I had lunch with my dear friend Elisa last week, who has been a wedding planner for twenty two years. We were discussing the high volume of new leads we received in January but then got very little response from them. One bride-to-be emailed me after not answering for at least six weeks, apologizing and admitting she was basically paralyzed by how daunting the wedding planning process was turning out to be. And I realized something-these potential clients are ghosting me because they don't know what to do.
Here's a snippet of my convo with Elisa-
Nancy: how would you advise a newly engaged bride who is busy and overwhelmed and doesn't know where to start? Are there five basic steps to break it down for her and make it seem more manageable?
Elisa: Usually the couple thinks that they need to book all their key vendors right away. But first there are some important things to consider. Try to get the hard questions/decisions out of the way.
1. Think about what type of wedding you want, size, feel, locations, etc.
2. Determine the number of guests (often it is a balance between number of guests and amount of money)
3. Make lists of who gets to invite how many, each family, the couple, etc. to make up your total guest count
4. Ask who all is contributing to cost of the wedding and how much (today both the couple and both their family often help)
5.Begin working a budget by setting priorities of wedding categories.
Nancy: Yes! I do talk to a lot of brides that are rather blindly researching and booking without any real idea of what they need or can afford. What kind of help is out there for newly engaged couples; what are good resources and what would you advise against?
Elisa: I always advise a couple to at least consider a coordinator or planner to help them. This is one of the most important and most expensive days of your lives. A professional can help you with so many of these stress and time consuming decisions including helping you pick venue and vendors based on your style, taste and budget. Always there are many wonderful resources online like The Knot, Wedding Wire, Style me Pretty,etc. But remember these are not based on local information. Also reply on the expertise of your wedding vendor team as you put them together.
Nancy: And wedding planners have seen it ALL honey! Which vendors are reliable. Sometimes the most expensive decision is hiring someone "cheap".
How does one go about building a budget and shouldn't that be the first step?
Elisa: Budgets can be hard to break down. There are online tools to help but again they are not local or personalized. When I help a client make a budget it begins with the hard conversations I mentioned in first questions. We work on what is most important is to the couple, the families. We help you gain realistic numbers per your style, taste and budget.
Nancy: And everyone has such different priorities! Two brides with the same dollar amount to spend are going to each use that REAL differently! How does a bride go about proritizing expenses?
Elisa: It works really well if you sit down together with everyone in the beginning and determine what is most important to each of you and spend more of your money and focus there. It's more than just determining how much money you have to spend and how many people you are inviting…it’s also what’s most important to you. Also knowing what will make the most impact of you and your guests on the big day. A perfect example would be if you're hiring a professional photographer you would also want to hire a professional for hair and makeup. You need someone who does a great job and can stay on time. Both are key for a successful, stress free wedding day!
Elisa McKenzie owns Elegant Events.