Hiring A Wedding Planner: A Chat with Ruby and Rose

I am always thrilled when my couples hire a great planner for their wedding. A great wedding planner can oversee all the details of the day and ensure that everything runs smoothly, and it often makes a huge difference, especially for those of us who work on everything behind the scenes. I sat down with my friend and local Bay Area event planner Rachael from Ruby and Rose to chat about the role that wedding planners play in creating your ideal wedding experience.

Portrait Party by Anna Wu Photography Portrait Party by Anna Wu Photography

Anna: What does a wedding planner do? What don’t they do?

Rachael: A wedding planner can do just about anything you need them to as it relates to your wedding, from helping you find a venue, to choosing a photographer, or even making beauty appointments on your behalf. What we can’t do is plan a successful wedding without input from you! We can do the heavy lifting for you, but at the end of the day it’s the couple that is in the driver’s seat and needs to make the critical decisions. I won’t speak for other planners but I personally don’t do much DIY stuff because my core strengths are primarily in planning and designing, not necessarily fabrication or production. So I generally recommend that clients hire other creative professionals to do things like produce their paper goods, escort displays, or florals, for example.

Anna: What kinds of services does Ruby & Rose provide?

Rachael: Ruby & Rose offers three levels of service: month-of coordination, partial, and full-service planning and design. Month-of coordination is a lighter level of support ideal for clients who are managing the planning and design process themselves but want to ensure that all of the details are going to come together flawlessly on their wedding day. It’s also more ideal for clients on a tight budget. With full-service planning and design, you are essentially hiring me to manage the process for you and drive it forward all the way through to your wedding day. Partial planning or design is essentially anything in between month-of coordination and full-service planning. So if you’ve already started the process and are feeling stuck, or are ready for someone to take the reins and hire your remaining vendors or pull together the design for you, a partial package could be a good fit.

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Anna: Often, wedding venues come with a venue coordinator. Is that enough to replace a planner or a coordinator?

Rachael: 95% of the time, a venue coordinators’ job is to ensure that the rules and restrictions of the venue are being followed by the vendors (and ultimately the client) leading up to and during the event. They may help with things like directing guests, set-up, or managing the flow of the event, but it’s important to remember that they are representing the venue and the venue’s interests, not yours, and they are not a substitute for a wedding planner. A planner is your champion and representative on your wedding day and has your interests and wishes in mind above all others. They are also going to do a million and one things a venue coordinator doesn’t typically do, like creating a detailed timeline, reaching out to each vendor to confirm details and timing in advance of your wedding day (and work through any issues around this), smooth the wrinkles out of the linens, fuss over you right before you go down the aisle to make sure you look picture perfect, or tell Uncle Joe who’s had one too many drinks that it’s not an open mic even though you appreciate him wanting to make a speech (which I’ve had to do several times).

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Anna: Are wedding planners and designers the same thing?

Rachael: Some planners also offer design services (like me), whereas others focus just on one or the other. A planner is generally helping you with the more logistical aspects of the wedding such as identifying and booking vendors, coordinating with those vendors and creating all of the important documentation that’s needed for a successful day. A designer is specifically focused on the look and feel of the event and developing a cohesive aesthetic around a theme or concept. Hiring someone to help you with both planning and design is where the real magic happens because you get expertise both with logistics and project management as well as design and aesthetics.

Anna: What should couples look for when hiring a wedding planner?

Rachael: Budget, style and personality fit are three key factors I would keep in mind. Check out their portfolio, Instagram, and any published work – do you like their style and their aesthetic? Are they producing the kind of weddings that you are drawn to? If their overall style is super traditional and classic, and you are planning a burning-man inspired wedding in an abandoned warehouse, they may not be the right fit for you. Apart from your photographer, you will probably spend more time with your planner than anyone else on your wedding day, and during some very intimate moments (sending you down the aisle is my most favorite time of the day), so it’s important that you feel comfortable with them and are excited to have them be up close and personal with you.

Anna: What would be your ideal wedding to plan?

Rachael: Planning weddings in different styles, venues and locations is what keeps things interesting, but I am a sucker for natural light and outdoor spaces. I’m a huge flower nerd so I also particularly enjoy planning weddings with floral-driven designs.

Stable Cafe Styled Shoot Kayla F Photography

Photo by Kayla F Photography

Anna: Everyone always asks me this: have you ever had any crazy wedding mishaps?

Rachael: It’s not exactly a wedding story, but I was working on a photo shoot with Kayla Fletcher and Amanda Vidmar at Stable Cafe last year, and we had just spent all this time laying the table with china, flowers, a beautiful silk runner, and taper candles, which we had lit. Kayla had already taken some shots and we were all thirsty so we were taking a quick break in the back to grab a drink when I happened to look back out at the table and noticed it was literally in flames! The hot wax from the candles had dripped onto the silk runner and started a fire. Luckily we caught it super fast, and the only damage was to the runner itself, but if you’ve ever wondered why most venues require that lit candles be inside glass containers, this is why!

Anna: Safety first, friends! If you have more questions for Rachael or if you’d like to hire Ruby and Rose for your next event, head over to rubyandrose.co. Happy planning!

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco but often traveling and working around the world. She creates beautiful, soft, and timeless imagery while capturing the most fleeting of moments. View her work at annawu.com, follow her daily adventures on instagram, and contact her to book your own session today.