Once upon a time, not too long ago, we wrote a tongue-in-cheek blog on what wedding planners really do. If you missed it, read it here

That blog showed the funny side of what it takes to be a wedding planner (hint: it involves lots and lots of hats) but on a serious note, it did a pretty good job of showing how much more there is to planning the perfect wedding than the ability to order flowers and a cake and make dinner reservations. In these days of crowded lives and multi-tasking everything, the popularity of wedding planning has steadily grown with busy couples everywhere. Unfortunately, this growth has also seen a proliferation in the growth of….are you ready?….the Pop-Up Planner!

The genus Pop-Up Planner exists due to the band-wagon effect. Enter the Pop-Up Planner who sees wedding planners at work, maybe as a guest at a wedding, or even as a vendor themselves, and thinks ‘hey, that looks easy, I could do that!’ And lo and behold, we see the Pop-Up Planner hopping onto the wedding bandwagon. The Pop-Up can offer bargain basement prices, and generally offers a bargain-basement ‘service’ of picking up the phone to order a bouquet and a cake, possibly a bottle of fizz, and maybe make dinner reservations for the couple. Pop-Ups also tend to cap the hours they spend ‘coordinating’ your wedding, and will be persona non grata at 1.30am when the bride is panicking about who is getting the gifts back to the hotel room and the weary event staff appreciate some help in tearing down the banquet room set-up.

In comparison, a professional wedding planner will have spent a year or more working with a couple, logging (in our case) an average of over 1,000 emails on each wedding, will have a dynamite team of anything from two (our minimum) to six expert associate planners able to deal smoothly with any eventuality including tight turn-arounds and set-up times, will have years of experience planning and orchestrating weddings of all kinds and sizes, in every imaginable venue, and will have an extensive list of vendors with whom they have a mutually cordial and professional working relationship.

Break that all down and factor in the thousands of office hours, the years of experience, the professional expertise, and the fact that ALL of this is included in our pricing, and suddenly on a cost-per-hour basis the higher fees charged by a professional planner start to look pretty cost-effective.

So who ARE the Pop-Ups? We have been able, based on keen observation and sharp detective skills, to break the Pop-Ups into three main species:

  1. The Bargain Basement Pop-Up.  The BBPU can offer dirt cheap rates because she prefers to work alone, possibly sometimes with a mate willing to help out for pocket-money. The BB tends to stick to the familiar ground of one or two favourite venues, because she knows that at unfamiliar venues her cover will be blown when she has no idea where the plug-ins are for the DJ or the iPod, and will be unable to cope when the kitchen asks her does she have the cutting set for the cake? The BB also almost invariably charges by the hour, and will promptly disappear over the horizon when the clock strikes at the allotted hour. Lest she turn into a pumpkin no doubt.
  2. Behold the ‘we want it all!’ Vendor Pop-Up! The VPU is often a legitimate professional in their own area of wedding services, often a very good one at that, but, deceived by the apparent ease with which they see wedding planners going about their craft, and attracted by the green-eyed monster lure of additional fees, they start to throw a few extra balls in the air and offer to organize the bouquet, make a dinner reservation perhaps, oh and how about a cake?….and hence the thin-end-of-the-wedge is inserted and they invariably add more and more. The smarter of the VPU genus even imitate the behaviour of experienced planners by mimicking their business plan and packaging skills, but no harm done, right? Wrong. The problem here is, the VPU is hired by the couple to do a specific job and as they attempt to juggle that with the multiple other balls in the air, one or more of the balls is apt to fall. Only a wedding planner can keep all the balls spinning in the air smoothly, because they have your wedding Big Picture and ONLY the Big Picture clearly in sight at all times,  and are the only ones who have their eye…well, on the ball.
  3. The Best Friend Pop-Up. The BF might also be the Mother-of-the-Bride Pop-up or even the Mother-in-Law Pop-up. This often well-intentioned Pop-Up is the one that can most speedily go sideways, because  A)The BF or MOB want to enjoy the wedding (as they should) and in the jollity of the party are apt to forget little details like, oh I don’t know, making sure the cake comes out at the right time for the photographer to capture the cake-cutting moment before they leave. And B)The BF has been to a grand total of no less than three weddings this year, (her sister’s, her BFF’s and her boyfriend’s cousin’s) and she reckons that makes her a dab hand at this planning business. A piece of (wedding) cake, as it were. The fact that she has no clue what she is doing is sadly apt to emerge as the day wears on, as witness the classic BF Pop-UP at a recent wedding where the couple rented some decor from us, who confessed she had ‘no idea’ what a signing table was or why one was required. Bless her little BF Pop-Up heart.

Despite our laughs, there is a serious side to the phenomenon of the Pop-Up Planner. It puts our often quoted Buyer Beware mantra into stark relief. When it comes to choosing someone to plan and orchestrate the most wonderful day of your life, are you really prepared to gamble on the success of your big day by betting on a Pop-Up ‘Planner’?