Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Top ten questions to ask your (Dubrovnik) Wedding Planner

We have a saying in Croatia that would be roughly translated to something like this: "Those who ask, don't wander nor wonder". So this is a post devoted to questions. And answers of course :)
I have been working for ages on a long list of frequently asked questions so we can send to our clients to help them better understand the way we work and the way wedding planning generally goes. At first I envisioned this as a short list with only a few that will answer what you care about most. But wedding planning is not a small topic is it? And a wedding planner not just a random person you don't need to learn anything about and entrust them only the most important day of your life so far, right?
So I have come up to 25 for now (and still going!), a list we send to our clients at the time of booking.
I will share with you top ten I find most crucial at the time of sending inquries. Some questions you will find online us wedding planners are not a big fan of and we really dislike the feeling off being interrogated, so try to make it feel casual, we're people too, people who care about your wedding probably more than anyone else around you , trust me on this one... So let's hit it off! :)

Photo by Fabijan Drnas, all rights reserved
 1. Are you available on my wedding date and will I be your only client that day?
Why is this a first question? If you are fixed on a date and not on a planner, you want to make sure you are not wasting anyone's time, least yours, with someone who isn't available on your wedding date. I have had clients change dates so we can be their planner and I have had clients I had to reject as they were fixed on the date. Either way, prioritize!
As far as being the only client goes, many event planning companies have multiple wedding planners and you will have your own, so they may take more than one wedding, and also some may have another event from a client who got married a day before or is about to marry the day after. What's important is that you make sure that your wedding planner will be with you on the day. Also ask about hours- from when to when they will be on the wedding day with you?

Photo by Veronica Arevalo, all rights reserved
2. How involved will I be in the wedding planning process?
This will help you understand the planner works. You want them explain in general will you have to choose the exact vendors they work with or will they provide you with several options (usually what we recommend, simply for comparison reasons and also because not everyone has a same taste). You want to make sure the planner will work in your best interest advocating your visions and ideas to all vendors you may need. Make sure to check if they are willing to work with vendors you book on your own- in our case, we don't take any responsibility for the work and quality of vendors not booked through us. Not out of spite but simply because many times before we have had lost-in-translation kind of situations where either that vendor doesnt feel comfortable with us guiding them or they keep saying the Bride told them differently. Either way, it doesn't feel right and we will for example always ask from our Clients to brief their vendors (most of the time this is the photographer or videographer they brought from home or a band they booked online) that we run the show. Because you pay us to do so. And our job and mission is to have you covered ;)

Photo by Foto Adria, all rights reserved
 3. How much do you charge and what is included in this price?
Oh the money talk. Don't let it be your first question, it's simply not polite :), but do make sure to ask far in advance so there are no surprises. In our case, we have packages that are based on what kind of ceremony you do- civil, church or symbolic. Our wedding planning packages are a flat fee, tax inclusive that cover unlimited wedding planning, consulting, emails, calls, you name it :) plus all local admin costs. Some of our colleagues charge a percentage based fee or simply a service fee. This may be a good time to disuss methods and dynamics of payments, deposits and contracts. Check if the planner in question does day of coordination only as well or exclusively full service planning and coordination, like us. Be open and transparent and so will we, always! What I mean here is be open about your budgets as well and don't take it the wrong way if we tell you some venues are simply not doable for this budget. It's something like not understanding how you cannot buy a Ferrari for 10,000 euros, well- you get the idea. We will do everything we can to adapt to your budget but we ask the same from you- staying realistic what can be put on table in that budget too.

