It’s the time of the year to wrap up loose ends and plan for the future. If you’re reading this article, we’re going to take a wild guess and say you’re probably engaged and planning a wedding. One of the first questions you may be thinking about is a wedding planner and if you need one. The decision to hire a wedding planner (or not) will shape your wedding in many important ways, so it’s crucial that you understand what a wedding planner can do for you, what it could cost you, and what the benefits and drawbacks of hiring a wedding planner might be. There is no one right answer; each couple must choose the solution that works for them and their specific situation, and getting informed is step numero uno in making that decision.
Below we’ll provide you with some background info on wedding planners and then present the advantages and disadvantages of working with one so that you can make an informed decision and plan your wedding like a pro.
The Lowdown on Wedding Planner Pricing
The first thing you’re probably going to want to know is how much a wedding planner costs. The price tag will vary widely; most couples in the US spend at least $1,500 on wedding planning services–note that this is a minimum, not an average. There are different types of wedding planners who get involved at different levels and stages of the planning process, and each comes with its own price range. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of wedding planning packages and their prices:
Day-of wedding planner: This kind of planner is not very involved in the wedding planning process, but they play an important role in the wedding day itself. Their job is to make sure that everything runs smoothly and according to schedule. Their prices usually start at $800 and can go up to $3,495 for a higher-end professional.
Partial wedding planner: This is someone who you usually start collaborating with approximately one month before the big day. A partial wedding planner will have your back when it comes to last-minute tasks. They might confirm vendors, help with seating charts, and also take on the responsibilities of a day-of wedding planner (outlined above). Their rates usually range from $1,250 to $6,000, depending on their level of experience and how involved you expect them to be.
Full wedding planner: This is the whole package. A full wedding planner is someone you hire a good ten months in advance (minimum), and they help you at every stage of the process. For starters, they can be very involved in helping you select the right venue. Their industry expertise and connections can help guide you in selecting vendors, as well. A bottom-of-the-barrel price for a full wedding planner is about $3,000, with prices for more experienced planners going up to about $12,000.
You’re not expected to tip your wedding planner, but if you have the cash to spare and you feel they’ve really gone above and beyond, a 10-20% tip is not unheard of and highly appreciated.
Aside from the tasks mentioned above, under the tiers of wedding planners available, a wedding planner might be responsible for a range of other jobs as well.
What Else Does a Wedding Planner do?
When you hear the word ‘wedding planning,’ what’s the first thing you think of? If you think of ‘DJ,’ ‘catering,’ or ‘dress,’ you’re overlooking an unfortunate but very important part of the planning process: paperwork. Fortunately (for you, not them), a big part of a wedding planner’s job involves getting all the boring paperwork in order. That includes making sure your budgets, contracts, and timelines are organized, up-to-date, and accessible.
A wedding planner is like the coach of your wedding team–you, your partner, your vendors, and your family members who are involved in the planning process. They are responsible for coordinating all the different players on the team and acting as the gel that keeps everyone working together.
They’ll also do things like create a wedding-day timeline, set up your wedding favor display, assemble invitations, help you make a bulletproof wedding checklist, and more. Additionally, they’ll arrive at the venue well before everyone else and stay longer after you leave in order to clean up, break down equipment, return rental items, make sure all vendors are tipped, and tie up any loose ends.
Depending on your specific needs and budget, a wedding planner might help you not only with your ceremony and reception but also with your rehearsal dinner and post-wedding brunch. Some couples who have destination weddings also plan events for their guests outside of the wedding itself, and a wedding planner can also help coordinate those activities.
Advantages of Hiring a Wedding Planner
There are plenty of benefits to working with a wedding planner. Here are a few of the most pertinent ones:
Working with a wedding planner can actually save you money. Yes, wedding planners (especially more experienced ones) are expensive–but they can save you money in a few ways. For one thing, they can make sure that you stick to your wedding budget and don’t overspend. They can connect you with vendors who are in your price range, and their industry connections and expertise mean they might be able to find you vendors, venues, and other wedding-related services for less than you’d expect to pay. They might even be able to leverage their connections to get you discounts.
They can substantially lower your stress levels. Having a full-time job and a social life is already a lot for most people to juggle; when wedding planning is added to the mix, things can get pretty hectic. Because wedding planners take on major responsibilities that might otherwise be yours alone, they can help you not become a stereotypical ultra-stressed bride or groom-to-be. Your wedding is one of the best days of your life; when you look back, do you want to remember a time filled with anxiety or a time of blissful anticipation?
