I wanted to follow-up with a few thoughts from the wedding, because I feel like it’s important to share the things that you might have done differently. I honestly don’t think there is much that I would have changed, but if I could have done anything differently it would have been to scrap the wedding planner – entirely.
I know. This sounds like a weird thing to wished I had done differently, but unless you’re hosting a black tie event at the Biltmore and you’re wedding planner shows up in flip-flops and yoga pants….. you would probably feel the same way.
Wedding Planner Woes
During the cross-country road trip that Leo and I did on our way back to the BEST COAST, we stopped in Thousand Oaks to go through the timeline, wedding party, and flower arrangements. She was in the middle of moving her shop, so when we showed up, she was in pajamas and the entire place was a mess. I could not believe the disorganization and chaos.
Yes, I should have taken this as a first red flag, but I had faith that a move (which I, myself, was in the middle of, was stressful and chaotic). Because it is.
The second time we met was during our final walk through of the venue to review tables, flow of events, etc. The planner (again) showed up in long Harem-style Thai pants. This was our second meeting where she was completely not dressed appropriately (or at least I would never show up dressed like that to a client). This was the second red flag, but at this point we were to far into the process to change the flowers or planning.
Mistake #1: Saving Money Doesn’t Mean You’re Saving Yourself from Trouble
Here’s the first mistake that I made. I bundled the flowers and the wedding coordination. She offered 10% off the flowers if I also got the day-of wedding coordination, which I got suckered into… and now in hindsight, that’s 20/20.
However, I made the decision because at some point you have to cut costs at a wedding, and I figured that all of the things you’d see, i.e. photos, the dress, the flowers, the venue are all things that would be remembered forever; whereas the wedding planner is likely to never be remembered. (Although I’ll forever remember how Maria at the Four Seasons saved my wedding!!!)
Yes, the flowers were gorgeous, and her Yelp reviews did not lie about her arrangements. However, the wedding planning from top to bottom was an absolute, complete let down.
Mistake #2: Tardiness
She showed up late to the wedding. Yes. She showed up late to my wedding. I didn’t have flowers for myself or my girls for half of my photos at the Biltmore before the wedding. Luckily the gardens at the Biltmore speak for themselves, but showing up late is just NOT OK.
She called me around 11 am to let me know that she wouldn’t be there with the flowers for my 12 pm first look. (I know, hold back the shock).
Instead of panicking (because my goal was to be as calm, cool and collected as possible), I told her to go directly to the church, as to avoid any further delays.
The bottom line: if you’re driving from Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara, account for traffic. When I look back on the timeline that her and I had initially put together, I felt like she was cutting it too close to the deadline, and as a bride, I should have just cushioned time for the wedding planner to be late.
Mistake #3: Lack of Attention to Detail
She didn’t provide the flower girls with petals.
Supposedly some churches don’t allow this anymore, which is fine; however, the planner told me this after the fact, and if you’re going to be a good planner, you could very simply ask, “Do you know if your church allows flower petals for the flower girls? If not, I’ll simply provide the basket for them, but this is probably a good thing for you to know.”
Nope. She didn’t tell me this until after the wedding.
Mistake #4: Attire
UGH! Rule of thumb: don’t show up to a black tie event in flip-flops and yoga pants.
I should have known this too, because in each of our previous meetings, she could never muster the effort to dress up in anything more than pajama pants or yoga pants.
Her assistant was also in a regular t-shirt and jeans, which just is not appropriate for any wedding – Biltmore or not!
I provided this feedback to her, and her excuse was that she was getting a vase out of the van and it broke on her foot so she couldn’t wear heels.
I’m still curious how the heel and yoga pants would look together.
Mistake #5: Inaccurate Number of Staff
Staff. She told me that she would have 3 additional staff with her to set up, coordinate, and manage the event.
She came with one guy in a t-shirt, with no other staff to be found.
Thank god we got married where we did, because the Four Seasons staff was absolutely incredible. Very quickly into the event, Maria, the Biltmore events & catering manager, saw that my planner was a disaster. She quickly had her staff on every aspect of our event – from top to bottom – and she made sure that her team would override anything that my floozie planner was trying to do.
Honestly, I kind of felt bad for my planner because it’s kind of like a tee ball team showing up to play the SF Giants.
Again, thank god for Maria. She is the best ever, and here is Ruben, who took care of Leo for the reception and the brunch the next morning. He’s been with the Biltmore for 33 years, and he was amazing to our families.
My goodness the staff at the Four Seasons is absolutely incredible!
Mistake #6: Incorrect Timelines
She had the wrong timeline. A few days before the wedding I thought I had sent her the revised timeline that Maria and I had finalized. I never double checked the attachment, which I should have done, and apparently I sent the original that the planner and I had been working on.
Long story short, the planner had no fucking clue what was going on the entire night.
When I had emailed her the feedback about being completely off the timeline, she noted that she didn’t have the one that Maria and I had finalized. I checked my email and saw that there was the wrong attachment.
Here’s the problem. Because she had such a lack of attention to detail, she missed that I had not sent a different, or updated, timeline.
So, yeah, of course she had no idea what was going on.
Mistake#7: Lack of Attention to Detail, Round 2
This is on the smaller scale, but nonetheless important. Leo had gotten these beautiful Waterford flutes for the wedding, which we specifically wanted for dinner and for cake cutting. The planner was very nice to make sure that they got packaged away safely, but of course, she didn’t account for the fact that there was time between the dinner and cake cutting.
Long story short.
Picking a poor planner is like drinking that extra drink at the end of the night that you definitely don’t need, and you’re still paying for it. You’re going to actually pay for it, and you’re going to pay for it the next day because she is likely to be a headache.
She scrambled to get the flutes unpacked and filled with champagne for the toast, but if you look closely at the photos, there’s one photo with the standard flutes and one photo with the correct flutes.
If the Four Seasons Biltmore gives you a preferred list of vendors, then go with that list of vendors. They are guaranteed to do a good job, because they have worked with the Four Seasons before, and more importantly, the Four Seasons trusts and know they’ll do a good job.
I tried to go rogue and find a florist who had good reviews on Yelp. It just so happened that she had wedding coordination services on top of that, which I wish I could get my $1000 back at this point, because I’m still confused as to what I spent that money on.
If you don’t have a budget for a planner, and if you’re venue has amazing staff, then do your leg work to make sure that everything is in place and that you don’t need to bear the burden of the cost of a planner.
That is all 🙂