Chicago wedding planners offer tips for bridal bliss

Chicago wedding planners offer tips for bridal bliss

What's the advantage of hiring a wedding planner for your big day?

Joyce Westin Dunne: "It makes the bride's and family's day less stressful knowing that everything will be taken care of in a professional manner."

Alexandra Jusino: "Besides peace of mind, we save them time. We also save them money by narrowing things down for them. We tell them what they can afford, what fits their style and what vendors are reputable."

Frank Andonoplas: "I really try to create an atmosphere that personalizes the wedding and reflects the couple's style. I'll give you ideas you didn't think of and resources you didn't know were available."

As a wedding coordinator, what are some of your job duties?

Dunne: "Planning the whole event. Coordinating the church and reception site, putting together the best party they've ever been to and being there to oversee everything."

Jusino: "We set a budget and a theme, and then we go look at locations for the ceremony and reception. Then we start looking at vendors. On the day of the wedding, we're there to direct vendors, guests and the wedding party."

Andonoplas: "Assisting in finding the components: the venue, photographer, caterer, florist, lighting company, linens, ideas for special touches and on and on and on."

How many years of experience do you have?

Dunne: "I've been doing this since 1989."

Jusino: "Seven years."

Andonoplas: "Fifteen years this past September."

How far in advance before the wedding should a couple book your services?

Dunne: "I've done weddings in three months' time, and I've had brides for two years. Whatever comes along, I can handle. Really, it's just getting the venue and the clergy."

Jusino: "We usually recommend at least a year, especially here, where things get booked in advance. For day-of service, probably about three months before the wedding."

Andonoplas: "The longer the lead time, the more options you're going to have. Twelve to 14 months is a good lead time. A shorter time — like six months — is feasible, but options will be more limited."

Do you personally attend every wedding and rehearsal? If so, is there an extra fee for this?

Dunne: "Yes. That's all included in the base fee. I also attend all meetings and everything."

Jusino: "Yes, we do attend every wedding and rehearsal, and there's no extra fee."

Andonoplas: "I take only one wedding per weekend. I'm the face you want to see that day. It's included in the fee."

How do you handle difficult brides or family members?

Dunne: "Just smile. Keep a smile on your face."

Jusino: "Usually, people are just stressed and don't know what to expect. I tell them, 'Take a deep breath, things are going to be OK,' and keep them informed as much as possible."

Andonoplas: "You have to be very discreet and sensitive and try to make everybody happy. But you're not always able to."

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