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Filosophi Wedding Planner Interview | Erin Bishop

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Filosophi Wedding Planner Interview

With Erin Bishop

I recently met up with Erin from Filosophi Event Planning and Design and picked her brain about everything Wedding Planning related.

Erin and Corinne are 2 of the principal planners at Filosophi and are based here in Vancouver, BC. They have a great style and who better than to ask about  questions about wedding planning than Erin.

So onto the interview.. I hope you find it useful! We’d love your feedback on it too and if you have any Q’s, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comment box below.

Filosophi Wedding Planner Interview | Erin Bishop All images are from a stylised shoot in Whistler created with Filosophi and can be seen published in full via WedLuxe HERE.

 Interview with a Wedding Planner | Erin Bishop of Filosophi

{S} Why should couples hire a wedding planner? {ERIN} Couples should consider hiring a planner to save themselves unimaginable amounts of time and unnecessary loads of stress and uncertainty, and to ensure they get the most out of their budget by having guidance on spending effectively – but I’ll come back to that, first I’ll touch on what deters people from hiring a planner. Historically, working with a wedding planner has been more of a luxury than a necessity.

Many brides (and grooms) have a perception that a planner is an opulent and expensive thing. I think there is a certain amount of mystery about how much wedding planning costs, since traditionally it has been more or less only the rather high end and celebrity weddings that employ wedding planners. That said, lately it has become much more popular and commonplace to have a wedding planner, and it’s nowhere near as expensive as many people think. Certainly if your budget is extremely limited, it may not be feasible, but there are many options and levels of service, which can certainly prove very useful to smaller & larger budget weddings alike. Another deterrent is that couples often have a lot of support around them.

Weddings are so much fun, and people do tend to come out of the woodwork offering to help – parents, bridesmaids, cousins, neighbours, and so on, as everyone is drawn in by the excitement. A planner can sometimes seem unnecessary with all this free help around! Often though, couples see the cost of counting on volunteer help once it’s too late – things don’t get done (or don’t get done well), people’s opinions on how things should be start to carry more weight since they are helping and the couple’s preferences can be overruled. In the end, the couple has to oversee the network of helpers and hold their breath that it all works out on the day. When the party rolls around, everyone wants to go off duty and, well, party – and who can blame them? But that leaves a wake of mayhem that falls to the bride and groom to control as the event goes on. Lastly, many couples want to really take on and embrace the planning process, and they worry that a wedding planner might take that away from them and hijack control of the wedding. For us (and the other planners I know) that is definitely not a concern, as being a planner is about offering guidance, advice and inspiration, not pushing our own preferences or agenda.

{S} Who typically does end up hiring a planner?

{E} It seems that these days couples of all types and budget sizes are hiring planners.  We get clients from all walks of life, but quite often we see full time working professionals, who work long hours, like lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs. They have a lot of ideas and want to be involved, they just don’t want every second of their non-working hours to be consumed by wedding planning, so they want a planner to help streamline the process. We also often tend to attract really creative types, or at least people that want to take a very creative approach to their wedding. With our approach to planning, the client remains fully involved in the direction, decision-making and vision, however we eliminate the back end work.

We always say that the clients get to do the fun stuff and we do the rest. Our experience and knowledge base allows us to eliminate the blind researching and googling that couples would face on their own, and to ensure they are getting the most for their money.

Filosophi Wedding Plannes {S} Can you give me an example of where hiring a planner can be really effective?

{E} A good example is one of the early steps in planning – booking a venue. As an everyday person you may have been to a few weddings and have an idea of where might be good, but you know that there must be so many other places that you don’t know about. And you’re right. You research Google, ask friends, look at photos online etc, and a lot of time is spent searching, researching cost, capacities, rules (for example some venues don’t allow real candles), what’s included, but if you’re using a planner that time is immediately cut down to a tiny fraction as we immediately know the capacities, rules, costs, where things are, what places are the look and feel you want and we can shortlist for you based on your wishlist of wants and needs. Not only are you more likely to end up in the perfect venue for you, you will have found it in no time without ever breaking a sweat.

{S} There are so many vendors to choose from on a wedding day, how can you help the couple?

