Friday, March 19, 2010

Wedding planner? Check. Wedding style? Nailed it.

Joseph Todd St. Cyr, Candice Benson and Michelle Flores of Flore' Events
By Lauren Elkies

There are so many facets of a wedding that bride and groom are bound to wonder if hiring a wedding planner might just be worth the extra dough.

But why hire one? And if you do want one, how do you find a good one? How much does a wedding planner cost? How do you figure out your wedding style? What is the best way to negotiate venue price? And what is the ideal amount of time to plan a wedding?

Three New York-area wedding planners gave a a run-down (in their corresponding colors).

Meet Joseph Todd St. Cyr, director of Joseph Todd Events, a New York City-headquartered wedding consultation business, Candice Benson, founder of the Finishing Touch, a New Jersey-based wedding and event planning company and Michelle Flores, president of New York wedding planning company Flore' Events.

Why hire a wedding planner? 

To save time and to have an experienced ally in your corner. 

[To] help you to determine your overall wedding theme and style, manage your budget, keep you on schedule with your checklist, introduce you to great vendors and help with negotiations and contracts. A wedding planner will pay attention to all of your details while helping you consider things you may not have thought of on your own. Most importantly, your planner will ensure that your wedding day runs smoothly.  

A wedding planner is [essential] to the bride remaining sane.

What's the best way to pick one?

The bride should get a few references from friends and/or conduct an internet search of planners in her area. Check out the Web sites and pay attention to the graphics of the site as well as the photos. Pick three that are most appealing on a visceral level and meet with them. If the price and personality click and the references are great, then forge ahead with who feels right. You must enjoy the time you spend with your planner so choose someone you like.

You should look for an experienced planner with the proper education and accreditations, such as a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants.

How much do they cost in New York City?

A full-service planner will be anywhere from $3,500 to $20,000 or more. But the average is likely about the $7,500 to $10,000 range. Day-of coordination is in the range of $2,000 to $5,000.

A full-service planner costs approximately 8 to 10 percent of a couple's budget. Most planners have multiple packages with various price points. 

How do a bride and groom figure out their wedding style?

Look at a few top bridal magazines and create an inspiration wall at home. Rip out pages of what's appealing and then edit that down with the help of a wedding planning professional. He or she will know how to take all those ideas and cultivate a personal style for each couple.

The client should sit down and decide if they want to be more classic and chic or modern and edgy. To assist clients in making this decision, we go through a series of questions about their likes and dislikes and review pictures of items wedding and non-wedding to see what they are drawn towards. Lastly, we put together an inspiration board once we gather this information which helps the client see the colors and details come together.

What is the best way to negotiate the cost of a venue?

If you book a Saturday night a year or more in advance, a venue is going to be looking for top dollar. But, if you wait until within the four-month zone, the venue will be very motivated to negotiate a great deal to secure some revenue on a date that might go unbooked. You can design the invitation and just fill in the location two months out before it goes to print.

It is important to be clear on your requirements and if you really have a tight budget, you need to be flexible. Consider an off-day or off-season if possible as a way to lower the cost. We also recommend that clients look at ways for cutting down that guest list.

Ask, "what can they do to lower the cost," like a different date, time, specialty cocktails instead of liquor, etc. Choosing a different menu may also help with the cost. 

How much time is ideal for planning a wedding?

A year is great but a wonderful wedding can be planned in six months. That being said, I have done incredible weddings in just three months.

Most weddings are planned between a year and 18 months. We have previously planned a full wedding in just two months.

Approximately a year and a half. The bride and groom will be able to have multiple choices for their vendors.

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