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Wedding planning tips and guides

Choosing a Wedding Planner

Planning, organizing, and carrying out a unique and fabulous wedding takes a tremendous amount of skill and you will want to make sure you have the right person for this job.

You may consider hiring a professional planner if:

  • If you cannot spare at least 12 hours per week to do the job yourself and twice as much time as the wedding date draws near then you will want to seriously consider the services offered by a professional. A planner/consultant can take on a large or small amount of responsibility and can help eliminate some of the early research and legwork.
  • You want to invite more than 100 guests.
  • You are holding your wedding in a home, garden, loft, museum or other venue that is not a full service venue (considered off premise).
  • You are having a destination wedding.
  • You would like to benefit from their knowledge and the relationships they have created with vendors within the industry.
  • You would like assistance on your wedding day to ensure that everything runs smoothly and you can enjoy this wonderful day.

How much help will you need?

The best time to hire a wedding planner is at the beginning of the planning process. There are normally three basic levels of involvement:

  • Plan and coordinate the entire wedding from start to finish. This person would meet with vendors on your behalf and become the “go to’ person for decisions. A good planner will take your style and taste into consideration, but normally you would allow the final creative decisions to be handled by your planner.
  • Full Service Coordinator. Helps you shape the event by giving you décor suggestions, vendor recommendations or assistance with specific wedding components – you can contact a planner when you need help. Be aware that not all planners are interested in handling only bits and pieces of your event.
  • Day-of-Planner. Acts as a coordinator to make sure the wedding day runs smoothly. Normally the planner would organize final details like the rehearsal ceremony and wedding day deliveries. This planner may be most effective if they become involved during the final month of preparations.

How do planners charge for their services?

The billing method will normally depend on the level of assistance you require. You can expect a planner to charge in one of the following three ways:

A flat fee

A predetermined fee for complete planning services. This amount would be specified in your contract with the wedding planner, as well as the schedule of payments.

A percentage of the total wedding budget (expect to pay between 10-15%).

For example if your entire wedding budget including dresses, catering, bar expenses, venue rentals, décor etc is $50,000 then expect to pay between $5000 - $7500.

An hourly rate

If your requirements are minimal and you would only like the planner to handle one or two small jobs then they would normally bill an hourly fee for this service. Expect the planner to have at least a two to three hour minimum.

Interviewing Prospective Planners

Before you begin to investigate various planners in your market you should be prepared to share some information about your big day. When would you like the wedding to take place, approximately how many guests, what is your estimated budget, where would you like it to take place (at least some possibilities)? When you meet with your prospective planners they will often provide a portfolio of their work. Remember they are probably selecting the best representation of photos so be prepared to ask some questions:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Where did you study or with whom did you apprentice?
  • Do you belong to any professional organizations?
  • What services are included in your contract?
  • Are you comfortable working within our budget?
  • Will you be able to work with the vendors I choose?
  • How do you charge?