{E} The above example and process applies to every vendor – you tell us what you want and we can shortlist for you because through years of experience, we know who does what well and at what price point. With photographers for example, it’s easy enough to make a pretty website with some nice photos, but we will have seen them in action – we know who can make every aspect of a wedding look amazing, who is really good at candid photography, who’s good at working with brides that are a bit shy in front of the camera or who can embrace a sassy bride that wants something more editorial looking. It saves hours of researching, so that’s the biggest benefit of a planner, let alone them handling all the correspondence, reviewing contracts, confirming details and answering questions.

Nita Lake Lodge with Filosophi {S} What are the other benefits of hiring a planner?  

{E} People will often ask if we will save them money or if get discounts with certain vendors. We do get some discounts, mainly in the area of rentals and décor, and in the case of Filosophi, any discount or referral fees that are offered to us are passed on directly to our clients. That’s not the case with all companies (I just want to put that disclaimer out there) but we make a point of it as we are not looking to profit from taking our clients to certain vendors and we want that to be very transparent.

That said, the real benefit from the financial side, in working with a planner is in the bang for your buck, so to speak, which will skyrocket when working with a planner.  This is because as a couple alone you represent one sale, one booking, one wedding, Of course reputable vendors will make things amazing for you, however when you have a planner on your side, odds are good that those vendors will go the extra mile, or several extra miles. It’s just business – a planner represents many possible sales, many possible bookings, lots of weddings.

For example, if you have a specific bouquet in mind and you went to show it to your florist to get a quote on something similar, they would likely quote the same cost to your whether you had a planner with you or not, however if you do have a planner, when the wedding day rolls around, that florist will tend to make the bouquet extra full, big and gorgeous because they want the planner to be wowed and to bring them more clients. They might also offer small favours like vase rentals being thrown in at no cost or the delivery fees being waived.

Filosophi Events   {S} How do you convince the brides that really want to take on and enjoy the responsibility of planning their wedding own wedding that they should be using a planner? Or how best to use a planner? {E} 

We explain that a planner isn’t there to impose their will and taste on the bride, but rather to advise, guide, inspire and most importantly to do the behind the scenes work involved with making the vision into a reality.  We definitely have our brides be central to the design process; we brainstorm and generate ideas with them, not for them. We encourage them to find photos (on Pinterest, blogs, in magazines) that have elements that they like and then we curate their ideas into a cohesive look & aesthetic. We’ll then find the vendors that are best suited to execute that vision, and the bride will come to consultations and select the vendors she clicks with the most. We take it from there. We do all the liaising and back end work and correspondence so that the bride gets to be involved in the creative part but not the laborious and time consuming calling, emailing, getting quotes, sharing details, and other behind the scenes tasks that go on.

All the fun, none of the work. Sweet deal!

{S} How do you get the ideas out of brides so that they describe to you effectively their vision for the wedding day?

{E} We do an initial consultation and we have some key questions (what do they do for a living, what do they do on the weekend, where do they live, if they have pets, what music do they like, etc) and they will wonder why we are asking some of those things, but what it does is start to paint a picture about what they are like as people. We will ask them if they have a vision for the day – if they have any general words to describe the mood or style and so on. Once the planning begins, we start to get little clues from people about what they are like, we try to really get to know our clients in the process, which certainly helps us to come up with great personalized ideas for them. We don’t just sit in a room and talk about what looks pretty, we try to always take the time to chat a bit about life whenever we are with our clients and as a result we do feel we get to know them and their personalities, not just what colours they like.

Whistler Wedding Photographer {S} How do planners really add a couple’s personality to a wedding?

{E} When it comes to adding personality into a wedding, it can be tricky. For example, if a couple likes indie rock, they probably aren’t thinking about tying that into the décor. It’s obvious this will come into play with their music and song choices for the event, but at first it seems miles away from wedding décor. Our favourite part of décor is in translating personalities and tastes into the physical realm.

We might suggest they use names of their favourite bands, songs or albums as the names of each of the tables, have some sort of song lyric on the menus, have their invitations look like concert tickets, or use vinyl records or album covers in the room in a creative way. Of course this goes beyond décor as well, into all aspects of the day like the venue, the type of reception (evening cocktail style, al fresco Sunday brunch, there is a lot of range), the music and entertainment, it can all be tailored to reflect the couple with a little creativity.

