There is an old expression, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Never is this truer than in the planning, organization, and coordination of the biggest day of your life: your wedding day. With all the perils, pitfalls, and unexpected details that can derail even the most meticulously planned event, the decision to engage a wedding planner can be the most important one you make. In making this decision (actually, a series of decisions) there are many important factors, questions, and financial considerations to address. So, let’s get started!
Every wedding, however large or small, has a budget. And not everyone has the means to set aside roughly 10% and/or several thousands of dollars that, ideally, could be used on a honeymoon, paying down credit card debt, or even towards a down payment on a home. However, the right wedding planner can usually get the most out of your money while reducing stress and unpleasant surprises. And, if money is tight, you may consider the lesser expense of what many professionals refer to as a “day-of coordinator.” Since the average American wedding is just shy of $32,000, the decision to hire a full time, all-inclusive planner versus one with a more limited role is important. And, as with any wedding expense, be sure that the cost of your wedding planner is budgeted for.
What, exactly, does a full-service wedding planner do for you? Actually, quite a lot! She or he likely will attend vendor meetings with you (with whom they are likely to have an advantageous relationship with), help design and organize your overall concept, pay attention to even the smallest of details, and make sure that everyone follows your “rules” and your timetable. If you do decide to hire a full-time planner, be sure to begin the selection process as early as possible! Allow time to interview several candidates and thereby determine with whom you are likely to have the most productive relationship. The full-time planner will ideally be experienced, certified, familiar with multiple types of venues, be clear as to both party’s’ expectations and desires, and have a good working relationship with the many vendors and services that are all a part of every successful wedding. And remember: trust your instincts! You and the wedding planner will likely be spending a lot of time together, and it is imperative that you like, respect, and understand each other
A less than full service wedding planner is often referred to as a “day-of-wedding coordinator,” though they are monthly planners. Their main job is to organize the logistics of your special day, making sure that everything you have envisioned runs smoothly. Such tasks might include picking up flowers, deciding who oversees the gifts, packing up certain items at the end of the night, finding a place for the band to hide, and so forth. Again, the idea is to ensure peace of mind and reduce your stress. When hiring a day-of coordinator, make sure you understand how many hours they will work, how they might handle potential problems, and that he or she is truly listening to your needs and concerns. Again, trust your gut! You should expect your day-of coordinator to review vendor contracts, know the general timeline of the day, visit the site, and run both your rehearsal dinner and the main event the next day. Ideally, he or she will pack up everything at the end of the night, arrange for tips, and generally make sure that the entire show runs smoothly. Do not expect your day-of coordinator to arrange for your photographer or caterer or any other big detail that should have been planned well in advance; if any situations do arise that go above and beyond what you both consider to be par for the course, make sure you tip accordingly.
When searching for, interviewing, and working with either a full-time wedding planner or a day-of-coordinator, be honest about your finances and expectations. Make sure you have a reliable protocol for communication. And, above all, remember that the biggest myth regarding wedding planners in general is that you don’t need one!