Breathtaking Wedding at The Geraghty in Chicago, Illinois
photographer: Ben Ramos Photography | planner: So Stacy | florist: KEHOE DESIGNS | venue: The Geraghty
The Best of | Weddings

Real Brides Share How They Found the Perfect Wedding Planner

Breathtaking Wedding at The Geraghty in Chicago, Illinois

With so many amazing options to choose from, finding the perfect wedding planner may seem like a daunting task. It’s a process that involves lots of research and self-reflection to ensure that your planner is the right person to make your unique vision come true. Luckily, PartySlate is here to show you how to find a wedding planner that will bring your dream to life.

There’s no better source of advice than couples who have gone through the planning process. We sat down with seven brides from the PartySlate team — four who are recently married and three who are currently planning their weddings — to learn more about how to find the ideal wedding planner.

Recently married panelists include:

Jessi Heymann
Platinum Senior Account Executive
planner: Great Events

Katie Leviton
Regional Lead
planner: Reva Nathan & Associates

Mykel Nicholson
Senior Account Executive
planner: So Stacy

Molly Shapiro
Platinum Senior Account Executive
planner: Alison Ross Events

*Check out Jessi’s boho chic wedding, Katie’s glamorous summer wedding, Mykel’s vibrant floral-filled wedding, and Molly’s charming country club wedding on PartySlate.

Soon-to-be married panelists include:

Caroline Marks
Account Executive
planner: NSWE Events

Annie Cannata
Product Marketing Manager
planner: Event Shoppe Chicago

Amanda Greenberg
Senior Content Marketing Manager
planner: Shannon Gail Events

Caroline’s engagement photos by Daniela León Photography

What were your biggest considerations when choosing your planner?

Compatible Personality

Amanda shares, “When choosing a wedding planner, I wanted to make sure there was a personality click. I knew I would be speaking with them regularly and wanted our planner to feel like a friend in addition to a resource and advocate for our wedding. It’s so important to not only trust the individual planning your wedding, but also make sure they understand you and your partner. Your planner will give you so many recommendations, from vendors to inspiration, and it’s crucial that they know your taste, style, and priorities.”

Mykel agrees, saying, “It was really important to me to have a good relationship with our planner — someone who would be a support system and advocate for us throughout the whole process — so personality played a big role. We wanted to make sure that they understood our priorities and needs. We needed someone who was very organized and wanted to make our wedding a great experience for our guests. Lastly, we looked for someone that we could have fun with along the way!”

Strong Vendor Network in Our City

“We really wanted to find someone who was well-connected in Chicago,” Annie tells us. “We’re having a guest-centric wedding, so finding a wedding planner who knows the best catering, entertainment, and design in the city was important to us. Most importantly, we wanted to understand what it would take to create this incredible night.  Finding someone who was well organized, realistic, and strategic with our budget was a huge priority. With assistance from Jennifer and her team at Event Shoppe Chicago, we were able to bring our vision to life while staying within our budget.”

Mykel’s whimsical moody wedding

photographer: Ben Ramos Photography | planner: So Stacy | florist: KEHOE DESIGNS | venue: The Geraghty

How did PartySlate help narrow your planner search and aid in the planning process?

To Narrow Planner Options

“The first thing we did after we got engaged was hire a wedding planner. Since I’m getting married in the city, it made sense to hire a local planner who knows the ins and outs of the Chicago wedding scene. I started by combing through PartySlate profiles straight from the Chicago planner directory and looked for companies who had worked with the venues I was interested in,” Amanda says.

She adds, “It was so helpful to browse planners’ real event albums and see how couples’ wedding days — all with different styles and preferences — were executed. From there, I saved my favorite planners to an Idea Slate and reached out to them to set up initial phone calls. After talking to 3-4 different planners and companies, I found my match: Shannon Gail Events!”

For Easy & Efficient Outreach

Annie also visited planner profiles and says, “PartySlate made it so easy to vet planners based on our top priorities. I was able to see previews of their work, review pricing information, and see who they have worked with across the industry. Plus, outreach was efficient. I was able to send my wedding details to several planners through the platform. We chatted with a few planners, but once we connected with Jennifer, we knew her team was the best fit for us!”

To Find Inspiration

Molly explains, “I used PartySlate for inspiration. Looking at Alison’s PartySlate profile, I was able to see content from her past weddings. I loved her unique touches with table settings, décor designs, fun centerpieces, and so much more. A large part of her portfolio consists of Chicago weddings, so it was also nice to know that she was well-versed in my area.”

Jessi concurs, saying, “PartySlate was the only inspiration source I needed for my wedding. It was such an easy tool for me to use to share my vision with my planner. The content on PartySlate is endless and it really helped me bring my vision to life!”

Jessi’s Idea Slate (below) was the perfect place to save ideas for her big day. Think of an Idea Slate as your space for saving ideas, vendors, and venues you like — in one handy place. Make your own Idea Slate by clicking the heart in the top right corner of any photo on PartySlate or on the profile of any venue or vendor.

See how Jessi’s wedding vision from her Idea Slate was brought to beautiful life in her wedding below:

Jessi’s boho chic wedding

photographer: Beller-Jones | planner: Great Events | florist: Flowers for Dreams | venue: Galleria Marchetti- The Pavilion

What advice do you have for couples embarking on this process?

Find Your Wedding Planner Early

Annie urges couples to start early! She says, “We started searching for a planner a little under two years out from our wedding date. We knew we wanted a long engagement to really enjoy the process and have our pick of vendors.”

Amanda agrees and says to trust her on this one — hire a planner early. “I know so many engaged couples who debate whether they need one or whether it’s worth a portion of their budget, and the answer is almost always ‘yes.’ It has been so incredibly helpful having our planner, Lindsay, guiding us each step of the way, from outlining different routes we could take with our wedding budget to making the process genuinely fun and stress-free. I couldn’t recommend working with a planner enough.”

