This year the wedding industry is abuzz about the new “wedding concierge” services being offered by several major wedding websites including Wedding Wire, The Knot and Loverly.
To pick one as an example, the Knot Concierge is billed as “a high-tech and high-touch service to help couples find and book their wedding professionals.” The idea is that couples can receive personalized vendor recommendations via an online wedding concierge with knowledge of the local market. Supposedly this service comes at “no cost to the couple”, but does it really? Danielle Rothweiler, a celebrity wedding and event planner, who recently posted on this subject for HuffPost Weddings, describes the service this way in her recent blog “There isn’t an app for that“:
“In the past year, three major wedding websites have introduced this program and while similar, they all work in different ways. Each site gives brides a chance to type/talk to someone on the other side of the computer/phone about what vendors they need to book. The sites then take information from the bride about what they need, what their budget is, etc. and turn around recommendations from the vendors that are advertising on their site. While one of these sites (currently) recommends venues from their database and not other vendors, the other two have virtual assistants which are able to recommend more.”
According to many wedding professionals, there may be more to this service than meets the eye. So what’s the real cost? Rothweiler draws back the curtain on these types of services, revealing who the real “Wizard of Oz” is, “One problem with these recommendations is that you may miss out on the perfect venue or vendor because they don’t want to pour more advertising dollars on top of what they already pay just to show up on a “list”. If you do go with these recommendations, their pricing might be steeper than you think because they now have extra overhead costs to cover. One of the sites charges vendors $99 per month to be included on the list in addition to their current advertising fees.”
While it’s true that wedding planning has evolved over the years as new technologies have surfaced, (full disclosure, I used Wedding Wire for my own wedding in 2011 and found it be a great resource) one of the major drawbacks of this type of service is the lack of relationship the bride has with the “concierge” making the vendor recommendations.
Rachel Rice of One Moment Events puts it this way, “Getting married is not just logistics and timelines it is one of the most intimate, important experiences of your life. An app cannot remember that you love a particular type of champagne and have it waiting for you in your hotel suite. It cannot make a judgment call when rain starts coming down and bring your grandmothers picture in from the remembrance table outside, an app will not be there to hand your mother and father tissues during your first dance. There are infinitely more ways a wedding planner is better than an app or an online service that claims to be able to do what we do, but I have yet to see a wedding planning app get a teary hug from mother of the bride for making that day so special for the family.”
Think of it this way – when you call the customer service line of a large company, would you rather speak to a live person, or have to navigate your way through an automated phone system? Personally, I always press 0 right away to try and reach a live person. In the same way, is a faceless wedding concierge on the other side of your computer screen going to be as invested in your wedding as the wedding planner you clicked with in person? Probably not. And they certainly won’t be there on the day-of to coordinate all of they details you have put in place and execute your vision.
What it really comes down to is motivation. It would seem that the motivation behind these services is money. But most wedding and event planners are not in the industry for the money. Yes, everyone has to make a living, but real live wedding planners have a passion for what they do. As the saying goes, “When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.” This philosophy is what carries event planners through the long hours and late nights, difficult brides and demanding mothers-of-the-bride. Many event planners, myself included, started their business while working full-time in another industry to support their desire to follow their dream and start their own business. And this passion for what we do is what makes us invested in the relationships we build with our brides and their families. An online “wedding concierge” just can’t do that.
So while new technologies certainly have their place, when it comes to your wedding day, the most important day of your life, you might want to consider what place that is.