They can expose you to new ideas. Many engaged couples spend countless hours looking online for inspiration on how to make their weddings one-of-a-kind. Someone who has been in the industry for a long time has already seen and tried countless ideas for everything from unique centerpieces to memorable wedding favors to gorgeous dessert spreads, and they’ll be able to help you brainstorm a multitude of original ideas for your own ceremony and reception.
They can provide advice on a wide range of challenges that might pop up. For example, sometimes, you might have to mediate disputes between family members who are involved in the planning process. How should you react if your partner’s stepmom and your Dad disagree on the details of the seating chart? When should you send invitations, and how should you handle conversations with people you’re not inviting who might be disappointed? What should you do if one of your vendors shows signs of flakiness but you’ve already entered into a contract with them? An experienced wedding planner has already seen all this and more, so they can offer guidance to help you navigate obstacles with grace. Sometimes they may even be able to help mediate wedding-related conflicts between you and your partner or between family members.
They’re great listeners. Although a wedding planner can alleviate much of the stress that comes with the planning process, there will still inevitably be difficulties that pop up–and a wedding planner can provide a listening ear. Maybe you’re having trouble deciding between two venues, and your friends are tired of hearing about it. Maybe you had a worrying conversation with a vendor, and you want to vent about it. Although your planner is not your therapist and should not be treated as such, they are accustomed to providing some degree of emotional support to their clients alongside logistical support.
Disadvantages of Hiring a Wedding Planner
Although there are many advantages, hiring a wedding planner also comes with its own unique set of drawbacks, outlined below.
You have to relinquish some control. When you hire a wedding planner, you’re effectively handing over control of many aspects of the most special day of your life yet, to someone else. Although your wedding planner won’t do anything without your approval, they will be taking care of a lot of logistical tasks and organizing many aspects of your big day, and that means you won’t be as in control of those things as you would be if you did them yourself.
Some people prefer to look back and see a low-stress process, whereas others are willing to accept more stress and responsibility in exchange for the autonomy and control that come from organizing everything themselves.
Relinquishing control to a wedding planner also means that your wedding won’t feel as personal and DIY as it would otherwise, and your relative lack of involvement in the process could lead you to feel somewhat detached. There’s no right or wrong way, but if you’re someone who prefers a greater degree of control and involvement with important events, think twice before hiring a full wedding planner. You still might do well with a partial or day-of wedding planner.
It can be expensive. As aforementioned, hiring a wedding planner can save you money–but it won’t necessarily save you money. If you’re a savvy budgeter and resourceful when finding partnerships within your budget, hiring a wedding planner isn’t guaranteed to save you money. Plus, some of the cool, creative ideas your wedding planner throws your way might be things you wouldn’t have done otherwise, which means you’re generating more expenses. For example, perhaps your planner enthusiastically proposes that you commission a custom monogram of a design incorporating both your and your partner’s first initials and that you stamp it onto your wedding signs, favors, and table numbers. These kinds of extras add up!
A bad fit may be worse than no wedding planner. Have you ever had a great first impression of someone, only to discover after a couple more interactions that you don’t connect as well as you’d initially thought? This can also happen with a wedding planner, and it can be a disaster. You might sign a contract and invest a large amount of money in someone’s services and then find out that the way they operate isn’t at all compatible with the way you operate. While it’s stressful to do everything yourself, collaborating with someone with whom you don’t connect well or see eye-to-eye can be even more stressful.
Questions to Ask a Potential Wedding Planner
If you do decide to hire a wedding planner, it’s absolutely crucial to find someone who is a good fit. You should mesh with them in terms of both vibe and vision. In other words, you should genuinely enjoy being around them, and your visions for the big day should match up. Additionally, it’s important to gauge their level of experience. Here are a few questions you can ask potential wedding planner candidates in order to feel out whether they might be a fit:
- Have you planned weddings that are similar to ours in terms of size, budget, aesthetics, location, etc.?
- Do you offer packages at different price tiers, or do you work at an hourly rate?
- Do you prefer to communicate with clients via text, phone, or email?
- How frequently do you communicate with clients?
- How many weddings do you work per year and/or month, and for how many years have you been in the industry?
- Do you work alone, or do you have a team?
The Bottom Line
The decision to hire a wedding planner (or not) is a personal one. The right solution for your best friends who got married last year might not be the best solution for you, and vice versa. Whatever you decide, we hope your planning process will be fun and exciting and that your wedding day will be even more special than you envision.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]