Hiring a Wedding Planner

Deb Ng
Let the wedding planner handle the details.

Many couples who are getting married hire a wedding planner to handle all the details. This frees up their time for other things and makes the planning a little less chaotic. Considering the happy couple needs to choose locations for the ceremony and reception, handle caterers and menus, find flowers, cakes and photographers, the idea of handing these tasks over to a professional is quite liberating.

Why Hire a Wedding Planner?

Planning a wedding can be a stressful time, especially if all the details are disorganized. The last thing any couple wants to do is haggle over particulars and obsess over details. A wedding planner can take care of any item, no matter how small. Since she knows the couple's price range, she can weed out any vendor who doesn't fall within the confines of the bride and groom's budget. In addition, she'll know the happy couple's likes and dislikes and will make sure even the most minor details are perfect.

The wedding planner will also have a time line. Any newly engaged couple can be overwhelmed with thoughts of what to do first and how far in advance it should be handled. Since she's done this many times before, the planner knows the proper sequence of events and how they should be handled.

Things to Consider

Any couple who is considering whether to hire a wedding planner will be interested in noting that a wedding planner will:

  • Work according to an established timeline and let you know what should be done, at what time.
  • Assist you in establishing a realistic budget that is tailored to meet your most important aspects of your special date.
  • Haggle over prices and negotiate discounts so you can have what you want at the lowest price.
  • Advise you when payments are due to each vendor.
  • Help you select a menu that works for you as well as your guests. She or he wil see that there are special foods for special diets, which cater to all age groups. She or he will also make sure that all food and drink items are of the very best quality for your budget.
  • Help to select a tasteful wedding cake, within your price range.
  • Handle decorations, table linens, flowers and favors to make sure all components are properly coordinated.
  • Ensure that everything is orchestrated smoothly from the walk down the aisle to the tossing of the bouquet.

Choosing a Planner

Before hiring a wedding planner, be sure to interview her thoroughly. Find out how many weddings she's handled in the past and ask for references. Contact vendors to check on her reputation. Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure she has a good record and see if you can peek in on one of her events. Make sure you establish a price in advance and, above all, get everything in writing. You'll probably want to interview several planners to be sure you find the one best suiting your needs.

When choosing your wedding planner there are a few things to consider in respect to rates. There are three ways that planners are paid:

1. Some planners offer "free" service and are paid by vendors with "kick backs". This occurs when the vendor provides a percentage of the service fee to the planner for bringing them the business. A word of caution: this may inhibit the planner's desire to send you to the best person in the business if the best person in the business is not giving them the highest "kick back".

2. Another form of payment is a percentage fee. Planners using this method generally charge anywhere from 15 - 20% of the total budget for their services. This method is primarily used when a planner is orchestrating an elaborate, large wedding and reception and typically when the event has a cost of more than $30,000.

3. Other planners offer flat rate fee services. These types of package include a specific amount of hours dedicated to specific activities. Some consider this a better way to go because they feel that the wedding planner will be less inclined to find the most expensive vendors; however a good planner makes it his or her job to keep the bride within her budget. Period. No planner wants to get a reputation of taking a bride outside of her budget on her special day and a good one will work very hard to stay under budget and provide the bride with savings if at all possible without compromising quality and style.

While there are many different methods planners use for fees, you will find that most planners offer packages that include both flat fee and percentage based packages with a variation of services that will suit your bridal needs.

Generally speaking, if you are planning a large wedding with a budget exceeding the national average of $27K you will do better on a percentage fee based package. With flat fee packages there are usually limitations as to how many hours will be dedicated to a wedding with that rate and any hours over that amount are charged at an hourly rate. With percentage based packages there is usually an unlimited number of hours dedicated to this type of wedding and believe me, if it is a large wedding, it will be needed. There are many details to tend to.

Smaller weddings should go with a flat fee service. There are not as many hours that are needed and a couple could save some do re mi by going this route.

More Free Time

By hiring a wedding planner, you're freeing up your time for other things like finding that perfect wedding dress or attending engagement parties and showers.

Affordability

Wedding planners are no longer employees of the rich and famous. With affordable pricing, they're now the norm for couples of all walks of life. If you're overwhelmed with all that needs to be done for your wedding, why not hire a wedding planner?

In all actuality a wedding planner should be able to save the couple money in the end. Because of the repeat business wedding planners bring to wedding product and service providers, they are able to negotiate expert pricing.

In most cases, the savings experienced by the couple through their wedding planner's keen negotiating skills pay for the cost of hiring the planner, if not more. So in the end the bride (and groom) is left with a beautifully orchestrated wedding, planned by a professional, with less stress and the ability to focus on the joy of the occasion.

Hiring a Wedding Planner