Photo by Veronica Arevalo, all rights reserved
4. What do you not do? Ie what will be a sole responsibility of mine?
Sometimes it is more important to know what isn't included than what is! For example, in our case, we don't do stationary such as invites, save the date cards, wedding websites and thank you cards. We don't deal with rings or wedding dresses and we don't deal with flights. We are happy to recommend vendors but you will know better who does best where you come from. What we do? All local! From the moment you set your foot to Croatia till you leave, we are here to assist you and your guests with any and all arrangements- from airport and local transfers, tours and trips, speed boat rentals, jet skis, beauty treatments, babysitting services, VIP entrances to local clubs, restaurant reservations and of course all wedding related items, any! So basically, locally, you name it, well handle it. As long as it's legal ;)

Photo by Veronica Arevalo, all rights reserved
5. How do we communicate - how and best do we contact you?
Ok this is a big one.... What our clients often forget is that this is our job. And nobody works 24/7. Keep that in mind when you send that WhatsApp message on Sunday morning. We all have families and we very much appreciate when our personal space and time are appreciated. We always recommend scheduling a phone call (ideally during working hours, so if you work same hours as we do- how about during your lunch break?) to make sure we fully devote our energy to you. Our working hours in the season (which in our case is 7-8 months per year) are often manic and 12-15 hour working day - office in the morning, meetings midday with clients from yesterday or from tomorrow, wedding the rest of the day and bedtime sometime after midnight. Life of a wedding planner is far from fancy or coveted (though a LOT of fun :)) but it's quite well organized, at least in our case. We will be there for you all the way in every segment of the planning and the day itself but please let's plan on it! And please let's keep weekends off for us as well, at  least in off season- my kids  love spending Saturdays with me too :)
The only time when you will have our 24/7 availability is during your wedding week. Then, there's no rules and we act as planners, psychologists, nurses, emergency contacts and much more :)

Photo by Bobi, private album
 6. Can you tell me more about your participation and work on my wedding day?
It's so important to nail this in advance and right. It's so important to manage your expectations. Most of us don't sit in front of your hotel room like in some movies you may have seen, waiting to see if there's anything you'll need. We are here for you at all times, but physically we don't arrive to your hotel room before a few hours before the ceremony itself. It's simply not necessary (given that all is going as planned).
My reply on this question would be as follows: my mornings are reserved for clearing up inbox and going through every single detail of your wedding, checking for the 5th time in two days all and every single vendor that has anything to do with your wedding that all is clear. I pick up bridal bouquet and bring it to you around 3 hours before the ceremony so it is kept fresh for as long as possible. Then I'll sit down with you to see how you feel, if you have eaten (one of key questions I always ask, if you don't eat you don't get married, as simple as that ;)- it's the one thing I don't compromize on! :)) and go over the plan of the day once again. I'll brief your Bridesmaids and family members on what they need to know and then I'll let you enjoy those last few hours of getting ready for your wedding. I'll come to pick you up when it's time to go and make sure you have your bouquet on you, your veil is set up right and there is a person in the bridal party who knows how to fix it if needed.
I'll have your back when you walk down the aisle (not literally :)) and I'll be the first person you'll see when you get married and walk up the aisle with your husband, clearing your hair from confetti and giving you a huge sweaty hug to congratulate you on becoming a Mrs.
I'll spend the rest of the day with you and your guests, making sure all goes as planned and your expectations are hopefully exceeded. My job is done when you can't stop hugging me :)
I'll cue you for the speeches, cake cutting time, first dance as well as that time to fix your lipstick and time to have a shot on the side with me. And I'll probably go to bed long after you. I will be your guardian angel on the day, I can promise you that.
And then people wonder how we become friends with our clients.... :D

Photo by Veronica Arevalo, all rights reserved

Photo by Svadbas Photography, all rights reserved

Photo by Fabijan Drnas, all rights reserved

Photo by Svadbas photography, all rights reserved

Photo by Foto Adria, all rights reserved
6. Do we need to pay for the meals of people who work at our wedding, such as you, DJ and photographer?
We, the wedding staff, are very sensitive to this one, let me tell you honestly. We're people too, remember? And we eat here and there, too. So a small meal during your wedding dinner when there are no logistics to look after will be very much appreciated. Please keep in mind we will always suggest that a small meal (nog the wedding meal of course) is covered for the coordinators, photo and video team, AV team and music team. We will be very thankful. Feel free to stop by our staff table and have a drink with us at some point, you'll have fun, I promise :)

