The hustling and bustling New York City is THE place to plan a wedding. Full of energy, charisma, history, and culture, the Big Apple offers you countless stunning backdrops, idyllic and eclectic venues, and magic-weaving wedding vendors to plan the wedding of a lifetime.
So, if you're a NY event planner learning the ropes of wedding planning, this guide will help you plan the perfect wedding in New York that will leave your clients thrilled.
Let's explore everything you need to know to plan a NY wedding!
17 Foolproof NY Wedding Planning Tips
Planning a wedding in NY can be a daunting task for anyone. You need to find the perfect venue, hire caterers and other vendors, get the perfect photographs, take care of entertaining your guests, and have an enjoyable time if it's your big day.
But before the worry sets in, go through this list of helping NY wedding planning tips to find your bearings and execute a wedding worth remembering:
1. Understand Your Client's Vision
First things first, you need to determine what your client is thinking. Many people have specific dreams and plans for their wedding day. If your client has a particular vision or a must-have for their NY wedding, make sure to talk to them about it.
Alternatively, if you have a client who is unsure about their theme, venue, or anything else about the wedding, turn them toward Pinterest and guide them through themes and venues you know they would like. The key to keeping your client happy is knowing their preferences and dislikes.
Create a mood board with them with specific wedding inspiration pictures and ideas. However, make sure not to overwhelm them and give them the space they need to think. Wait for them to seek your advice instead of badgering them with your opinion.
2. Discuss the Budget
I cannot emphasize this enough, but you need to have a well-defined wedding budget you can work with, as it will drive almost all of your client's significant wedding-related decisions. If you don't plan ahead and make a comprehensive budget by allocating specific amounts to each expense, you might end up going massively over your spending limit.
So, sit with your clients and determine how much they want to spend on their big day. Ensure you talk with your client about each element, such as the venue, dresses, rehearsal dinner, décor, food, music, etc. Once you have worked out the finer details, try your best to stick to them and only make minor or necessary adjustments and only after getting your client's approval.
3. Choose the Perfect Venue
New York is home to a plethora of gorgeous wedding venues that will suit different styles and themes. Whether your client wants a classic rooftop NY wedding, an elegant wedding in a garden, or a fancy hotel wedding, you can book hundreds of venues within the city for their big day.
However, to book the perfect wedding venue, you need to ask your clients specific questions. These include questions like if they want an outdoor or indoor wedding, what sort of vibe they are going for, if food is a significant priority for them, if they will need ample parking space, what's the guest count, and more.
You will need to determine if your client wants a space that has a voice of its own or if they would rather decorate a space to emulate their vision. You must also learn if they wish to have their reception at a different venue.
Based on the particulars your client shares, you can find various NYC wedding venues in all shapes, sizes, and budgets. Just ensure you can book the venue months in advance and well before the wedding season so that no one else beats you to it.
4. Consider the City Permits and Regulations
As a NY event planner, you need to familiarize yourself with your city's regulations and permits for hosting events in various locations. Similarly, the venue your client chooses may have specific permit requirements and legal obligations they might need you to consider.
It's always best to be prepared with the appropriate research so that you don't violate city laws and get yourself and your client in trouble. This is especially true if your client chooses to have an outdoor wedding in an off-site location. So, brush up on the city laws and permits before booking a site.
5. Create a Master Checklist
The best wedding planners in NY are the ones who have the foresight to be meticulously prepared as they organize their client's wedding. If you want to ensure everything is appropriately planned for your client's nuptials and nothing goes amiss on the day of the event, create a comprehensive checklist of all your tasks. It will help you prioritize your goals and visualize the event without getting overwhelmed.
You can use Google Docs, Word, Excel, or any other online tool or software to plan the wedding. Your checklist should include detailed tasks, expected completion dates, and a proper schedule. This way, you can track each task's progress and make the necessary decisions and calls to keep things on schedule.
6. Coordinate With the Vendors
Ideally, your client will choose to have an on-site wedding in New York, i.e., the venue they choose will provide different vendors for the event. However, if your client chooses to have an off-site wedding at a public park, beach, garden, etc., you will need to find and coordinate with the best wedding vendors in the city.
Firstly, reacquaint yourself with your client's expectations. What sort of food, music, décor, and pictures do they want? Based on their answers, find the relevant professional and reliable caterers, musicians, decoration pros, florists, and photographers that will seamlessly help you bring your client's vision to life. Book every vendor months in advance and coordinate with them actively to ensure everything is smooth sailing for your client.
Always have backups for all your wedding vendors in case they are a no-show. You never know when a florist might run out of the orchids your client specifically requested or the caterer messes up with the menu. If you have thought of and coordinated to have a backup plan for all possible mishaps, you can keep the special couple happy on their day.
7. Handle the Transportation & Accommodation
When organizing the perfect NY wedding, you need to focus on aspects beyond choosing the ideal venue for the reception and ceremony. Two of the most important aspects of wedding planning are transportation and accommodation of the couple and their guests.
Ideally, you want to ensure your clients and their loved ones have a memorable NYC experience and book them the finest hotels and resorts. However, you need to work within your client's budget and book something that suits their taste and fulfills their needs.
If your client has a limited budget, look for accommodation at an establishment that offers discounts on group packages. Ensure it is close to the wedding venue and arrange transportation for the guests on the event day. If your clients want, arrange for their out-of-town guests to be picked up from and dropped off at the airport. You can either book a car service or organize a shuttle service to the venue, whichever suits your client's needs.
8. Be Prepared for Expected & Unexpected Hurdles
When planning a wedding in New York, you must be prepared for the best and worst surprises. Don't be alarmed! Let's talk through the two challenges you might face – unpredictable weather and horrendous traffic.
