All of the Questions to Ask Potential Wedding Planners

Find the perfect planning pro for your wedding day.
by Maddy Sims and Simone Hill

Your wedding day is an extremely personal event. After all, it's about celebrating you and your partner's love. So it makes sense that you'd want to hire a professional wedding planner you really like. To make the process easier, we've compiled the most important questions to ask your wedding plannerbefore hiring them. 

With everything from basic questions (are they available on your wedding date, for example) to pre- and post-wedding logistics, we've got you covered. Before you decide to hire a planning pro, it's important to thoroughly vet them to ensure that they're the right fit for you and your partner.

With that in mind, here are some key questions to ask a wedding planner (and what you should listen for in their answers).

Basics

1. Are you available on my wedding date?

Why you want to know: When it comes to questions to ask a wedding planner, this should be your first.You don't want to waste your time (or theirs) if they're not free on the chosen date. If your wedding date is still flexible and you'd be willing to wait to work with someone you really love, ask for a few options so you can take them into consideration when you're finalizing your timeline.

2. Can you work within our budget?

Why you want to know: Next up on the list of important topics to cover: money. "While not necessarily a fun topic, it's extremely important for the couple and their planner to have a thorough discussion of the wedding budget as early on in the process as possible," says Alysse Sweeney, owner and principal event designer and coordinator at Design Studio South in Georgia. "Come into an initial planning meeting with an idea of who will be contributing and how much," she tells The Knot. This question is great because it also opens up the discussion about potential services they provide you in your budget. For example, if you really love the planner but can't afford their full-time services, ask if they'd be willing to do part-time planning or month-of coordinating for a smaller fee instead.

3. What sorts of services do you offer (month-of coordination, full-service planning, or à la carte planning)? 

Why you want to know: It's not always clear from their website what their services are, so it's good to ask for a thorough explanation of the types of ways they can help you with your wedding planning. This information will make it easier to decide what type of planner would be best for you. For example, if you're super-organized and have time to follow up with pros yourself, then you may only need someone for a coordination role. But if you're planning a destination wedding, it may be best to work with a full-time planner who can manage the logistics for you. It's also good to ask about design versus planning, says Gretchen Culver, owner and creative director of Rocket Science Events in Minnesota. "I hear this statement a lot: I need a wedding planner to turn my ideas into reality," which often really means they need design help, not help with planning tasks like creating a timeline or managing their budget," she tells The Knot.

Pre-Wedding Logistics

4. How many meetings will we have, and how will we be involved?

Why you want to know: This is when you should get an outline of what the wedding planning process would look like. Some planners will email you sketches and follow up over the phone, while others may create online inspiration boards and will verbally walk you through swatches and sample designs in person. Certain planners will ask you about each and every detail while others wait and fill you in on everything all at once. There's no right workflow—it's all about what you like best. 

5. Do you handle professional services, contracts and payment processing?

Why you want to know: The answer to this question should help you get a sense of how other vendors will be handled throughout the planning process. It's a good idea to figure out how they prefer to work ahead of time.Some planners request a lump sum and then will hire and pay pros for you. Others will request that you cut the checks for other pros yourselves. Our advice? It's generally best to pay your vendors directly instead of through your planner. This way, you'll have more control over the contract and your budget.

6. Can you walk us through the process of selecting other vendors and how we would be involved? 

Why you want to know: You want to make sure you have the best team with you on your wedding day, so it's important to understand your planner's selection process. Professional wedding planners often spend time cultivating relationships with other wedding pros, so you'll be exposed to their already-built network You'll also want to make sure they're sending the best people for the job your way. During the meeting, jot down some names of professionals they prefer to work with so you can do your own research.

7. Are you willing to step in as our advocate, conveying our visions and desires to pros when we can't?

Why you want to know: If your planner is speaking to other vendors directly, you want to ensure that they're assertive and will ask for what you want. 

8. Will you handle the invitations, from wording and ordering to the addressing and mailing? What about guest list coordination and RSVPs?

Why you want to know: "Full-service" can mean different things depending on whom you ask, so find out if managing the guest list and invitations is part of their standard services or if it requires an additional fee.

9. Do you handle rentals? Will you coordinate delivery, arrival and set up times with the photographer, the florist, the musicians and the caterer/banquet manager?

