Virginia wedding

You Can’t Afford NOT to Use a Planner!

Written by Elisa Yu-Shan Lion from Exceptional Events by Elisa

Edited by: Angela Crockette & Renee Eder

The love of your life proposed, and following an emphatic “yes,” you are now engaged! Congratulations! You can’t wait to begin planning your dream wedding, but the job of turning your wedding vision into reality is quickly turning into a nightmare. Should you continue planning your own wedding only to further deepen your frustration? Should you hire an amateur wedding planner to save money? Or should you listen to your wise married friends and make a strategic investment, for the sake of your sanity, to hire a seasoned professional wedding planner?

If you aspire to achieve your wedding vision with your nerves and sanity intact, a professional wedding planner with a keen eye for design and detail is the wisest investment you can make! Here’s why:

Knowledge and experience: When you hire a professional planner, you are hiring experience, knowledge, and refined talent. Experienced planners constantly grow their knowledge base and stay on top of trends through research and continued education. This makes them experts at what they love to do. Experienced planners are equipped to anticipate and troubleshoot emergencies that may arise before and during your event, allowing you to thoroughly enjoy your big day and focus on your guests without stress.

Savings of time and money: A professional planner is truly a worthwhile investment – one that will save you precious time and money. Most couples have a strict wedding budget and timeline to which they need to adhere. Your professional planner will make it a priority to help you achieve the biggest bang for your buck. They will crunch numbers and score discounts, stretching your dollars and securing the best deals.

Bringing your vision to life: A great planner will loyally protect the distinct vision you have developed for your wedding, ensuring the details and the big picture never deviate from your wishes. Many wedding pros (vendors) tackle more than one wedding per day or per weekend, leading to mix-ups, distraction, and disappointment. A dedicated professional planner will focus solely on your special day and will serve as the head conductor of your grand wedding symphony. They will ensure everything looks, feels, tastes, and sounds perfect, according to your unique vision.

Connections: Experienced planners have access to a large network of tested and proven wedding pros (vendors). A great planner will not only help you to secure discounts, but will also help you to select wedding pros (vendors) whose services are truly worth what they charge. Seasoned planners will connect you with budget-friendly wedding pros (vendors) that will achieve your unique wedding’s style, and identify extras that can be added to a service as a bonus. Professional planners expertly focus on each wedding pros’ (vendor’s) value and reputation, which is a priceless benefit to your budget and your wedding experience.

Your sanity: Peace of mind before and during your wedding day is priceless. On average, wedding planning conducted by nonprofessionals takes between 250 to 500 hours to complete – hours that would be better spent making sweet memories with your spouse-to-be. It is frequently a source of stress that leads to tension between a couple, at times leading to the disastrous end of a relationship. Hiring a seasoned planner allows you to hand off time-consuming responsibilities so that you have space to enjoy the romance of this unique moment in your life. A professional planner is adept at scheduling appointments, working with wedding pros (vendors), and handling the nitty-gritty issues and inevitable hiccups related to planning your big day. A professional planner will hand you back your sanity so that you can truly enjoy the planning process and your relationship.

We asked a couple of experienced and renowned event planners what advice they would give couples seeking to hire a wedding planner or day-of coordinator. Here is their advice to our readers.


Esme Krahn from Bodamaestra Wedding Planning & Design   

“A wedding planner should be the very first vendor you hire, and this should be done at least a year out from your desired wedding date. As you interview event planners, ask them a lot of questions regarding their capabilities and experience. Among other things, inquire about their familiarity with your venue, whether they’d be able to assist with vendor recommendations, and if they offer wedding-design services. With regard to day-of coordinators, it’s important to know how far in advance their service starts. Remember that you need a professional with solid experience who’s able to manage vendor setup, create an itinerary, and troubleshoot any last-minute surprises. You want your big day to go smoothly!”


Mimi Ebichi from Mimi Ebichi Events

  • Honest and Realistic: Be honest about why you need a wedding planner and if you can afford one.
  • Research, research, research! Ask necessary questions during the consultation with the potential wedding planner. Find out how long they have been in business, if they are licensed, registered and insured. Real venues will need proof of this insurance at a later time.
  • Understand that this is a real profession and respect the office of the service provider.
  • Core values and style: Ensure that their style and core values aligns with yours because, you will be working closely for a period of time with this person or team and having the “like-factor” is a requirement to smooth issues when they arise.


Terry Kaye from Terry Kaye Events  

“When selecting your planner, I always recommend that you not only connect on a business level, but also on a personal level. Let’s face it, weddings are personal. Out of all your vendors, you spend the most time with your planner. It’s so important to connect as you want to enjoy the person as much as the process.”


Elisa is an event/wedding planner and designer based out of Tysons, Virginia. She grew up in a small farm in the middle of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, her home country. Elisa grew up in a mixed and richly diverse culture, and she started planning and designing her birthdays and family holiday tablescapes at a young age. She moved to Virginia in 1996 and majored in International Relations. Elisa has 20+ years experience in event planning, with 10 of them focused on non-profit and corporate events. She has successfully planned and executed a wide array of events, including large multi-day conferences, constituent lobbying days of over 1,000 people, symposiums, trainings, and complex international meetings. In addition, Elisa has planned, designed and executed logistics for lavish luxury weddings, uniquely themed weddings, and intimate backyard weddings. Elisa is creative, resourceful, and an outside-of-the-box thinker. She lives in Culpeper, Virginia – Virginia’s beautiful countryside. Elisa loves to cook her mom’s recipes, watch movies while sipping sangria in front of the fireplace, go on meditation walks, and spend time with her partner Will and three dogs Kahlua, Bailey, and Brandy. She loves to keep busy, and tries to learn something new every day. She is currently attempting to relearn Portuguese, learn Mandarin and learn modern calligraphy. Elisa enjoys connecting with others, so please feel free to contact her at 703-752-6287, or email her at .

The author: Elisa Yu-Shan Lion

Elisa’s passion for event planning and design grew out of her love for big family gatherings. From organizing family celebrations in Honduras during her youth, to planning corporate events for large organizations in Washington D.C., Elisa’s experience and passion led her to launch a full-time career doing what she loves most. Elisa finds great satisfaction in making her clients’ wedding dreams come to fruition. With 20+ years’ experience in the event industry, she takes particular care in understanding her clients’ dreams for their event and strives to deliver the exceptional wedding experience they envision. A unique personality trait that defines Elisa is how much she truly cares about her clients and is completely invested in giving them her complete focus and attention. She limits her full-service event calendar so she can give her full attention to each event and goes the extra mile to ensure that her clients are thrilled with their event. From the very first email to assisting clients with every last detail, Elisa sets the standards high at providing an exceptional customer service experience. What really makes Elisa’s heart hum? She loves spending time with her family (she has a son and 3 foster daughters and 3 foster sons), her partner, Will, and her three dogs, Kahlua, Bailey and Brandy. She loves to cook, travel, movies and the outdoors. She is detail-oriented to a fault, and truly enjoys bringing families together in marriage, and making her clients dream weddings a reality. She looks forward to learning more about you, and your vision for your next event!