Why You Should Hire a Planner
You may have helped a friend plan her day or spent hours on Pinterest creating your dream wedding board, but that doesn’t mean you should tackle your affair solo. Between booking vendors, working a full-time job and maintaining your relationship, pulling together a wedding can be a lot of work for even the most organized to-be-weds. Hiring a pro can take a huge weight off you and your partner, leaving you time to enjoy the process without the stress.
Wedding Planner 101
Trust us—planning a wedding, whether you’re expecting 50 or 150 guests, requires a lot more than just picking out pretty flowers or tabletop décor. A wedding planner essentially juggles the roles of designer, legal counsel, budget manager, coordinator and therapist—all while helping you pull together your wedding. They can be tapped to take care of everything on your to-do list, from choosing aesthetic details to going over vendor contracts and dealing with day-of emergencies—a huge asset for busy couples hoping to plan their day with minimal stress. They’re clued into everything there is to know about throwing a wedding, and all that comes along with such an emotionally charged event, so you’ll be in good hands whether your issue is bouquets or overbearing in-laws. Plus, they’re connected with top venues and pros in your area, ensuring you have the best team of experts to pull off your celebration. Simply put, an experienced planner is one of the key investments you can make when bringing your day to life.
Determine Your Needs
There are essentially three types of wedding planners: full-service, à la carte and day-of coordinators. A full-service planner will handle it all, start to finish—from crafting the vision for your event to hiring and meeting with your vendors, and coordinating a weekend of activities for guests. This option is best for a pair looking to host a multiday affair or destination wedding, or for couples who simply want a professional to guide them through every step of the wedding planning process. Prefer a part-time pro you can contact on an as-needed basis? An à la carte planner can help you iron out specific details, like your tabletop rentals, or give suggestions for the perfect caterer to execute your French bistro menu. Ideal for couples who just need someone to help refine their wedding day blueprint, an à la carte or part-time planner is also a more price-conscious choice, giving you the help you need for a price that doesn’t put you over budget. For assistance during your wedding day (but not throughout the entire process), opt for a day-of coordinator. Different from an on-site venue coordinator, they’ll be solely focused on your priorities and responsible for making sure your wedding day runs smoothly. Typically, a day-of coordinator will begin working with you anywhere from two weeks to a month ahead of your wedding to make sure everything is in order. They’ll coordinate both your ceremony and reception setup, keep you and your wedding party on schedule, and handle any necessary, immediate postwedding duties, like tipping. If you’re unable to include a full-service or à la carte planner in your budget, adding a day-of coordinator to your team will help you and your partner relax and enjoy your wedding day festivities to the fullest.
Stick to Your Budget
Packages can range depending on the pro you hire, but a wedding planner typically charges their clients a flat fee, an hourly rate or a percentage of their overall wedding budget. These days, most planners list a flat fee for their contracted services. If they don’t, expect to set aside around 10 to 20 percent of your overall budget for a full-service planner. An à la carte planner will charge an hourly rate or flat fee for each service they provide, while day-of coordination is generally a flat fee. While hiring a planner may seem like a big chunk of your budget, it’s an investment that will give you peace of mind and ensure you enjoy the moments you’ve spent months planning. Plus, with an expert behind all your decisions, purchases and negotiations, you’ll save money in the long run. Their pull may be able to score you insider deals, and they’ll always look out for your budget so you don’t have to.
Find the (Other) “One”
Hiring the right pro can be tough, so start your search early on, preferably after you have a date and locale (about a year out is a good time to seek out a full-service team). Ask your venue for a list of vendors that typically work in the space (always an added benefit), tap recently wed friends for their suggestions or scour The Knot Marketplace for a list of top-rated pros in your area. Once you’ve narrowed down your selection to a few favorites, spend time looking through their online portfolios, reading reviews from past clients and stalking their social media feeds. A planner’s Instagram or Facebook page is a great place to catch a glimpse of their most recent work or collaborations. Contact your final choice and set up a time to chat.
Meet, Greet and Get Down to Business
Think of your initial meeting with a planner like a first date— you want to make sure the two of you get along and have the same vision, as you’ll be spending a lot of time together over the next year or so. Arrive armed with a few basic questions: Which of their packages best suits your budget and needs? How does the contract and deposit process work? Do they have insurance? What other vendors (like florists, caterers, photographers or bands) do they typically like to work with? Get a feel for how familiar they are with your venue as well—the more they’ve worked on-site, the more in-the-know they are with the team there, and the more likely it is they can tackle any snags that may come up. It’s important to do your part as the client too. Prep for the meeting by compiling any details or facts your coordinator will likely want to know ASAP, like what you’ve budgeted for different vendors, a rough guest count and your overall vision. Together, you can start pulling inspiration and making important decisions as soon as possible.
Enjoy the Day
It’s time to relax and get married! Think of your planner as a safety net on your wedding day. If anything goes wrong (and something always does) they’re there to troubleshoot so you won’t have to fret. They’ll be the one able to make the rain call to move your affair indoors when you can’t bear to, or hunt down your set of heirloom champange flutes before the first toast of the evening. On your wedding day, your only order of buisness is to soak up every memorable second, so trust the pro you’ve hired to do their job, and let go of control day-of. Hiring a pro also means you’ll get to spend precious extra time with loved ones instead of worrying about the cake not showing up or a missing flower arrangement. Trust us on this one—you want (and deserve) a helping hand and some room to breathe. After all, this is going to be the happiest day of your life.