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Pinterest and the Peanut Gallery

Getting engaged is one of the most exciting moments is a person's life. The ring goes on, someone says "yes" and fingers crossed the other someone thought to hire a photographer to catch it all. Bubbly gets popped, phone calls are made, it becomes Facebook official, ring bling on Instagram, hashtags galore, and then before you can see the view from Cloud 9, "it" begins.
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Getting engaged is one of the most exciting moments is a person's life. The ring goes on, someone says "yes" and fingers crossed the other someone thought to hire a photographer to catch it all. Bubbly gets popped, phone calls are made, it becomes Facebook official, ring bling on Instagram, hashtags galore, and then before you can see the view from Cloud 9, "it" begins.

"It" being the opinions, the questions, the wrong information, the everything. Then soon enough the planning will start and the "it" monster will grow multiple heads and personalities, enough to turn the calmest bride or groom into a bridezilla or groomzilla. Honestly, as a planner, most of the time when I see a client acting like they are going to flip tables over and run off and elope, it's usually because of outside forces such as "it." Let me explain...

When I was a little girl, my mother would frequently say to me, "I miss being your age when I knew everything." Now, since the dawn of the Internet, everyone, of every age, has become an expert on everything. People rely on websites, apps, and social media to get all of their information. Plenty of times this information is either misleading, not complete, twisted or just flat out wrong. It's not always easy to see what the angle really is, especially if it's on a subject that you're actually not an expert in. When going into battle AKA planning your wedding, you need a shield, a sword, and probably a dragon (which your planner can be for you), to fight off the "its" of Pinterest and the peanut galleries.

First and foremost, Pinterest: I love thee, chock full of inspiration for all types of events, ways to decorate your home, new things to try in the kitchen and more. Of course, if you're reading this, you might only know about the "weddings" board, which is cool, because that's the best spot. This site is great because you can find literally everything. Well, everything except the price of that centerpiece you love, and prices in general.

What? Things cost money? The heck you say! Not on Pinterest, land of the gorgeous pictures, home of the "no idea what anything costs" bride/groom. And why should you know what things cost, especially if you've never planned a wedding before and don't work in the event planning industry? But, never fear, you don't need to worry about the fact that you cannot tell if a gown is $5,000 or $20,000, or if a centerpiece will be more affordable with seasonal flowers (cough myth cough) because there are blogs on Pinterest that will tell you everything you need to know written by "experts." Jackpot!

Experts: People that might know more than you (but maybe not) and still offer "it." Here comes that "angle" thing I was talking about earlier. Example? It's largely believed that CNN delivers the news with a liberal slant, and FOX with a conservative one. These wedding articles and blogs operate in a similar fashion. Case in point, I write these articles (including the one you're reading) from the perspective of a planner and it's my hope that couples will choose to hire planners for their weddings after reading these articles. Everyone has an agenda at some level. The trick is figuring out what the agenda is when it's not always obvious, and once you've figured it out, you need to evaluate if it's "slanted" in your favor.

Some of the most popular wedding blogs you will come across, many which are linked through Pinterest, will be hundreds and thousands of ways to save money when planning your wedding. Popular tips include: Don't hold your wedding on a Saturday night, use in season flowers, have a buffet instead of a sit down, and have bigger tables so you need less centerpieces.

Real talk: many venues now charge the same price for a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, "in season" flowers may be more expensive than ones that can be shipped in from South America, buffets are trending and many caterers now charge more for them, and bigger tables mean you actually need to rent these and provide linens to fit them as opposed to using the ones that might already come with the venue. Boom!

What does all of that mean? It means that you're reading about ways to save money that not only might not save you money but could also end up costing you more! Websites and blogs that put together these cute little lists are usually decked out in banner ads and sometimes vendor profiles for businesses that are hoping you will hire them for your wedding day. The angle? Getting money. The more "helpful" articles they put out, the more brides and grooms will visit them, and thus the website or blog can charge the advertisers even more, which then ends up coming out of your wallet to cover the vendors' (advertisers') overhead when you end up hiring them. The website's agenda isn't really about helping the couple, as much as it's about being able to leverage their traffic to increase the advertising rates. Shady and sucky, right?

