Wedding planning in 2021 is going to include some unique challenges and concerns. So, what are your newly-engaged clients thinking about?
Well, instead of guessing, I asked a couple that just got engaged what’s on their mind. I asked them what drives their decisions as they plan their upcoming wedding in a crazy time of uncertainty. Through this article and future posts, I’ll cover their planning process, their questions, and what their worries are too.
What Can Wedding Planners Learn From Just One Couple?
There’s plenty to learn from every client. Sure, this article might give you insights into questions your own 2021 clients might ask. Still, the real reason David (ThymeBase’s CEO) and I decided to write this is to give wedding professionals a heads-up on their marketing.
Engagement season 2021 is unlike previous years, and your marketing should reflect that. The anxieties and worry around COVID, event insurance, rescheduling, vaccines, and politics will inform your services and packages. And at the very least, it will let you anticipate the reasons someone might not book you.
Meet Our Couple
Congrats to Rachel and Adonis (pronounced Adonee), who just recently became engaged. I really appreciate them taking the time to answer questions and share what’s on their minds.
Delaying The Wedding
I asked Rachel and Adonis about the date of their wedding. They opted for a late-Spring, early-Summer wedding in 2022 to avoid the uncertainty swirling around 2021.
Rachel explained, “We don’t really know the status of events for 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and decided to push it out a lot further than we may have anticipated at the beginning. We wanted to make sure that all the people at our wedding are safe and feel comfortable being at a large gathering of people.”
“And frankly, I didn’t want to stress about having to plan something, cancel and replan. So I pushed it out far enough to where we think all things should be back to normal back then and give us plenty of time to plan and run the logistics.”
Related reading: Everything You Need To Know About A Wedding Day Timeline
No One Wants To Compete With The Rescheduled 2020 Events
Adonis was concerned with the supply and demand of services as 2020’s postponed events vie against 2021 events. In the end, the couple chose to push their wedding out further to give themselves the space to plan. But they also hope to avoid competing with other weddings for limited dates at venues and their preferred vendors.
“It was a combination of things,” Adonis told me. “A big factor is all the weddings that got pushed from 2020 into 2021. And all the people that are were already planning for 2021 weddings. Our hypothesis is that just supply will be low, and demand will be crazy high. The cost is going to be through the roof.”
Where Newly Engaged Couples Begin With Their Wedding Planning
Many couples begin with the venue, but our couple started with their guest list before tackling the question of which venue.
Rachel mentioned, “in the last month or so, we’ve pulled together our invite list just to get an idea of how big our wedding is going to be. And then I think the venue is where we’re going to focus first.”
Adonis added, “The only thing that we did from the day that we got engaged was put together an initial list of people. So that list was like, let’s put everybody on the list that might potentially get an invite. It was some absurd number. It was like 350 people. Now we want to lock in the venue and date so that we can then move things forward.”
“Luckily, we’re pretty flexible people. And I think what’s been a little tough actually is because we’re so flexible we don’t really have a strong idea about what our wedding will be like. Things like color and style and vibe and all those things that I think many people come in having a clear picture of, we’re kind of starting from a blank slate. We have just a blank binder. It’s overwhelming to try and find a venue that checks all our boxes and that you actually know will work for us on the day-of.”
Read more: 5 Questions to Ask on a Venue Walkthrough.
Couples Need Help In Knowing What’s Next
Once the venue is booked, a question arises. What should a couple work on next? These are the questions that a wedding planner is perfectly poised to help answer.
“But in terms of the wedding timeline, beyond that,” Adonis said, “I was wondering what are the next steps? What are the next things that we should be thinking about?
And What About The Budget?
Adonis told me that he and Rachel have a lot of questions when it comes to budgeting. “We’re paying for this ourselves; we’re going to be doing it all between the two of us. We are novices in terms of actual weddings and how to plan them.”
“I’ve heard things like 200 bucks per person as a rough ballpark. For whatever reason of both of us have a 200 person wedding in our heads. And even that feels large. But when we looked at the people that we wanted to attend, just all the people that we care and love and want to celebrate with, it feels like the 200-person range is probably right.”
