7 Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner Early On

Since moving back to Washington, DC, I've found that this town LOVES the idea of month-of planning. It's amazing to me! From my point of view, planning a wedding takes a TON OF TIME. Who has the time to dedicate to successfully planning an event unless it's your full time job? 

The Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner Early | LIG Events - Washington, DC Wedding and Event Planners

When meeting with potential clients, I often get asked what the benefits of full or partial planning are because they are thinking they'll probably go with a more basic package once the time comes. So, if you've just gotten engaged and are wondering if you should invest in full service wedding planning, here are some of the benefits of hiring a wedding planner early on:

1 - BUDGET

To put it plainly, we know what things cost. We are able to put together a comprehensive budget that will show how each cost adds up. 

Want to splurge on that amazing photographer but don't know if you can afford it? We'll tell you if you can. Better yet, if that photographer is over your budget but have your heart set on them, we will make recommendations on places to cut/save money so you can get those amazing photos you so desire. 

2 - Contracts

There are lots of contracts to sign when you are planning a wedding. Don't know what "force majeure" means? Don't know the first thing about liability insurance? Want to negotiate different terms for your wedding band's contract? 

For the most part, wedding planners are not lawyers. (Although here in DC there are a few!) However, that doesn't mean we can't explain the basics of wedding contracts to you. I always look over all of my client's contracts before they sign to ensure the basics are all covered, cancellation policies are in line with industry standard, load-in/load-out and event times are listed correctly, etc. This is invaluable expertise in and of itself -- you don't want to have a contractual issue as you get closer to your wedding date. 

3 - Cohesion

A wedding planner can envision the entire wedding and celebration from the beginning. This vision is critical as it will help create a cohesive environment and experience for your guests. 

If you don't have vision, or just want your event to truly be an experience for your guests, hire a full service wedding planner. Not only can we perfect the timing so that the evening flows smoothly, but we can also ensure all of the elements of the wedding are reflective of the desired vision. 

4 - Vendor Relationships

We know people. It's our job to know people.

I love when a client suggests something and I have a vendor that can easily fulfill that request. 
Need a branded coconut? I know a company that will do that. (Side note: how cool are these?!?!)

Wedding and event vendors are generally great people that make magic happen every week. It's great to know the good ones, the great ones, and the ones that will make the impossible a reality. It's also good to know who may not come through in the clutch and who likes to arrive late for their events. We'll hone in and focus on the right vendors for you because we know who to go to for what. 

5 - Troubleshooting

Murphy's Law says that "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong". Well, that is certainly true of events. I won't go into a long detailed list of every possible thing that can go wrong, or mishaps beyond my control that have occurred to me, but I will say this: 

If you have an experienced professional at the helm, those problems will be solved much more easily and often without you knowing. 

6 - Save Time

Studies say it takes 200 hours to plan a wedding. At LIG Events, we spend more than that on each of our "full planning" weddings. Do you have that kind of time?

7 - Professional Advice

If you hire a wedding planner from the beginning of your planning process, you have a professional you can go to with any questions or problems. And boy, do lots of questions come up. From the proper etiquette for invitations, to how to limit children at your reception, to when you should cut the cake...the questions are endless. A good wedding planner will be your go-to resource for all of your questions and concerns and 

(We're also really good at managing tricky situations. Have some family tensions and need an outsider to diffuse them? Blame the wedding planner.)
 

If you're already planning your wedding and only have a month or two to go, then I fully encourage you to hire a month-of wedding planner. But if you have more time than that, I wholeheartedly encourage you to reach out and see what your planning options are. As you can see, having a planner "on your side" can make a big difference!

If you'd like to talk to an expert and get some handy advice, don't hesitate to contact us for a complimentary consultation

 


Budget Items Everyone Forgets

One of the most important jobs I have as a wedding and event planner is developing and keeping an eye on your event budget. 

Unlike most planners, I love budgets. I love creating and keeping track of all of the expenses related to an event. And I pride myself on creating comprehensive budgets that include every expense you might incur. (I also really love Excel and spreadsheets, so I guess it was only natural that I would love budgets.)

Even if you haven't hired an event planner for your event, it's integral for you to create a detailed budget for your event or wedding. Costs add up fast and it is often a shock for clients to see how much everything will really cost. Create the budget early on (it's really the first thing you should do) and you will be more informed when you make decisions on your venue, vendors, etc. 

Don't Forget these Wedding and Event Budget Items | LIG Events - Wedding and Event Planners in Washington, DC

Without professional help, it's a little difficult to think of every possible item you may need. For instance, for at-home weddings or large celebrations, you might not know that you may need to rent a generator to account for power for the caterers, entertainment and lighting companies. So below is a list of common budget items everyone forgets to account for.

1 - Transportation

How will you get to your wedding ceremony? How will the guests get to and from their hotels? To the reception location after the ceremony? 

Transportation is tedious and decidedly un-sexy so therefore people don't like to think about it. Combine that with an unfamiliarity with the subject (when's the last time you checked how much a 30 passenger mini bus costs?) and many people grossly underestimate how much money they need to allocate towards transportation. 

Do some research early on to familiarize yourself with the costs in your area and make sure to think about the logistics of your event so you can properly budget for this category. 
 

2 - Gratuities

Tipping waitstaff, the band, venue staff, etc. is customary and a very nice thing to do. Many times staff goes above and beyond without you knowing it. Leave the distribution of tips to your event planner so you don't have to worry about it during your event, but make sure to include it in your budget. (Your planner should be able to give you a list of who should be tipped and how much.)
 

3 - Umbrellas or other Rain Plan Items

No one likes to think about the rain plan. But if you've thought about it, chances are it won't happen (that's just the events law!). And if it does, at least you'll be prepared. 

