The Case for Consultants: Why You Need a Wedding Planner

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

In these days of Pinterest-inspired and DIY weddings, a bride might wonder why she would even consider hiring a wedding planner.

Recent bride Minda Scoville-who previously worked as an event planner at a ski resort-boiled it down to one simple point: "I wasn't interested in being the go-to person for all of the details on the day of my wedding."

Planners let brides be brides

Most wedding consultants offer a variety of packages-from helping in a limited capacity to full-service planning. If couples don't think they can afford a professional bridal consultant from beginning to end, pros agree it's best to at least hire someone to help toward the end of the process. This person is responsible for taking care of details the weekend of the wedding.

"It pains me to see a mom or a bride walking around with a clipboard," says Jennifer Drew, owner of Something to Remember Events. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and you should enjoy that day."

When Kelsey McKillop was planning her May 2013 wedding, she and her mother started without any professional guidance. The process was difficult because Kelsey lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was worried about the burden on her mother back home in Upper Arlington. Midway through the process, they hired Jennifer Kontomerkos with The Finer Things Event Planning. Initially they sought her help on a limited basis.

"We just wanted some extra guidance … especially so my mom wouldn't have to do everything," McKillop says. As they got to know Kontomerkos better, they began to seek her input on more things and trust her with more details.

"She was just the center of keeping everything on track," McKillop says.

Planners offer experience

While a bride and her mother may only plan one wedding together, professional planners do it over and over.

In addition to being someone to bounce ideas off and to check contracts for common red flags, a planner offers knowledge of bridal vendors.

"We know who's good and who's not as in tune to weddings," says Nina Banks, owner of Nina Marie Weddings.

Working on their own, Drew adds, couples and their parents may spend days and untold energy researching every possible cake maker, photographer, DJ and florist in town.

"A wedding planner's experience and knowledge about that can save you," she says. "It can save you from having a bad experience on your wedding day."

Spend money to save money

It's not cheap to hire a planner. Banks, a mother of five, gets that. It can cost $1,500 and go up from there, she says. But a planner's connections and advice end up saving brides money, she adds.

"The first cost-savings comes from vendor relationships," Banks says. "(The vendors) like working with you, and they give you a better price, and I just pass that price right on to the bride."

McKillop says she saved money on a tent rental, flowers and other bridal vendors through her planner's connections.

"We thought we needed to rent a floor for the tent," McKillop recalls of the hand-wringing over the placement of the tent on a hilly area at the Columbus Country Club. "The tent was going to be on a hill next to the club, and the tent company was saying we needed a floor. But our planner said, 'Let's just move the tent to the front where it's less hilly.' "

Sometimes, it's the bridal planner who gives brides a reality check to help them stay within a budget. Banks often advises brides to cut down on their invitation list, especially when she can see a bride has invited every single coworker and others she may not have been in touch with within the last five years. She also advises brides to carefully consider whether they really need big, beautiful, fancy flower arrangements at each table, or whether house linens will look just as nice as specialty linens.

Let go to relieve stress

Brides who hire planners often say every penny they spent on the consultant was worth it when it came to the wedding day, Drew says.

"She saved me stress … and gave me peace of mind so I could enjoy the day," Minda Scoville says of her planner, Bobbie Izeman. "That was worth more than anything."

Leading up to the wedding, a planner creates a detailed timeline for the wedding day and shares it with all vendors. At the rehearsal, the planner is often the one running the show, teaching the groomsmen and ushers about their duties and letting everyone know what will happen during the ceremony. The day of the wedding, the planner makes sure every vendor is adhering to the timeline, helps set up decorations and puts out fires. They straighten tilted cakes, sew holes in dresses, hem tuxedo pants and fix favors that aren't set up correctly. Drew has even had to find an officiant at the last minute.

During the week of the wedding, Banks says, the planner should take care of all detail-related worries.

The bride and her parents "should not be worried about whether this is being done right or that is being done right," she says. "The couple gets to be the prince and the princess of the day, and the parents get to be the hosts. The day will go by faster than you want it to go by. Be present in the moment, in what you're doing."

Having a planner who took over the details was exactly what Scoville wanted.

"She made sure everyone was where they needed to be, and I wasn't the one who had to corral them," she says. "Yes, it's an expense. It does not come cheaply. And I get that."

But if budget is a factor, Scoville suggests cutting in areas people won't notice and spending the money on a consultant. "It's worth it to be able to live in the moment; you're never going to get that back."