Why you want to know: Again, you want to find out exactly what's included to make sure you're on the same page about what they will and will not take care of. If their role is more to consult with you on ideas and help you find and book your pros, then you may need to find a separate coordinator to help you take care of these day-of details.

Day-Of Logistics

10. How many people on your staff will be at the wedding?

Why you want to know: Find out how many assistants, coordinators and event stylists your planner will bring on the day of, so you can rest assured that everything will be handled. The final size of the day-of team depends on your wedding's specific logistics, but they should tell you the number of staff members needed for the typical wedding they work on.

11. Can you create a timeline that tells everyone involved in the planning process (other pros, members of the wedding party, to-be-weds and families) what to do and when to do it? How will you make sure everyone sticks to the schedule?

Why you want to know: A wedding planner's role isn't just to manage the pros, but also your friends and family, which isn't as easy as you might think. They should tell you what their system is to make sure everything runs smoothly and on time.

12. What happens if you're sick or otherwise unable to be there on the day of our wedding?

Why you want to know: Back-up plans aren't just for outdoor weddings. You want to make sure they have someone capable on hand to take over if they get sick or can't make it that day, like another planner at their company or a seasoned assistant. They should also have a plan in place for what'll happen if they have to hand over your wedding to someone else in case of an emergency.

Planner Experience

13. How many weddings have you planned?

Why you want to know: Wedding-specific experience is a must when it comes to hiring a wedding planner. It's great if they've also planned parties and corporate events, but it's important to remember that those celebrations aren't the same as nuptials. Weddings have an emotional and personal element that other events don't. If they've worked as an assistant at a wedding under another planner, ask which weddings they specifically worked on and what their role was.

14. How many weddings will you be working on throughout the entire process and on the day of?at the same time (day-of and throughout the entire process)?

Why you want to know: On the day of your wedding, you want the pro's full attention, so make sure they're not juggling multiple weddings at once. But it's realistic that your planner will be working with other couples at the same time throughout the process. How many they can handle depends on the size of their team and whether the weddings are local or destination, so take note of details like that too.

15. Have you planned any other weddings at our site?

Why you want to know: It's a major bonus if they've planned a wedding at your venue before.They're likely familiar with the event staff, layout and logistics, which can help the wedding day run more smoothly. They may also have specific suggestions or design ideas from working in the space before. If they've worked with your venue before, ask to see photos so you can start envisioning what your wedding might look like there too.

16. Do you do destination weddings (if applicable)?

Why you want to know: Ask if they'll not only travel to plan your wedding ( most will for a fee), but if they've planned an entire wedding weekend from afar. This kind of planning  requires an extra layer of coordination, so it's good to make sure they have some experience under their belts. 

17. What was the most unique wedding you ever planned?

Why you want to know: Specific details and photos of the standout weddings they've planned can help you get a sense of their style. 

18. What are some ideas you have for pulling off our vision?

Why you want to know: It's okay if they don't cover every detail of what you want(you'll work together later on to hash out the specifics). But if all of their ideas are way off—like if you say you've always imagined a rustic wedding under the stars and they only suggest ballroom venues—that's a red flag. It could mean they're not really listening to what you want or you may just have differing opinions. If that's the case, they may not be the right fit for your wedding.

19. What's your secret for staying calm under pressure, and how do you deal with day-of disasters? 

Why you want to know: This is a super important question to ask your any potential wedding coordinator. Things like a foolproof backup plan, how they stay organized to prevent problems, and the steps they take to fix unexpected issues all demonstrate whether or not they'll be able to take care of any situation on your wedding day.

20. Do you have references? (testimonials from both professionals and recent couples.)

Why you want to know: Get the names and contact info for any recent couples and pros they've worked with, so you can do your research.  They way your potential wedding planners responds to this question will tell you a lot— they should provide these willingly and encourage you to reach out to their references.

Postwedding Logistics

21. How do payments work (a percentage of our budget, a flat fee)? Will there be additional expenses on top of your base fee (travel, parking, food)?

Why you want to know: You want to make sure you understand exactly what you're on the hook for before you sign the contract. Have them walk you through the payment system and any extra fees. That way, there won't be any surprises down the road. 

22. Do you carry personal liability and professional indemnity insurance?

Why you want to know: It's important they've taken every step possible to protect you in case something goes wrong . You also need to find out if they have insurance and what types of scenarios it covers. For example, if the equipment used to lay the dance floor damages the venue, their insurance should cover those damages.

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