As big day approaches, wedding planners offer peace of mindWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Wedding planners can offer brides and grooms peace of mind and some valuable budgeting advice, say two local planners.
April Gladieux founded Perrysburg-based business Your Perfect Day in 2008 after years of being the go-to event organizer for family and friends. This year, she has booked 90 weddings and employs three other coordinators and six other staff members.
Heather Zeller owns La Boutique Nostalgie, which specializes in vintage-themed weddings. The former psychiatric nurse started her business in December 2011 and was recently featured in The Knot Ohio wedding magazine.
There are several reasons people hire wedding planners, Zeller said.
Some are used for full planning, helping couples meet with and choose vendors.
“We kind of help you from the get-go and get you going in the right direction,” Gladieux said.
There are also day-of coordinators, who are there on the wedding day to ensure it runs smoothly. They can also set up and tear down displays and centerpieces.
“It’s almost like having one of your best friends there completely taking care of everything,” Zeller said.
Zeller said wedding designers fall into a separate category, as they are professionals who help create your wedding’s look.
“Designers are planners too, but not all planners are designers,” she said.
To begin the planning process, the planner and couple meet to determine their needs.
The planner then tries to help the couple pick vendors and venues, which often means going along to on-site checks and meetings.
“That’s when we start brainstorming. People are doing all kinds of neat things now. So we’re not just worried about, you know, the typical table setup and where that’s all going to be. We’re talking about where we’re gonna have the photo booth, where we’re going to have the candy station or the popcorn station,” Zeller said.
Planners also create a timeline for brides and can follow up with vendors in the months leading up to the wedding. Because they are closely associated with vendors, they can also help negotiate prices.
The average Toledo area bride has a wedding budget of about $10,000 — but she often spends $15,000 to $18,000, Zeller said.
“If they have a certain idea and it’s not within their budget, we can help them come close and give them a good alternative,” she added.
Zeller’s base rate for day-of coordination is $500 while her full planning starts at $1,000.
For day-of coordination, Gladieux’s rates start around $795 and she charges $55 an hour for other planning services.
It would benefit most brides to factor a planner into their budget, Zeller said.
“The brides that don’t need a wedding planner are obviously ones that are on a very tight budget. If you only have $3,000 to do a wedding, and it’s not going to be a huge, huge event, I think you would be better off to put the money to your food, your flowers and your photographer,” she said.
Because of planners’ vendor knowledge, Gladieux said, “I would say 80 percent of brides can at least benefit from a coordinator standpoint, but definitely 100 percent of brides can get value from a wedding planning standpoint.”
Gladieux said brides with weddings of fewer than 100 guests may not need a coordinator, although one can provide peace of mind and even be a buffer when it comes to family disputes.
“We’re that third party in that nobody really knows us, but we can put our foot down and say something and we don’t have to deal with family members later down the line,” Gladieux said, adding that she has been instructed by clients to keep certain family members out of the bride’s changing area.
Planners and coordinators can help in a number of areas, from tracking down RSVPs to ensuring the wedding gifts are in a safe location.
Gladieux owns 3,000 chair covers that she can rent out in addition to other decorative items. Her mother, a former art teacher, can create a “guestbook tree,” a drawing of a tree onto which guests can thumbprint “leaves” with an inkpad. She also makes hangers where the wire is twisted to read “bride” and creates cake knives and servers decorated with colored beads.
Zeller provides floral design in addition to being a licensed minister. She also has several decorative items and can even arrange for antique furniture on site. She and her assistant also create “memory tables” with black-and-white pictures of the couple’s family in vintage frames to be displayed at the wedding.
Angela Ritter, who got married Dec. 17, 2011, at her family’s farm, used La Boutique Nostalgie because, while she wanted a simple ceremony, she wanted the utmost elegance.
“It takes a lot of pressure off,” she said, adding that she loved how Zeller decorated her archway.
Abby Panning used Your Perfect Day for her June 23 wedding at Chateau Tebeau Winery in Helena, Ohio, and reception at Freeport Hall in Wayne, Ohio.
She said the most helpful thing Gladieux did was set up the reception hall.
“I told her about a few centerpiece ideas that I had and she brought it to life within just a few minutes. She made everything so beautiful,” she said.