A Day in the Life of a Wedding Planner
Jasmine Esau of Reflections Weddings and Events offers a behind-the-scenes look at what a wedding planner does on the day of the wedding.
photograph by Mackenzie Jane Photography
There's a particular age when suddenly the entire summer season is comprised of weddings, as all of your friends start to get married. Fourteen years ago, Jasmine Esau got married – along with six of her friends within the same year. While Esau enjoyed all of the planning that goes into a wedding, her friends were less enamoured with the process. After she helped them out, word spread, and she began to work on other weddings. In 2004, she started Reflections Weddings and Events and has been coaching people through the marathon of wedding planning since then.
Esau considers her role on the day of the wedding to keep everything off the happy couple's plate so they can focus on enjoying the occasion. This includes everything from rounding up forgotten items before leaving for the ceremony, to reassuring a nervous MC, to making sure the reception decorations fulfill the couple's dream. However, Esau throws in just a bit of perspective for any particularly stressed out couples: "Even if everything went wrong, the whole point of the day is to be married. If you've married the love of your life, then it was a great day."
Esau gave us a glimpse into a wedding planner's timeline on the day of a wedding.
Esau's morning can start anywhere between 6 to 9 a.m., depending on the wedding. She fuels up with a green smoothie to sustain her for the busy day ahead.
Her first stop is always to check in on the bride.
After that, Esau moves on to the ceremony or reception venue to observe how the set-up is coming. For smaller weddings, Esau will do the set-up, but for larger events, a team is already hard at work. "The longest we've set-up decor is a two full day set-up, but that's if the client has hired me for design and I have a full design team doing set-up as well. For an average wedding where I might be doing some of the set-up the day before and some of the set-up on the day of. The core set-up for 120 people usually ends up being anywhere from four to six hours," says Esau.
Esau typically meets with the florist at that time to make sure they have everything they need.
Next up, she checks in on the groom and his groomsmen. Then she coordinates with the photographer to make sure the photos of the getting ready are taken.
When the day begins to creep into the afternoon, Esau focuses on making sure that everyone eats lunch. "It's one thing that gets overlooked when there's so much excitement. We don't need people walking down the aisle with nerves and empty stomachs. People faint," says Esau.
The typical ceremony time runs between 1 and 4 p.m. in Esau's experience, depending on whether the couple is doing a first look. Before the ceremony begins, Esau rounds up the wedding party and gets them to the location. She considers this to be the highest stress part of the entire wedding day. "If the bride and groom are getting ready at the same place, you have to get them both out the door without them crossing each other’s paths. And then getting them to either the ceremony or the first look location. They have to arrive within 5 minutes of each other without seeing each other and you have to get the photographer there," says Esau.
While this is can be pretty stressful, it also leads up to Esau's favourite moment of the day – when the couple finally lays eyes on one another. "My sister and I always joke that we love it when the guys cry. The emotions of 'This is the day we’ve been planning for and waiting for, and this is the moment that I get to commit myself to you for the rest of my life.' It’s such a special moment," says Esau.
The rest of the afternoon, Esau finishes decor set-up and coordinates with all of the vendors involved with the wedding to insure that the only thing that gets hitched is the bride and groom.
Esau likes to begin the evening by giving the now-married couple a moment to themselves. While the guests are occupied with cocktail hour, Esau will bring the bride and groom into the reception area to see how the space has been transformed. "They’ve spent a year or more planning this. It’s really nice to get them in there to see that room and have a quiet moment, just the two of them," says Esau.
Next, the party gets underway. Esau makes sure all of the important boxes on the wedding day list get ticked – entrances, speeches and dances. Once people have started doing the Macarena on the dance floor, it's time for the weary wedding planner to have a break. "We have our dinner [in a nearby restaurant or lounge] once the dance starts. We usually sit there and say nothing, it’s a lot of talking all day long and it’s our one moment to kind of have some quiet and regroup," says Esau.
At around 1 a.m., Esau comes back to the venue for her final role on the wedding day — to take down the space and help clean up.
After a day that starts at 6 a.m. and goes until after 1 a.m., the culmination of months of planning is now over for both the happily married couple and the wedding planner.