Vendor Spotlight | Hiring a Wedding Planner

There are so many important elements to planning a wedding.  When you think of a wedding, your first thoughts are the dress, the cake, or the photos.  But what you don't think about is the behind the scenes, intense planning that goes into making your wedding day a reality.  Trust me, it can get stressful.  You have to worry about who sits where, what time should you be getting dressed, when is the makeup artist/photographer/cake arriving, where are the flowers and why is your Grandma sitting on the wrong side of the church.  Some brides thrive on this, others don't.  Regardless, hiring a wedding planner might be something for you to consider so you can enjoy the process a little more and, more importantly, soak in every single moment of one of the most amazing days of your life.

In order to give couples a little more insight to the whole process, I decided to feature a wedding planner on my blog.  I had the pleasure of working with Taryn of Taryn Blake Events on a September wedding from this past year.  She means business.  I knew as soon as I saw her walking around with a clipboard and binder that we were going to be BFFs during this two day event.  I watched in amazement as she effortlessly wrangled the family, and even more impressively, the groomsmen.  This is not an easy feat!  Throughout the rest of our time together she was involved in EVERY aspect of the day (including the catering truck getting stuck coming into the driveway with myself and the bridal party unable to gain access to the wedding) and did so tirelessly from early in the morning until late in the evening.  I considered her an invaluable part of the day.

So I'd like to welcome Taryn to my first ever Vendor Spotlight blog series.  I asked her a few questions about herself as well as her business, Taryn Blake Events and here's what she had to say (and as a side note, all of my 2014 and 2015 brides should read this - there's an amazing offer for them at the end).  My questions are bold and begin with JRP and her responses are in italics and begin with TBE.  Enjoy!

JRP: Tell us a little about yourself.  Who you are, what you do and why you became a wedding planner:
TBE: I’m Taryn Blake, a once nontraditional bride myself, who fell into this business sort of by accident and hasn’t looked back. While working in the corporate world, I was also splitting my time helping friends and family with their weddings. Friends and family turned into referrals and pretty soon, I had more weddings in my calendar for strangers than I did my friends. That’s when I knew I had to make the jump to starting my own business. What started in my tiny row home down in Baltimore has now traveled with me back to York, PA where I live with my rad little boy and my husband.
Keeping my business boutique is really important to me. I only take on a certain number of weddings per year so that I can personally work all of them. You aren’t ‘couple number 40’ for the year – I know your names and your story. I have also been fortunate enough to grow so that I was able to bring on a few assistants that help me for larger events and also specialize in décor placement. I work with couples for everything from planning the complete event to working on just the month-of coordination.
I wasn’t a “traditional” bride by wedding standards – I was married in a semi-pro baseball stadium, walked down the aisle to a rock song, and wore Converse for my first dance. And while I did have other very traditional elements to my wedding day, I needed those non-cookie-cutter moments to make the day really special for my husband and me. This is what I strive to convey to the couples I work with. This day is YOURS. Don’t feel pressured by what you see on pinterest – do it the way that will still be special to you 50 years from now.

I think that’s what I love most about being a wedding planner. Each couple is so different. I’ve been blessed to work on so many different types of weddings – from ballrooms to barns, elegant to a back yard bash, fancy served dinners to food trucks – they all rocked!
 It’s a crazy hard industry to be a part of, but it is so worth it. It’s sappy to say, but I guess I just love ‘Love’.

JRP: What is your favorite part of the wedding day?  Why?
TBE: My favorite part is when the bride and groom walk back down the aisle after the ceremony and get a few quick seconds to themselves. You just can’t practice or prepare for how it feels right after you get married. There’s raw emotion in these moments. They hug, cry, smile with elation – they share the emotions they felt all day – the excitement and nervousness. It’s the first time they can break the script of the ceremony and just let it all fall out in honest happiness. It’s a pure, sweet moment that can’t be recreated, and for that, it’s my favorite.
JRP: Traditionally, when people think about hiring a planner they automatically assume it’s too expensive and don’t even consider it.   Are there options for brides and grooms with a smaller budget?
TBE: YES! There are always options for pretty much any budget. If you aren’t ready to commit to a planning package, you can still work with me (or most other planners) on an hourly basis. This is nice if you’re just looking for someone to sit and walk you through the most important parts of planning and give you some tips and tricks to keep in mind while you do it yourself.
Taryn going through the ceremony at the rehearsal.  Love that binder!

