How to Choose the Right Wedding Planner for You

If you’ve even looked at a wedding planning checklist you can see that planning a wedding is  a huge process.  It will involve a lot of time and research.  A lot of time.

From sourcing vendors and getting quotes to sticking to your budget, the list goes on and on.  And then on the day of your wedding someone has to organize all those vendors when they show up. Who makes sure that your tables and chairs are where they’re supposed to be and handles any last minute emergencies?

That’s your wedding planner.

There are a few different types of Wedding Planners so you can choose the one that works best for your situation.

  • A full service planner will be with you from start to finish and help with every detail of planning.
  • A partial planner helps you organize your venue and vendors.
  • A day of coordinator (who you’ll probably meet with a couple of times before the day of).

Do You Need a Wedding Planner?

If you have experience planning an event or you have unlimited time, you may not need a planner.  But you also want to consider the experience that you want to have.

A great planner can actually save you money.  They have a list of contacts and its their job to keep you on budget and on the correct timeline.  They may be able to get better deals just by coordinating different vendors and suppliers.

Realistically what they will save you is a ton of is time and headaches.  Your time and stress are a huge factor!

At the very least you’re going to want someone to organize everything the day of.  You don’t want to be stressed about a vendor who’s running late or a guest that’s super early.  This is a day to delegate all of those things.

The Full Service Planner

The full service planner is the right choice for you if you are just overwhelmed with the thought of all these checklists and plans.  If you have family or work commitments that don’t allow you a little flexibility with your time then you’ll need someone who’s full service.  They’ll take on all the heavy lifting for you.

What they Do:

The full service planner starts with you at the beginning of your wedding story.  They can help you develop or tweak your budget, organize every detail from the invitations to the seating chart.  They will create a timeline for the day of your event and handle all the logistics.

The Day of Planner

The Day of Planner actually starts about 30 days out from your wedding.  They are exactly what it sounds like, they make sure that the day of your event runs smoothly.  You will generally meet with them about a month out from the wedding to talk about the timeline and have them review all your vendors, floor plans and the seating chart.

The day of planner’s job is to touch base with all the vendors and make sure that everyone shows up and sets up on time on the day of your wedding.  They can also help to assure that your event runs on the correct timeline from the start of the ceremony to the sendoff.

Start With Your Budget

Oh you’re surprised by that answer right?  The budget, the budget.  It’s the key to the whole party.  You’ll need to know your approximate budget, when you want to get married (date or season), how many guests you’re planning for and an idea of a theme or colors.

Now if you don’t know all these things already determined, that’s okay.  A wedding planner can help you answer all these questions.   These are just great points to keep in mind while you’re looking for a wedding planner so that they can help get you headed in the right direction.

Research is the Key

Always start by relying on your network for referrals.  Your friends and family probably know someone who is a wedding or event planner., and that’s always a good place to start.  Your venue and any of your vendors have probably worked with different planners too and they usually have some great opinions (if you have any of those picked out yet).

You can also check bridal fairs, ask on social media and google planners in your area.

Once you have a few names check out their websites and social media accounts.  You may be able to find all the information you need to get started with your research on their website.

You should be looking through their recent projects to see some of their work.  Their website should also include some information about the types of events they organize.  If they specialize in big and over the top and you’re planning small and intimate, they may not be the best fit for you.

Also be sure to read reviews.  They should give you a little taste of how different couple’s felt working with the wedding planner.

Pick a Few Favorite Planners to Follow Up With

Pick a few wedding planners that have the right feeling for you and follow up with an information request.  You’ll need to tell them the date of your wedding, the guest count and what your theme is.  You can include a few photos from your idea board or a link to a Pinterest board so they can get a feeling for what you’re wanting.

If you don’t have any of this decided yet, you can just tell them that you’re newly engaged an don’t know where to start.

Here’s a little template of an e-mail to help you get started.

Hi [wedding planner name],

My name is (your name) and I found you on (where you found their information, whether on a website, at a wedding expo, a referral, etc.).

We are seeking information on our wedding planning.  (if you have any plans include them here – venue, date (or season)).  Can you please forward your current pricing package for us to review?

Thank you in advance!
(Your name and contact information)

Explore Their Packages

The quotes that you receive may include this information but if not, here all some great questions to ask when you’re meeting with a wedding planner.  You want to understand all the services that a wedding planner will provide and what would be an additional charge.

Do they offer a site visit to see your venue or do they charge additional for travel?

How many hours are included in the wedding planning?

What can you expect for response time on e-mails or phone calls?  Is correspondence unlimited or are there specified amounts of contact?

How does the payment process work?  Will payments go through the wedding coordinator or will you be making all the payments?

Do they pass on discounts from vendors to you?

How many people from their team will be on site on the day of your wedding?

Schedule Face to Face Meetings

You’re going to be working side by side with this person so you definitely want someone that you are comfortable being around.  Show them photo’s of what you want and the colors you like and listen to their ideas.  They should be excited and respectful about what you’re planning.

Above all you want to like working with them.  They are an integral part of your wedding so you will be spending a lot of time communicating with them.

Check References

Don’t feel pressured to sign up with someone right away.  You’ll want a few days to check their references and sit with the information.  Things you’ll want to ask when you contact their references:

  • Did they style the wedding the way you wanted?
  • Were they receptive to your wishes and wants?
  • How closely did they stick to the budget?
  • Did they offer good recommendations and referrals for vendors?
  • Did anything go wrong and how did they handle it?

Sign on the Dotted Line

Once you’ve found the planner of your dreams you need to seal the deal.  Be sure to review the contract and that all the expectations are clearly spelled out.  If there’s anything that you don’t understand be sure to clarify it before you sign and pay your deposit.

If you feel that there’s something missing or you want a service that isn’t included in the package be sure to ask about it.  The planner may be able to include it.

Now Raise a Toast

You’ve found someone to do all the heavy lifting for you so that you can enjoy the process and your special day.  Whether you’ve gone with a full service option, a day of option or something in between, you’re on the path to the wedding of your dreams.

Let’s all raise a toast to that!

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