For the former, track the weather leading up to the event date. If your client is having an outdoor, uncovered ceremony, have a backup prepared just in case. You need to be prepared to make last-minute changes and think on your feet as a NY event planner.
As for the latter, the horrible traffic in New York cannot be diverted or ignored. You need to prepare your schedule accordingly. Consider the venue location and how far it is from the accommodations of the wedding party and guests. Then, plan their transport to the venue well in advance while keeping a flexible schedule to manage unexpected delays.
9. Channel Your Emotional Intelligence
The wedding day can be emotional for the couple and their loved ones. Your job as their event planner is to show up with your emotional intelligence, cater to their needs, and be present for them. Understand the nonverbal cues of your clients and keep their stress at bay. Train your staff to do the same and be respectful, helpful, and polite.
Additionally, make sure you are being respectful of the culture of the bride and groom and their guests. If your client has specific traditions or rituals, perform due diligence and come into the event prepared for everything. Your cultural sensitivity will help the client feel at ease and enable you to avoid offending them and their guests.
10. Pitch a Green Wedding
If you feel your client cares about the environment and is leaning toward an eco-friendly event, pull out all the stops and pitch a green wedding to them. Encourage them to consider sustainable practices to keep their carbon footprint minimal as they celebrate their love. For instance, you can provide the client with locally-sourced food options and caterers who follow eco-friendly practices.
Similarly, you can encourage them to choose sustainable decoration and avoid plastic. You can also pitch the idea of using biodegradable wedding cards and gifts. Additionally, look for a venue that also believes in conserving the environment and has sustainability as a core value. It will help you ensure your client has their dream green wedding.
11. Prepare Personalized Wedding Favors
Instead of choosing generic wedding favors that will not impress your clients, put in more effort and provide the guests with personalized, thoughtful gifts that showcase the couple's love for them and the city of dreams. The party favors could include anything the couple loves, such as custom-made chocolate from their favorite chocolatier or miniature replicas of famous NYC landmarks with a custom quote from the couple. You can also include a collage of the couple's most special moments and etch the wedding date and a quote from them on the frame.
Moreover, if your client wants a green wedding, ensure the party favors reflect their values. You can give custom pots, small bamboo frames, seeds, small plants, etc., as part of the wedding gifts. Just be mindful of the budget and work creatively to make your clients and their loved ones happy.
12. Ensure the Wedding Is All About the Couple
Most NY wedding planners are expert at organizing extravagant weddings, which lead them to network with more clients. However, if you want to stand out from the crowd, make sure that all your efforts are geared toward ensuring your client has a great day. You must prepare each element of the wedding while putting your client's wishes front and center.
Determine what matters to them the most and ensure the wedding you plan honors them and the love they share with their partner. After all, the day is meant to be a celebration of them, and it should be all about them and no one else. So, don't shy away from adding personal touches to the wedding that will make the couple feel loved and appreciated. Listen to them and give them the wedding of their dreams that honors their traditions and vision.
13. Hire the Best Photographers & Musicians
Musicians can make or break a wedding, so you must work with the right artist for your client's NY wedding. Discuss your client's requirements with them to determine the kind of music they expect to enhance the magic of their nuptials. Depending on their vision, you can hire the best DJs, jazz bands, live musicians, Broadway-style performers, violinists, or even surprise pop-up artists.
Similarly, when choosing a photographer, be mindful of your client's taste, vision, and budget. While there are tons of talented photographers in New York, it's best to find someone who can make your client feel at ease and take breathtaking pictures of them at their chosen venue.
Consider their portfolio and experience to gauge if they will be able to appropriately capture your client's special moments and showcase their emotions in their work. Ensure you negotiate the terms properly and communicate your client's expectations.
14. Prepare an Emergency Kit
As the NY event planner planning your client's wedding, you must prepare an emergency kit with all the essentials in case your client or any of their guests need medical assistance. Your kit can include stain removers, pain relievers, antihistamines, a mini sewing kit, safety pins, gauze, and over-the-counter medication. You never know when you might need any of these items.
15. Prepare for the Rehearsal Dinner
Just like the wedding, ensure you organize a proper rehearsal dinner for your client. You will need to arrange a venue, caterer, guest list, and invitations for the wedding party and other relevant guests. If your client is coming from out of town to have a wedding in New York, you can even make the rehearsal dinner part of the welcome party. Just ensure you follow your client's vision and schedule the rehearsal dinner in a way that your client has ample time to rehearse the ceremony to their heart's content.
16. Help Your Clients Make Their Union Legal
In the midst of crazy wedding planning and endless details, don't forget that your clients need to be legally married. If they have given you the charge of arranging the license, research the documents you will need and get the license they will need for their union. If they are having a destination NY wedding, check the laws of their state to see if the license will be valid there to ensure they don't face any legal trouble.
17. Make the Most of the Big Apple Wedding
When planning a wedding in NY, remember to give your clients and their guests an authentic city experience they will remember for a long time. If your clients have out-of-town guests coming for the wedding, make sure you entertain them with some classic NY activities. Show them the glorious Empire State Building, Central Park Brooklyn Bridge, and treat them with the best street food you love. It will certainly help you impress your client and make future clients.
The Bottom Line
If you have to plan your client's wedding in New York, follow the tips mentioned above to organize a memorable affair. Ultimately, remember that the wedding you plan must align with and respect your client's vision and help them feel heard and valued. Every element of the wedding should be an ode to them, and the day should be a celebration of the couple's love for each other.
As a NY event planner, you need to constantly up your game to remain relevant in the industry. If you wish to discover more NY wedding planning tips from celebrated industry experts, executives, and speakers, join The Event Planner Expo 2023 on October 10-12 in New York.