Lives today are busy enough with careers and social lives. The prospect of planning a wedding often leads to increased stress and anxiety. Even if you have the time to spare, planning a wedding involves a bit of research. An experienced wedding planner can show you the ropes and offer a tremendous amount of guidance.
Types of Wedding Planners
A wedding planner's purpose is not to take over the plans (unless that's what you hire her to do!), but rather to guide you through the planning process, offer creative ideas and time-saving techniques, and organize all of the aspects of the wedding day. To accommodate the range of needs and budgets represented by today's bride and groom, wedding planners offer an assortment of services. Not every wedding planner offers every type of service. The following general descriptions should help you understand the basics of planning services:
Full-service planner: This service works with the couple from the beginning of the planning, but he may be called in at any point during the planning. In brief, the planner can assist with budgeting, finding and selecting venues and vendors, running wedding-related errands, and following up on all of the details. She is the bride's point person from start to finish. A full-service wedding planner may also assist with event design and styling aspects of the wedding.
Month-of planner: This service may be hired at any time (earlier is better to ensure you get to work with the planner you want), but she typically begins her essential work one to two months prior to the wedding day. The planner offers referrals early in the planning and then organizes and fine-tunes your plans as the day draws nearer. She will manage the final wedding details, such as calling the vendors and creating an itinerary. She will also be present at the rehearsal and on the wedding day to ensure things are running smoothly and on time.
Day-of planner: This service assumes and expects the bride to plan her wedding, finalize all the details and logistics, and create her own itinerary. The planner will then use the information the bride has provided to direct the rehearsal and guide the couple through the wedding day.
Hourly services: If you could use the services of a wedding planner in some areas, but you are not interested in hiring someone to be with you on the wedding day, many planners will meet on an hourly basis.
Fees for wedding planners vary. Some planners charge a flat rate, others ask for 10 to 20 percent of the total cost of the wedding, and some charge by the hour. A planner's experience, expertise, and geographical location influence fees. Most planners are willing to customize their services to accommodate your specific needs. Finally, remember you are hiring a wedding planner to work for you. While you may be working with a location manager at your venue, this is not your wedding planner.
Questions to Ask
The days of wedding planners taking over and making your wedding theirs are over. Select someone who listens to your needs and ideas, and who is capable of handling the job. Ask friends, family, and coworkers for referrals. Consult the advertising pages of regional bridal magazines, the “Local Resources” section of popular wedding websites, or visit a local bridal show. Here is a list of questions that will help you find the right wedding planner:
How long has the consultant been in business? (Many years in business should indicate experience and contacts. It also means that the person is probably reputable, as he or she hasn't been run out of town by unhappy clients.)
Is the consultant full-time or part-time?
Can you get references from former clients?
Is the consultant a full-service planner, or does his or her expertise lie only in certain areas?
If the consultant isn't a full-service planner, what services does he or she handle?
Is the consultant affiliated with any organizations? What are they?
Is the consultant scheduled to work with any other weddings that are on the same day as yours? (You don't want your consultant to be too busy with someone else to meet your needs.)
How much (or how little) of the consultant's time will be devoted to your wedding?
What is the cost? How is it computed? (Hourly? Percentage? Flat fee?)
If the consultant works on a percentage basis, how is the final cost determined?
Exactly what does the quoted fee include (or omit)?