27 Wedding Planners Reveal the Secrets They Always Share With Their Clients

From money-saving tricks to stress-reducing tips, here's what you need to know.


Photo by Natalie Watson Photography

Whether you're hiring a wedding planner or not—it's no secret that wedding planners know a lot about planning a wedding, from setting a budget and managing the guest list to designing the flowers and décor.

But, even if you don't have the budget for a full-service wedding planner, don't stress. To help you kick off the planning process—and, more importantly, enjoy it!—we called on our wedding industry friends (27 of them, to be exact) and asked them to share their many, many years of experience and wisdom with you.

From money-saving tricks to stress-reducing tips, read on as some of the country's top wedding pros reveal the secrets their clients pay to hear!

01 of 27

Be Honest With Your Opinions

“Be as clear as possible when communicating your needs and desires to everyone working on your wedding. Remember it’s just as important to share what you don’t like, as well as what you do, so a distinct picture emerges.”—Sofia Crokos, owner and creative director, Sofia Crokos Events & Lifestyle

02 of 27

Start With Your Budget

“Before you make a single decision about your wedding, you need to determine your ‘must-have’ guest count and then your target budget. We see frustrated couples who start the process by booking a venue that simply does not fit into their budget. You have to consider the total cost of your celebration before anything else.”—Lynn Easton, founder, Easton Events

03 of 27

Focus on the Ceremony

“Couples focus much of their energy and time on the reception. But without the ceremony, there is no reception. I tell my clients to put more energy into the vows, the actual ceremony, and how to make it unique and memorable. This is what will set the mood for the whole experience of the day.”—Mindy Weiss, owner, Mindy Weiss Party Consultants,

04 of 27

Trust Your Gut

“Follow your gut and do your research when it comes to choosing vendors. Don’t settle. Make sure the people you surround yourself with are looking out for you and your best interests versus just trying to sell you something you don’t really need.”—Nicky Reinhard, owner, Nicky Reinhard Events

05 of 27

Appreciate Wedding Planning

“A wedding is a micro vision of the larger macro vision of life. The time couples spend wedding planning allows them to decide how they want to navigate familial traditions, cultures, expectations, and needs as they transition into their new lives as their own family. It’s important to see this time can be an adventure, rather than a stressful experience!”—Elizabeth McKellar, owner, The Nouveau Romantics

06 of 27

Practice Self-Care

“Planning a wedding can be an entire year of your life or more, and it can make or break your wedding experience. Practice self-care during your engagement period. Have date nights where you make it off-limits to talk about the wedding. If things get stressful, remember that the wedding comes and goes in six hours, or in a weekend, and then it's over. It's one of the most amazing things to have everyone you love in one place. Relax and enjoy it.”—Alison Laesser-Keck, owner, Alison Bryan Destinations

07 of 27

Keep the Day Personal

"A wedding should be personal and reflective of the couple—their stories, shared interests, family backgrounds, personal styles and travels—versus something built on recycled ideas from other weddings. I encourage couples to draw inspiration from the stories of how they met, what they did on their first date, and how they became engaged. It’s easy to find a few details from those stories that naturally translate into fun and unique elements on the wedding day. For example, for the couple who got engaged on a mountain one snowy night in Colorado, we decided to feature a snow machine at their reception. Guests were showered with snowflakes as they left the venue at the end of the night, and everyone loved how the moment was a nod to bride and groom’s engagement story.”—Allison Jackson, owner, Pineapple Productions

08 of 27

Prioritize Your Guests

“It’s important to keep the total guest experience in mind, especially for those traveling to the wedding. When choosing your date, be sure to do your homework on what is happening in and around your destination town or city. Parades, graduations, and city-wide conferences will impact hotel and transportation rates.”—Emily Butler, owner, Karson Butler Events

09 of 27

Save Money on Invites

"Choosing a rectangular wedding invitation over a square format will save you money on postage, as the USPS considers a square envelope an ‘odd-size’ shape they can’t pass a square envelope through their machines. They call this ‘nonmachineable’ and as such, these envelopes result in an additional $0.15 per envelope. That’s on top of the postage required for the weight and dimensions of your envelope! BTW, it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo an actual RSVP card and envelope, and provide an email address for guests to respond to instead.”—David Stark, chief creative officer, David Stark Design and Production

10 of 27

Repurpose Your Flowers

“I always suggest couples donate their flower arrangements to local charities after their wedding. The florals will brighten up someone’s day, and as a couple, they can feel better knowing the money they spent on a large budget item is going to be appreciated a second time around. We repurposed the florals from Julianne Hough & Brooks Laich’s wedding and created over 450 small arrangements that were delivered the day after the wedding by Full Bloom, a company that recycles gently used flowers to local hospices, hospitals, and nursing homes. It was magical.”—Troy Williams, principal and event designer, Simply Troy Lifestyle + Events

11 of 27

Make Your Guests Comfortable

“Focus on the touch points that allow guests to be present throughout the weekend. For instance, if your ceremony has the possibility of being too hot or cold, make sure to address those issues with blankets, fans, and water. For the reception, always make sure you have enough servers and bartenders. If guests aren’t able to get a drink or wait too long for their meal, it doesn’t matter how beautiful or fun your wedding is. Guests will be focused on their needs not being met and they won’t be able to enjoy the celebration as you’ve intended them to.”—Beth Helmstetter, creative director, Beth Helmstetter Events

12 of 27

Make the Marriage Your Priority

“In the rush of planning, don't lose sight of the big picture. Nothing about a wedding is as important as the marriage that will follow. A wedding is a beginning, not an end in and of itself. There will be different points of view, and perhaps even disagreements, as you plan your wedding. Always make your marriage the priority, the details of the wedding become just that, details.”—Bronson Van Wyck, owner, Van Wyck & Van Wyck

