I'm so excited to have interviewed my friend, Laurie Hartwell. Laurie's one of my favorite mentors of all time & a vet in the wedding industry. She's is the Founder & CEO of The Bridal Society, which is the nation's leading wedding planning certification conference. She has over 26 years of experience planning weddings across the country & has earned many awards over the years planning weddings for celebrities & other elite clientele. She recently won "Most Helpful Mentor" at the National WEDDI AWARDS for all the help she gives to wedding planners all around the world. Laurie has a passion for the wedding industry & strongly believes in continuing education. Her goal is to raise the standards in the wedding industry.
This was a distinct privilege to be with her & get to ask her some questions that will give you insights that can help you navigate the challenges that come along with planning their wedding.
Here's what happened:
Ivy's question: Many couples don't know the difference between wedding planners & venue coordinators. Some think if they have just one, they won't need the other. What are the main differences between a wedding planner & a venue coordinator?
Laurie's answer: Your venue coordinators are there to make sure that everything that is associated with the venue - such as the food & beverage, the tables, the chairs, the lighting, the room, the banquet staff - everything that's involved with the venue itself, that's what the venue coordinator is there to ensure is running seamlessly & smoothly.
Now for people like us, as planners, we take care of all the other details. We work for the couple whereas the venue coordinator works for the venue. And, a lot of times, we work really well together. Some of my best friends of all time are catering managers at hotels & country clubs & private venues, & we work really, really well together.
There are some venues that will tell you that you don't need an outside planner & those are the ones that make me a little sad because they don't know what they're missing out on. We can make their lives incredibly less challenging... There's a pretty massive difference; I'll share another.
We, as planners, are going to walk our clients throughout the entire planning process. We'll help them navigate through the muddy waters of what to do first & why we do it this way. And, upon request, we're going with them to the photographer's appointments, baker's appointments & the florist & we're helping them make really great decisions & helping them save money. Whereas the venue coordinators don't really leave the venue. Those are just some of the main differences between the two.
Ivy's question: Many couples hire a wedding planner & many couples don’t. What does the data tell us about couples who didn’t hire a certified wedding planner & how they felt about it after their wedding day?
Laurie's answer: There was a poll that reported about 95% of couples who said they did not hire a Certified Wedding Planner said that they wish they had. But they said this after the wedding & by that time, it's too late. We can't fix anything, we can't make it right, so my advice to all of our future clients, all of our future couples getting married, those who are engaged now, people who are not engaged but are getting engaged soon - my advice to them would be, make sure you're hiring a Certified Wedding Planner, whether it's for the entire planning process or maybe just month-of.
Regardless, at least for that month-of, because that's the basic type of package any of our clients can choose, it will at least ensure that your wedding is going to run smoothly. There are so many details! There are over 5,000 moving parts in every single wedding. That's an enormous amount of details that, as someone who is also getting married that day, doesn't have time or the capacity. It's about enjoying your wedding; not managing a dozen or more wedding professionals.
Our job is about making sure all those 5,000 details are coming together perfectly on the wedding day. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me for a couple to say, "ah, I don't need anybody" because that's not working in your best interest at that point. I want more couples to have their best interest at heart & at least hire someone for month-of.
Now, some of our couples call this day-of coordination, but truly, there's no such thing as a day-of coordinator because, if there were, it would just show up on the wedding day & magically know exactly what was supposed to happen. Without any previous meetings with any of our clients, I'd be clairvoyant & I would just magically know. But of course, that's absurd!
It's important for us to meet with the client ahead of time, meet with all the wedding professionals, make sure that we talk to them, see what they need. We're putting together a very details wedding day itinerary that is just unmatched. And I know that some couples are like, "ah, I can put together a timeline," but what they don't understand is all the little things they miss completely & one thing that's missed in the day can actually throw off everything else in the day.
It's like a domino effect & that's why it's really important to hire a Certified Wedding Planner. We are trained; we know exactly what to do, when to do it & why to do it. Couples need to understand that we want their wedding day to turn out just how they envision. When they hire us, we are taking on their emotions, we're taking on their vision, we want exactly what they want for the wedding day.
There's a lot of miscommunication because a couple may say, "I don't want