You already know that they're in charge of pulling the behind-the-scenes strings on the big day, but we asked a collection of real wedding planners to anonymously share what they wish brides and grooms knew about their job.
1. It’s not a party for the planner.
Sure, you may be dancing the night away and enjoying the full bar, but planners are on the clock. “While we think it’s very sweet that you invite vendors to sit at a table during the reception to eat like the rest of your guests, we really want to go in that side room or closet and scarf down our food in peace—and let our hair down and discuss the crazy aunt at your reception,” says one planner. Not that they need to retreat to a private room to discuss the couple’s crazy families: “We wear ear buds and talk about the drunk or inappropriate guests at your wedding to each other.”
2. They know all of the couple’s secrets ...
“We know when the bride is newly pregnant on her wedding day and no one knows yet,” says one wedding planner. “We are in charge of getting her ‘drinks’ all night. Nothing like a ‘cranberry vodka’ that’s really cranberry soda water.”
3. ... and probably some of yours.
Chances are, if you’re in the wedding party, they know a thing or two about you, too. “We also know what groomsmen the bride has hooked up with,” the same planner says.
4. Don’t mention Pinterest!
There’s no bigger red flag for a wedding planner than hearing that a bride has been planning her own wedding on Pinterest for the last five years. “While brides think it is a great idea to do it yourself and use family and friends for vendors, most planners actually charge an additional fee to the bride who uses a non-professional vendor or plans to make all of her own floral arrangements or invites,” says a wedding planner, who points out that all these DIY elements turn into a babysitting job for the planner. “We call it a PITA fee—or a ‘pain in the ass’ fee.”
5. Wrangling bridesmaids is a big part of the gig.
The first issue with bridesmaids can be identifying the one that might cause a problem. “We can spot a jealous bridesmaid from a mile away,” says one wedding planner. Another planner notes that lining up an intoxicated bridal party to be announced at the reception is arguably one of the most tedious parts of the day. “Where in the world do those bridesmaids go?” she asks.
6. It’s worth finding a pro.
“'I planned my cousin’s wedding so yes, I’m now a wedding planner',” one wedding planner says, mocking what she calls “a wedding planner’s favorite line.” Another planner points out that planning one of the weddings she puts on is typically a full year’s worth of work—“hundreds of hours, thousands of emails, and at least 30 in-person meetings. Not to mention at least 12 hours on the day of the wedding.” And while the initial fee may seem hefty, once the time is put in, it’s not necessarily a high-paying job: “When you add up how many hours it takes to properly plan a full service wedding, we make less than $5 an hour.”
7. They dread the divas—and we don’t mean brides.
From guests with difficult last-minute requests (“Could we have a car seat for an infant for the bus ride from the ceremony to the reception?”) to grooms' mothers who insist on being the center of attention, wedding planners are constantly dealing with demands from everyone but the bride. The worst offenders? Bands. “We are literally giddy when you a hire a DJ,” says one wedding planner. Band members’ moodiness can get in the way of making the day about the happy couple.
8. They’re part-time planner, part-time therapist.
“Ninety percent of our job is therapy, 10 percent is actually planning,” says one planner, who recalls an 11 p.m. cold feet phone call, the night before the wedding, on which the bride was crying and questioning her decision to marry.
And that’s just dealing with the bride—there are also family members and friends who inevitably become upset at some point in the process, and it often falls to the wedding planner to act as counselor. “Wedding planners are also apparently trained in family mediation, couples therapy, family counseling, and anger management … who knew?” jokes one planner.
9. There’s a lot of bustle- and sparkler-related stress.
You could probably guess that wedding planners are nervous about overly-involved mothers of the bride or an outdoor wedding when rain is predicted. But they’ve got a few secret fears as well. “It’s impossible to know how to bustle every dress,” says one planner. “So while I may come across as confident in the bustle, that is always a moment of inner panic. There are always a ton of people in the room during it too—watching me!” Another planner mentions how much she and other planners stress over the popular sparkler fireworks exit. “It is unsafe to give 150 drunk guests fire sticks,” she points out.
10. Dodging dodgy groomsmen can be one of the planner’s biggest challenges.
Blame it on the romance in the air—or the open bar: Groomsmen love to hit on wedding planners. “They say it’s something about the clipboard,” says one wedding planner. “They’ll actually ask me to dance, have a drink, or even go back to their hotel room with them.” Planners are used to this unwanted attention and consider deflecting these attempts at charming advances just another part of the job.
11. They don’t want to haggle.
While being a wedding planner sounds like the chance to eat cake, drink champagne, and call it work, most of the job is actually spent behind a desk. “The main part of our job is office work, unbeknownst to most of society. It’s not just food tastings and socializing,” says one planner. Another notes that brides will often ask for a discount because “they think that it’s ‘just for fun.’” And she points out that most, if not all, planners have non-negotiable pricing.