Saturday, November 7, 2015

Why We Hired a Wedding Planner

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, Dan and I live in Portland, OR. We are both originally from Central NJ (we met in 8th grade there!) and our parents both currently reside there. When Dan and I got engaged, we had the tough decision of where we wanted to have our wedding. Portland was a very intriguing idea, since it is such a beautiful place (we want to get married outside), the food is amazing, the farmers market has the most beautiful flower bouquets for $10, and it would be easier to plan since we both currently live here. However, since both of our families and a lot of our friends currently live in or near New Jersey, we decided to have our wedding there and plan a long distance wedding.

Now here comes the tricky part- Dan and I both work full time jobs and are new homeowners. And while many other people out there juggle more than that, we knew we'd have some time constraints on our hands. After reading some reviews online, it sounded like a lot people suggested that a month of wedding coordinator or site coordinator were crucial to enjoying your wedding and not stressing out on the day of. At first I thought I'd just go with that type of option, but then after talking to a couple of my friends who were getting married, I realized that I needed more help. I couldn't fly home to check out 3-4 different vendor options for each part of my wedding. Definitely not feasible. So I approached Dan hesitantly about getting a wedding planner to help us from the start. I don't know why, but I felt very high maintenance about getting a wedding planner and was worried that I was spoiled and people would judge me.

After talking it over with Dan, who assured me that I was WAY overthinking this, we decided that we would begin looking into wedding planners. I went on and started looking up highly rated wedding planners. I reached out to a few planners expressing my interest and set up a couple of introduction calls to hear about their services and experiences. In the end, Dan and I decided to work with Simply Sunshine Events and I am already so glad we did.

Lindsay of Simply Sunshine Events is seriously the best events planner/coordinator/event designer ever. She covers a wide array of events, from wedding and baby showers to corporate events and fundraisers. And every single review that I read about the company was simply glowing. Once I was in contact with Lindsay, I knew that she was the best fit for us. Not only was she professional, candid, creative, and helpful, but she just seemed like someone who I would work well with. Ironically we both grew up super close to one another, so we instantly clicked on that part of our past. Unlike the other planners who immediately went into their sales pitch, Lindsay wanted to hear our story and what we wanted in our wedding. It seemed like she genuinely wanted to help us create our special day, not just give us a cookie cutter list of services. She has been such a pleasure to work with so far, and would HIGHLY recommend her to anyone in the NY/NJ tri-state area who may need an creative/event coordinator.

Ok I'll stop gushing about Lindsay now (I can't help it!) and focus on how having a wedding planner has really helped us out. Oh and a quick PSA- this is all solely based on my experience, and I'm sure not all services operate the same way. We decided to get help on both the design portion as well as the planning portion of our wedding. I'm really not the most creative person in the world and I felt like we needed help putting together the overall vision. We were presented with a personalize design brief with a couple of different options on which direction we wanted to go. This was super helpful, I can't even begin to tell you. Once we had a vision, Lindsay was able to pick out vendor options that she thought would work well with the venue and overall theme. It was so much less overwhelming being able to choose out of a couple of highly recommended vendors than to have to choose from everyone in the New Jersey area.

Beautiful tablescape image from Simply Sunshine Events.

Which leads me to another important thing that Lindsay has brought to the table: experience. Not only has she worked with all of these people before, but she has seen all the ins and outs of doing a wedding at a "home" venue. Dan and I are getting married on my uncle's farm (which was incredibly nice of him to allow us to do!). However, this makes the whole planning thing that much more difficult since we had to not only style a wedding but actually create a venue. She instantly knew all the things we needed to look into - a tent, siding, flooring, a generator, bathrooms, tables, chairs, cutlery, tablecloths, the list goes on and on. She provided us super detail specific timelines of when we should do each task, as well as supplemental tools to assist us along the way (guest list template for example).

With Lindsay's help, Dan and I made a lot of the big decisions pretty early on in the planning process. I completely trust Lindsay's opinion on vendors and what would work well for us. She hasn't steered us wrong yet! We had amazing food and cake tastings, had a florist brief that was spot on, and have a Chaplain who gave me chills when going through wedding ceremony options. The best part about the whole deal is that Lindsay can sometimes get us special discounts with vendors that she works with regularly, and passes those deals to us directly. Some planners will take those discounts as profits, but Lindsay has an awesome system where she charges us one flat fee for everything listed in her contract and helps us save money where we can. She has been awesome about helping us construct our budget and stick to it so far.

I will be sure to do a close out review of our main vendors after we actually get married, but I couldn't wait to share how much hiring a wedding planner has helped us so far. It has made this whole planning process significantly less stressful than I was initially expecting. More to come as we get closer and closer to our wedding. I can't wait to see the whole vision come together and to finally get married to my man!

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