a tax and service charge, and it really adds up, trust me!

I still cry at weddings.

Being part of the family for that short amount of time is truly rewarding. It’s when I’m sent baby photos that I know I had a real impact on a couple.

Your parents are paying?

I hope you understand you may not get what you want!

I'll go to great lengths to make sure your wedding is perfect.

Your wedding is my job and I’ll do everything I can to make it memorable, including walking miles to a florist in Jamaica to correct the $700 bouquet that arrived to you spray-painted purple.

We don't wear headsets and heels.

We know the importance of comfortable shoes. People envision The Wedding Planner and think this job is all about glitz and glamour. We’re not Jennifer Lopez.

Just because you planned your own destination wedding...

doesn’t mean you can do my job better than I can. Yes, you may have found lower rates on Orbitz, but you don’t have access to the contract and package perks that I’m able to offer to my brides.

You’ve only known each other for 4 months?!

Can I get 100% upfront?

I do manual labor and other dreadful tasks.

I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve been on my hands and knees, sweating. I sometimes have to count the napkins and linens before they go back to the rental company. I’m talking dirty, smelly napkins, with food, gum and whatever else is on them. Talk about gross!

Flowers cost a great deal of money.

For the most part, they are flown around the world to their end user. Their prices are affected by jet fuel costs, inclement weather and by the fact that they’re living things that are not manufactured by machines and simply “cranked out.” Likewise, they don’t jump into their vases!

You can always elope!

It's never too late to run away and have a relaxing wedding. You'll have great memories to share with your friends and family once you're home.

The second the ring goes on the finger,

commonsense goes out the door.

This is a full time job,

but on the big day we are steaming the bridal gown, pinning boutonnieres, making sure that the timelines are being met, making sure there are no spots on the glasses or silverware, allowing gum to be spit out in our hands before the ceremony, dealing with any situations that arise, and the list goes on!

I feel like a therapist

when I am forced to step in to help with family drama. My insight is to be polite and respectful. Often, meddlesome people just want to be heard out. Since I’m an independent third party, I’m able to bring neutrality to emotionally charged situations.

Sisters are tough to work with.

Often the Maid of Honor takes her role very seriously and doesn’t trust my capabilities. I take it in stride but have sometimes been forced to take sisters aside. By the end of the night, we’re friends!

If I’m doing my job

right you don’t end up with Bridezillas.

Make sure the things you spend money on can be reused.

Don’t have bride and groom etched on your flutes and toasting glasses. The same rule applies to serving pieces. If you must get something engraved, make it your initials, and then you have an heirloom.

Some things will not go perfectly.

We’ll do our best to fix mistakes without you knowing and bill you later at our discretion.

I do a lot of out of town work

and am sometimes away for days at a time. People interested in being a wedding planner often don’t take that into consideration.

While occasionally glamorous,

the reality of this career is you need to be a business person, a therapist, an artist, a mediator, and a psychic!

I’ll make sure everything you’re offered is in the contract.

If the first manager you work with offers you a complimentary toast, get it in writing. If that manager leaves for whatever reason, you won’t be forced to argue about these details with his or her replacement.

We are quick on our feet.

I had a situation once where the florist forgot one of the Bridesmaids bouquets. Within minutes I had one ready for her by gathering some flowers from the centerpiece arrangements and ribbon that I had in my emergency kit.

Stay focused on the big picture.

It’s easy to micromanage all of the details at the expense of the big picture. As long as people marry for the right reasons, the details of wedding planning are really secondary. Don’t make decisions to please or impress others.

My job is to make sure you don’t have a big overage,

but many caterers will fix 5% more than what’s guaranteed. While the buffet food can’t be salvaged, what’s leftover in the kitchen can. Ask your catering manager to send the extra food to a food bank.

You get what you pay for.

The biggest mistake you can make is choosing the cheapest vendors in the hopes of saving money. Really research your vendors, because you truly get what you pay for.

I wish you’d respond to my emails

as quickly as you expect me to reply to yours.

So the resort says you can’t use an outside vendor?

If you have your heart set on a particular photographer, consult the resort specialist about having a “friend” take your photos. Offer to pay for your photographer/friend’s flight and accommodations. Many will be eager to build their portfolios with destination shots and won’t charge you as much as they do traditional clients.

Reuse flowers

from ceremony to reception if at all possible. If you’re planning to do this, tell your florist, otherwise your flowers may arrive one-dimensional, and won’t look as nice in an open space.

If you've been engaged for a week

and your wedding planning organizer is thicker than mine (which usually contains paperwork for the five or six weddings I’m currently planning,) then I automatically tell you that I’m booked on your date… and your backup date.

Do you really want to do this?

Sometimes I get a gut feeling about a couple and really want to say head to counseling or put the wedding on hold. 

Sources: Lynn Jawitz (Florisanllc.com) Denise Georgiou-Newell, WPICC, DWC, CSP, TICO (WeDDings Jubilee Planning Services), Tanya W. Porter (Weddings, Etc. LLC), Holly Schoenke (Simply Sweet Weddings), Gregorio Palomino CEP CWP, Candice “Candy” Cain (Candy Cain Travel), Jill Higgins (Jill Higgins Photography), Jules Rupae (Jules Rupae Events), Wayne Gurnick AIFD (momentsbywayne.com), Karen Clark (somethingborrowedsomethingblue.com), Bryant Keller (bryantkeller.com)

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