Confessions of Wedding Planners

What they wish they could tell you—but can't.
Gold glasses at traditional reception table
Photo by Inkspot Photography

Your wedding coordinator is there to design your day, keep your bridal party and vendors on schedule, avert disasters—and do it all with a smile. And while her job may look like a lot of fun, it's not all champagne and roses. In fact, there are some things she'd like you to know but she doesn't have the heart to tell you (or she's afraid you'll fire her if she did!). Here, big names in the biz dish their dirty little secrets. (Sorry, we're not going to tell you who said what...we're not gossips!)

"We're not your personal assistants."

Of course your planner is there to help you manage all those to-dos. But if you (or your future in-laws) are expecting her to cater to your every whim from now until the main event, you (or they) may be confusing a wedding planner with a personal assistant—and no, these aren't one and the same. You might think the distinction is obvious, but an experienced planner will tell you differently. "I once had a bride tell me—in a bossy tone, no less—that she planned to use me as her assistant," one coordinator shared. "She wound up driving all of my assistants crazy!" So allow us to clarify: A planner handles wedding-related tasks, timelines and coordination. She does not schedule doctor appointments, wait for the cable guy or fetch dry cleaning. It has to be mentioned, after one consultant was tasked with keeping an eye on all the kids during the reception, that your planner is not a babysitter either. "Hello—just hire a babysitter!" the consultant exclaimed, still visibly peeved. Your planner can't make sure things go as they should if she's changing diapers and soothing crying toddlers.

"We don't want to do your dirty work."

Weddings are hotbeds for sticky social situations, and most planners are more than happy to tutor you on proper etiquette and offer advice for guest-list drama and cake controversies. But it's not their job to handle every personal challenge. "One bride's brother had me apologize to his girlfriend during the reception because 'and guest' was written on their escort card," says one planner. "It wasn't even my fault—they were broken up when we sent the calligrapher the names!" Revealed another planner: "A bride asked me to drive to a bridesmaid's house and bring her to the wedding if she didn't show up on time. I was so relieved when she arrived." When it comes to pulling off a wedding, planners can move mountains. But that doesn't mean they can whip renegade attendants into shape or repair relationships. Leave them to the tasks they're qualified and paid to handle.

"We won't always tell you the whole truth."

Occasionally, especially on your wedding day, your planner may hide something from you. But only if it means averting a meltdown on your special day. "One of my brides wanted a top baker's signature sugar flowers on her cake. When the cake arrived, I figured out that it was covered in fresh blooms instead of sugar ones," says one planner. "I was worried I'd upset the bride if I told her the truth, so I just nodded and smiled as she fawned over the 'sugar flowers.' " But she may tell you the truth—eventually. "At one wedding, the couple ran out of alcohol. I picked some up without them knowing," another planner told us. "When they got back from the honeymoon, I told them what happened and how much they owed me." On your wedding day, the less you know about what's not quite ideal, the better. The brides who say their weddings went off without a hitch aren't lying, but most likely, they had planners who protected them from any problems that arose.

"We actually want you to have an opinion."

While flexible couples can be a planner's dream, indecisive ones can be her worst nightmare. "Some clients can't make a single decision without us," one planner lamented. Your planner can offer suggestions until she's blue in the face, but ultimately, most decisions have to be yours; otherwise, you won't be happy with the outcome—or your planner (and she knows that!). Planners are there to help you narrow down the options and make the most informed choices, but it's impossible for them to point you in the right direction if you don't have any idea what you want in the first place.

"Time is money."

Yes, you're important to your planner, but you're far from her only client. Her time is valuable and it isn't free, so be careful not to waste it on things you could call on your mom or maid of honor for. "Many brides will ask me to meet bakers and caterers that they have no plans to book," shared a planner. "I'll usually visit a few vendors with the couple, and if the first ones we met with didn't work out, I'm happy to recommend others. But going to a vendor just to get a free tasting is a waste of my and the vendor's time and money." Rely on your planner to suggest vendors and help you choose between two. But if you want her to hold your hand every step of the way, you'll have to pay for it.

"Sometimes, you can behave like a couple of 'zillas!"

No matter how talented your planner is, at some point, she's probably going to share an idea that you don't like. But snapping that you hate it without any explanation won't get you any closer to what you want. While your planner wants you to share your honest opinions, if you don't remember your manners, you run the risk of offending her. Vendors have feelings too, and contrary to popular belief, they aren't accustomed to dealing with bridezillas and groomzillas all day. Yes, wedding pros have to develop a thick skin (after all, they deal with picky clients for a living), but getting married doesn't give you a license to ignore common decency, and stress doesn't excuse rude or obnoxious behavior. For the best service and the best results, treat your wedding planner—and all your vendors—with the same respect you expect to be treated with. "If an email comes across as rude, or if it's asking a question that I've already answered 10 times before, I'll take my time getting back to that client," one coordinator confessed. Be honest, be cooperative, be realistic, be respectful and above all, remember that your planner is your best ally in all this craziness, so treat her like it.

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