When I started out planning weddings and events eons ago, I was the Type A personality who had a vision for what I wanted done and I would set out to execute it myself. If I gave the task to someone else, chances are they would do it wrong, so I opted to do things myself to get it done right.

A lot of new planners have this same mentality and can’t get their mind around delegating and trusting a team. But to be successful, you must learn to delegate and delegate well.

Growing up, I used to be the busy girl. I always said “yes” to new opportunities and helping out. I was a people pleaser who loved being helpful and getting involved. This led to many weeks where I would have too much on my plate and I would be burnt out. 

After years of wedding planning and perfecting my craft (alongside some good and not so good assistants) I have learned that you must delegate and trust your team in order to be successful. I have grown from wedding planning by myself to a team of 4 lovely ladies who work alongside me. I can tell you from experience it is a must. Keep reading for my tips and insights.

Rebecca Chan Weddings and Events team
Photo taken by Simply Lace Photography

Delegating tasks anyone can do

A book I had read a while back reminded me that when you learn to say “no” to things that are not right for you, it frees you to say “yes” to what you really are meant to do. That really stuck with me, and I started being more picky with what I would participate in, so that whatever I did, I would put my all into and do it well.

The same can be said of your job as a wedding planner on the wedding day.

There are so many things competing for your attention – the couple, your vendors loading in, keeping track of the schedule, coordinating with food schedule with the venue, setting up details, etc. 

Among the many tasks you are needed to complete, there are a few things that only you can do as the wedding planner and the one in charge.

If you are busy setting up place cards perfectly or placing menus down on placesettings, you may not be available to handle issues that arise with the couple or be available for when the vendor loads in and has questions for where to go.

Setting up place cards or menus on a placesetting are tasks anyone can do with the right guidance and example to follow. Check back to ensure it was done correctly, but trust your team to finish what you have asked them to do.

Give simple tasks like this away on the wedding day, so it frees up your time to be available for important tasks only you can handle.

Detail your tasks

When I first started wedding planning, I would list out the tasks needed to be done in a separate column in the itinerary based on the schedule. It made the itinerary very bulky and there were some tasks that remained in my head because I didn’t write them down.

As a result, my assistants would follow me around like a shadow on the wedding day, waiting for instruction for what to do next. I expected them to just know what to do, but the tasks I wanted them to do were all in my head. There was a disconnect, but we made it work for a little bit like this.

While this worked for simpler weddings, when set up became more complex, I quickly realized I needed to jot down everything my couple wanted me to do, so that my assistants and I would be on the same page for set up.

Now, my assistants know to simply go through the checklist I provide to them for set up, without needing to find me for what to do next. Have a question? Check the checklist, as I probably already thought it through and explained it in detail in writing.

Detailing set up tasks in advance freed me up to run around chasing after the couple for their next photo opp or deal with issues that arose – things that were important that only I could be entrusted with doing. It was brilliant.

Venues have BEOs that translate the planning process and details from the sales manager to the event day manager. Why shouldn’t wedding planners have the same thing?

Take it one step further

One of my big lessons recently for learning to give away tasks and delegating was hiring an intern. I constantly had to give her more work because she had hours to fulfill and she worked quickly. 

I was able to complete both short term tasks that needed to get done immediately (source information for a client), and also work on long term projects that simply needed time to do (create my own thorough venue guide).

There were times I had to create work for her to do and figure out what else she could help me with, while I had her needing hours for her internship. She was doing the work that I typically do (but for free) and I was left with nothing to do (not really a bad problem!).

Because of this baby step in learning to delegate tasks to my intern, I realized I could start giving away a lot more of my administrative desk-work type of tasks. I have now started to outsource my admin/communication and simple sourcing tasks (I use a system called Dubsado, see below).

This, again, allowed me more freedom.

Freedom to work on longer term marketing goals.

Freedom to work on high priority client work.

Really, freedom to do whatever the heck I want (shopping, spa, relaxing… anything not wedding related!).

Take aways

What tasks do you do that can be given away – on the wedding day and during the week?

What is one thing you can delegate immediately that will free up your time to say “yes” to more important things?

I’ve learned the hard way and through many years of planning that you have to trust your team to get things done.

Obviously it goes without saying that your team members have to be competent and understand your style of working, and it takes time to find good people. But once you do find good people, it’s important to entrust to get things done right and empower them to work independently.

If done well, you will have more freedom and they will feel part of a team.

With 4 planners on my team now, I can say from experience that this formula is a win win situation. 

More resources:
Chef’s Plate – a chef-inspired food delivery service, focus on execution not meal planning. Get 3 free meals with my referral link to try it out.
Dubsado – A CRM for creative businesses, helping with invoicing, contracts, workflow and more. Use code “rebeccachan” for 20% off.
The 4-Hour Work Week – A good read focusing on automating your business and freeing up your time to retire early

Rebecca Chan is a Toronto event designer and event planner. If you have a brand activation, media launch event, design project, trade show or a special event, connect with her today to see how we can collaborate on your next project.