Planning for the big day

Hiring a pro can help alleviate stress ... and deliver a dream ceremony


Planning for a wedding can be a time-consuming and stressful time, but wedding planners, or event coordinators are equipped to handle those concerns.

The wedding coordinator can organize things like the venue, photography, catering, the cake, and just about anything else the bride and groom can dream up.

Morgan Munson, owner of Diamonds and Pearls Events, said a wedding planner, or event manager, can help couples realize their wants and needs, and what they can afford to spend on it.

“As a planner, if the couple doesn’t already have a budget, I help them set one, and help them look at what is most important to them,” Munson said. “It’s really feeling them out, finding out what they want, what they need, and doing the best possible thing for them to take the stress of off them.”

Munson said she’s heard from couples who have tried to take on the task of planning their own wedding, but end up calling her as the date closes in because they are overwhelmed.

“I want the bride, the groom, the family to feel like they’re guests at their own wedding, not running around trying to figure out who needs what,” Munson said.

Wedding coordinators are also knowledgeable about how far a couple’s budget will go, and what they can really get. and keeping them on budget is a key factor, said Lisa Burnett, owner of Elegant Weddings by Lisa.

“They say ‘I want to spend X amount of dollars, and I want all these wonderful things, but I want to keep it in my budget,’” Burnett said. “So I try to educate them and keep them on track and get them as close to want they want for the amount they want to spend.”

Burnett, who has been planning weddings since 1993, said she things the role of wedding planner is important for a successful wedding.

“We’re responsible for not only the bride and groom and all the guest, but every vendor, waiters, everyone involved in the process,” Burnett said. “It’s not enough to plan a wedding, but you actually have to make sure everything is executed properly.”

Burnett said she has seen a rise in destination weddings, and a lot of her business now involves couples wanting to travel for their dream ceremony.

“It’s more relaxing,” Burnett said. “And it kind of cuts down the guest list, because the people who mean most to you will travel to a destination wedding,”

As for weddings taking place on the First Coast, Munson said St. Augustine is currently a popular location, but that the wedding market is growing in other areas as well.

“In Jacksonville, we’re getting new venues all the time, which is wonderful,” Munson said. “Right now, we’re in wedding season so a lot of the venues book up pretty quickly.”

Munson used to work for DisneyWorld and was familiar with planning big events and a grand scale, but after taking time off to go to law school and have a family, she was ready to get back to helping others plan their dream weddings.

“It’s fun, it’s rewarding and it’s really an honor to be a part of these moments,” she said.