Filosophi Wedding Planner Interview {S} Is there a rough order or process of how things should work with a planner? … What’s the first step?

{E} In a perfect world, the client would hire a planner first and foremost. That way they aren’t committed financially and aesthetically to any particular venue and we have a fresh slate to start from. That way we can best apply our expertise to every aspect of the wedding from the get go. We would start off with the budget as that is the foundation for all decisions and selections that follow. We would then shortlist and select the right venue and photographer as they usually get booked up the farthest in advance. Often, though, couples book a venue first, and they experience how labour intensive and stressful it was to find options, look at prices and contracts, go over rules etc. and then they decide to get a wedding planner. It’s fine to do it this way too, but sometimes clients might be locked into a venue which could be more expensive than what their budget should have allowed, or there are rules they didn’t know about and so on, so the ideal scenario is to hire a planner, discuss budget and vision and then go from there.

{S} Do you see any trends in the industry at present or with your current clients?

{E} Our clients, in most cases, are more non-traditional and creative, so when it comes to trends our brides tend to want the opposite. Of course shabby-chic was huge, as were varying takes on vintage, and the more modern succulents & terrariums are still going strong into this year. That said, aesthetically speaking, our marketing and our reputation is about personalization so we really try to ensure we don’t repeat a look and we cover a wide variety of styles. Weddings for us are now tending to be more intimate and more opulent so rather than spreading a budget thin for 200 people, clients are taking that same budget and applying it to say 60 – 70 guests so that it can be the wedding of their dreams and completely stunning experience for those 60-70 guests.

{S} Can you tell me about the types of wedding planning packages available to couples?

{E} The most common service we book is the full planning package, which is exactly that – a full service package for the couple that wants the fun of bringing their wedding to life without any of the work – sounds pretty sweet and that’s because it is. The couple is involved in the drafting the budget, and from then on it’s creative and artistic decisions only while we do all the legwork and behind the scenes planning, right through to execution on the day of course. We also offer what we call the “Takeover Service” which is our version of a ‘day of’ coordination package. We didn’t want to have a package where we have just one meeting then we attempt to run the event on the day, within a certain number of hours. In order for us to feel good about the service, we know there is a minimum amount of preparation needed that actually begins well before the day of, or week of. So for our Takeover service, we give out a worksheet, which the clients complete as they plan and it acts like a checklist for the things they need to do.

One thing that sets us apart is that we also allow (and encourage) clients to email us at any time as they work on their planning to ask us for vendor referrals or general advice. This can mean a lot of time spent answering them but we feel that the better they can be set up for success with good vendors and logical plans the better it is for is when it’s time for us to step in, which happens about a month prior when we meet, and create the schedule for the event and handle final confirmations and so on. In the absence of a planner, the photographer really does have a big part to play in the scheduling of the wedding day, which of course is great because they see a lot of weddings but they might not be looking at it from the guests perspective, or know what the caterers need for time etc, so a planner is best at looking at timing with the overall needs of the many vendors, as well as the guests experience, in mind. Traditionally (in the past) the family and community would really band together to make the day really special, which is great, but these days couples parents are contributing often financially, and friends are buying gifts and travelling from afar and so we are finding a lot of clients want at least a ‘day of’ coordination package, so when the day rolls around, their mom can just relax and the bridesmaids can be there with them and not be running around setting up. Most planners offer some kind of partial planning package as well. We often customize something in between packages, for example clients may get a Takeover package but add on a venue search, or décor design.

Filosophi Planners Vancouver {S} When someone is looking for a planner, what are some good questions to ask at the meeting?

  • {E} Ask how many weddings they have worked on and how much experience they have and look into how much you are paying in relation to this?

Be aware of planners who planned their own wedding and decided to become a planner. More experienced vendors have more value in their knowledge and connections. Some newer planners are amazing naturals and will do a great job, but you should be paying a little less for that since you aren’t getting the experience. We’ve certainly heard a few horror stories of planners that planned their own wedding and then realized planning someone else’s wedding was nowhere near as fun and the process was not good for the client.

