By Carol Thrasher
Don’t destroy the beautiful experience of planning your wedding by letting all the details stress you out. Avoid starting your post-wedding comments with “I should have done more,” or “I should have planned better.” Get a professional consultant’s help from the very beginning … even as early as your engagement.
A consultant can take the worries, stress and anxiety off your shoulders and carry that weight for you, or at least share it with you. A consultant becomes your “right-hand” by being familiar with all aspects of your needs. Meet and interview prospects and choose the one you feel most comfortable with … you’re going to spend a lot of time together throughout the planning phase of this important event in your life. With an experienced consultant, the advice you get will be priceless and will eliminate the “I should haves.”
Even before you choose your consultant, your brain is being bombarded with questions going around and around. Is everything going to be okay? Are we doing this right? Have we forgotten anything? How will everyone know what to do, where to be, and when? Do I look okay? Will the photos turn out? Will my guests have a good time? Will the food be good? What if something goes wrong at the last minute? Handling all this is exactly what a bridal consultant does. It’s their job and most do it very well because they’ve done it many, many times before. They’ve already learned what works and what doesn’t.
Once you’ve decided that it’s a smart idea to hire a bridal consultant, how do you find a good one? First, a bridal consultant is just that – a consultant. They are experts, but they are advisors, not dictators. They work for you. In fact, good ones will assure you at the outset that it is indeed your wedding, a reflection of your personal style, preferences, culture, and traditions. If the consultant doesn’t subscribe to this all-important philosophy, steer clear.
Secondly, and related to the first, a good consultant is a good listener. They welcome your thoughts and ideas, and then offer appropriate suggestions that complement or even expand upon your wishes. Final choices should always be yours.
Back to the experience part. The most highly recommended and respected bridal consultants have extensive knowledge and experience in the wedding industry. Equally important, they should be personable, yet businesslike. They should be able to develop and maintain a rapport, a sense of synergy, and an air of authority with the service people they recommend and hire for you (the florist, photographer, dressmaker, caterer, and so on). This combination will get you the best services, the best quality, and the best prices.
Here are some additional tips on the roles bridal consultants play and how they can serve you:
Bridal Expert – A true wedding specialist. Has a keen sense of wedding traditions, etiquette, and social graces. Knows what should happen when, but can also help you find creative solutions that put your unique signature and personality on your ceremony and reception. Is in tune with a wide range of resources, from caterers and reception sites to dressmakers and florists.
Supervisor – Is exceptionally organized. Understands deadlines and schedules. Exudes confidence and shows grace under pressure. Acts as the critical link between you and all your wedding professionals. Makes sure everything happens on time and per your requirements. Is an ace troubleshooter. Knows how and when to rattle cages and get results.
Financial Advisor – Understands the importance of budgets. Understands that money doesn’t grow on trees. Can get you the most value for your dollar. Knows current price ranges for a wide variety of services. Has the inside scoop on where to get the best quality, workmanship, and creativity at the best price.
Counselor – Has a warm, understanding personality, and puts you at ease. Is there for you when things get complicated or overwhelming. Treats you, your fiancé, your family, and friends with the utmost respect.
The consultant should be there to take the time to answer all your questions, no matter how small or trivial. We talked to several new brides and asked them what some of their early questions were. Here are a few of their questions, along with answers from their consultants:
Question: At least three of my friends want to have separate showers – one being a co-ed shower. My bridal party will be invited to all of them, but they can’t afford gifts for each shower. I still want them to come, so what should I tell them?
Answer: Normally, you include your attendants in all wedding showers and that can be a strain on their finances. However, let them know that you really want them to attend and, traditionally, they are not expected to take a gift to each event. However, if they’re uncomfortable about not having a gift, they can bring small tokens of friendship, or go together jointly on the gifts.
Question: How do we let everybody know where we are registered or that we prefer cash gifts?
Answer: Tradition still holds today that including this information in your invitations is inappropriate, even tacky because you’re emphasizing that their gift is more important than their presence at your wedding events. However, it is ok to include your registry information in shower invitations. When asking for cash, the only polite way to do this is by letting your family know that you would prefer a cash gift. They can then pass on this information to others that ask what your gift preferences are. Or if you are saving for your honeymoon or for a down payment on a house, check out the registries that are available through travel agents and mortgage lenders. Then you can include them on your list of registries you send with your shower invitations.
Question: How soon do I need to send thank you notes? Can I use e-mail instead?
Answer: Get these out as soon as possible, at least within two or three months after receiving the gifts. Your guests deserve a more personal thank you than an e-mail. Ask your husband to help with this task. After all, he shares the gift.
Question: My parents are divorced. Where should we seat my mother and stepfather and my father and his girlfriend?
Answer: Simply stated – separately. Traditionally, the mother and father of the bride are seated in the front row or pew. In these situations, your mother and stepfather take this position. Her immediate family, which includes your grandparents and aunts and uncles, are seated in the row behind them. After escorting you down the aisle, your father will take the next row back with his wife or girlfriend and any family members. At the rehearsal dinner and reception, remember to seat them at different tables, even across the room from each other if you foresee any complications caused by hard feelings. Hopefully, if this is the case, they will put aside their personal feelings for the day.
Question: My mom and dad are paying for this wedding, but the guest list for my groom’s family is way over our estimate. Can we ask his family to help pay the additional expenses?
Answer: It’s acceptable today for the two of you, and both families to share the cost of your events. If you all decide this in the very beginning, it will work out very well. If not, it’s best that you all get together to discuss the additional cost and how it could affect what you may have already planned, e.g., the location chosen may not be able to accommodate more guests, etc. In your discussion, it’s really not polite to ask them to pay the added expense, but in most cases, they will offer to do so. At that time, you may accept their offer graciously.
A true professional bridal consultant can answer these types of questions and more. And they can help turn all your plans and dreams into a stress-free, unique, and glorious wedding that you and your guests will remember forever.
Article courtesy of Akron-Canton Weddings Magazine.
Stress Free Wedding Planning