Make sure to include a line item for rain plan items -- at the very least you will probably need umbrellas. If you're planning a ceremony or cocktail hour on a lawn and there is no indoor rain plan location, put a tent on reserve. This will usually cost you 30% of the total tent price, but it's worth not having to scramble at the last minute when you can't find a tent company to put up a tent because their inventory is already booked up. You can usually cancel the tent the week of your event if the forecast calls for a gloriously sunny day and avoid paying the full price. 
 

4 - Vendor Meals

Don't forget to feed the vendors! You can't expect your photographer to be by your side for 8+ hours without eating anything. Providing vendor meals is not only polite and considerate, but it is very important in order to keep your vendors on-site during your event. What if your vendor is off-site grabbing a bite to eat while something important is happening at your party? 

Make sure to account for this item in you budget because this cost adds up fast! When you sit down and count how many vendors you'll have during the event (band members, DJ, photographer, videographer, planner, photo booth operator, any games staff, etc.) you'll be surprised by the amount of people you'll need to feed.

The cost for vendor meals can vary -- they usually start around $25 and I've paid as much as $75 -- so be sure to inquire what the cost is from your caterer so you can budget appropriately. 
 

No one likes thinking about money when it comes to their event. That's not the fun part -- picking flowers and linens and menus and dreaming about the fun you're going to have is. But if you have a solid budget that guides your planning, you'll be able to enjoy the party even more. You won't be worrying about how much anything costs or how you're going to pay for it and will have the peace of mind to make lasting memories with your family and friends. 

Need help with budgeting for your event? LIG Events offers budget consultations. Contact us for more information. 

 


How to Make Your Wedding Unique

One of the requests I hear most often from engaged couples is "we want to make our wedding unique." That comment is usually preceded or followed by "I'm sure you hear this from everyone."

Well, yes, I do hear that from EVERY client. But I don't think this is a preposterous request. In fact, one of my core beliefs when it comes to wedding and event planning is that I think your event needs to be a reflection of you.

If you are a former ballerina that loves Paris and peonies, I'm not going to recommend we throw your party in a barn in Virginia farm country. If you have specific hobbies you like to do as a couple, we'll weave those details into your wedding so that the celebration tells a story of who you are and what you enjoy. THAT is what I get really excited about, and why I love my job. I LOVE creating events that really reflect their hosts' personalities!  

Six Ways to Make Your Wedding Unique | LIG Events - Washington, DC Wedding and Event Planners

Below are some ways you can include unique touches in your wedding:

1 - Welcome Bags

There's no better way to show your guests little aspects of your personality and what you enjoy about the place where you're celebrating your wedding. I had a bride that loved Goldfish who was marrying a Brit that loved tea. So we included Goldfish and tea in their welcome bags and all of the recipients knew that that unlikely pairing was due to their individual tastes. 

 Photo by  Lisa Lefkowitz

(If you're stumped about what to include in your welcome bags, check out my tips for the perfect welcome bag.)

2 - Food

Do you and your fiancé(e) eat out at your local Italian restaurant every Friday night? As a nod to your everyday life, maybe you want to serve a few Italian hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour.

Perhaps your Indian heritage is very important to you. Then we will most certainly be looking for an Indian caterer to provide your wedding dinner. 

Maybe you'd like to distinguish your event by serving a five course meal as opposed to the traditional three courses. Or serve a cheese course featuring French cheeses because you were engaged in Paris. 

Either way, food is a fantastic way to really distinguish your event and make it unique. There are so many different things you can do -- from adorable mini hors d'oeuvres to inventive stations -- that it is worth spending some time and effort in this area to make sure it's unique and memorable. 

3 - Napkins

This is a minor place where you can make a big impact! Rather than creating custom napkins with your monogram or logo, consider printing them with fun facts about your lives and courtship. It's a cute touch that guests really enjoy. 

4 - Entertainment

Entertainment is a great way to incorporate your taste and personality into your event. For another wedding of an American and a Brit (I seem to have lots of British clients!), we hired a live British band who performed in tandem with a DJ. The band played British classics while the DJ played American tunes. As a result, the music was a perfect reflection of the couple.

And don't restrict yourself to music. There are a ton of ways to customize your event that don't have to do with the selection of the wedding band. If your first date was at a comedy show, it might be fun to have a stand-up comic put on a 5-7 minute show during dinner. Or if you grew up listening to your father's salsa music collection, maybe you'd like to hire salsa dancers to get the dancing underway? 

5 - Cake

Customizing your wedding cake flavors is obviously a very easy way to incorporate your tastes into your wedding. However, what if you're not really into cake? What if you prefer cupcakes or ice cream? Or what if you don't like cake altogether? Well, there are a variety of things you can cut into and serve your guests instead. 

How about a cheese wheel wedding "cake"?

Or a doughnut "cake"?

Those are only two ideas, but the options are endless. Don't feel as if you must have a traditional wedding cake if that's not who you are and you'd prefer something else!

6 - Favors

Your wedding favors are an obvious place where you can really showcase your personality and offer your guests a taste of your preferences.

How about offering them a parting snack? A box filled with bagels and cream cheese for the next morning. As someone who LOVES bagels (oh carbs!), that would be my favor and every guest would know exactly why!

If you love candles, perhaps you will gift each guest an exquisitely packaged candle whose scent is inspired by a trip you and your fiancé(e) took together. 

Either way, your wedding favor is a great way to give a final unique touch to your celebration. It will really have guests walking away thinking "what a wonderful, unique evening!"


Creating a unique wedding doesn't come down to one thing you can do. Really focus on making lots of different areas of your wedding reflective of who you are and you will succeed in creating an evening that is tailored to your tastes and depicts your personality. 

What do you think of some of these unique ideas? How would you make your celebration unique? Let us know in the comments!