Wedding business is a very tricky business, unfortunately. There are vendors who are total shysters; thinking nothing of operating behind a smokescreen of professionalism, glitz and glamour, all the while ripping off every event professional in town. There are venues who hide important and costly details in the fine print, praying you won’t notice or think to ask until they have you by the you-know-what. It can be tough to navigate. And if you’re gonna do it alone, without the advice and background knowledge of your handy dandy wedding planner, you better buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

See, a wedding planner isn’t just someone who swoops in on the big day, makes things pretty, bosses the groomsmen around, then leaves. There’s so much more to it. In fact, when all is said and done, a good wedding planner that knows her business will ultimately pay for herself, and then some.

Case and point. I know of a very nice lady who is planning her daughter’s wedding from out of town. They picked a lovely venue who offered a “day of coordinator” as part of their package. Terrific! No need to hire a wedding planner now, and one more thing crossed off the list.

Well, things don’t always turn out like you plan.

As she is navigating through the wedding process, she is painfully finding out that the florals they offer are about four times more than even the best florist in town. The linens, which I’m sure were not displayed the day she toured the facility, are not to her daughter’s liking, so they will be renting those from a local rental company. She also found out, after she signed on the dotted line, that everything she rents must be out by midnight. Well guess what? Rental companies charge a pretty penny to pick up at midnight. Suddenly her bargain venue with the free day of coordinator doesn’t seem like such a bargain. Had she visited the venue with a wedding coordinator in tow, she would have been made known of these little “gotchas” before they got her, and saved herself much frustration and dollars. Now they are having to add more money to their budget, as well as chase all over town to find cheaper alternatives to things like floral, linens and chair covers. In addition, there will be no one at the wedding who is truly looking after the best interest of the bride. And I haven’t even touched on wedding day issues that may arise, such as the DJ not showing up, or the baker who drops the wedding cake as they are unloading it. Yikes!

I guess my advice to you, from my experience in the biz, is get a wedding planner. They will save you so much hassle, money and grief. But if you really, really can’t afford one, then I have some money saving tips for you:

1) Ask your venue about rental load in and load out policies. If you have to have everything cleared before you leave at night, plan on adding at least $300 to your budget.

2) Take a look at the linens, china and chairs and make sure you like them. If not, add about $6.00 per person to rent everything.

3) Instead of chair covers, consider renting completely different chairs. In my opinion it usually it looks better anyway and is about half the cost.

4) Before you sign anything, take it home and shop around. Especially on the extra services they offer like floral, cakes and catering. You may be surprised to find out that the venue with the least “stuff” will actually save you more money in the end.

Happy wedding planning!