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Wedding Planning Advice

How To Prepare For Your First Wedding As A Wedding Planner

April 11, 2024

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I'm Candice, your new tell-it-like-it-is BFF (and purpose cheerleader). Are you ready to grow and scale a profitable business with purpose–and one that gives back to your meaningful life? Thought so!

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The final week before the wedding is where you shine. Remember, at this stage, it's your show, not the client's, their family's, or that vendor who thinks they're running things. By this stage, your clients need to trust you enough to let go and let you do the job they hired you to do. Not to sound dramatic, but it’s your reputation on the line during every single wedding day. A controlling client disrupts, distracts, and complicates everything, leaving you to clean up the chaos. But don't worry, I’m going to walk you through exactly how to prepare for your first wedding as a wedding planner.

For a MUCH deeper dive, you’ll want to get your hands on The Wedding Week Playbook!

First, You Need to Set the Stage

When you’re getting ready to prepare for your first wedding as a wedding planner, your focus needs to be on keeping clear, honest communication. When you communicate effectively, clients are happier, more relaxed, and genuinely appreciative of your work.

After all, the days leading up to a wedding are intense for your clients. Your job? To be their rock. You need to be the point of contact, ready to answer any questions, or concerns, or handle any last-minute changes. Taking the pressure off your clients allows them actually to enjoy their wedding countdown. Plus, it establishes you as the go-to authority, making everything run that much smoother.

But guess what else you need to do? Become their hype woman! Ever had someone in your corner, ready to lift you up when things get tough? Be that person for your clients. A little encouragement goes a long way,  especially in the final week of the wedding.

How to Prepare For Your First Wedding as a Wedding Planner

Listen – there’s a lot that goes into the final week of the wedding. While this blog will give you a solid start, for those who are craving the complete roadmap, our Wedding Week Playbook is where we really dive deep. Packed with in-depth strategies, checklists, and insider tips, it's a must-have if you are trying to prepare for your first (or second!) wedding as a wedding planner.

The Final Meeting

Let’s start by talking through one of the most important things you need to do to prepare for your first wedding: having a final meeting. I usually recommend this happen 7-10 days before the wedding. This is where you ensure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. This meeting is all about validation and verification, leaving no room for surprises.

While every wedding is different, here's a snapshot of what you'll cover:

  • Team Introductions
  • Timelines
  • Locations
  • Vendors
  • Identify the day-of decision-maker
  • Final payments
  • Guest Logistics
  • Decor Details
  • Prep Schedule
  • Transportation
  • Photo schedule
  • Ceremony and Reception details
  • End-of-Night Plan
  • Final Walkthrough
  • Next Steps

Need more clarification? We go DEEP into all this in The Wedding Week Playbook. You definitely need to get your hands on this one!

Final Venue Walkthrough

Next, you’ll want to do a final venue walkthrough. Focus on the essentials: tent placement, table arrangements, lighting, and all the nuts and bolts that make up your event infrastructure. Confirm the flow of events and logistical details, like showing the DJ where to set up, to prevent any day-of confusion.

Finalize Your Timeline and Production Schedule

Once your meetings are all wrapped up, it's crunch time to finalize that wedding day timeline and production schedule. Spread the word to your vendors, the VIPs, and the happy couple. The aim? No more changes. A solid “no changes” policy post-finalization isn't just about making life easier; it's about setting a clear deadline that nudges everyone to finalize their contributions early. If a curveball comes your way, you'll handle it with grace. But you’ll want to try your best to get this locked down and ready for the wedding day.

Confirm Your Vendors

The next step as you prepare for your first wedding as a wedding planner is vendor confirmations. Inside these confirmation packets are complete guides that let your vendors know exactly what’s expected, ensuring they're prepped to perfection without needing to ask you a thing.
Aim for zero questions on the wedding day by including every critical detail. Get these confirmation packets out the week of the wedding. Why? Because things change, and you want to avoid any confusion by sending out multiple versions. This timing ensures everyone is on the same page with the most current information, making for a smooth and seamless celebration.

Create Wedding Party Timelines

While you're crafting those detailed vendor timelines, don't forget about a key group that also needs to be in the loop—the bridal party. Creating a tailored timeline for them is a smart move too. This version is a streamlined take on your master plan, focusing solely on what the bridal party needs to know: when to be where and what’s happening next.

