To Planner or Not To Planner
How to Hire a Wedding Planner
By Patti Herioux
With Love, Event Planner
That shiny new ring on your finger is just the start of your wedding planning process. Maybe you are the bride who already has a binder of magazine cut-outs -we’ve all seen that episode of ‘Friends” – or perhaps you have never given much thought to the details of what will be your wedding day. Either way, a wedding planner can be your biggest advocate in this entire process.
A good wedding planner will take your hand and guide you through the planning and execution of your day, making it as much fun and as painless as it can possibly be. She can save you time, money, anxiety and, from time to time, a bit of your sanity. As you set out to find the right planner for you, consider what it is a wedding planner does.
A full service wedding planner will be with you every step of the way. She will start by helping you select your ceremony and reception venues and be able to make recommendations for all of the vendors you need to hire. She will attend your meetings with you, help you procure contracts, brainstorm ideas, work with you to design the décor and ambiance of the day and find all the pieces you need to make your visions come to life.
Your wedding planner will serve as your roadmap to the who, what, when, where and how’s of your day. As you get into the actual celebration she will be with you at rehearsal and will oversee every detail of the wedding day. From establishing timelines and floorplans to being the point of contact for your vendors, to letting you know what comes next as the day unfolds, she will be there.
Think of her as the CEO of your event. She will make sure all the ‘departments’ have the information and items they need to enact the plan at all the right moments. She will also be able to deal with anything that may not go according to plan (something will go wrong, be ready for that) but with a good planner you will likely never even know!
As with all your vendors, but especially with you planner because of how much she will be with you, pay close attention to your personal connection and gut feeling. Do you like her personality? Does she seem to understand YOUR vision of your day? Does she seem excited about your event? Do you feel comfortable with her? Take a few minutes to get to know each other, if you like her, assess her knowledge and background and then discuss her fees and duties.
You’ve probably seen the movie “The Wedding Planner.” That movie and the surge in bridal shows on women’s television stations created huge interest in this field. You probably have a friend (or many even you) who’s dream job is to be a wedding planner. But a true wedding planning professional comes with background in the industry, a knowledge base of more than planning her own wedding, and is focused on this as her career.
Ask your planner about her experience in the industry and the past events she has done. Does she demonstrate a working knowledge about weddings? Get a feel for how she has handled emotions, interpersonal conflicts, and crisis situations in the past. Does she have a comprehensive list of recommended vendors? Ask her to explain her planning process and how you will work together. Look at pictures of her past events and ask if you can speak to former clients.
If you like her, she has the knowledge and experience level you are comfortable with, and you are thinking you would like to hire her, it’s time to talk price. Pricing for planners can vary greatly. Things such as the size and scope of your wedding, location (is travel involved), your potential planners level of experience and what extra perks are offered can affect the price. Full service wedding planning is usually charged as a percentage of the total cost of the wedding. 10– 15% is a standard range. However, most planners do have a minimum fee for small budget weddings.
Consider the value received versus the dollar spent. I have seen planners that have paid for themselves fully with what they were able to save the client. Many times planners can get you discounts with vendors they work with often or are aware of how to get price breaks on items you have to purchase. Some planners have things in their own inventory, such as candles holders, card boxes, vases, etc. that you are free to use as a client, and therefore you don’t have that extra expense yourself.
Get a contract with your chosen wedding planner. The contract should state the specifics of your wedding date and location, the services and fees agreed upon, the date the services start, an outline of any potential additional fees and list any tangible goods included. Review the contact specifications together and make sure you both have a signed copy. After you have a signed contract you and your planner will start down the road to happy planning!