There are a handful of websites that cater to couples getting married and advertise for vendors in every category. It's like the online yellow pages, (pause for some of you to ask this old person writing what the "yellow pages" are), and the more the vendor spends, the more prominent their ad will appear. You might see words like "featured" and "showcased" under certain ads, but that doesn't mean that the website likes these vendors better; it's that the vendors are paying more. Notice how the same vendors are on the first page all of the time? Yup, that's prime real estate that costs the vendors money and many are willing to pay because honestly, not a lot of brides and grooms are clicking to a second page. I can tell you that dozens of couples that have consulted with me have admitted to reaching out because the website listed me as "preferred" or... special... or magician or some other eye-catching word. So, clearly, it works.

Another huge "it" that has recently appeared on the wedding planning scene is the "free service" feature which helps plan weddings. Yes, it's free, and it helps plan weddings by connecting with brides and grooms and suggesting multiple options to them. Basically, you tell someone (and by tell someone, I mean type to a person or robot on the other side of the computer) what you want, and they filter out everything that doesn't fit your parameters to give you a list of vendors and venues that do. For free. Too good to be true? It is.

What you don't know, is that the advertisers/vendors are being asked to "pay to play." This isn't like shopping for a purse online and setting up the filters so that you only see the white Gucci bags under $750. Nope. You are actually only going to receive suggestions of vendors and venues that not only already advertise with the site ($$), but are now cutting another check to the site to be on this list ($$$$$). In other words, your perfect venue or vendor might not be on the list you receive, because they have chosen not to spend even more money on an additional avenue of advertising. "You get what you pay for" really does apply to this free service. And you're getting shafted. Don't listen to "it."

These websites, blogs, and Pinterest pages, of course are visible to everyone including the peanut gallery. The peanut gallery includes anyone in your life with an opinion about anything wedding related. It could be a friend that got married that comes with you to every floral appointment to make sure you're not getting "scammed," your mom to the bridal salons to have you try on dresses so that she can show you how much cheaper they are online; really "it" can be anything.

As I said earlier, because of the world wide web, everyone thinks they are an expert on everything. People read what they read and hey, if it's on the internet it must be true. "It" encompasses all of the opinions (because they usually aren't facts or based in reality for that matter) you will receive from these experts. You will hear plenty of "I read somewhere" from lots of people on every single topic wedding related. For instance, "You're having roses? I read online that those are the most expensive flower ever," and other myths such as these will plague you the more you share the details of your wedding day.

People will also draw from personal experiences which could be their own wedding or weddings they have attended. "Oh no, you're having a buffet? Well, make sure that you do A, B, and C, because at your cousin Betty's wedding, she didn't, and that's all anyone remembers... and it was awful... and now Betty sleeps in her wedding gown every night sobbing about how she wishes it had been a sit down dinner." That might be a little excessive, but you get the idea.

With the peanut gallery, the "it" usually is negative and an opportunity to either criticize or get you to change your mind about things. Frankly, there is nothing more gratifying to some people than boasting about how their ideas were used for the wedding. A little bit of a bummer though if you listen to that idea, against your better judgment, and things falls apart. Because you can bet that the person that gave you the "it"/opinion will suddenly be overcome with amnesia and not recall ever saying a word about how you really should consider saving money and not having heat lamps for an outdoor wedding in November. You must have just misunderstood them.

It's a war zone out there. The toughest job is to figure out the angles and the agendas behind the Pinterest and the peanut galleries. People are easier to figure out as you already know them and their motives are probably clear. The blogs, the websites, and Pinterest are a little trickier especially if you're outside of the industry. Use caution, realize that not everything on the internet is truthful, correct and helpful to you, and always remember that everything and everyone has an agenda. The less "research" you do, the less people you share details with, and the more you work with professionals, the less "it" you will have to endure.

Of course, you could just hire an experienced and professional planner, trust them and know that their motive is just to make you and your fiance happy.

What? You knew I was going to say that. My agenda is to get you to hire a planner, prior to going into battle... I mean, planning your wedding. Hey, at least I'm honest.