All wedding planners are not created equal; and while your wedding day will reveal whether you’ve chosen the right coordinator, you should feel confident with your choice long before it’s too late. An expert planner can mean the difference between stress and panic or joy and peace, so make sure the professional you’re considering exhibits the following qualities before you sign on the dotted line.
A Good Planner Listens
A professional planner will listen and pay close attention to both your verbal and non-verbal communication, promptly responding to your questions and ideas. While it is a planner’s responsibility to let you know when an idea or request is unrealistic, saying “no” without an explanation or discounting your ideas in favor of their own is considerably less than professional. It’s a good idea to ask potential planners to repeat what you’ve described in their own words to gauge how well they listen and comprehend your ideas.
A Good Planner Shares Your Vision
A great coordinator will help you articulate your vision by willingly looking at photos you’ve selected from magazines, and by showing you photos of past events to elicit your response and clarify your vision. Being able to comprehend your vision is a skill that is developed, and a seasoned planner will have what it takes. An extraordinary planner will even sketch out what you have in mind to confirm that they are visualizing the same thing.
A Good Planner is Creative
A good planner’s creativity involves more than colors, design, and flowers. Creativity is also required for effective problem-solving techniques — after all, a “problem” is just an opportunity to formulate a new solution. Ask about their background — a diverse portfolio of experience and knowledge of design, business, and psychology are all excellent indicators. A creative planner can also offer multiple ways to realize your vision, so ask for examples in different price ranges.
A Good Planner is Respected
A wedding professional should be active within wedding industry associations and maintain strong relationships with other wedding professionals. When a planner is highly revered by other top professionals in the industry, you can safely assume that they work well with others and excel at their job. Ask about their ties to the industry, and get referrals from other wedding professionals in addition to brides and grooms that they’ve worked with.
A Good Planner Stays Calm and Collected
An extraordinary planner knows how to defuse unexpected stress rather than amplify it. Often on the receiving end of a client’s fear, anxiety, and sometimes even irrational and erratic behavior, a planner should rarely be rattled or pushed over the edge regardless of the situation. One good way to tell how a planner may react in difficult circumstances is to be observant of their personal life — sometimes it’s easier to tell than you think. Are they distracted by their personal problems when you meet with them? Do they appear to be happy or are they complaining? This is not to say that a great wedding planner who is distracted while they are meeting with you won’t produce an outstanding event; however, you should realize that this is typical of how your meetings will be conducted. When someone is balanced, they are better able to give time, energy, and resources to you, so keep that in mind when making your decision.
A Good Planner is Kind
Efficiency isn’t everything. A good planner should exude warmth and be someone you feel comfortable and connected with. An extraordinary planner will treat everyone involved with the wedding kindly and respectfully. Each family member, guest, vendor, and staff member should be treated as well as the bride and groom. If there is a dispute, the best planners will consistently disarm the confrontation and create a “winwin” solution for all parties involved. Whether it means counseling a nervous parent, entertaining small children, or even calming the family pet, the right planner will be ready. If you don’t sense that the planner you’re considering will treat you and your guests the way you would, you’re probably right. Trust your instincts.
The best wedding planners will exceed your expectations and make your wedding as perfect as it can be — when you find the right fit, you’ll know it. If after the wedding you are thrilled with your planner, please share your experience with others. There is no greater compliment for a coordinator than an enthusiastic recommendation from a satisfied bride and groom, and your referral just may be instrumental in making someone else’s wedding a beautiful success.
Opening photograph by John Solano