So with all these questions, is our couple going to hire a wedding planner?
Why Hire A Wedding Planner?
There are many reasons to hire a wedding planner, and Rachel is concerned about taking on all the stress for her wedding.
“That’s definitely on our list. At the very minimum, we’ll hire a day-of coordinator. But I think it would be even more helpful to have a planner. We’re happy to do research and make decisions, but we don’t actually know what to research or what decisions need to be made. So we need someone who can guide us in the right direction and say, ‘Hey, here’s this checklist. Here’s how you should think about these things. Here are 10 caters that I’ve used in the past.’ We want a planner to give us an overall direction. But in the actual tactical stuff, we’re both happy to jump in and do that work.”
Couples Don’t Know What It Costs To Hire A Wedding Planner.
“So for the people that we know,” Rachel said, “a lot of our close friends have gotten married, but they’re on two ends of the spectrum. Some parents pay for the wedding, and they have all the bells and whistles, including a full-time planner for tens of thousands of dollars. And then, on the other side, is everyone else who has done it all on their own. And the stress that those people have experienced is something that I just don’t really want.”
“I’d rather pay to find somewhere in the middle, but that middle range, I don’t think we know anyone who’s done the mid-range. The weddings that we’ve been to seem to be on two extremes where I think we kind of fit more in the middle, I would say.”
Referrals Count When Hiring A Wedding Pro
Adonis said, “I’ve heard a year out is the right time to start thinking about a planner, but that could be wrong. I’ll reach out to people that I know for referrals. I’ve already done a little bit of outreach to friends asking who they hired or are they planning for their own wedding.”
“We’ll also do some basic googling and looking on Instagram. But I would say having a friend recommend someone obviously lends a lot of credibility to that person.”
On Making The Right Decisions During Wedding Planning
Many couples struggle when it comes to decision-making in the wedding planning phase, and Rachel shared her thoughts.
“I sometimes suffer from decision paralysis,” she said. “So that’s a nerve-wracking thing for me. And I see it kind of happening already where I’ll be on The Knot, and I think, ‘Oh, outdoor would be nice. Or this would be nice. Or maybe this would be nice.’ And then I still have like a hundred venues to look at. How do you make the decision? I feel like I don’t know what criteria matter for us to make a decision.”
Related reading: Client Indecision and How Event Planners Can Work Through It
“And frankly, it’s one of the more hefty decisions that you make in your life as far as money’s concerned. And I would hate to get it wrong. Even picking the wrong planner, picking the wrong venue, all of that stuff kind of gives me a little bit of paralysis.”
“So that’s why we haven’t really done anything. Granted, it’s pandemic, and we push out our date a lot, but we haven’t really done anything because we’ll start, and then it’s just really overwhelming. We end up taking a step back and not do anything.”
Optimizing For Personal Priorities
Rachel has her priorities clearly defined.
“I think it is going to be a hell of a party, honestly. When people ask me what we’re optimizing for, it’s an open bar, good music, great people. We’re going to optimize for a good time. At the end of the day, we’re just there to have a good time, and I think it’ll be great.”
It’s The Little Details That Matter
We’ve discussed elsewhere on our blog that the little details are crucial during wedding planning. Rachel and Adonis agree. Rachel explained her perspective further.
“I really enjoy watching people have a good time, but there are those little things that people don’t think about where it’s like, ‘Oh, you have a 200 person wedding and only three bathrooms.’ So it’s these weird, nitpicky things that I want to think about. Sure, music’s got to be great, but the surrounding sound, is it echoing? Can people hear? No one can hear the speeches at some weddings, or the music has really loud bass, and you can’t hear anything else because the acoustics are weird. So it’s funny that stuff is more important to me than what color the flowers will be.”
Every Couple Is Different
Of course when it comes to wedding planning, every couple is different, but concern for their guest experience is universal. As is their desire for their wedding to be a memorable event in their lives. As event professionals, we can tailor proposals, materials, and even our event planning software to facilitate client collaboration and reassurance.
We’ll be talking to Rachel and Adonis again soon, so let me know if you’d like me to bring up any questions.