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These days with more and more women kicking-ass in the workforce, trying to take over the world, who has time to plan the perfect wedding? Yes, eventhough it is your dream to manage every little detail so that it comes out exactly like how you'd imagine it to be, but really? Do you really have the time? So you either have the choice of: a) just find the perfect hotel/restaurant (that fits your budget) and get them to plan it for you b) go check out some bridal shops that provides full service (although keep in mind their service are quite limited- it does NOT include running the event on that day) c) beg for your friends and relatives to help you out ( there's a risk you might end up making an enemy or two with your friends and/or relatives, but hey, on the bright side you'll definitely know who are your real true friends that you can count on) d) hire a wedding planner (especially if you want something different and customised) [ I chose D. I just got married 3 months ago and thought it'd be great for me to share my experience with you all. I wish someone would've told me what to expect and how to go about it.] There are essentially 3 main types of service you can get from a wedding planner: - full service. Those who hire this service either has no time whatsoever, hates planning/stress, have tons of money, or want to be surprised. Basically the planner will do everything for you without you lifting a finger. - semi-planning: it's where you want to still be a part of it or have done some planning but would love an extra help or advisor on your team. - event coordination: it's for those who already plan their own wedding but just need someone to oversee the details and ensure a smooth flow of events on that day Decide what you need and choose the service best suited for you. If the right one is found, there will be no doubt, how much info and help you'll be getting in terms of the entire planning process. Very insightful stuff that should make planning easier and if you're lucky, stress-free (note: dependent on your level of perfectionism). Of course no one is perfect or can read your mind and do exactly as how you'd imagined your wedding to be, but if they can't even cover the basics properly, then i'd say fire the planner. Here are some basics that you should expect from any planner: Basics: Must-Haves: 1- they listen and make it all about you (they don't try to force their ideals onto you and make you feel guilty) 2- understand your budget and make it work (so-so planners will get lousy deals for you because it's cheap and they're lazy to think out of the box; excellent planners, will find incredible alternatives for you) 3- reply your emails/calls in a timely manner (they must NOT be hard to reach) 4- extremely knowledgeable about all wedding matters and can advise you on anything pertaining to your wedding- before, during and after. 5- goes without saying, they should also have a lot of vendor contacts at the tip of their fingers 6- problem-solving skills These are essentially the prerequisite before you even sign on the dotted line. But how would you really know, how can you tell if they really represent themselves honestly or just another 'con-artist'? This may not guarantee you will find the perfect planner, but at least you won't fall for a con-job. So here are some tips to keep in mind: 1- Be careful who you choose. Usually you can't really tell from just one meeting with them. These initial meetings are where they'll do everything to impress you, but at the end of the day, it's what they can really do and how they do it. Their 'portfolios' usually don't mean much because they can easily 'steal' and claim others' credit as their work. (it's extremely easy to take nice pictures in ANY weddings and steal it) Solution: have an idea of what you want ie, colors, theme, favourite things/flowers etc and see how they magically expand on your thoughts. That's a sign of true creative thinkers. 2-Ask for a recommendation (or review) from their previous clients (gauge how willing they're to share that part, that should be a sign) 3- Look for problem solvers and planners who have great initiative (who doesn't wait for you to tell them what you want) Alot of times, so-so planners will look at you and shrug their shoulders whenever there's a problem. And they'll sneakily ask you what YOU want to do (so they can be free of any responsibility). Always asked them for solution/ alternatives and what they think-- that's what you're paying them for right? Their expertise and advice? Solution: this is essentially the core of their service, so make sure this is covered in their service contract 4- Don't pay everything upfront. Some will insist you pay the full amount just before your wedding. Worst-case scenario: you paid everything and they went MIA on your wedding day. Solution: Check your contract and ask them to revise to what you're comfortable with. 5- Read everything in the agreement. Twice. I know you're quite used to clicking on 'Agree' whenever you're faced with a sea of letters and alphabets and just sign whenever anyone asked you to. NOT THIS. Solution: Before you sign their agreement, add a few of your own so that it's fair. Usually vendors' contracts are very lopsided, and only protects their own interests, not yours. 6- Check for fine print. Many planners will let you assume they do everything for you and it's all covered in their 'fees' until you get slap with an extra invoice, after your day has settled, when reality has set in and you realized you're both broke (assuming you didn't collect enough angpaos to break-even) Solution: ask them to detailed exactly what is covered in their fees and what is not upfront 7- Check their vibes, if they don't even give you good vibes to begin with, don't hire them. Work with someone you feel comfortable and can be yourself with. Don't forget, this person will have to know you to be able to plan your dream wedding for you. 8- Be wary of planners who try to 'push' certain vendors (eventhough they may not be the right fit) just so they can earn extra commission. You'll be surprise at how the relationship between planners and vendors are closer than planners and clients. It's quite natural since it's a small industry and they work together more than with you (unless you're a serial bride) Solution: Make sure you're cc-ed in all emails (not forwarded) and that the vendors cc you when replying. Unless of course, you wanted to surprise yourself with the wedding! 9- Lastly, a good planner will always have your best interests at heart. They should be able to make logical decisions for you at a time when you can't (due to stress, feeling overly- emotional, anxiety problems etc). I must say, not many planners would even dare step into this realm of making the decisions for you for fear that you might bite back and blame them. But the one that does take the risk, and for your own good, is definitely a true gem. Hope all these helps in your planning. Happy planning and I wish you all the best in your marriage!