Wedding planners are some of the hardest working people on earth. Every client needs to feel like she's your #1 priority. And every wedding you plan is literally the most important day in someone's life.
No pressure, right?
I talked to two real-life Wonder Women about multitasking, horror stories – and what we can all learn from their experience. Meet Lindsey Jani, Event and Creative Director, Owner of Simply Sunshine Events, and Kim Balasubramaniam, who owns London-based Kim Balasubramaniam Weddings.
What does a wedding planner do?
Lindsey:This is a loaded question... now, if you have the time... there isn't a lot we don't do! In essence, we are there to help guide, educate, plan, interact with vendors, develop budgets and timelines and on top of it all, make it our duty to make sure your wedding day not only meets your expectations in every way but exceeds them. We are there to help set realistic goals, help you create what you've envisioned, and to help bring on and maintain an incredible vendor team. We not only help with these logistical details but work with your vendors behind the scenes - always making sure your vision is top of mind. In the end, we are your go-to's, your timekeeper, your financial planner, mediator, etiquette expert and logistical muscle. We have played doctor, seamstress, and zen-master. There's not a lot we don't do because every event, and every client, is different.Kim:I often describe the role of a wedding planner as part project manager, part interior designer, andpart therapist! Typically, I work with clients on a full design and planning basis. This means that I deal with all the logistical planning of the wedding from finding the venue, sourcing suppliers, managing financials and creating timelines for the planning and wedding day itself and also create the look and feel of the celebration, ensuring a cohesive, thought through design is woven throughout the day. I work really closely with my couples, so they often also turn to me for help navigating tricky situations such as family politics and bridal party choices.Will you walk me through a typical day (if there is such a thing!)?
- 6:00 am: Early bird catches the worm (and also when my child wakes up). First pot of coffee brewing (my lifeblood during our event seasons) and starting to get my family ready for the day. I quickly scan my email inbox to see if anything needs to be prioritized the first thing we start working.
- 7:30 am: Now that more than a couple of cups of coffee are coursing through my system, I start to become more of a human and definitely more productive. Breakfast is eaten, my daughter is taken to daycare and the dogs have been walked.
- 8:30 am: I start most of my work days with a guided meditation. It's a great way to focus and center my mind for the day ahead which will undoubtedly consist of emails, phone calls, working out logistics and something event design-related, traveling and meetings. The first of the emails are cracked open with a fresh set of eyes and I review my to-do list, and add to it if needed.
- 9 am - 12 p: Emails... lots of them. Following up with vendors, couples and clients, scheduling meetings and walkthroughs. Tracking client budgets and timelines as well as a few little peeks at the social media world to make sure I'm up on the latest news in the industry and to congratulate our colleagues and peers on their successes
- 12 p - 12:30 p: Lunch. I've learned never to miss a meal. Otherwise, productivity may start to lag the second half of the day... which is sometimes my busiest!
- 12:30 - 3:30 p: My creative time! Once the heavy logistical items are crossed off of the to-do list, it frees up my mind and puts me in a much more creative space. This is the time I reserve for creating event design briefs, researching new and different ideas, hold creative discussions, etc. This is often my most favorite part of the day
- 3:30 - 5 p: This is generally when my clients will start to free up during their days and tend to hold calls with me. I will have completed a lot of client follow-ups by this point in the day, so it's great to be able to give my clients a status update and next steps as needed. Here, I also start to compile the next day's to-do list.
- 5 - 7 p: Most days, this is the time when my family starts to come home, dinner is eaten and we spend some quality time together and my little girl goes to bed. I work hard during the day so I can savor these moments. After all, planners are human too! A couple of nights a week, I reserve this time for after-hours client meetings since, lets be honest, not everyone can answer emails and concentrate on their wedding during their typical work hours.
- 7 p - 9 p: A couple of nights a week, I business plan... it's an ongoing process to make sure that we are staying on our A-game. Generally done over a glass of wine and with a TV show on in the background (Modern Family and Fixer Upper re-runs, Jeopardy... my guilty pleasures). The nights where I truly have off, I tend to hit the gym or go running if it's nice outside. It's a great way to begin unwinding from the day.
- 9 p: I check my emails one last time (and if it's time sensitive, I'll respond to them - if not, they go on the to-do list for the next day). My to-do list is reviewed and then put away for the evening. I hang out with my husband and quiet down before heading to bed.
