Hire Professionals For Your Big Day – An Interview With A Master Wedding Planner

By now,  you’ve probably heard this advice at least 100 times, and with very good reason – because it’s TRUE! Hiring wedding industry professionals for your big day is a MUST!  We’re not saying this to try to trick you for our own selfish reasons. We’re not saying this because we like to hear ourselves talk. We are saying this because it’s absolutely, undeniably TRUE! We’ve seen what happens when Aunt Suzy Q and cousin Sally offer to do the flowers and decorations. (Doesn’t always turn out like the picture you saw on Pinterest.) We’ve seen what happens when Uncle Billy Bob offers to do all the catering for 200 people. (Not always so tasty when he has to cook for a crowd.)  I’m here to tell ya, it rarely ever turns out the way YOU want it to!

To help drive our point home, we interviewed one of Jacksonville’s best wedding planners, Master Wedding Planner, Heather Canada, owner of First Coast Weddings and Events. Heather is one of only 72 Master Wedding Planners in the WORLD and is continuously recognized as an industry leader.  She is an active member of the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) and the St. Augustine Wedding and Events Association (SAWEA).


Heather started her career in 1999 working in the hotel, tourism and catering industry and in 2002, she opened her own business. With the help of her experienced and supportive team, First Coast Weddings and Events is able to manage roughly 30-40 events a year offering everything from Full Service Wedding Planning to On-Site Wedding Management (more commonly known as Day Of Coordinating). Simply put, there’s no doubt about it, she KNOWS her stuff!

Here is a taste of my interview with Heather and some interesting facts that just might surprise you:

Jen: What are some common misconceptions you think brides have about wedding planning that leads them to considering NOT hiring a wedding planner?

Heather: BUDGET! Bride’s assume that can’t afford a wedding planner or coordinator.  Actually, planners help you stick to a budget and avoid common budget and planning mistakes. It ends up being a very affordable investment to ensure your big day runs smoothly.

Another common misconception is that the planner will “take over” your wedding.  Planners are there to guide the happy couple, not control them.

Jen: Why do you think it’s important for the couple to hire other industry professional for their wedding, such as DJ’s, photographers, caterers and florists?

Heather: No worries about quality! I only recommend vendors that I am confidant of their abilities. Not only that, I save the bride time and worry by checking all references and vendor availability. I also try to match personalities between the vendor and client the best I can. That’s super important!

Secondly, it eliminates friend and family DRAMA! Wedding professionals are able to leave emotions out of it! They have one goal that day –  to make your day the best it can be. Simply said, they are strictly there to do the job you’ve hired them to do.

Jen: Because we arwedding-3e a catering company, I need to bring catering directly into this conversation. Why do you recommend always using a professional caterer?

Heather: Caterers are a HUGE part of every event! They can literally make or break your wedding reception. You definitely do not want someone running your food service that doesn’t know how to work the room correctly and efficiently. It’s critical to stick to the time line! Equally important, you don’t want someone that doesn’t know how to prepare food for a large group the proper way. Food safety is a big issue!

To be honest, from a caterer’s perspective, we MUCH prefer working events with a wedding planner or coordinator running the show. It’s easier on all the vendors! Though your family and friend’s intentions are always good, DJ’s and caterers tend to have to fill the role as “coordinator” when one is not present. That in turn, forces these vendors to stop focusing 100% on the job you hired them to do and focus on a job you hired no one to do. Less than perfect vendors = less than perfect event.

According to Heather, it’s best to think of a wedding planner as, “ the conductor to your orchestra”.  The “orchestra” is made up of all the details of your special day, including your team of professional vendors. Each vendor has their own specific part to play and they do it with expertise. With the help of your “conductor”, each works together to create beautiful music.  So, sit back and enjoy the performance knowing the professionals have it rehearsed!