  • Does the planner take referral fees?

Referral fees are a part of business life and promote networking and so on, however in some cases these types of fees can bias who a planner presents to you to choose from because of course there is an incentive involved. If I were a bride, I would be okay with referral fees but I’d ask to have full disclosure from the planner on who they have such fees in place with so I could at least be aware. Are rentals marked up? Do you pass on your discounts to couples? There is an aspect to this industry that involves marking up rentals to the client as an alternative source of income, which is justified as an admin fee for handling the rentals.

For us, we choose to pass any discount we receive on to the client directly because we feel we are earning the money we feel comfortable making for the job (including rentals management) via our planning fee and don’t see the need to work in profits elsewhere. This isn’t the case with everyone and again it’s not necessarily bad, but as a bride I would want disclosure on that. Ask, or read the fine print on the planners contract.

  • Are they insured?
  • What happens if they are sick on the day or injured etc?
  • Any limits to hours on the day? Or situations where extra fees might be payable?

Then in general you just want to assess whether you ‘click’ with them. You are going to spend a lot of time together and communicating so you want to feel like this is someone you can be natural with and who you feel is genuine and easy to talk to you for you. There are a lot of different great planners in this city so don’t settle if you feel at all awkward, there will be one that’s just right for you! Vancouver Wedding Photographer {S} Some quick fire tips for brides and grooms planning their wedding:

  • {E} Couples can often get really caught up in fretting about the little details in each decision. We try to always relate each decision back to the overall question of “how will this affect my guests experience?” which helps to make sure that the money you spend has the most impact on the people you love. How much you spent on a place card probably won’t affect the guests as much as what you choose to do for food or music.
  • Don’t lose sight of the fact that the ceremony and the marriage itself is the reason all of this is happening. Be sure to pay due attention to the plans for the ceremony and don’t allow the party to pull focus for you two and your guests. The ceremony shouldn’t be an afterthought.
  • If the party aspect of the reception is important to you, having a bar quite close to the dance floor or at least in the same room is essential to not segregating the dancers and non dancers, the same for a photobooth or candy bar etc. The closer you can make any potential attractions, the more your guests will stay together with certainly promotes a more raucous party vibe.
  • A photobooth can be used in the cocktail hour rather than later at night (or in addition to), which provides some entertainment for guests while they are waiting for the bride and groom to come back from getting photos done.  We find it’s more effective here since people have less to do at this time.
  • Food in the cocktail hour is a must, in particular if you have heavy drinkers. Cocktail hours with no food often result in early drunkenness, especially on hot summer days.
  • In the end, it’s your day. Don’t heed what people say you should or shouldn’t do. With a wedding there is no should, just do whatever you want. Period.

{S} Thank you so much Erin for your time and for the insights!

 

You can find out more about Filosophi Event Planning and Design via the following links:

WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER PINTEREST BLOG


// sachinkhona.com //

Wedding & Portrait Photographer based in Vancouver

Stay connected with me via the following channels:  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google Plus | Tumblr

Comments

SO helpful. I wish we had more wedding planners over in nz!

Wow, what a dress! Beautiful work, Sachin.

Great post. This will help a ton of people. Also the images in this post are amazing!

Hiring a planner is one of the best tips that I could give every bride! Awesome post!

Very helpful resource here. Paired with rockin’ pictures. Thanks!

This is such great information for couples.

gorgeous. Especially love that first one!

that wide dock shot is sooo good.

Awesome images! Hiring a WP is a very smart choice for couples, thanks for sharing the interview :)

Wow, so insightful and helpful, thank you for doing this!

Really valuable information. Skilled wedding planners ROCK! Wonderful photos + great advice for brides. Love this post!

Heidi Cheung

Angela Jia Jia.
saw this n thought of you. Though its selling wedding planner but some tips might be useful. Read the blog lol.

Sachin Khona

Thanks for sharing Heidi!

I just wanted to stop in and say that, she looks exactly like Ann Hathaway in that top image. Only prettier. =) Thank you for this helpful insight, Sachin!!

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