Recently-married Jessi speaks from experience when she says, “I think the most important thing you can do after getting engaged is to hire a planner. There is so much that goes into planning a wedding, and planners are there to help take the majority of the work off your plate. They are there to help guide you through the entire process and ensure you have the most special day possible.”

Ask the Hard Questions

Caroline says, “Really make sure you are picking someone who you vibe with. Take time to talk to them, and ask the hard questions. At the end of the day, you are trusting them with one of the biggest days of your life. Also, picking a planner who has good relationships with people in the industry is really helpful for vendor selection.”

Trust Your Gut

Katie shares, “Trust your gut. Referrals and recommendations are always great, but a planner that was great for your friend, may not be the best fit for you. Also, make sure their work aligns with the aesthetic you want. If you don’t see your vision reflected in their portfolio, don’t hesitate to ask about it. It may be something they have been dying to do!”

Be Clear About What You Want

Mykel says that you should make your intention clear up front. “My advice is to make sure you talk through your priorities prior to selecting a planner and specify the amount of support you are looking for. Packages and services can range so much, so it is important to know exactly what you’re looking for throughout the planning experience. Also, personalities play a huge role, so make sure that as you talk with different planners, you get a good feel for the relationship you’ll be able to have with them.”

Embrace the Process

“Stay calm and know that your wedding day will be here before you know it,” Molly shares. “Try to make the most out of the planning stage and have fun throughout the process.”

She adds, “Planning a wedding is truly a test for marriage, since it typically involves family members, tough decisions, and hard conversations. My husband and I planned our wedding for two whole years because of COVID-19. I’ll never forget my dad saying, ‘When man plans, God laughs,’ and he was so right! You have to just go with the flow.”

Katie’s elegant & glamorous wedding

photographer: KingenSmith | planner: Reva Nathan & Associates | florist: HMR Designs | venue: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

Upcoming brides, what has been the most helpful part of having a planner during the planning phase?

Having a Clear Path Forward

Annie shares, “I have never planned an event of this scale before, so I didn’t know where to begin. Once we hired our planner, it felt like the process officially started and the ball was rolling. She gave us realistic expectations, vendor recommendations, timelines, and a budget breakdown. Going from having so many unknowns to having a clear path forward took away any feelings of being overwhelmed. We feel like we have a partner who cares just as much about our wedding as we do.”

Having a Back-Up Plan

Caroline says, “First off, shoutout to Megan with NSWE Events! She has made me feel so confident and excited for my wedding, and I will never be able to thank her enough. Her communication with vendor partners and my venue has been so amazing. She is always thinking ahead and always has a backup plan, which is so important.”

Managing Vendor Communication

Amanda says, “One of the most helpful parts of having a planner has been vendor communication. From signing with our venue (Four Seasons Hotel Chicago) to moving forward with a floral and décor company (Revel Decor), Lindsay has given us recommendations for each vendor category based on her experience and expertise and helped us narrow down our options. 

“I especially love that she always makes sure each vendor she recommends is available for our wedding date before sending their information over and getting us excited. She also sat us down at the beginning of the process and asked my fiancé and I to tell her about our family, how we met, our style, and even our home décor aesthetic. After taking the time to get to know us, she’s been able to make the perfect suggestions and come up with ideas I would have never thought of!”

Amanda’s engagement photos by Niki Marie Photography

Recent brides, how was having a planner on your wedding day helpful? How did it make things operate more smoothly?

Cohesive Timeline

Jessi shares, “My planner truly made my day as seamless as possible. She created a timeline for the day to ensure we were on top of everything. She was constantly at-attention to ensure everything was as perfect as it could be!”

Getting to Be a Guest at My Own Wedding

Katie says, “Truly, I couldn’t have done it without my planner. I felt like a guest at my own wedding. I had no concerns, but knew that I could go to her if I did. We would choose her a million times over.”

Day-of Coordination

Mykel shares that their planner was one of the best wedding investments they made. She adds, “She made sure that the timeline for the day was perfect and that all of the communication with our vendors was taken care of. This allowed us to truly enjoy the day with our family and friends without worrying about all the moving pieces. We had full trust in her – her attention to detail was amazing – so we were able to fully take in the experience. If anything went wrong that day, she made sure that we had no idea about it and came up with solutions. She was truly a total magician.”

Molly explains how her planner saved the day when the weather was less than ideal, saying, “It poured right before my ceremony! Still, the wedding was absolutely perfect because Alison was so helpful with last minute touches, making sure everything was moved inside according to our Plan B. She seamlessly accommodated guests inside rather than outside. It was such a wonderful day!”

Molly’s charming country club wedding

photographer: Jai Girard Photography | planner: Alison Ross Events | florist: Flowers for Dreams | venue: Lakeshore Country Club

People also ask…

How do I pick a theme for my wedding?

A wedding theme is the perfect way to let you and your partner’s style and uniqueness shine, and PartySlate is the place to go for inspiration. Whether you’re looking for the perfect color scheme, show-stopping centerpiece designs, or anything in between, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve curated ideas for how to make the most of your theme — check out the following wedding style and theme articles for tips on how to bring some of our favorite wedding styles to life.

How do I build a team of vendors for my wedding?

Once you’ve used the above advice to find the perfect wedding planner, you can start to assemble the rest of the team for your big day. Ask your planner about their preferred partners and check them out on PartySlate. You can find them easily by navigating to the “Event Vendor & Venue Partners” section of the planner’s PartySlate profile.Additionally, you can use PartySlate’s vendor directory to learn about the top event professionals in your area, view samples of their work, reach out to top vendors individually, and more.