click to enlarge Ken and Brandy White’s elopement at Allerton Park in Monticello. - PHOTO BY HJS PHOTOGRAPHY
Ken and Brandy White’s elopement at Allerton Park in Monticello.

Every couple’s wedding is special in a different way, but there’s one person who can help make everyone’s wedding wishes come true: the professional wedding planner.

Miranda Davis and Julie Schumann own Simple Elegance Events & Entertainment, a full-service event and design consulting firm based in Bloomington. They believe weddings of all sizes need a planner. “I know what we do on the day of the wedding,” says Davis, “and I can’t image that stress being put on a bride, her mother, family or bridal party. We take that stress off of all of them so they can enjoy the day.”

Picture Jennifer Lopez making every detail go smoothly and appear to be effortless in the 2001 film The Wedding Planner. It’s actually a lot like that, according to professional planners. “We do a lot of what she did in the movie,” says Davis. “For big weddings, we use earpieces to communicate with each other. And we always have an emergency kit on hand with clear nail polish, bandaids, mints, bobby pins, black socks and pantyhose, and a lot more.”

But wedding planners do more than orchestrate the wedding day. “From the very beginning, one of the huge things we offer is experience in knowing which vendors will meet a couple’s budget, catering needs, photography and venue style, and more. We hire a team that will not only create the couple’s ideal day, but will mesh with each other working together.”

And, Davis continues, “We know what questions to ask a vendor. For example, will the caterer leave drink containers for the guests so everyone has enough water and lemonade for the reception? You don’t want the caterer to load everything out and leave the guests with nothing to drink.

“Then, once everyone is hired, I create a spreadsheet with everyone’s contact information and event details on it so the entire group knows which door, what time,  how to reach me and all of the other details.”

Davis helps with rehearsals, too. “If they’re not organized, they can be a huge mess and everyone just wants to be out of there. We help everyone know where to be, when to walk and where the pictures are so everybody’s on the same track.”

On the wedding day, couples will often change their voicemail message to have callers phone Davis so they don’t get all those last-minute calls. “That way, they can just relax and enjoy the day.”

That’s just one of the ways Davis helps destination and local wedding days alike go smoothly. “I’ve made tuxedo rental runs, walked dogs, wiped beer spills off the dance floor, emptied garbage from a backyard tent wedding, carried flower arrangements from the ceremony to the reception so the couple gets double the value from their floral budget … I even bought my first-ever pack of cigarettes for a groom. We do all those things that aren’t anyone else’s job. One bride’s father told me, ‘I looked around and thought, if we didn’t have you, who would be doing all of that? I would, that’s who!’”

Budgets and timelines
Experienced wedding planners can save couples money, from obtaining vendor discounts to understanding venues. At Simple Elegance Events, Davis says, “We’ve planned events five weeks to two years out, from pre-planning organization to full service.”

She offers packages for both, and everything in between. Packages start at $500 to help a bride and groom get organized. For full-service planning, which includes complete organization, all arrangements for the bridal shower and rehearsal dinner, invitations and RSVP tracking, tuxedo rental, decorations, event set up and tear down, carting things to the party bus, keeping track of everyone’s phones, and all other aspects of the plan, prices are just under $10,000, plus travel. “The best value is to contact us first so we can help with the initial plans, arrangements and reservations,” says Davis.

But even if they have to jump in at the last minute, Davis says, “we can still help tie all the loose ends together and make sure everything runs smoothly. You wouldn’t believe the things that happen even with a small family wedding. Even if you have a friend of the family who is willing to help, consider hiring a wedding planner. That family friend will miss out. We are that best friend who can jump in and do everything, but you don’t have to feel bad about it because you hired us to do it. We help everyone enjoy the day and have peace of mind.”

Your part
Couples can get the conversation started with some fun research at home. Visit websites that feature popular wedding color palettes, flower designs and wedding themes so you have some initial ideas and can agree on the feel and look of your wedding.

Wedding planning sites and industry specialty sites include a variety of articles and planning tools on trends, styles, flowers, and much more, including,, and to compare and coordinate palettes, and more.

But, says, don’t fall into what it calls the Pinterest Trap. “Are you looking at wedding Pinterest boards? Your wedding is not a competition! It’s about celebrating the fact that you have chosen somebody to spend the rest of your life with,” the site says. “Comparison is the thief of joy. A wedding planner ensures you have a wedding that’s fun for you, not necessarily someone else on social media.”

DiAnne Crown is a frequent contributor to Illinois Times publications.

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