Shannon Valente Weddings » Calgary Wedding Planner & Event Planning - Shannon Valente Weddings - wedding planning and rentals design studio located in Calgary, AB

TOP 10 things to consider when hiring a WEDDING PLANNER

So you’ve made the decision to hire a professional wedding planner? Congratulations! You’ve just taken the first step toward ensuring that your special day progresses as smoothly as possible.
In the months leading up to the big day, your wedding planner may very well become your new best friend. A professional planner helps you maintain your sanity by assisting with all aspects of the event, such as creating a budget, choosing ceremony and reception venues and incorporating a theme or design scheme.
Choosing a wedding planner can often be a leap of faith—after all, it’s hopefully a one-time relationship, and you’ve most likely never hired one before. If you know other couples who’ve had a positive experience with a planner, you may want to consider asking for a referral. If that’s not an option, you’ll need to conduct a search for your own—no easy task in itself.
When meeting with a prospective wedding planner, don’t rely on personality and likability alone. To ensure that he or she will be able to achieve your vision and execute your special day without a hitch, don’t sign a contract until you’ve received satisfactory answers to the following vital questions:
    • Can you afford them? You don’t want the added stress of being over budget from the get go.  If you’re on a limited budget, look for a wedding planner that offers tiered pricing packages or a la carte options. Ask if they charge a standard flat fee, an hourly rate, or by percentage of expenses.
    • Are they detail-oriented? This is by far the most important trait for a wedding planner to possess. Don’t just take their word for it—request references from previous clients.

      bIf a planner is doing their job well, they should have a repertoire of dozens of satisfied brides and grooms more than happy to rave about their experience.

  • Are they a control freak? Remember, unless you’ve instructed them otherwise, the wedding planner’s job is to guide you through every step of the process, not to completely take over. Make sure the planner you choose is willing to let you have as much say as you want to ensure that your celebration is unique to you.
  • Does the planner have established relationships with local wedding vendors? Ideally, they should be able to make informed recommendations for florists, travel agents, caterers, and other wedding vendors. That said, make sure they truly have your best interests in mind and aren’t suggesting a company for the sole purpose of receiving a monetary kick-back. A good wedding planner should use their connections to benefit you, not themselves.  
  • Are they willing to manage all of your vendor communications? This can be a huge time-saver, eliminating dozens of follow-up calls and confirmations. A comprehensive planning service should include the handling of all vendor relationships.
  • Is your prospective planner up to date on all of the latest trends and fashions for modern weddings? Unless you’re striving for a period-themed event, you probably don’t want your ceremony and reception to be dated. An up-to-speed planner should be equipped to make recommendations for bridal fashions, innovative wedding favours, and contemporary twists on long-standing traditions.
  • Do they hold a certification or diploma from a reputable wedding planning school or association? Keep in mind that while a degree is preferred, it’s not absolutely essential—education can’t replace the value of seasoned experience and beneficial connections, however if they belong to some sort of association it helps to establish them as a reputable vendor.
  • What’s their communication style? Are they easily accessible via cell phone and email? Are they available on evenings and weekends? Most importantly do they offer your preferred method of communication.
  • Does the planner coordinate weddings as his or her full-time job, or are they just moonlighting? If they’re committed to another “day job” and just plan weddings on the side, not to say that it can’t be done, but you may find it more difficult to track them down when you (or your vendors) need them.
  • Ask the planner if she is going to steal your fiancé like J.Lo in ‘The Wedding Planner’. Ok, maybe this question isn’t necessary, but the reaction sure is hilarious!
  • After getting all of the answers to these important questions, consider whether you get a “good vibe” about the prospective wedding planner. Never underestimate the importance of your own personal judgment. You’ll be working closely with your wedding planner for many months to come, so it’s crucial that you feel comfortable communicating with them. In the best case scenario, you’ll emerge from the experience as a very satisfied bride who’s gained countless priceless memories—and is prepared to share a glowing referral to other couples.


Rainy wedding photos

Do You Have a Plan B?

If you are planning an outdoor wedding, you may want to consider having a back up plan. As a wedding planner in Calgary, AB, the one thing out of my control….is the weather! In this city it could be raining one minute, sunny the next and snowing after that.

My advice? Prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

1 – Location – If mother nature chooses to bless you with rain on your big day (which is actually considered good luck!) have an alternative indoor or tented location that can quickly and easily be transformed. The reception area usually works great for this. Ideally your reception location can use the same chairs for the ceremony and reception. If the ceremony plan B and reception will be in the same area, ask the venue about a room divider to keep the reception reveal a surprise!

