Wedding Day Success Secrets from a Professional Wedding Planner

Recently we at the Savoy sat down with Mary Ann Sandifer, a wedding planner and owner of I Do Wedding Consulting in Greenwood, Arkansas. Mary Ann is one of the best in the business, and below are some of her top tips for taking your special day from ordinary to extraordinary.

1. Consider What a Wedding Planner Brings to the Table

Mary Ann says she knows hiring a wedding planner can be expensive, but that the right person should be able to save you both money and time. If they're plugged into the local market, for example, they'll be aware of discounts available on rentals and other ways to make the most of your dollar.

Additionally, a wedding planner takes a lot of stress of your shoulders. Mary Ann says, "My goal as a wedding planner is that I have acquired your vision and all your personal items by rehearsal. On the day of the wedding, the couple comes in as a guest and they walk out as a guest. This means my team and I take out the trash, handle who has the microphones, where the DJ plugs in, and who gets the gifts when the night is over. There have been times when the cake got messed up, but we fixed it. There may be a million things that happen that day the couple never knows about. That's why we're there, so they don't have to worry."

2. Dream Big

It should be your wedding planner's job to make your vision come true, or rein you in if necessary. Mary Ann says, "Almost anything can happen. If a bride tells me she wants something, I look at it as personal challenge. Once we got a piano delivered and tuned out in the woods so a mother could play for her daughter."

3. Plan Your Ceremony

Mary Ann says an average wedding costs $50 per guest and that your biggest expense will probably be your wedding photographer. Like your coordinator, they'll be with you most the day. Here are the Savoy's tips for finding the perfect photographer. "Photographers are worth the money because, at the end of the day, your food’s eaten and your flowers die, but you'll have your photos. Because photographers play such an important role, they should approve your coordinator's schedule."

When considering who walks down the aisle first, Mary Ann says there's an etiquette to follow. This is where a coordinator comes in handy. "We want the grandmothers to be escorted by the person who’s going to make them feel the most comfortable," Mary Ann says. "They don’t need to be escorted by 'an usher,' especially if their favorite grandson in the audience."

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Photo by Jade Graves Photography[/caption]

4. Make Your Reception Special

"We want the couple to say, 'This was the most special day ever'," Mary Ann says. Unfortunately, many couples don't get to enjoy their own receptions because they're so busy greeting and hosting. So Mary Ann suggests that couples set aside 10 to 15 minutes to have a private meal together before they officially enter their reception. When Mary Ann's in charge, she sets up a table with a lace table cloth, a candle, and the bride's bouquet. "I always have a couple plates of their favorite food and their favorite beverage, whatever that is," she says. "It gives them a minute to breathe and hug and be with each other."

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Photo by Kim Singer Photography[/caption]

5. Dance!

"A good wedding reception is almost guaranteed when the bride and groom are on the dance floor," Mary Ann says, adding that people dancing makes not only for fun, but also for wonderful photos. Here are the Savoy's reasons to learn to dance for your wedding. In addition to the standard dances--bride and groom, bride and father, groom and mother--Mary Ann recommends a wedding party dance. "I don't care if it's I Like Big Butts," Mary Ann says, "it fills the dance floor with beautiful people, breaks the ice, and gets people out of their seats."

Mary Ann also suggests a private dance for just the couple at the end of the evening when everyone else is going outside to send the couple off. "It's just them, the DJ, and maybe the photographer," Mary Ann says, "and it gives them a chance to say, 'What a night! Can you believe how many people came?'"

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Photo courtesy of I Do Wedding Consulting[/caption]

6. Don't Forget the Details

Finally, remember the little things matter. Here are three of Mary Ann's "down and dirty" suggestions for wedding day success.

It's all about the belly button. Ladies--hold your bouquets at your belly button. Gentlemen, when escorting, hold your arm at your button. When you arms float higher, you look like you're singing karaoke.

Explain, explain, explain. If there's a special song in your ceremony, tell your guests why it's special in the program. People love stories and feeling connected to yours. If there are special photos at your reception, create a label that tells your guests who the people in the photo are. Your mom on her wedding day, for example.

Think sparklers, not confetti. When thinking about leaving your reception and how your friends may send you off, think about the fact that anything they throw at you may end up in front of your face in photos--and you only get one chance to get good photos.

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Photo by Benfield Photography[/caption]

As always, if we at the Savoy can help make your wedding day a success, please reach out to us.