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If, once all aforementioned matters have been resolved, you find you are of sound mind and body, ready to proceed, and prepared financially and emotionally to endure the planning of a wedding, you must acknowledge there is a business of weddings and it is called just that because it is a $19-billion-a-year industry. It is critical to insist on hiring a wedding planner or consultant. Why? Because the right wedding planner will serve as your advocate and, if you’re lucky, become your fiancee’s best friend throughout the planning process, which will take some of the heat off of you. Translation: more time for you to hang with the guys while she is embroiled in “the wedding.”

Further, a reputable consultant essentially has the Ph.D. in wedding planning you both lack, which means they will save you money and prevent you from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous wedding professionals. Every business has undesirables.

I advise you both to make a list of priorities for the wedding, a Top 10 if you will, in order of importance. Of course your lists will be totally different, but don’t expect having the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders show up as entertainment to fly. The point is this – if the planner knows what each of your priorities are, he or she can manage the budget to satisfy you both. Translation: less fighting and she might not kick the front windshield of your car out from the inside.

This list needs to be generated before sitting down with parents or a planner, so that everyone has a clear articulation of the requests you have for what ultimately (despite the expectations of others) is the most special day of your lives. Come to the table with a rough guest list, potential venues for ceremony and/ or reception and an approximation of the amount you can expend for the celebration.

Do NOT let the church coordinator or the catering manager of the reception site talk you out of hiring a wedding consultant. The responsibilities of the church coordinator extend to making certain you neither burn the place to the ground or allow your photographer to fire off a flash during the ceremony. She will not make sure the groom’s man who ripped out the seat of his trousers gets them sewn up prior to heading into the sanctuary or make sure the limo arrives to transport you to the reception after the blessed nuptials. Once you arrive at the reception, the catering manager’s focus is the food, beverage and service- they are not going to care if your mother and mother-in-law have been offered an episode on Jerry Springer for the WWF style smackdown they had during the cocktail hour. YOU need help- you just don’t know it yet.

A consultant is not an expense that can be left off the budget. Cut anywhere else you need to- except here. Hell, I’d ride a freaking Vespa to the reception instead of showing up in limo as long as I could ensure someone was there to makes sure my DJ doesn’t call me by the wrong name in front of 500 of my closest friends.

Here is a hint- if you want to appear not to be a miserly tight ass, do a little research and find a few names of consultants, call them and make appointments for you both to attend. Make them all on the same day and plan a lovely dinner together in or out to make a final decision on who will be spending more time with your fiancee in the next year than you will. Brides to be assume the “wedding planner” will be the biggest fight next to “budget”- so circumvent that- INSIST on it. You will definitely score after dinner that night.

Take heart- this is going to be an ass-kicking on a scale you can not fathom- you need an advocate and a team of professionals. Respect them, take care of them (Seriously, do not piss off your photographer prior to your event- you would not believe how easy it is for them to take pictures where you look like you walked into a chemical plant at the wrong time), show your appreciation in the form of a gratuity (generally cash, but a gift for the consultant is not unusual and no you can not get it at the airport) and most of all- trust them to guide you.

Ok, Clever Guys- I hope you are still stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey and considering a repeat of yesterday’s finest. Have a fantastic weekend. Colt for Heisman.