2 – Communicate – Make sure your guests know that if it is raining they are to go to the plan B location, you don’t want to leave them in limbo and have them miss the ceremony. If possible, have someone stay at the original ceremony location to direct guests.

3 – Time – Allow extra time for any back and forth that comes along with moving locations. If you choose to wait out a rain cloud you may also need extra time to….well, wait!  Or time to dry off the guests’ chairs so they don’t get wet. Make sure your timeline isn’t too tight so you will still have plenty of time for pictures, dinner, dancing, or whatever follows.

4 – Relax – No one can control the weather. Life is full of surprises, (and this will surely NOT be the last one you and your new partner encounter) don’t let a little silly rain spoil your special day.

5 – Supplies – Bring supplies to combat the weather, waterproof make-up, towels, umbrellas for pictures (smooching under an umbrella in the rain makes for a great photo opp!) and for running to and from the car/limo

There are a lot of things you can control on your wedding day, rain is not one of them. So don’t fret about things that are out of your control. Roll with it, at the end of the day, rain or no rain, you will still be married to your perfect match.

Rainy wedding photos

Happy Planning!

Shannon xoxo

Photo credit from top to bottom: Sofia Katherine PhotographyGenevieve Renee Photographie

Adrienne and Jason’s wedding is featured on Calgary Bride today!  We couldn’t have been more thrilled to work with this amazing couple on their intimate restaurant wedding.  The Lake House was the PERFECT backdrop for our foodie loving duo.  Delicious food and wine aside, from the fireplace ceremony to the antler chandeliers hanging at the reception, even a dock side stroll at sunset this venue (and wedding) had it all!  

The bridesmaids all wore different colours of pastel dresses, the cupcakes from Whippt Desserts were piled high and the bride had some delicious honey wedding favours brought in from BC farm.  An emotional first look kicked off the morning and a reception full of laughs ended the night.  Tears of joy filled the day and it was nothing short of spectacular.

Groomsman assistance at this wedding first look.
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Wedding Planner: Shannon Valente Weddings
Commissioner: Klaus Ohlhoff
DJ: Martin Dvorak – Digital DJ Calgary
Honey Favours: Arlo’s Honey Farm (Kelowna)

Planning a wedding is no easy task.  After all, chances are this will be the first (and last)!) time you ever plan an event like this.  Many couples that come to me for help say “we have no idea where to start”.  So I came up with this handy dandy visual aid to help you along your wedding planning journey.

My wedding planning tips/advice:

1) Your date is never set in stone until the venue is booked.  So don’t go wild booking other vendors until the ceremony and reception spaces are secured.

2) No one is set in stone until the contract is signed and deposit has been paid.  Don’t assume a vendor is holding your place until the paper work is complete.

3) Start with the vendors that can only do one wedding a day; wedding planner, venue, photographer, music, etc.  Book early to get your first choice of fabulous vendors.  Then start to tackle the ones who can take multiple weddings per day; cake, stationery, flowers, decor, etc.

4) Space things out so it doesn’t get too overwhelming.  Small, manageable chunks are best.

5) Don’t forget to breathe and enjoy it.  Will it be stressful at times?  Absolutely.  But this is also supposed to be one of the best days of your life, so remember why you are doing this, what it is all about and savour it.

With the new year in full swing wedding ‘Save the Dates’ are going, or have already gone out for weddings happening later this year.  Weddingbells recently posted 15 Original Save the Dates, here are my top 3 ideas  from that list.

1) Cookie – I admittedly have a sweet tooth so these CUTE save the dates were the first to catch my eye!  You would definitely want to make sure they were properly packaged so your wedding guests don’t end up with nothing but cookie crumbs.

cookie save the date

2) Bookmark – Although kindles and kobos are taking over I loved this bookmark idea.  I’m planning a garden/literary themed wedding this summer for a couple who loves to garden and read and this would be such a fun touch.

 If you have guests that love to read why not send them a book mark!?


3) Handkerchief – this one was so soft and pretty I just had to have it in my top 3.  Perhaps your wedding guests will bring it along to dry their tears on your big day. 🙂


See the full list from Weddingbells here.

Images via Weddingbells

Shannon Valente Weddings is a wedding planning and design studio in Calgary, AB.  Creating amazingly fun, jaw dropping, stress free, memorable weddings since 2006.