SNL did a wedding venue commercial and it was life!
The thing is, parodies based on truth are funny! One of my favorite things about being a wedding planner in Oregon – our diversity of venues and styles of weddings you can plan. But be very wary of venues that tell you they do everything for you with their own included wedding coordinator.
There is a big difference between a wedding planner and a venue wedding coordinator. When you hire a venue that has an on-site coordinator who will work with you or your own wedding planner to perfectly plan your day, that’s great. They are there to manage the event on behalf of the venue to make sure the vendors you hire are actual businesses, they hold the proper insurance, and will comply with all of the venue rules. They make sure everyone knows when they can arrive, where they can load, what kind of equipment is allowed, and what time they need to clean and load out by.
Your wedding planner is very different. Depending on what you hire them to do they help you select vendors, venues, set a budget, design the decor, menu, and overall flow and details of your wedding. They plan your timeline, organize your processional and ceremony details, read your contracts to determine exactly what you ordered from your vendors, schedule all of your vendors, run your ceremony rehearsal and manage every detail of your wedding set up. They are there to direct the bridal party, vendors and venue staff throughout your wedding, and direct clean up and load out.
I call a venue cookie cutter if they force you to work with their preferred or required or in-house wedding planner, do not at least give you options for catering (they can be in house catering only and not cookie cutter if they offer a lot of options, or if they have select approved catering with diverse styles, expertise and pricing options), limited options for decor and florists, and if they have strictly limited access to the venue on a dictated preset timeline.
Some may wrongly assume a wedding planner wouldn’t like cookie cutter venues because they don’t work with planners – maybe a fair thought but I’m not just any type of planner. I’m the Creative type of planner. The more original a wedding is, the more I love working with that couple on their wedding. I love it when couples are true to themselves, turn timelines and traditions on their head, and think outside of the box. You can’t do that if your entire wedding came pre-packaged in a box set served up to ten other couples in the nearly exact same way, on a busy week.
This is 2019 you have so many options open to you. If you just want to get married, not think about anything and you have a lot of money to spend, hire a full service planner, like us. We’ll provide you the exact wedding you want with very little effort. Show up to some key meetings select from a few options then forget about the worrying part. You don’t have to check anything but your texts or emails from us asking you for final decisions or reminding you of meetings or to pay this amount to a certain vendor that day.
The alternative – hire a venue that does it all, one meeting, tell them your colors and date and budget and which options you like – boom your wedding is pretty much done. If anyone has been to a wedding there before they’ll recognize it.
Tip 1) When hiring a planner, make sure you look at the styles of weddings they’ve done in the past. If their Instagram is filled with nothing but similarly styled photo shoots but their blog has real weddings that look nothing like that type of work, be wary! Planning a 250 guest wedding with 8 bridesmaids and groomsmen, at one or multiple venues, is a lot different than making models look pretty with the help of professional photographers, make up artists, and florists in a perfectly artificially lit studio.
Also, if a planner has nothing but one style of wedding or design they style in their body of work, that planner may not be very creative. Anyone can follow trends, but can they style different styles and types of weddings with traditional and non-traditional timelines, and truly help you get the destinct result you are looking for?
Tip 2) Do you want a very specific style of wedding, and does the planner either match that style or more importantly does the planner show a huge variety in the style and locations of the weddings they’ve planned? I love specific venues. They’re a blank slate and every wedding you design or plan there is or can be completely different. The red flags to watch for – every wedding is at one or two venues. Either that planner just gets a lot of referrals at one or two venues, and enjoys very different events that happen to be in one place, that’s not at all weird. Or they may just be comfortable working with the same few vendors in the same few places. Again, that’s fine if you are not looking for a creatively destinctly you wedding.
I personally love what we do BECAUSE we work with a limited number of couples per year and work with couples who are all so different! Our couples have different planning challenges, styles, venues, and character. A classy beautiful affair at a beloved non-cookie cutter venue, or an extremely large wedding, or an intimate multi venue event, or something totally different on a private estate. We do it all and love every minute of it.
Tip 3) When talking to or meeting with a planner at your first meeting do they ask you detailed questions about all of your ideas and visions for your entire weekend of wedding events? They should want to know a lot about you and your vision. You can’t design or provide valuable recommendations if you don’t know what it is you’re trying to plan. If they seem less interested in your ideal wedding and more interested in convincing you to do your wedding a better way, or different than you are asking, that’s a red flag.
We have lots of opinions and tons of advice on this blog, none of that matters or is valuable to planning YOUR wedding. I don’t love buffets, so what. If you want a buffet you will get the best buffet and I will organize it to run efficiently and smoothly. You want a friend as a photographer, great we’ll connect and I will get them all the info and support they need to be successful. Your planner should not spend time convincing you not to do the things you want. They should work with you to make sure your plan succeeds – provided your ideas are something that should work out just fine.
We hope you find this info useful in understanding what a cookie cutter wedding is and how to avoid them.