Photo by Fabijan Drnas, all rights reserved

7. How many weddings have you planned, how many do you plan in a year and can you share some of your references?
Experience is everything in our profession. And I mean everything. It means ability to improvize when needed, best contacts and local support, wide range of communication skills, handling and extinguishing fire emergencies within guests relations and family issues and seemlessly running the show with a smile on our face. Sometimes speaking to other brides will help understand something that didnt come to your mind before. And keep in mind you're hiring someone who will literally look after your whole wedding, you don't want to take any chances here and trust me on this. We have had clients book new agencies over us due to lower costs and came back to  us crying after a few months. You get monkeys when you pay peanuts- and you know that! Of course, look for value for the money but don't do compromize your one and only weddings just because the cost is low(er)- there's usually a reason for that.

Photo by Svadbas Photography, all rights reserved

Photo by Svadbas Photography, all rights reserved
8. Do you plan on backup options for all vendors and venues?
I still cannot believe that there are planners who plan weddings (once in a lifetime event, let's not forget, for most at least!) without a backup plan. I  have seen it backfire so many times and trust me it's not fun. Our motto is leaving nothing to chance. If the venue has outdoor capacity for 200 and indoor for 50, we promote it as a 50 people venue. As simple as that. We have had clients who went elsewhere because we refused to plan their wedding on a venue without a backup and they were sure it won't rain on their wedding day. You're guessing right- most of these had a stormy wedding day, in every sense possible.
Especially in Dubrovnik, where we don't have marquis and tent companies and it will cost you thousands of Euros to bring someone last minute from other parts of Croatia to jump in and save the day. Trust me, this question should definitely be your priority. And the answer should be always yes, heck insist even on putting it in the contract.

Photo by Foto Adria, all rights reserved
9. What is your cancellation policy?
In this sensitive time, especially now with Coronavirus is threating to all travel related segments including destination eddings, you will want to know the cancellation policy and have it clearly outlined in the contract. Most vendors and venues will be willing to transfer deposits to a different date (pretty much no matter the reason) but do keep in mind if you decide to cancel in non act of God situation, in most cases deposits will be non refundable and this is why they are called retainers (this is likely to be around 2-3000€ with venue deposits). When clients cancel a wedding after months or even years of planning, please keep in mind we have done our fair share of work which is covered by a deposit which is usually half of our service cost.

Photo by DT studio, all rights reserved
10. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your experience, your company and its philosophy?
I was debating whether to put this one in top 10 or not. Simply because not everyone enjoys being asked their personal things. But a wedding is such a personal event and you will get in an intense relationship with your wedding planner. All of my clients know names of my kids and it's on purpose I speak about them in front of my clients. Over the next few months or even years you will speak to us more than you speak to most people in your life. It's just the way it goes. So you will want to do your research on your planner and you will want to know a bit about them as well. How long they' ve been in the business? How did they get in the business? What did they do before being a planner (sometimes this is a very important and interesting piece of info) and what does your company value and believe in?
As for us, this is personal touch and bespoke Client experience approach. We are known for making friends in a lot of our clients and staying in touch with them for years after their wedding. Being a family business, our philosophy goes far beyond a business scope, we truly live and love what we do. We believe in promptness and professionalism all the way- slacking, ignorrance and amateurism are simply not an option in the way we work. And we honestly hope this is again and again recognized by our clients, partners and vendors.
Oh and we do our best to have fun while working, hope the photos in this post brought to you at least a bit closer to who we are and what we do :)

Photo by Mihoci Studios, all rights reserved

Photo by Katija Zivkovic, all rights reserved

Photo by Foto ADria, all rights reserved

Photo by Veronica Arevalo, all rights reserved

Photo by Fabijan Drnas, all rights reserved

For more questions, answers and information on your Dubrovnik wedding, we cannot wait to hear from you at
Read more on what our clients say about us here

                                                                        HAPPY PLANNING!


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