Category Archives: How to choose wedding vendors

How to Hire a Wedding Planner or Coordinator

By | Day of Coordinator, Event Planner, How to choose wedding vendors, Los Angeles Wedding Coordinator, Los Angeles Wedding Planner, Malibu Rocky Oaks Wedding | No Comments

I blogged about five questions to ask a coordinator or planner a few years ago, and I’m now writing today with a more in-depth article on how to find and choose one – reflecting the current needs of brides and grooms today.

 Consider exactly what service you want. The past two years, I’ve seen the number of wedding coordination bookings lessen, and surging ahead in popularity are my Partial Planning and custom consultation packages.  The reason is, people are strapped for time and need expertise given to them quickly and accurately.  These services save couples money in the long run; we often can pre-negotiate and warn clients of costly missteps when we are more intensively involved in the planning process. Also, having a life while you are planning your wedding is nice, too.

Weddings at private estates, like this intimate affair at Malibu Rocky Oaks Vineyard, take intensive time and labor to pull off flawlessly. Photo by Dave Richards Photography.

Weddings at private estates, like this intimate affair at Malibu Rocky Oaks Vineyard, take intensive time and labor to pull off flawlessly. Photo by Dave Richards Photography.

Do your research on pricing.  Comparable-quality vendors have similar price points.  If one or two are out of wack from the majority of quotes you are getting, ask them why.  Some vendors are newer and less expensive; be sure you can trust their work and check their references.  I also talk about this in a recent podcast, here – knowledge is power, and being educated will allow you to discuss pricing in a fair and effective manner with a potential vendor.

“Day of” Is a misnomer.  Every now and then I receive a call from a potential client who insists they only need a “day of coordinator” just to “run the day”.  I understand there may be some information or opinion floating about there in the universe that allows someone to think that a coordinator does not need to be involved till, say, a few days prior.  Many times I’ve stepped into an event 3-4 weeks prior and there are a significant amount of final elements left undone – like a proper timeline, linen count, final menu choices, etc. etc.   And certainly, there are also clients where at 2 months out, they are already rock solid with a lot of details. But consider a coordinator an agent of final due diligence and essential project management, speaking with all the vendors and passing info from to another, and correcting some things and adjusting others.  We can spot a disaster waiting to happen, too – a seemingly innocuous detail can cause serious issues on the day of, and we’ll hone in on those potential issues.  We’ll chase down info from vendors, and chase down info from the client FOR the vendors. The vendors don’t all talk to each other; they need someone to connect the dots.

All set and ready to go...starting a ceremony on time takes careful prep in the weeks prior to the big day. Photo by True Photography. Venue: Calamigos Malibu. Florals: McCann Florist.

All set and ready to go…starting a ceremony on time takes careful prep in the weeks prior to the big day. Photo by True Photography. Venue: Calamigos Malibu. Florals: McCann Florist.


I’ve seen massive holes left un-addressed and even if everything is locked up tight, I need to be prepared before the day of so I know how to manage everything. Otherwise, I’ll be constantly behind the curve and scrambling to keep up – and guess who will be to blame if anything goes wrong, that could have been fixed ahead of time? That’s right- the coordinator.

My value for showing up on one day – with no prep work – is at least several hundred dollars. My day rate for working for caterers as a floor manager, for example, is around $350 for 8 hours.  Add a few more hours of time at the event; and acknowledging I work 30 weekends a year usually so I have to make it worth my while; and, add the assistant I MUST have (no matter how big or small the wedding), you’re looking at almost 1k.   So, it makes sense to get the whole set of wedding coordination services for a little more money, and get way more value out of the caring hand-holding and resourcefulness of a coordinator working just for you.

My book The Five Biggest Wedding Planning Myths has more must-have info about planning your wedding, and my door is always open at Happy planning!


Hiring a Friend Vendor: Are You Sure About That?

By | Friend Vendors Wedding, Horizon Hotel Wedding Palm Springs, How to choose wedding vendors, Professional Wedding DJ | No Comments

We’ve added a new clause to our contract. It states, in so many words, that friends or non professional vendors are solely responsible for performing their duties.  We found ourselves suddenly playing music, or telling the client we didn’t have time to perform other tasks like florals or other elements of the wedding that their friend-vendor could no longer perform, at the last minute.  We also have a hard time sometimes getting a hold of “friendors” or non-pro vendors.  Sometimes it works out wonderfully well – we’ve worked with DJs who are pals of the B+G and are clearly professional; or phenomenal photographers who are pals but go by the book from start to finish; but we had enough cases of things going sideways that we added this clause to generate a productive dialogue about it with the client.

What usually happens is the friend sits with the guests and misses important cues or photos, and is very difficult for us and, thus, the client, to communicate with leading up to the big day.  Sometimes the vendor doesn’t even get a hold of the client till just before the wedding, causing undue stress that just isn’t worth the savings of money.

This cake was baked and decorated by the groom. BUT, he was a former pastry chef, cooked the layers ahead of time, and iced it early in the morning! Photo by Julie Wilson Photography.

HIRING A FRIENDOR – Making the decision:

1.  At your consultation, let them talk. If they talk shop the right way, you’re in good shape.  For example, if the pal wants to DJ, do they ask the following?  “What type of dances do you want to do? Do you want it to be more clubby, or top 40?  Do you have a lot of older guests?  Is there a noise ordinance? Do you need additional sound equipment for the ceremony?”  A photographer should ask about your basic timeline, if you want a “first look,” when the last event of the night takes place, and other logistical questions.  If the vendor just talks about style and having fun, they aren’t familiar with the intensity of working under a tight timeframe and that may mean running late on your schedule, missing out on key photos, and other negative consequences.

2.  Sign a contract and pay them a fee, no matter how nominal, so they are committed to that date.  We’ve had friendors abandon their duties when they get a paying gig.  Like two weeks before the wedding. Sign a contract and make sure money changes hands.

3. The exception to this- regarding money – is when a friend serves as an officiant, which tends to be a sweet sentimental service without much time and labor, mostly an emotional commitment.  But they must call the county clerk’s office and be aware of how to process the license.  I’ve had two (2!) officiants now who didn’t arrange to have witnesses sign till I reminded them.  There could be serious consequences if that didn’t happen that very night of the marriage.

Friends of the bride and groom, Ken Jones and Danny Jones, shot video and photos all day at the clients' Horizon Hotel Palm Springs wedding. This shot capped off a festive evening.

Overall, it’s great to feel a sense of community amongst your vendors, but even better when you know professional-minded vendors are working your special day.