Many couples dismiss the idea of hiring a wedding planner thinking it will be out of their budget. This may be a big mistake. A professional wedding planner can help you plan your wedding while saving you money!
How do wedding planners charge?
- Standard fee—regardless of the size of your wedding or your budget. Some people like a fixed price; they know what they are getting and how much it’s going to cost. Not all wedding planning packages are the same so be sure to check the inclusions to be sure what you need is covered.
- Percentage of your budget. Other couples feel the percentage system is fair—those with bigger budgets to pay more, while people with smaller budgets pay less. If you choose this option, ensure you establish a price cap; the costs could skyrocket, especially if your budget is creeping steadily upwards. By the same token, if your budget decreases, you shouldn’t expect their fees to decrease either.
- By the hour or per service provided. Paying by the hour/service is available from some planners but it is not usually recommended; you won’t be able to accurately estimate how much you’ll spend on your planner, which will be a major component of your budget. The ‘pay as you go’ system might seem affordable at first, but might end up costing you a lot more by the time the wedding is done and dusted. This system is recommended for couples that want to handle the details themselves but need some counseling along the way, such as vetting a venue contract, negotiating catering or creating a floor plan.
- Bespoke—a fee based on your wedding, your needs and your budget. The bespoke fee system allows you to talk in-depth with your planner about your real budget and what you want on your wedding day. This is the approach I take to charging for my services, and it’s a fixed price. I always tell my couples, my fee is X and it’s the only item on the budget that won’t change. It won’t decrease, but it also never increases, even if your budget doubles or the number of guests you have changes, my fee stays the same.
So, what am I up for?
You can find planners to suit any budget, from one end of the market to the other.
- Low range prices vary between a few hundred dollars to $2,500
At the lower end, you may only be paying for planning or on the day coordination; a basic package that gives you basic services. The lower end of the market might also see you with a younger company and more junior consultants (of course, there are also experienced planners operating in the lower end of the market, offering competitive rates!).
- Mid-range will cost you between $2,000 – $5,500
Be sure to see what the cost includes. At the high-end price range that should include all your planning, styling (which typically does not include the hire items or florals, these are extra!) and on the day coordination. You should know that you will have more than one person working on your wedding day, and that those people have worked on your wedding planning the whole way through.
- High-end will set you back about $5,000 – $12,000
For high-end prices, you should have a dedicated planner as well as assistants you can call whenever you need to talk to someone. Be wary of planners who sign you up with lots of promises, then hand you over to junior assistants for the duration of the planning. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing—a good assistant is worth their weight in gold!— you also must be able to contact your senior planner instantly if you ever need to.
Before you meet with a wedding planner Google them, check out their Facebook and Instagram pages, get a feel for what their style of service.
Next, think about what you want from a wedding planner.
- Do you want a company to take control of your wedding planning and deal with every aspect?
- Do you want to plan most of your wedding but leave the ‘hard parts’ to someone else?
- Do you just need a bit of advice (consulting), and are happy to do the actual planning yourself?
- Are you actually after styling (what your wedding will ‘look’ like) rather than planning, and need to talk to a stylist?
Find out what each planner offers. This might sound obvious, but you don’t get married very often and may not have a good idea of what wedding planners do, so check their websites first to see what their ‘standard’ inclusions are.
Once you know what you want and have a fair idea of what planners are offering, then it’s time to shortlist a few and make an appointment to see them. A lot of planners will offer a complimentary, no obligation consultation. Use this consultation to discuss your wedding ideas, how they can help you and to see if you like them.
You should walk away from each consultation with:
- A quote for the services (or packages) you want.
- An idea of how it all works—the process, what they do and don’t do etc.
- A ‘feel’ for the planner—Do you like them? Can you see yourself spending a bit of time with this person or their team, to create your dream wedding?
Choosing your wedding planner:
So let’s say you meet with three planners and you like all three. How do you decide?
- Look at the costs. Are the packages all-inclusive? Will you get a bill at the end of the day (or close to your wedding day) for extras like face-to-face meetings, travel, parking, extra staff etc.
- Look at their contracts. All planners have them and they tell you about the inclusions and extra fees. Compare the contracts, highlight the things you don’t like and definitely address this with each planner.
So, doing your homework, paying good money for good people and having a good relationship with your planner will make all the difference to the journey up to and including your wedding day.
It’s the difference between a good wedding and a great one!