Plan your perfect wedding
Get professional help for a stress-free day
Floral design: Wild Blossom Hollow Makeup: Bri Bentley Hair: Chelsea Rae Schmitt Dress: Madison James from MA Carr Suit: Edreys Wajed Styling: Social Maven Models: Edreys Wajed, Brianna Sigourney
Photo by Julie Roesser
Getting hitched? Sometimes it feels like planning a wedding, and all the other events and details that go along with it, is a full-time job. Many folks tying the knot these days have an idea of what they want their special day to be like but executing it can be a stressful undertaking with tons of moving parts that involve calendars, contracts, and choices, choices, choices. Hiring a wedding planner can help clarify your vision and find the vendors and resources that meet your needs and dreams.
We picked the brains of local wedding planners Syrie Roman and Gabrielle Pagano to find out how to create a memorable event that will leave your guests and you with beautiful memories (and photos).
Owner of Social Maven, an event planning company that specializes in creating unique and beautiful events in Buffalo and beyond. Roman’s background includes culinary arts, hospitality management, catering, event production, and wedding planning
Syrie’s top 5 list of to dos before the I dos:
1. Determine an approximate budget. Be realistic; its normal to have no idea how much a wedding costs and sometimes it can come as a surprise. Get started with plenty of time so you have your pick of vendors for the date you want, decide an amount of money you are comfortable spending, and go from there. That amount will be your starting point once you start deciding how much to allocate to each category.
2. Hire a professional. There are lots of wedding professionals who can assist you with making the most out of your budget and take the stress out of planning the event and managing the day of. At your event, you should be carrying a cocktail, not a clipboard. Know the difference between a wedding planner, coordinator, and designer. Some companies offer hybrid combinations of all three services. (We do!)
3. Vet your vendors! Cheaper doesn’t mean better. Ask lots of questions and require three past client recommendations. Any true professional will not mind at all and will most likely have this readily available. That said, do not always trust online reviews. Make sure you try to speak with other people who have hired that vendor.
4. Be practical and flexible. Sometimes your ideal photographer or florist might be just out of your budget or already booked. Look for comparable vendors that have the same style and might be available. Have a priority list, and don’t be afraid to make edits or cuts in order to get the things that mean the most to you.
5. Remember that the journey is as special as the destination. Try to not stress too much. Involve your significant other and share the decision-making responsibilities. Share details with your family and friends—or don’t, if this causes you stress. Planning such an immensely important day should be full of happy memories, not panic-attack-inducing nightmares. Always remember that at the end of the day, you are starting a life together with the one you love.
Do you offer an hourly rate?
I recently added the option of an hourly rate, but it’s not for the person who is just starting their planning phase. It’s mostly for people who are pretty close to being done and don’t need or can’t afford to have a planner the day of. What I do is talk with you and go over your timeline and details. I’ll be able to tell you where there are holes in your plan, things you should look out for. I also do phone calls in the beginning of the process if you want to consult about vendors—that’s really useful. It works for people who are very organized and task-oriented.
What wedding planning services do you offer?
I’m not of the school of having pre-made packages. I have a conversation with the couple or with the host and I let you tell me what your needs are, then I’ll put a package together for you. We do everything from making sure your budget is staying on track to providing templates so you can manage your own things. We do floorplans, design, help with favor ideas, put together wedding websites. We do as much or as little as you want. I’ve even created wedding hashtags.
Tell me about guest list creation.
Sometimes you don’t know who to invite. Where does your guest list stop, what category of friends you should invite, how deep into your cousins do you need to go? It’s helpful to talk those things out.
And the seating chart is very tricky. You don’t want to put people who don’t have good relationships with each other at the same table. Don’t risk a confrontation at your wedding—that should never happen no matter what, but you never know.
What are some advantages of hiring a wedding planner?
It’s important that I know the venue very well, so I can have my clients ask the right questions. The connections we have in the industry will give us information that might not be public knowledge. I recently had a wedding where navigating the venue was rough; they’d gone through five different coordinators in a year, so there was no constant presence. The only constant was me, so they could rest assured that on the day of the wedding, no matter what happened with the venue team, we were going to be there, and we had all the information.
How do you address people with special requirements?
At this point, there’s not a lot that we haven’t seen. We definitely have had our share of alternative ceremonies and alternative diets. I have caterers that are fully vegan. If you tell me, we’ll accommodate for you. I’ve had Indian and Spanish officiants. Any specialty, we will do that research for you and find someone.
It sounds like Buffalo has a lot of vendors that can accommodate various needs.
And Rochester—I pull a lot from both cities.
What’s one major piece of advice for folks wanting to hire a wedding planner?
The first thing is enjoy your engagement for a little bit before you call. Then, do your research. Let the planner guide you and vet your vendors. And ask a million questions. There’s no such thing as too many questions.
After 5 Events
What’s the first thing a couple should consider when they start to plan a wedding?
Couple should consider the approximate size of their guest list and their budget. Once they have a grasp on these two items, they will find it much easier to navigate the planning process!
Can you tell me what services you offer?
Most couples come to me for full wedding planning. The majority of my clients are either very busy, out of town, or simply overwhelmed with the process. It takes hundreds of hours to plan a wedding from start to finish! I get to know each couple and guide them step by step along the way. I also manage their wedding rehearsal and, of course, their wedding day.
I do have some clients who come to me for month-of, aka day-of coordination. This is a little bit trickier on my end because it can feel like I’ve missed a bunch of classes and need to catch up! I spend a great deal of time reviewing contracts, reaching out to vendors, and, in some cases, correcting mistakes.
It is a wonderful feeling to see that you’ve really helped someone during one of the most stressful times in their lives. In fact, my husband says, “People sell their stress to you,” and it is true!
Can you give me a range of prices for day-of wedding coordination versus planning a full wedding day, etc.?
I do not have a standard price for wedding planning because there are so many variables that I have to consider. I first start with asking very specific questions, and then use a formula to calculate the amount of time and resources that will be needed to execute the perfect event.
How do you know a wedding has been successful?
It really is quite simple. The answer is having a happy couple at the end of their wedding day! There are always lots of hugs and sometimes happy tears at the end of the event. That moment is my payoff for having such a challenging job. Kind reviews, thank you notes, and referrals are always great indicators of a successful wedding day, too. I am very fortunate that the majority of my clients are referrals from previous families that I have worked with.
What’s the best advice you can give a couple about wedding planning?
I find myself regularly reminding couples that this is a day about the two of you! I want to know who you are, what things are special to you as a couple, and I want your guests to know this, too!
My favorite piece of advice to couples is, “Be the best version of yourself on your wedding day.”
Name some things that could totally sink a wedding.
This is a tough question for me to consider. My motto in wedding planning is, “There are no problems, only solutions.” I really believe that if you are skilled enough, you can overcome any challenge that comes your way. Careful planning and safety nets should also be in place to prevent catastrophes from happening. If I had to imagine a few, here is what I would say:
Not having a plan for inclement weather
An entertainment failure (such as no sound, music, microphone, etc.)
An officiate not showing to perform the ceremony (This did happen during a wedding in Mexico. Luckily, my husband was there with me and was able to officiate the ceremony and save the day!).
It has truly been an honor to serve so many Western New York couples in Buffalo and abroad. I can honestly say that every single wedding has been completely different and every one has been special in its own unique way. This career definitely keeps me on my toes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!