13 of 27

Wait To Say Yes To A Dress

“Don't buy your wedding dress before you've decided on a location or date—you’ll want to choose one that fits perfectly with the venue setting and the time of year.”—Rebecca Marin Shepherd, owner, The Wildflowers

14 of 27

Don't Sweat the Small (or Big!) Stuff

“Everything won’t go according to plan on your wedding day. Keep perspective and remember your marriage is the most important part of the process. Surround yourself with people you can lean on, so you don’t sweat the small or big stuff. Soak in every detail because the wedding day will go by quicker than you can possibly imagine.”—Betsy Krug, co-owner & event director, Rebecca Rose Events 

15 of 27

Take Your Time

“Everything doesn’t have to be decided right away. Yes, important details and securing key creative partners is essential, but the exact color palette, florals, linens, and other design elements can be decided over time as you work to bring your vision to life. If you jump at decisions too soon, you may find yourself wondering if you made the best choices as you move along in the planning process. Let design ideas ruminate a little.”—Darci Greenwood, owner and creative director, Greenwood Events

16 of 27

Become a Host

“Weddings are stressful—family tensions, financial stress, along with the pressures of maintaining religious traditions, and more. I tell my clients to think about their wedding as one big dinner party. This allows the couple to step away from the weight of the emotions and pressure surrounding the wedding and focus on some of the fun details. When they can step into playing the role of hosts and planning a beautiful and delicious dinner party filled with exquisite and memorable details, they really start to enjoy the process.”—Matthew Robbins, founder and creative director, Matthew Robbins Design

17 of 27

Maximize Your Budget

Don't let your floral budget go to waste—save some money and repurpose everything you can post the ceremony. For example, aisle pieces from the ceremony can be used to line the front of the band stage at the reception, swags are easily re-purposed on bar fronts or on a staircase leading into the reception space, and cocktail table arrangements are easily transferable to after-party tables.”—Michelle Cousins, owner and lead designer, Michelle Leo Events, Utah 

18 of 27

Keep Moving Forward

“Keep moving forward. The most stress-free couples I see during the planning process are those who make informed and swift decisions and don’t stress over all the options.”—Virginia Edelson, owner, Bluebird Productions

19 of 27

Ignore "Rules"

“Couples get wrapped up in what they are and are not supposed to do, that they completely forget this is the one day they can do whatever they please. There are no rules! I’m up for exploring all kinds of nutty ideas, and if it won't work it won't work, but we'll never know until we chat about it. It can be as far out as ending the evening with the actual wedding ceremony, or as simple as skipping the bouquet and garter tosses. Nothing is set in stone—throw out whatever preconceived notions you had about how a wedding is supposed to go.”—Wendy Kay, owner and creative director, Birds of a Feather Events

20 of 27

Don't Skimp on Bartenders

“Never, ever, skimp on the number of bartenders. At a minimum, you should have one per forty guests. Cut your budget elsewhere, for example, do lots of candles and fewer flowers on the table, to make sure this happens. There’s nothing worse than guests standing in line for a drink!”—Tara Guérard, owner, Tara Guérard Soirée

21 of 27

Don't Redecorate Your Venue

“It might sound simple, but it’s important to choose a venue that has existing charm and beautiful interiors and exteriors. You’ll have a strong foundation to base your wedding aesthetic off of, without having to spend a lot of money to redecorate."—Rebecca Gardner, founder and creative director, Rebecca Gardner Houses and Parties

22 of 27

Recreate Your Favorite Wedding Elements

“Think about what you enjoy most when you attend someone else’s wedding. Is it the dancing? The food? The little details? Keep this in mind when planning your own wedding. Sometimes couples agonize over things like what color cocktail napkin or which flower to use in the boutonniere, when in the end, if your guests felt taken care of and had an amazing experience, that’s what really makes your wedding great!”—Jacin Fitzgerald, owner and creative director, Jacin Fitzgerald Events

23 of 27

Prioritize Photography

“Photography is paramount. The single most important purchase you’ll make is one you can never redo—so buy the very best you can when it comes to a photographer, to preserve lifelong memories.”—Calder Clark, principal and creative director, Calder Clark

24 of 27

Thank Your Vendors

“The more you love your vendors, the more they will go above and beyond for you. Showing vendors appreciation and gratitude throughout the planning process results in magic on your big day.”—says Heather Balliet, owner, Amorology

25 of 27

Follow Your Own Traditions

“Truthfully, there are no rules to weddings. I don’t push my clients to follow any guidelines and actually prefer it if they don’t! If there are certain traditions they want to follow and others they want to pass on, great. We’re way past the days of formulaic weddings and I hope that trend continues throughout the next decade.”—Stefanie Cove, creative director, Stefanie Cove and Company

26 of 27

Make Your Flowers Last

“One of the best-kept secrets in the business can be extremely cost-efficient for couples—using silk or a mix of silk and fresh flowers. No one will ever know the difference and these arrangements turn out beautifully and last a lifetime.”—Emily Pinon, partner, Bastille Flowers & Events

27 of 27

Enjoy the Experience

“Cherish the journey. So many people focus on the destination and forget that getting there is half the fun. All the meetings, shopping, tastings, choices—consider it a process of self-discovery, creativity, and collaboration. How couples communicate and listen to each other while they're planning is a direct reflection of what their married life will be like. As with any journey, who you travel with and how you travel can be more important than the destination.”—Leslie Price, owner, In Any Event

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