Ask the Expert: Wedding planner Mackie Faye Hill

Q: My family wants to help with the planning. What should I have them do?
Families are wonderful and helpful families are even better. However it can be a bit overwhelming when people want to help and you aren’t sure how to delegate.

First, if you have a wedding planner make sure and ask them for some ideas or ask them to delegate specific duties to your family members. Wedding planners understand that families love to be involved in the special day and may already have ideas of what duties should be given to whom. You may want to be involved in these decisions as no one else knows better than you what family members should be assigned what tasks.

Second, if you do not have a planner look at your “To Do” list and delegate based on skills, interest, and time commitment. Make sure that your family is clear on what you are asking of them and are willing to make the time commitment.  In addition, keep in contact and make sure that the things you have delegated are on schedule and nothing has dropped by the way side.  If your planner is involved they can do this for you.

Q: We’re on a tight budget and my family will help with the wedding day execution. Isn’t a wedding planner a waste of my money?
Absolutely not!

First, a wedding planner can often save you money because of their knowledge and connections with local vendors. In addition, planners have experience planning weddings on a budget, knowing where to cut back, and knowing what elements can be expanded to make your wedding look fabulous without inflating your bills.

Second, weddings are special occasions.  You plan, organize, and dream about spending the day with your family and guests.  So… needless to say how do you spend the day with them if you and your family are all working tirelessly during the big event.  A wedding has so many elements to facilitate and care for that there is no room for relaxing. No bride should have to focus on that and neither should her family.

Third, to save money you can hire a Day-of-Coordinator (DOC). That way you can do all of the planning and designing and then your DOC can take the reigns on your wedding day and make sure it runs smoothly and effortlessly for you.

Q: I want to recognize family members who have passed on. How can I do this creatively?
What a great question!  There are so many different ways to do this, but here are just a few:

• In the family seating section, leave a seat empty. You can either have flowers in that seat to begin with or the Bride and Groom could place a single rose in the empty chair at a specific time in the ceremony.

• In response to the question, “Who gives Bride in marriage?” the response might be, “In memory of her mother (father), I do.”

• At the beginning of your service, your officiant could say something in remembrance of your loved one. For instance, “Before we begin our celebration today, the Bride and Groom would like us all to take a moment to remember those family members who can only attend this marriage in spirit, especially (insert names).”

• Have an empty vase on the altar, or at the back of the ceremony site. Give each guest a flower as they enter to place in the vase. During the ceremony, the bride and groom can each insert a flower of a different color into the center of the arrangement, symbolizing being surrounded by the love and support of family and friends. The arrangement can then decorate the head table or another spot at the reception.

• Carry a memento of the loved one: a handkerchief, piece of jewelry, or a small photograph tucked strategically into a bouquet or jacket pocket. One fabulous idea passed on by a friend was to attach a photograph to the bottom of a note card and attach flowers to the top of the card. Insert the note card photo-side down into the breast pocket of the groom’s tux to create a pocket boutonniere. Or insert the card into the bride’s bouquet.

Lastly, again, you know your family and loved ones best. Think about what the family member would have liked and honor them in a way that is unique and special. Your wedding is a celebration; the last thing you want is to make it a sad experience.

Q: How can I make my wedding different?
As a wedding designer I am constantly collaborating with clients on new ideas and concepts to make their day special.  There are so many elements out there that can be tweaked and added to make the celebration unique that giving a blanket answer to this question is impossible.

I will say that hiring a designer can be the key.  Focus on your personality, your likes and dislikes, things that make you an individual…these are the elements that can be integrated into your wedding that that will make it essentially yours.  There is only one “you” and so if “who you are” is truly represented in your ceremony and reception, then your celebration will be one of a kind.

Mackie Faye Hill is the owner of Simply Unforgettable Events by Mackie, a wedding planning business based in Bangor, Maine.