If You Just Got Engaged, This One’s for You

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"If I haven't reduced your stress level, I haven't done my job." - a New York City-based wedding planner

You’re engaged, the euphoria of your engagement has settled, and now the prospect of planning a wedding is very, very real – one that is both exciting and downright daunting. There’s a lot to think about as a bride-to-be, and it’s not always clear where to even begin.

That’s why Savoir Flair reached out to Zainab Alsalih, founder of Carousel, one of the most highly sought-after luxury wedding design and planning agencies in the Middle East. Not only is Alsalih the creative force behind the stunning weddings in Carousel’s portfolio, but she also boasts nine years of event planning in the region. “I suggest you start by asking a few questions about the big day that will help you determine whether or not you even need a wedding planner – size, location, and time included,” she advises.

“While all weddings should be orchestrated by a capable wedding planner, certain weddings lend themselves exceptionally well to extra help, especially when you don’t have enough time to find, select, and appoint various suppliers and service providers. Planners have already done their research and the legwork, and are in the know when it comes to vendors. They also know when a wedding might pose logistical challenges, with tented, outdoor, and destination weddings being three examples.”

wedding planner bride Taylor Dawn
Photo: Courtesy of Taylor Dawn

According to Alsalih, a wedding planner can actually help a bride-to-be save money. “They will be able to stick to your budget and allocate the funds in a more efficient and effective way, with no last-minute surprises. A good planner can also squeeze a lot more out of vendors, as they are repeat business for them, whereas any bride is usually – and hopefully – a one-time client. A planner is only as good as their vendors are, and a good planner is able to secure the best quality vendors and demand the best from them.”

So what makes a good wedding planner? “He or she should be able to help you get the most for your money by hiring the top quality vendors. Not only should they help save the bride money, but they should also be able to catch mistakes that a bride would be unaware of. For example, renting items that may be available to you free of charge through the venue or caterer. They are also able to help steer the bride’s ideas and visions in a more practical and feasible way as they know what works and what doesn’t.”

But there’s more. Alsalih says a good wedding planner should also be a good listener, understanding a bride-to-be’s vision and communicating that vision to all the vendors and suppliers. Finally, a good wedding planner must also be a master of crisis management and conflict resolution. “Everything should go smoothly, but if it doesn’t, you need a capable person at the helm to manage the situation and ensure the event is a success – regardless of what unexpected issues may arise.”

Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

As for finding the right wedding planner for you? The best way is through recommendations from friends and vendors. Many planners have their own websites, which is another good place to start, but be sure to also meet the planner in person. Alsalih advises asking yourself the following questions after your first meeting:

– Are they organized?
– Are they presentable?
– Am I comfortable around them?
– Are they friendly?
– Are they knowledgeable?
– Do they have any references and recommendations?
– Are they within my budget?
– Have I seen enough examples of weddings they’ve planned in the past?

Finally, it’s advisable to meet with several planners, and compare their credentials and personalities before picking one. “In the end, you must pick a planner who you simply have chemistry with. Most importantly, though, choose a wedding planner who will help you sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey.” That’s what it’s all about, right?

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