Great Expectations

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					Great Expectations
What a bridal consultant can do for you By: Jo Chandler Confused about hiring a wedding planner? You aren’t alone. Many brides tell us they always thought hiring the services of a bridal consultant was a luxury they couldn’t afford. More to the point, they said they felt guilty about paying someone else to do the things they should be doing. We decided to ask three top Phoenix bridal consultants what they can do for you and why hiring a consultant’s services might be the best investment you can make when planning your wedding.

Victoria Canada, Owner/Consultant, Victoria Canada Weddings & Events
Why is hiring a wedding consultant important?

A wedding planner plays many different roles, not only on your wedding day but also in the entire planning process. We are advocates for couples. We are counselors. We are style gurus. We can make you laugh and take a deep breath when no one else can. We take the calls you do not want to take. We stand up for your dreams. We deal with difficult personalities with a smile, and you don’t even have to know about it. We are there to take care of last-minute emergencies so that the only memory you have of your wedding day is that everything was as you imagined it to be.

What should a couple look for when hiring a wedding consultant?

A couple should look for a consultant that understands their needs as well as their personal style. You should really “click” with the consultant because she/he will be offering you ideas and suggestions to make not only your wedding day spectacular but the whole process, as well. First impressions are a great way to see if the consultant will be a professional you want to work with. A couple should ask themselves: Does the consultant listen to you? Is she/he prepared for your meeting? What is your overall impression? Also, they should always ask if the consultant is a member of any professional organizations. Finally, ask for references of past and current brides and grooms.

We understand that wedding consultants ordinarily offer three basic package: pre-wedding planning, coordinating events the day of the wedding or full service (working with the bride from the time of her engagement until she and the groom

leave on their honeymoon). Can you elaborate?

Consultants all structure their services differently. I am extremely flexible and tailor my packages to fit the needs of the individual client. For example, some clients may prefer to get advice regarding vendors at the beginning and then have me there at the end of the process for the ceremony, rehearsal and wedding day. Other couples prefer to have me coordinate everything once the [engagement] ring is placed on her finger. I also have a la carte items for the bride who may just need help with itineraries, gift bags or wedding-day childcare.

Charlee Geisler, Owner/Consultant, Signature Events
Do wedding consultants plan destination weddings? What does this planning cover?

Yes, wedding consultants plan destination weddings. I personally plan destination weddings with brides coming to Phoenix as a destination, as well as Phoenix brides planning on marrying at an alternate destination. For the bride coming to Phoenix, I require three [face-to-face] meetings: an initial meeting to select the photographer, videographer, entertainment and location. The second visit [takes place] after the bridesmaids’ dresses have been selected so we have a color pallete from which we base items such as table linen and flowers. We usually visit two florists at this meeting. The third visit includes menu tasting and full-table viewing. It is important, after this meeting, that the bride and her family leave with their minds at ease. Destination weddings are stressful only if all involved do not have a clear vision of their wedding day. For brides going to an alternate destination, I follow the same plan as above. I accompany the brides on all visits. So that time is not wasted, appointments are set up in advance—three vendors in each category to provide backup choices.

Do consultants arrange destination accommodations for out-of-town guests?

I do arrange for accommodations. I will send [out-of-town guests a list of] . . . rooms at three different locations at three different pricing levels. The variation in price is important so that guests do not decline the wedding invitations because they cannot afford the accommodations the bride has selected. I do the same if the wedding is a destination wedding coming to Phoenix or a destination wedding out of state.

How about airfare?

I leave the airfare to my preferred travel agent who can accommodate

passengers with a preferred rate for a block of seats. I give my agent the dates . . . . She arranges the airfare and communicates directly with my brides.

What are the financial considerations associated with a destination wedding?

The expense of a destination wedding is dependant upon the location selected. Costs vary greatly from city to city. For example, a band in Arizona may average $4,000, while in the East a band may average $8,000-$10,000. Coordinators may vary their fees but will always include the additional expense of travel cost, such as air, hotel and meals.

Amy Mancuso, Owner/Consultant, Distinctive Weddings
Do consultants help brides personalize their weddings? If so, in what ways?

I believe all weddings are personalized. No two weddings are ever alike. Because a consultant works with a bride in all aspects of her planning, everything from the color choices to the flower arrangements to the linen selection, etc., is personalized to that particular bride. To add an extra special touch, some brides choose to incorporate such items as a “signature drink” served throughout the evening or have a special memento or theme unique to that particular couple. Some couples are choosing to personalize their wedding by naming their tables instead of using the traditional numeric method. Your wedding consultant can help with unique and different ideas in implementing whatever is special or memorable to each particular couple.
In your view, what are the most important services a consultant provides?

The services of a professional consultant typically include establishing and maintaining a wedding budget, negotiating with vendors, record keeping, scheduling, making appointments with vendors, providing wedding etiquette advice, referring qualified vendors and/or service providers, booking hotel rooms for out-of-town guests, making transportation arrangements, coordinating vendor delivery schedules, overseeing all the wedding details and providing detailed itineraries that keep everyone on schedule on the day of the wedding. “Because a consultant works with a bride in all aspects of her planning, everything from the color choices to the flower arrangements to the linen selection, etc., is personalized to that particular bride.”

—Amy Mancuso
How much should couples expect to pay for these services?

Prices vary, depending on the consultant and the services provided. The consultant works within your budget and is not always an added expense. With the consultant’s expertise, negotiating skills, buying power and contacts in the wedding industry, your wedding may be worth much more than you could otherwise afford.

Any last thoughts for the bride?

The consultant will follow through on your plans and ensure that your every wish is carried out. You can relax and enjoy your wedding, knowing that a competent professional is handling the details, keeping you free from constant vendor interruptions, keeping everyone on schedule and handling any emergencies that arise.

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