Exceptional Communication: The Sharpest Tool in a Planner’s Shed

Exceptional Communication
March 26, 2018

We can all agree that excellent wedding professionals want to provide an outstanding wedding day for their clients.  Communication is the key ingredient to executing a successful event. When a professional wedding planner/coordinator is hired, you can rest assured that the communication will be solid. Month-of coordinators reach out to the wedding professionals as soon as they are contracted, letting them know that they have been hired to oversee the wedding day and that their coordinating services will start approximately four to six weeks prior to the event. Planners who have been hired to be more involved in the planning process from the beginning have continuous communication with the couple and the wedding professionals for a much longer period of time than month-of coordinators. Regardless of how long a planner/coordinator is working with a client, great communication is the most important aspect of their job.

Better Communication = Better Planning = A Better Event

Planners/coordinators have great communication because they know that the more information they have, the better they can plan...and the better they plan, the better the wedding day will be for everyone involved. Their motive is certainly not to be a burden or an irritation to the wedding professionals they are contacting, but instead to ensure that everybody is on the same page at all times.

If a planner/coordinator is not hired, there is a HUGE possibility that the wedding professionals will not communicate with each other about their individual timelines and what they each need in order to do their jobs. Wedding professionals in situations like this usually only talk to the couple, relying on them to relay information to all the other wedding professionals that have been hired. We all know that this rarely happens flawlessly. In this all-too-common scenario, the communication breaks down completely, and important details can and will slip through the cracks.

Creating a ‘dream team’ is what a planner/coordinator is all about.  Professional wedding planners only work with reputable wedding professionals, and many times they only work with a handful of pros in each category to ensure that their clients have the best chance of experiencing the wedding of their dreams.  That is why professional planners/coordinators who care about the integrity of their client’s wedding day, as well as their own reputations, have a preferred vendors list.

Please note that wedding professionals NEVER pay (or should never pay) to be on a planner/coordinator’s preferred vendors list.  These lists take months to create, and planners only select the best possible wedding professionals--those who work tirelessly for their clients and always keep the good of the wedding day, their clients, and their fellow professionals as their top priority.  It is important for clients to realize that professional wedding planners/coordinators do not take the creation of these lists lightly. They do not accept kickbacks for referrals, nor do they accept payment in exchange for being placed on a preferred vendors list.

Why do I mention the preferred vendors list? Well, between the planner/coordinator and the hired wedding professionals, communication is crucial, and trust is critical. 

Better Communication = Better Timelines

Getting answers to questions is a vital part of a planner/coordinator’s job. They are putting together an extremely detailed wedding day itinerary, which goes out to every hired professional, each groomsman, each bridesmaid, the parents and grandparents, the readers, the ushers, the parents of young attendants, the couple, and more. Wedding planners/coordinators want nothing more than for everyone to be on the same page.

A wedding day itinerary is typically five to seven pages long, color coded, and insanely detailed. Great wedding planners/coordinators think of every component of the day, from the size of the tables and linens to the amount of space the venue has for the seating, dance floor, entertainment, cake, buffet, and so on. They verify that their clients remember how many boutonnières, corsages, bouquets and centerpieces are needed. They ensure that everything runs smoothly and on time, from the hair and makeup to the grand exit. They think about possible restrictions that ceremonies and reception venues may have, and they relay this information to the appropriate wedding professionals. They think about the photographs that need to be taken between the ceremony and the reception--while cocktail hour takes place--and how long these are going to take. They know approximately how long it takes to set up each shot, and they multiply that by the number of shots their clients requested. This way, the planner/coordinator knows if the photography is going to run long and if they need to reschedule some group shots for a different time in the day. Don’t worry!  Professional wedding planners/coordinators have great communication, and they figure all these things out PRIOR to the wedding day.

Better Communication = Better Event Days

Planners/coordinators also have to think about the overall flow of the day. Let’s say that there is an unforeseen situation that delays the event by 30 minutes. This delay, without great communication, works like a domino effect to derail the timing of the entire event. If a wedding planner has not been hired to ensure delays like this are dealt with (either by eliminating the problem altogether or by communicating with the professionals to lessen the impact of such delays), the reception will most likely start late, which means the entertainment provider/s will either have to work overtime or cut some time from their contracted hours.  If the reception starts late, the food will be served late, which means there is a huge possibility that the food will be cold and/or the chef will be furious. The transportation at the end of the night will have to wait longer to pick up the couple. The domino effect may even extend to the end of the night when the florist and rental company come back to pick up their rented items. If there is no communication throughout this process, these professionals may charge for the time they will have to wait to get into the room to start the tear-down process.

What does all of this mean?  It means that without great communication, the couple can find themselves paying a lot of unnecessary fees. The entertainment provider and photographer may charge for going overtime, the transportation provider may charge for the extra wait, and so on. This is why planners/coordinators prefer to work with trusted wedding professionals who have a keen understanding and respect of the wedding day itinerary, as well as all the information the planner needs to collect from them in order to put together a detailed itinerary and coordinate a successful event. If a planner/coordinator is hired, any unforeseen situations are often prevented before they become issues. This is why weddings typically run much smoother when a planner/coordinator is hired.  Professional planners/coordinators are equipped to handle issues as they come up, and they know how to do this without bringing attention to the problem or to themselves. They start the dialogue with the hired wedding professionals early in the planning process in order to prevent any possible hiccups or issues on the wedding day. This helps to eliminate misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, although professional wedding planners/coordinators are known for their organization and communication skills, they are at the mercy of the information provided to them during the planning process. For instance, if the wedding professionals or clients fail to return emails or answer questions in a timely manner, the event will have limited success. 

Great communication from all involved is critical. It needs to be open, clear, and concise.  ALL planners, professionals, and clients need to be working toward the same goal. Without great communication, the event will suffer.  The only way for a wedding to reach its full potential is to ensure that the couple, the wedding planner/coordinator, and the hired professionals are all on the same page and have clearly communicated their wants and needs. Communication is the key to a successful event.


About the Author

Laurie Hartwell
Laurie Hartwell
The Bridal Society, Founder and CEO
Laurie Hartwell is the founder and CEO of The Bridal Society, the nation’s leading wedding planning certification conference.  One of the things they focus on at The Bridal Society is mastering communication skills because they feel strongly that this will help elevate your business to a higher level of success.  Help them raise the standards in the wedding industry and join their family of the nation’s largest group of certified wed...