002 Wedding Planner


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Welcome to the second episode of Your Wedding Podcast, dedicated to providing brides and grooms with wedding planning tips, stories, and inspirations for their special day. Over the past decade, I have had the pleasure and privilege of photographing several hundred weddings, getting to work with some amazing vendors at some beautiful venues, and wonderful brides and grooms.

In today’s episode I sit down with Melissa and Elsa, the wedding planners of ME Weddings. They are both dear friends of mine and I have had the pleasure of working with them for about six years now. I was honored to be the photographer for Melissa’s own wedding, as well as family sessions, birthdays, anniversaries, and more with these lovely ladies. So it has been absolutely incredible to work with and to get to know Melissa and Elsa. Together they’re going to share a ton of tips for brides and grooms, what you should know before hiring a planner, the difference between a planner and a venue coordinator, and much more.


About ME Weddings and the two ladies behind it all.

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Photo credit: Table 4 Weddings

Melissa and Elsa have known each other for about 10 years and started their company back in 2010 after planning Elsa’s wedding a year before and embarking on planning Melissa’s wedding the year after. We met right around that time working together at a wedding, when Melissa and Elsa were the coordinators, and I was the photographer. Their experience is in a variety of areas from planning events, to catering, sales, contract negotiations, and client management. Combining their skills together, Melissa and Elsa followed their dreams of becoming wedding planners.

Melissa started planning events in college. She was in a sorority and organized everything from formals to social events and just had so much fun. Prior to starting the business, Elsa was a media buyer and negotiate with TV and radio stations on schedules. They eventually started working together, and it was not long before their business, ME Weddings, was born.


The difference between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator.

There is a really big difference between a wedding planner and venue coordinator. One of the main differences is that the venue coordinator works for the venue, whereas the wedding planner works for the bride and groom. The coordinator is strictly in charge of the venue and will help with the staffing and setup, focusing mainly on the venue itself.

The wedding planner is someone who will be with the bride and groom all day. Wedding planners are considered the couple’s best friend for the day, there to be a sounding board and advise on any questions that come up. They are also the buffer in any situation that may get a little hairy, making sure that each little detail is taken care of.


What is the benefit of hiring a planner in the first place?

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Photo credit: Kim Le Photography

Ultimately, a wedding planner can help a bride and groom save a lot of money. Planners can help with venue and vendor negotiations and customizing packages to fit each couple’s needs. Often times when a venue knows that a couple is working with a planner they will offer some form of booking incentives as well, which helps the couple even more.

Throughout the actual planning process, the planner is there to guide you, to hold your hand, and let you know what you are supposed to do at certain times. Including when to send out your invitations, and remembering to book various vendors at certain times. They help put the couple at ease so that their wedding day runs smoothly and they can truly enjoy it.


What can you really expect from a wedding planner?

Planners are the glue that holds everyone together. One of the most important things that a wedding planner does is they look at the bigger picture for the brides and grooms. From the start they map out the process and guide the couple through it. This includes handling bookings, reviewing contracts, and even being their “therapists” too.

The biggest part of the wedding planner’s job comes a couple of weeks before the wedding, when their main goal is to take on the worry of all the final details. This means constant emails and phone calls back and forth between vendors, finalizing details, and answering questions. On the wedding day, the planner is not only there for the couple, but also checks on the vendors to ensure that everything is running smoothly and on time.


What ME love about wedding planners.

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Photo credit: Jennifer Fujikama Photography

For Melissa and Elsa, one of their favorite parts of being wedding planners is becoming friends with the brides and grooms, and keeping in touch with them after the wedding. They also love to sit down with the couple to look back at how the wedding day has come together, and seeing their magical day come true.Another of their favorite things are the special moments of the wedding day, especially the first look when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. The wedding day is so busy, so it is absolutely precious to see the couple spending those few moments together before it all begins.

Another of their favorite things are the special moments of the wedding day, especially the first look when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. The wedding day is so busy, so it is absolutely precious to see the couple spending those few moments together before it all begins.


The challenges of being a wedding planner often depend on the professionalism of other vendors.

The number one challenge that Melissa and Elsa face as wedding planners is getting clients to see the importance of hiring professional vendors rather than trying to cut corners in critical places. One of the most important aspects is to have a professional photographer, because next to the wedding planner, the photographer spends the most time with the couple.

So as wedding planners, you have to be able to trust the photographer to take care of the couple and ensure that everything is running smoothly and on time. Another challenge is when the DJ or an MC decides to run amuck with the schedule. Everything is timed out for a specific reason, so when the MC decides to do their own thing, it throws everything off.