JRP: Similarly, if the couple does have a small budget, how can hiring a planner be an advantage to them?  Do you find ways to save your couples money?
 TBE: Absolutely. There are literally thousands of options for vendors, décor, venues, dresses – everything that goes into a wedding. As a professional planner, I can pretty quickly narrow down the endless lists of options and present a couple with options that fit their needs, style, and budget. Planners also get to see a lot of vendors work first-hand and develop great working relationships with them. I can reach out and work with them to develop custom packages that still fit the wants of the couple – and usually at a cheaper price because we cut out things the couple doesn’t really need.  

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when planning a wedding and a lot of couples spend more money than they want to. Sometimes it’s because they just don’t know any different, sometimes the initial budget didn’t fit the vision, and sometimes, couples get taken advantage of. It’s sad to say that there are unethical practices in the wedding industry, but it’s true. A planner can spot those red flags pretty quickly.

Something else that is important to remember is that time=money. Most couples I work with have full time jobs, are students, or are raising kids. Instead of spending hours on the internet trying to piece an event together, a planner saves you all the legwork. For some, this is worth its weight in gold. Hindsight is 20/20, but most couples are planning weddings for the first time, so a planner helps to navigate the contracts and packages, and makes sure that they are putting money in the right places.

To be fair, it’s easiest to help save money when we’re working together for the majority of the planning. Even though it’s a bigger investment up front, we have the most time to save! There have been more than a few couples who have saved significantly over the amount that they ended up paying me – so that’s just profit back in their pocket. If you’re thinking of hiring just a month or day-of coordinator, the options for helping to save money are a bit more limited since most vendors and décor has already been selected by the time we start working together.

JRP: Other than saving money, what are the advantages of hiring a planner?
 TBE: Keeping your sanity? Not having to fix your own wedding cake? Not making your family or friends work on your wedding day?

All kidding aside (sort of), a planner is your advocate. I take care of all those things leading up to the wedding that cause stress – like awkward budget conversations with vendors; backing you up on the decisions you make that your mother-in-law may not agree with; keeping an eye on the timeline; developing vendor itineraries; keeping everyone together and on-track on the wedding day. Plus I’ve learned a lot about what works over the years, and that’s invaluable experience to share.

I also like to think that at this point, I have a great understanding of been-there-done-that. Except they don’t give out wedding planner t-shirts.

No wedding is perfect. Your vendors will smile if you ask them that because they all know it’s true. Something always goes wrong. Someone is late. Décor isn’t right. Something gets lost. It’s a full day of shuffling and fixing and just ‘making it work!’. With a good planner, and a strong team of vendors, you’ll think your wedding was perfect – and that means we did our job.

JRP: How involved are you on a wedding day?
TBE: Behind the scenes, I’m very involved. The itinerary and schedule is down to the minute and I work with vendors to create a very orchestrated event. Every little detail runs through me.

With the couple and their family, I’m as involved as they’d like me to be. A lot depends on the size of the wedding. Good planners have an innate ability to jump in as needed but be natural enough to fall back into the crowd and not stand out.


When I work with a couple throughout the planning process, I’m really able to focus more on their individual needs on the wedding day because I know we’ve brought together a team of awesome vendors who I can trust to do their job. *that’s one reason I love working with Jen and her team*  

JRP:  Is there anything else you would like people to know about hiring a wedding planner or your business in particular?
TBE: I believe that some people need a planner for the whole planning process. Most people benefit greatly with a partial package. And all couples need a planner for the month-of.

I don’t do day-of packages because it’s really important to get a feel for the event, communicate with vendors, and set a reasonable timeline and expectations for the day. You can’t do that just by showing up that morning.  Keep this in mind when looking for a planner. You’ve put months, sometimes years, into planning your wedding – do you trust someone to execute your vision in 24 hours?

Also, pick a planner who fits your style. Just like photographers have different styles, so do planners.  You spend a lot of time together on a very personal and emotional day in your life, so you need to be comfortable.  Then trust us. Try to relax. It’s supposed to be fun.

Working with Jen and her team has always been an awesome experience.  As a planner, it’s a dream for me!  As a token of my appreciation, I’m offering any of her clients 25% off any wedding planning package for 2014 or 2015! 

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Wow.  If only I could go back 7 years and hire Taryn for my wedding.  She's amazing!  And I'm so grateful for this offer she so graciously extended to all of our 2014 and 2015 brides.  Check out her site tarynblakeevents.com to view her portfolio and see how she can make your vision a reality.  I will be periodically posting Vendor Spotlights featuring new wedding vendors who I have worked with and I believe in.  Stay tuned for more amazing vendors!

Stella Marker (March 7, 2014 at 4:30 AM)  

Now days wedding planner is very important for any wedding. I love your post thanks for sharing.

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