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One Wedding Planner On Costs, Drama And Managing Expectations

May 31, 2018

As the wedding season gets underway, Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with Atlanta-based wedding planner Summer McLane about the costs of tying the knot, tips for finding the right planner and some of the most common budget surprises.

“Flowers would be the No. 1 thing,” McLane (@mysimplyperfect) says. “I have clients all the time who are just shocked by the price of flowers. And also cake — you can get a wedding cake for $2,200, and you could get the same cake for a 16th birthday party for probably $800.”

Interview Highlights

On tips for finding a wedding planner

“I think it’s not just looking at their Instagram. It’s about talking to their previous clients, and not just looking at reviews online. I think talking to the previous clients and asking them what their experience was … I’m actually shocked that it’s not more people. I feel like planners are always screaming — actually all vendors — ‘hire a planner,’ because at your wedding, it’s too late to realize that you need the help.”

On one report putting the national average wedding cost at around $26,000

“That average wouldn’t cut it in Atlanta at all. … I don’t have clients who even would come to me with that budget at this point. In Atlanta, the average is about $46,000, $47,000. It depends on what they want. Half of my job is managing expectations. And yeah, people watch these shows, and they see magazines and they see the royal wedding. People forget that that stuff costs money.”

On who’s paying for weddings these days

“Most of my couples pay for the wedding themselves. That’s super traditional [for the bride’s family to pay]. I’ve only had about three clients whose fathers paid, the bride’s family paid.”

On Meghan Markle’s decision to not have bridesmaids

“It’s funny, because when I saw her do that I was like, ‘Yes,’ because I think that that’s a trend that a lot of people are going to start following. I’ve only had a handful of brides who have done that, and they’re older brides. … Because it’s messy, and for a planner, it’s just drama. And you know for the bride it’s drama, too. There’s a lot of competition that happens. You know it’s like, ‘Oh is she going to stand closer to you than I am? I’m your friend from middle school,’ or, ‘ I’ve known you for the past 10 years.’ There’s just unnecessary drama, and cost.”

On weddings involving people of color being less represented within the wedding industry

“Recently a website, Style Me Pretty, was going out of business. I guess they sold to another company, and then the company just didn’t realize how much of a staple it was in the industry. And all these wedding vendors were losing their minds over it. And a lot of the vendors of color, we were like, ‘I don’t really care. You don’t you don’t show our weddings anyway.’

“I mean, just to be completely candid, I don’t know if a lot of people find couples of color beautiful, which is the truth. You know, you look at a bunch of these other blogs, and they think putting maybe an Asian bride with a white groom is diversity. I have submitted many weddings of my couples who are black. They just get passed over. But it’s something we don’t talk about enough in the industry. So when you do start talking about it, then you’re the one who kind of stands out and everyone’s looking at you like, ‘Oh God, maybe if you just did better weddings.’ ”

On her personal experience as an African-American wedding planner

“To be honest, when Trayvon Martin was killed, that’s what I had to stop being just a wedding planner, and I was human. And so I couldn’t really hide how I felt about these things anymore. Not that I really hid them before, but I was a lot more vocal. So when you have the ‘best of’ come out, I’m always out there saying, ‘You don’t have one black vendor on here. You couldn’t find one black florist? One black photographer?’ It’s that they don’t even look. And we’re out there.”

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