Handing out these timelines at the rehearsal is your best bet, especially if you’re not dealing with a destination wedding. It keeps things simple, minimizes the back-and-forth, and ensures everyone's on the same page before the big day kicks off. You can grab my guide to mastering a wedding rehearsal here.

Meet With Your Team

Depending on the way your team is structured, there’s a good chance that they haven't been in the trenches with you every step of the way, which is exactly why a pre-wedding team meeting is non-negotiable.

Carve out time during the wedding week to bring your crew together. This is your chance to walk them through the wedding day timeline, ensuring everyone's on the same page. I walk you through exactly how to do this inside my Day Of Staffing Playbook.

Manage Decor Prep

In the thick of wedding season, managing decor and details with precision is non-negotiable. My advice to you as you set out to prepare for your first wedding is to make a rule where you accept wedding items only within the 14 to 10-day window before the event. In my experience, it's the perfect balance to keep you from being overwhelmed early or under pressure late. Have your clients hold onto their items until then to minimize the risk of any surprises with missing or damaged goods. Once in your hands, inspect everything closely and document the condition to cover your bases.

Pro tip: Tackle as much prep as possible ahead of time. Ironing napkins, steaming linens, and assembling favors and signage ahead of the wedding day can be a real game-changer.

Wedding Day Document Prep

OK – we have covered a lot already, but now it’s time to put it all together and start getting all your documents in tip-top shape for the rehearsal and the main event. This includes those bridal party timelines, team binders, folders, and the ever-important clipboards. Give everything a final once-over to ensure accuracy and completeness. Then, it's time to hit print and gear up for showtime.

Host The Ceremony Rehearsal

Last but not least, bringing everyone together for the ceremony rehearsal a day or two before the big day is your final step in preparing for your first wedding as a wedding planner. It's where you'll meet the family and bridal party face-to-face, firmly establishing yourself as the one calling the shots. It's your final moment to prep, tweak, and ready yourself to manage the day flawlessly.

Ready to Nail Your First Wedding As A Wedding Planner?

Alright, it's show time! I hope that this has helped you as you start to prepare for your first wedding as a wedding planner. If you want more guidance (and step-by-steps), the Wedding Week Playbook will help you gain confidence, streamline your processes, train your team effectively, and enjoy more peaceful wedding week nights, knowing you've got it all under control. It’s well worth the investment.

Ready to Grow Your Business as a Wedding Planner?

Are you currently looking to build a profitable wedding planning business? If so, you’re in the right place. Consider this your personal invitation to join the waitlist for The Planner's Playbook. It's not just any resource; it's your monthly deep dive into mastering the art of wedding planning, design, and coordination. Each month, I lay out everything you need to tackle one specific aspect of your wedding business, crafted from over a decade of experience in the trenches of wedding planning. If you're ready to step up your game, leave those doubts behind, and start attracting the high-end clients you dream of, it's time to get on The Planner's Playbook waitlist.

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When you created systems for your business - did you create them for your best days… or your worst?

My guest on this weeks episode of The Power in Purpose Podcast is none other than @simplysandrayvonne - a systems strategist and Honeybook expert for wedding pros - and Sandra wants you to think about your systems differently.

Our conversation talks about how you can set up your systems for your worst days, and also how to navigate your business with a chronic illness.

✨ Comment the word SUPPORT below and I’ll DM you a direct link to listen. I can’t wait to hear what you think! 🥰

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Who you think you’re emailing vs who is actually responding 💀

I had to jump on this one because it was too funny 😂 Fun times at #trinidadcarnival on Jouvert morning! I definitely enjoyed myself, my wig, and the corn soup.

We all put on a polished front but I think who we are behind the scenes and away from our desks is way more interesting and relatable! Here’s some encouragement to make a reel like this too and show off your personality 😆 #relatable #behindthescenes
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Should you be on TikTok? That’s a question I get asked a lot - and it should come as no surprise that I have some STRONG feelings about this.

The quick answer is yes - but not on the way you think.

Comment EPISODE 128 and I’ll send you a link to this weeks episode of The Power in Purpose podcast where you’ll hear me make the case for why it think it’s a MUST.

Plus, I talk about Nancy Meyers, THAT submarine, and Vanderpump Rules.

Once you listen, I’d love to hear your take. Agree or disagree with my opinion?!
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