Love Stories

Southern Maryland Wedding Planner – Vendor Feature

For quite some time I’ve wanted to start a series on the blog, featuring the top wedding vendors in the Southern Maryland area and asking them some seriously tough questions for all the brides to get the skinny on.  So, when it came down to which wedding vendor I wanted to reach out to first, full disclosure, I picked the service I know the least about: the wedding planner.

From a wedding photographer’s perspective, the value of having a wedding planner is even more obvious when a bride doesn’t have one and things go WRONG.  Then the mayhem is left to the bride, bridesmaids or mothers to try and pull together a magic trick.  It rains on your wedding day and the tents collapse.  Now what?  You realize you forgot a corsage in the final count to the florist and now Grandma is without.  On your wedding day, you should be able to sit back and enjoy the celebration and take in the day with all those you love and not worry about all the good or bad going on behind the scenes and that is where Charming Grace Events comes in.

When I sat down with Brandi Erhand of Charming Grace Events to find out all the ways she makes her wedding planning services invaluable to the Annapolis and Southern Maryland brides, I quickly realized she was exactly the person I would have picked to plan my own wedding: tons of knowledge and ideas, funny and a genuine heart.  Whether the sky is the limit or you are on a strict budget and even considering a lot of DIY elements, I’m sharing the details from our, possibly margarita filled, conversation below.  Keep in mind that I am horrible at interviewing and she is so down to earth that our meeting was much more like two friends hanging out than the business meeting I expected.  So, there are no exact quotes and maybe half of this I made up (totally kidding on the last part).  Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you new best friend when planning your wedding: Brandi of Charming Grace Events.Carla Lutz Photography Virginia Maryland Family Photographer_0466

What do you think is the biggest reason brides don’t hire a wedding planner?

Brides are INTIMIDATED with the idea of hiring a wedding planner.  The initial idea of planning a wedding sounds fun and how exactly would it be to let someone else plan their day.  However, brides quickly find that it takes 200 hours or more to research and plan a wedding.  If you are already juggling a full time career, a house, maybe kids or other commitments, fitting in all this extra work can actually be exhausting.

What are some misconceptions about hiring a wedding planner that you want to clarify to brides?

Just because you have booked a venue doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from hiring a planner.  A wedding planner is there to help you through more than just finding a venue.

Couples tend to think that the day of coordinators offered by the wedding venues take the place of a wedding planner.  (I actually did too.  Oops!)  Brandi actually started out as a wedding venue coordinator.  So, she has first hand knowledge of the differences.  A wedding planner is there to help find each wedding vendor, meet with them to narrow down your favorite, educate you on the tough questions to ask or features to look for and to review and negotiate contracts with all of your vendors.  When a Plan B or Plan C is needed due to weather or other circumstances beyond your control, your wedding planner is there to have your back and let you relax while they execute the backup plan and you still get the wedding you envisioned.

How much does it cost to hire a wedding planner?

Full Service wedding planning is about $3500.  (The math nerd in mean is sitting here calculating: $3500/ by the 200 hours it takes to plan a wedding = $17.5/hour before taxes, insurance and expenses.  That’s not a lot at all!)   For the more hands on bride, you can opt for Day of Coordination or Brandi even has some options that are totally custom and not listed on her site.  Ohhh…so there’s a secret menu!  You can even get coaching on what you need to work on next, things to look for and then you can go off and execute the plan she has made for you.  This totally sounds like something that would work for brides that can’t exactly afford full service, but appreciate and value the expertise and guidance a wedding planner offers.

In your experience, what is an average wedding budget for Southern Maryland brides?

For the Southern Maryland bride, they are spending about $20k-25k on their wedding.

Do you work with brides with lower budgets than that?

Those are the brides that can really benefit from having a planner because we can offer suggestions and ways to really stretch their budget.  Whatever your budget may be, the wedding planners job is to keep you on track.

I was actually pretty shocked to learn that Brandi had a client with a pretty significant budget and the father of the bride kept adding additional services on and pretty much said it wouldn’t count against the original budget given.  This sounds like my idea of a wedding planners dream client.  Well, with the total expenses almost double what was originally discussed, Brandi had a heart to heart with the couple and father and reminded them her job was to keep them within their budget.  She suggested moving the venue from their family farm to another venue and not only did the bride get the wedding of her dreams, but they saved some serious cash!

What are some wedding trends you want to see this season or next?

Country elegant! She described her love for details and fancy linens and mentioned she’d love to see more couples that have barn weddings try renting chandeliers or decor that may even be a little nontraditional for a rustic venue.  This actually sounds a lot like my recent styled shoot from Flora Corner Farm.  Check that out here.

So, what’s next?

Drinking wine and dishing out advice to brides!

Brandi is actually hosting an event on June 23rd called Wine with a Planner.  You can bring a friend, paint a wine glass, sip on some wine (duh!) and ask her the toughest wedding planning questions too.  You can find the details and purchase your ticket here.   Yup.  I’m there.  Not to ask advice, but at least to drink the wine. 😉  Hope to see you there!

Brandi – Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me and educating me on life, love and wedding planning.  I look forward to working with you in the upcoming wedding season!

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