The misconceptions brides and grooms have about hiring a wedding planner.

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Photo credit: Christine Farah Photography

A big misconception that brides and grooms have is not knowing how much work goes into the final few months before the wedding day. Couples often ask for just a “day of coordination package”. Melissa and Elsa do offer this package, but they start no later than six weeks prior to the couple’s bigt day in order to make sure there is enough time to address all the details. Without enough time, it is nearly impossible to get the wedding day to run smoothly. There is so much more that goes into a wedding day than couples know, which often causes last minute chaos.


Tangible tips for brides and grooms to know before the wedding day.

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Photo credit: Ether & Smith Photography

One of the things that Melissa and Elsa highly recommend is to hire a wedding planner that you really trust. Do not just base it off of package costs. Instead, make sure that the rapport is there because you will be in contact all day, every day of your planning process. So make sure that you hire someone that you like and that you enjoy working with.

Another tip is to not lose sight of why you are having the wedding. It is easy to get caught up in the details, but in the end it is really about what happens afterwards, because it is the first day that you are husband and wife. Melissa and Elsa try to remind their couples that, as important as the wedding day is, it is really all about the rest of their lives together.


Wedding planning cost-saving tips, without compromising on quality of services.

When you have a wedding planner, one of the main benefits is that they can help couples find the biggest bang for their buck. Melissa and Elsa will always refer their clients to the vendors who can provide them what they want for the least amount of cost. Hiring a wedding planner can really help you save on a lot of other aspects of the wedding.

They can refocus and prioritize the important things to spend on. The wedding planner’s knowledge of the industry can help cut costs by making suggestions that are best suited for their couples’ wedding day, without sacrificing their vision.


Criteria to consider when hiring a wedding planner.

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Photo credit: Steve Steinhardt Photography

When making the decision to hiring a wedding planner, couples should always look for a great team. It would not be possible for Melissa and Elsa to do a wedding without the help of their team, who they trust. It is also important for the wedding planner to know the venue really well. There are so many venues in the industry, so Melissa and Elsa always make sure to go on separate tours of the venue ahead of time to familiarize themselves with each and every detail.

That way your planner can ensure that they have met the staff and know what the flow of the day will be like well before the wedding. Another important thing to consider is the level of experience of your wedding planner. With each wedding, the planner learns and builds up their knowledge bank so future clients can benefit.


What separates ME Weddings from other wedding planners?

One of the main bonuses is that with ME Weddings, their clients get to work with two lead planners. Although there is always one point of contact, both Melissa and Elsa will be at meetings, rehearsals, and the wedding day. The two of them put together brings so much more value to their brides and grooms, and gives them another person to rely on.

Another great thing about how Melissa and Elsa work is that they love design and details, but they also really focus on the planning side and on the couples themselves. So it is not just about the aesthetics, but it’s also about the overall experience of their couples.



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Photo credit: Table 4 Weddings

Melissa and Elsa shared some incredible tips, and really put forth their passion for the work that they do. They highlighted the importance of having many years of experience working in different industries to understand both the personal and business side of being a wedding planner. Having well-established, dedicated planners makes the day run so smoothly, and even makes the jobs of other vendors just that much easier.


Coming up on future episodes:

Next time, I am really excited to bring on a venue, a winery based out of Temecula. What better way to find out about getting married at a winery than bringing on one of the experts? Shortly afterwards I will be talking to a DJ based out of Los Angeles, who is not only an awesome guy, but also an amazing DJ…and MC. If you are a wedding vendor or venue and would like to be a guest on the show, I’d love to have you on so please let’s get in touch with one another!


Outline of this episode:

[0:23] Announcement.

[0:32] Introduction of the episode.

[3:45] Guest introductions and start of interview.

[8:13] Discussing the difference between a wedding planner and venue coordinator.

[10:44] Understanding the importance of hiring a wedding planner.

[14:20] What to expect from a wedding planner.

[18:53] Melissa and Elsa share their favorite parts of being wedding planners.

[21:22] Some dislikes about being a wedding planner.

[24:22] Misconceptions of hiring a wedding planner.

[28:42] Tips for brides and grooms planning their wedding.

[31:17] Cost-saving tips for wedding planning.

[33:00] Criteria a couple should look for when hiring a wedding planner.

[36:07] Discussing how ME Weddings distinguish themselves in the industry.

[39:24] Information on how to get in touch with ME Weddings.

[41:28] Interview wrap up.

[42:50] Conclusion.

[44:01] Coming up on future episodes.


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