Planning a wedding is not an easy task. Don’t let the good times fool you. If you value your peace of mind and want to enjoy your wedding day it behooves you to hire a “professional” planner. It is so worth the investment.

Unless you are planning a small soiree, you may not need a planner, under 20 people or so. You may simply need to meet with a planner and get a professional to share ideas with on how to execute your vision and come up with a realistic plan. But based on my opinion more then 20 people it just becomes a job, and leaves very little room for you to simply enjoy your own wedding.

There is also the option of hiring a planner for the day if you have the support of friends and family that are willing to work with you day-in-and-day-out to do the needed things such as calling vendors, interviewing them, scheduling appointments for tastings, fittings, and spending countless of hours online researching things you need for your wedding–some of which you may have not considered. And don’t forget the save-the-dates, invitations, emails and answering the calls with the countless of questions from your loved ones.

We caught up with wedding expert–top planner Claudia Hanlin–founder of The Wedding Library, a premier wedding planning company based out of New York City (but can pla weddings around the world) that specializes in luxury, upscale wedding planning services.

Some background about Claudia who founded the Wedding Library 19 years ago to provide the best resources for party planning.  She provides highly personalized event planning, impeccable design services as well as bespoke stationery and gifts.  Her clients include Fortune 100 CEOs and stylemakers worldwide.  She has been a Contributor to Martha Stewart Weddings, and has been noted as a top planner by Brides, Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings and Modern Bride.  She has won numerous design and planning awards and has been featured on all major television networks, in film, and in all major wedding magazines.

Pretty impressive resume you might say. But what does that mean, one may ask? Well, it goes beyond having the cost to hire someone of that calaber. It is about getting an expert that has access and can maneuver things for you and anticipate your needs before you even know you needed it or wanted it.

It is having a creative director for your wedding day. A visionaire.

You want someone that can bring your dreams to life. Someone who can negotiate for you with your vendors.

The conversation with Claudia proved to be very educational. Her years of experience is exactly who you would have advise you on such an important occasion.

We asked Claudia some important questions that would be of valuable to you our readers.

What is makes a great wedding planner?
Patience. Organization. Experience. Insistence. Flexibility.
Patience: This is the first time planning such a large event for most of our clients.  They need time to make decisions, work through the learning process and build up their confidence in your guidance.  You are there to help them with this! Organization: This is a given.  Keeping your clients on track for hiring vendors, making payments, getting invites out and not missing any detail — that’s what many couples hire their planner for.

Experience: With 20 years of weddings under my belt, I realize how many pitfalls I avoid through sheer experience.  I save clients time, money and making BIG mistakes simply by anticipating issues before they occur. Insistence: A good planner often instinctively knows the right decision for their client, even if it sometimes meets with resistance from the venue, bandleader or caterer.  Being authoritative enough and confident enough to insist on the right solution is a talent that clients often don’t recognize, but comes shining through in a well-planned event.  Sometimes this power of persuasion is useful to help a client make the right choice too!

Flexibility: Whether it’s adjusting the wedding timeline because someone is running late or working with a non-traditional vendor, being flexible, understanding and creative is key.  A wedding should be planned like a military exercise but should NEVER feel like one to anyone.  A wedding is, ultimately, a personal family party and should always feel that way.

How do you know as a wedding planner you are the right fit for a client?
It’s a great fit when your client is confident in your abilities — when they understand that you are working in their best interests (there’s trust) and when they appreciate your aesthetic.  It helps when they fully understand and are on board with the process — and it’s our job to explain that to them.

How do you take control of a situation when the bride doesn’t know protocol when it comes to planning a wedding?
First, I have to assess whether or not they care about protocol.  It’s important to know the rules because then you can break them with confidence.  So, typically I educate my clients and make sure they understand the consequences of any decision that I’m concerned about.

 But ultimately it’s their party, so I work with my clients to make the best decisions possible.  The protocol for weddings has changed fairly dramatically in the 20 years I’ve been in business and I appreciate why some traditions have fallen by the wayside.  In fact, I love it when my clients challenge me with unorthodox ideas — I find they are almost always personal and extraordinary ideas that are perfect for their own parties — even if they aren’t for everyone.

While there is no standard way of planning a wedding nowadays, there have to be guidelines, why do you think that is important?
I have come to realize that a “traditional” wedding format has been honed to create a meaningful, fun, comfortable and well-timed event for the couple, family and guests.  So whenever I think “outside the box”, I always make sure that my ideas pass the tests of being equally enjoyable for everyone concerned — if not, I go back to the drawing board and make sure it’s the best solution for everyone!  There are countless ways of creating a great event — I try to make sure they will always live up to the highest standards for a perfect party.

What if the couple has no taste– how do you make it work?
No taste is easier than bad taste.  Many clients are unsure of exactly what they want and what they want their event to say about themselves.  I listen very carefully to what my couples say and what’s important to them.  In every event, I interpret those cues to provide a well-crafted, personalized design that reflects my clients and their vision.  Once we have a strong dialogue, it becomes very easy to interpret what my clients will respond to — it’s one of the most satisfying parts of my job.

PS Even when clients say they have no idea what they want, they ALWAYS react to visual cues — whether it’s a photographer’s work or a floral design.  I love uncovering those preferences with my clients.

What is harder, low budget or bad taste?
I am always game to find creative solutions on a low budget — it’s a challenge and a great exercise for me as a designer and planner.  I produce several benefits annually and love finding ways to provide impact on a dime.  Bad taste is a harder work-around as it’s often difficult to anticipate what a client will like if they are inconsistent.  And I find that bad taste is often the by-product of inconsistency.

Do you play referee in family squabbles while planning their weddings? 
Unfortunately, I am often asked to advocate for family members.  My rule is, to be honest, and to work on behalf of my client.  Also, I try to be patient, understanding and to empathize with all the different parties — I know that it’s a very stressful time for many.

What 5 major advise do you want to give brides planning their wedding?
1. Trust your planner — but stick to your guns on personal touches that are important to you.  Your unique ideas will make your wedding memorable for everyone.

2. Review a small group of qualified vendors in each category — trying to absorb every choice possible is unproductive (and unnecessary)!

3.  HIre vendors who specialize in what you’re looking for — don’t try to make a traditional florist, for example, into a bohemian artist.  It will be a more difficult process and usually less satisfactory and more expensive.

4. Be inclusive rather than exclusive (include that bridesmaid you are unsure about, and invite that high school friend!)5.  Stay in the moment at your wedding — it flies by so enjoy it all.  And don’t sweat the small stuff.

So before you take on that roll of planning your own wedding you may ask yourself, will I get to enjoy my wedding if I produce it myself? Hmmmm....

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