Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Make your list, check it twice

With so many brides in full planning mode, I figured this would be the best time to revisit an article I found on Yahoo a million years ago (probably last summer). The article addresses some of the financial pitfalls of having a wedding planner with allegiances that sometimes clash -- keeping the client (you, the bride) happy and making as much money as s/he can. The first four of the Top 10 Things your Wedding Planner Won't Tell You:

1. "Something old, something new � and everything over the top." Weddings sure aren't what they used to be. A sharp jump in what couples are willing to spend has boosted the wedding biz to a $120 billion industry, according to David Wood, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants. Today's nuptials, costing $27,000 on average, tend to be "much grander," Wood says. And the grander the affair, the more a couple needs help putting it together. Enter the wedding planner, a profession that emerged in the 1950s. Once catering to the wealthy elite, wedding planners have gone mainstream in recent decades, doubling their numbers over the past three years, to 20,000. Some 270,000 couples hired planners in 2006, up from 200,000 in 2003.
2. "You say you need a reference? Well, you're looking at her." When Keisha Barnes and Christopher Johnson, of Cerritos, Calif., first met with a wedding planner, they say she showed up an hour late, then took them to see churches much too far away. After the next appointment, when she recommended Lutheran churches (the couple are nondenominational Christian), they began researching venues on their own. "I felt like I was the wedding planner and that I was servicing her," Barnes says. "She clearly had no idea what she was doing." Since wedding planning requires no formal training, anyone can hang out a shingle, and a growing number of former brides are doing just that.
3. "I'll do whatever it takes to keep you calm, cool and oblivious." Just 15 minutes before setup, wedding planner Sasha Souza, of Napa, Calif., found out that the deejay she'd booked had been arrested. In a panic, she called up a sub, who lived three hours away, and told him to get there ASAP. What did she tell the bride? Nothing.
4. "I won't necessarily be there on your big day." As the industry continues to grow, wedding consulting has gotten more specialized � and confusing. Planners now offer tiers of service, from full (meaning they manage the entire process from start to finish and charge about 10 to 15% of the total wedding budget) to partial (they select the photographer, caterer and other vendors for an hourly rate of, say, $25) to day-of (they oversee the event as it happens, usually for a flat fee). In addition, many venues now offer complimentary "wedding planning" as part of their package.

Read the full article for the last 6 things, plus more details.

And as a bonus, as I searched for the image atop this post, I came across Wedding Planning Software -- a list of downloadable programs that you can use to organize your seating chart, plan your wedding schedule or keep track of RSVPs. Sweet. Most of them, however, are Windows only programs - sorry Mac brides.

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