The Journal

Five reasons you need a wedding planner

This is a PSA for anyone who considers themselves “type A” and super organized. You probably already have half of your wedding decor figured out on Pinterest, you’ve hired most of your professional vendor team on your own, and you have a big wedding planning binder for keeping track of all the little details. Maybe your mom or one of your siblings is also involved in the planning process with you, and they know the big picture plans for the wedding so they can help out on the big day. You might be asking yourself: “do I need a wedding planner?” The answer might surprise you.

Santa Barbara estate wedding

Here is the truth: you still need a wedding planner.

You might not need a full-service wedding planner; you might even be a good candidate for “month of” coordination (better known as “event management”). Whichever package of services makes the most sense for you, the point is that you hire a professional wedding planner or coordinator to run your wedding day like a boss.

There are a TON of reasons you need a wedding planner. Here are five myths we’ve heard from couples just like you. We’re busting those myths with our real-life experiences as wedding photographers, watching helplessly as shadows of stress take hold of our brides and grooms in the middle of the wedding day without a professional planner to manage EVERY. LITTLE. THING. Even the things you haven’t thought of yet (and hopefully won’t have to, because your planner has already developed a solution for the possibility of something becoming an issue).

Santa Barbara estate wedding


Myth 1: Wedding planners are too expensive. We’d rather save that money or spend it on something else.

Even if they feel differently before the wedding, our past clients have UNANIMOUSLY declared that hiring a wedding planner (even just for event management, i.e. “month of” coordination) was one of the best financial investments they made for their wedding day, and clients who did not have a coordinator expressed their regret at not doing so.

Think of it as wedding insurance; you’re paying thousands and thousands of dollars to host this incredible party for your loved ones but skimping on the one piece of the puzzle that will ensure the entire event runs smoothly?

A wedding planner’s familiarity with every minute detail of a wedding day sometimes even saves you money (and tons of time) in the long run. Hiring a wedding planner can be an element of preparing for your wedding that doesn’t demonstrate the full weight of its value until after the festivities are over.

Santa Barbara estate wedding


Myth 2: Our venue has an onsite coordinator, so we don’t need a wedding planner.

A venue coordinator’s job is to manage the wedding day logistics on behalf of the venue. If you’re confident that your venue coordinator can handle the same things a wedding planner would do, ask them to clarify all the tasks for which they will be taking responsibility, or check your contract with the venue. You’ll likely discover that most, if not all, of the operations they oversee are exclusive to the venue itself. Some services to consider:

  1. Will your venue coordinator help with transportation for you and your wedding party? What about accommodation reservations for you or hotel room blocks for your guests?

  2. Will he/she advocate for you in any conflict that could arise with your other vendors? Is he/she available to review vendor contracts to help you make sure everything looks fair and typical for other professionals in the same industry?

  3. Is he/she accessible via cell in case of unexpected issues with your guests, wedding party, or vendors?

  4. Does your venue coordinator set tables with place settings, flatware, glassware, table numbers, menus, place cards, and centerpieces? Does the venue handle moving chairs from the ceremony area to the reception?

  5. Does your venue coordinator manage the entire timeline, including confirmation of timing with each and every one of your other vendors?

  6. Does your venue offer onsite parking? If not, do they offer valet or other parking services, or do they require you to hire another vendor for guest transportation logistics?

There are SO MANY other considerations that can (and will) come up when you’re planning your wedding that the venue coordinator doesn’t assist you with and that you won’t know exactly how to handle on your own. Having a wedding planner’s advice, expertise, and involvement in these and many other elements of your wedding day is invaluable.

Santa Barbara estate wedding


Myth 3: Everything about our wedding is simple, so we won’t have any big problems that need solutions we can’t manage ourselves.

Without exception, every time a wedding proceeds without a day-of coordinator, something unexpected comes up and causes you stress, even if you have a teeny tiny guest list and a laid-back flow. It’s almost a rule for weddings that something WILL go wrong; it’s usually something small, but often becomes more significant if you don’t have a professional to handle it promptly (and keep it from interfering with your mood and your enjoyment of the day). Furthermore, your only “responsibility” on your own wedding day should be to get married to the love of your life, and your family and friends should be free to enjoy themselves and celebrate with you. When you start enlisting the help of your loved ones to manage the event, they’re no longer able to truly enjoy the wedding day with you and are instead distracted or removed from the festivities (or, even worse, they drop the ball because they aren’t wedding pros who are being paid for this type of responsibility; suddenly you have a drunk uncle who promised he would bartend but is now glued to the dance floor, or your cousin forgot to switch the playlist to open the dance floor).

Santa Barbara estate wedding


Myth 4: We’re having a small wedding, so we’ll be able to handle everything.

Even an intimate wedding with as few as 15 guests needs a timeline to run smoothly and a pro organizer whose primary job it is (so no, this can’t be your mother or a member of your wedding party) to coordinate vendors, venues, and the couples’ loved ones. Our experience here at Anna Delores has proven over and over again that having a professional coordinator with you is critical for (a) fully enjoying your wedding day with as little stress as possible; (b) ensuring your timeline runs smoothly and everyone stays organized; and (c) having a point person for your vendors and for any issues that may arise during the day.

Santa Barbara estate wedding ceremony


Myth 5: Our other vendors do weddings all the time, so they can help us if we have a problem.

In the absence of a wedding planner, it’s usually your photographer (sometimes the DJ at the reception) who takes on the responsibility of organizing the timeline, people, and any potential issues, which pulls the photographer away from their main responsibility of being at your wedding in the first place.

Quick story: we once photographed a 15-guest wedding at a private ranch in Ojai. Because it was such a small wedding, the couple didn’t hire a wedding planner for pretty much all the reasons listed in this post. The rental company dropped off the chairs for the ceremony and then drove away, and the bride and groom hadn’t put anyone in charge of placing the chairs. So my assistant and I set our cameras down and set up the ceremony, walking all the chairs, two at a time, into the field where the couple wanted to get married. We’re team players and happy to help as needed to make the wedding day run smoothly, but here’s the thing: during that 20 minutes we were carrying chairs across the property into the field, we weren’t taking photos. We weren’t doing the job we were hired to do. We likely missed sweet candid moments between the bride and her dad as they prepared for the ceremony, the opportunity to photograph the details around the venue, and the ability to prepare for the ceremony itself — we had to run back to the bridal suite to grab our cameras before the processional began.

The point is that wedding pros you’ve hired for their area of expertise, whether that’s catering, photography, floral design, or music, truly need a professional planner in order to do their jobs properly and thoroughly. If they’re worried about managing the timeline or moving ceremony chairs into a field, they’re not giving enough attention to their own responsibilities. The wedding planner is the only pro you hire whose job it is to manage everyone else doing their job!

Santa Barbara estate wedding

As your wedding photographers, we want nothing but the best possible experience for our couples and to be able to perform our photography services to the best of our ability, which is genuinely hindered without a wedding planner.

If nothing else, we just want you and your spouse-to-be to understand the effects of not hiring a wedding planner and how that can influence that actual experience of your wedding day. It goes by so quickly as it is, and having to direct people or problem solve (even on a small scale) pulls you away from being fully present and really inhibits your ability to soak it all in and absorb your big day memories. 

Here are a few more great resources for why you NEED to hire a wedding planner!

Ready for more inspiration?