- 11 p: Bedtime (if I don't fall asleep earlier!)
What is the best part of your day? Kim:The best part of my job and therefore the best day is running the wedding itself and seeing all the hard work and planning come to life. I work incredibly closely with my clients – I can only design celebrations that are truly reflective of them by getting to know them so well, and have typically been with them over a period of months, so seeing them get married is still quite emotional even after all these years! I am the first to arrive and last to leave and manage the whole day from start to finish, so they're long days but so full of excitement and adrenaline – nothing beats it! Seeing all the design details that have been so carefully chosen come together perfectly is such a rewarding time, and watching the couple and their guests having the time of their lives is just magical. I truly love every minute.What's the worst part?Kim:The clear up! I always find it so sad going back to the venue the following day when it's all over.Do you have a story of a crisis you averted or when your quick-thinking saved theday?Lindsey: We had a bridesmaid at a client's wedding who had just recently flown in from out of the country and was severely jet lagged. She was a tiny woman who lacked sleep from traveling and had one too many cocktails and a little too much fun. Before the wedding party entrances into the reception, she was nowhere to be found. I found her in the bridal suite with blood pouring down her arms - she had scratched them so badly due to a mixture of anxiety, being so sleep deprived and having far too many drinks. While we were working to get her medical attention and much-needed sleep, we wound up reconfiguring the wedding party introduction line-up so seamlessly, the bride and groom were none-the-wiser until the next day. It was scary to see someone in that position, but, like in the "what does a planner do" question, we wear many hats and sometimes become medical personnel, therapists and a shoulder for those who need it.Kim:A few years ago I designed and planned a wedding for a couple who were based in New York but originally from the UK and were getting married in an at-home wedding at the bride's sister's country home. It was a spectacularly beautiful setting in the middle of The Cotswolds which is a really beautiful part of the country and one where I work in a lot. Unfortunately, that particular weekend the local area had the worst flooding since records began with two months' worth of rain falling in just 14 hours. When I arrived on site for the wedding, the whole venue including the marquees was under about a foot of water. My team and I had to work quickly and think on our feet – we drafted in local farmers to pump water out of the venue, arranged for wooden pathways to be built so that guests could still walk from one marquee to the other and moved the bridal preparations to a local boutique hotel. We had to re-route various deliveries including all the dining chairs that were stuck in the surrounding waters and had to rescue others. It was a hugely complicated couple of days but the couple and their guests had the most amazing wedding and it still looked absolutely beautiful. I'll never forget the sight of the bridesmaids dancing in the party tent in their couture gowns, accessorized with wellington boots! On the news the following day there were tales of other local brides who'd had to cancel their wedding plans, which obviously wasn't an option for us, as the couple was flying back to the States a couple of days later. I was really proud that we'd managed to pull off a wedding that was still gorgeous and so much fun in the face of disaster!What lesson can we learn from your career?Kim:I think there are three main lessons that I pass on to my coaching clients which I've learned over the years:
- Work Hard – designing and planning beautiful weddings isn't easy – the hours can be long, some of the planning and logistics can be really complicated and there will be some aspects that you don't necessarily enjoy, but if you work hard and hone your craft it really is such a rewarding career. You're privileged to be working with people on the most special day of their lives and it's important not to forget that.
- Be Nice! I am lucky to work with the most amazing clients who are just lovely, and have a vast network of superbly talented, really supportive professionals who over the years have become friends. Planning a wedding should be fun; clients & suppliers tell me that they love working with me because I make the process enjoyable, am nice to be around and don't take myself too seriously!
- Always go the extra mile – I always go above and beyond for my clients and love thinking of unexpected thoughtful touches I can add to their celebrations. I am also always available to my clients for any question, concern or detail and for me that is the definition of the true luxury service on which I have built my reputation.
From vendors, to budgets, to natural disasters and unruly wedding parties – these wedding planners handle it all. And they do it with a smile on their faces! Now that's an attitude that will stand up under pressure.
Style Me Pretty Contributor - Madeline Littrell is a corporate PR strategist and freelance writer. Born and raised in the South, she loves big hair, country music, and chicken fingers. Madeline lives in Dallas with her Sheltie puppy, Tennessee.