When it comes to wedding planning, we believe that every bride needs some help. Whether that comes in the form of a wedding planner or a team of bridesmaids (with the bride at the helm!), is up to you. But how do you decide which approach is right for you?
Do you really need a wedding planner? It's one of the first questions brides typically ask, especially when they see a planner's hourly rates. And then, the question that naturally follows: Is it that difficult to plan a wedding on your own?
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It depends. All couples come with a different set of circumstances. If you and your spouse-to-be work full-time jobs, don't particularly love the idea of taking on all of the preparations yourselves or have no idea what you want your big day to look like, a planner is likely the smart choice. Other couples relish the process and enjoy navigating this new territory together—and are particularly resistant to stress. For those of you on the fence, we've outlined a few criteria that should determine whether or not you need a planner. Answering yes (hire one!) or no (you can go without!) to the majority of the following scenarios should indicate where you stand.
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Still, taking on all of the details (especially if you're planning a large or destination fête) can be overwhelming no matter what, which is why we typically do recommend hiring a professional. Don't forget, hiring a wedding planner doesn't mean signing your authority away—and you don't need this expert to assist with every aspect of your wedding. Partial packages (at lower price points!) exist, which means you can assign specific jobs out while tackling others on your own. Here, a guide to determining whether or not a wedding planner is right for you.
Wedding Planner Vs. Wedding Coordinator
Hiring a wedding planner, wedding coordinator, or both depends on your level of comfort throughout the planning process. Those with a passion for DIY and hands-on planning, for example, may prefer to skip the planner and only utilise a coordinator. Knowing the difference is a good starting point when finding the right planner for you.
Wedding planners often dedicate a couple of hundred hours to guiding your wedding design choices, vendor hiring, contract negotiation and building a budget. They consult with each couple as they navigate their wedding ceremony and reception theme. Many planners will either offer coordination efforts within their contracts or include them as an extra service.
Wedding coordinators gather all the details planned by the couple and their planner in order to set them in motion on and around the wedding day. They act as the point person for vendors and guests that have questions during the final stages of the process. Some coordinators will also offer assistance on the events surrounding the big day itself, such as rehearsal dinners, wedding showers and Sunday brunches.
Yes, weddings are joyful occasions, but sometimes, planning one can be anything but. Sure, you can probably sweat through it, but it may pay to call in professional reinforcements. Here, we consider the pros and cons of using a wedding planner.
The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Wedding Planner
Pro: They'll Sweat the Details
Chances are, you've never planned an event of this magnitude. So. Many. Details. Wedding planners have done this before—like, a lot—so they can help you wrangle details you might otherwise overlook. Planners can also help you make the most of your budget and allocate it properly.
Con: You Have to Relinquish Some Control
If you're the type who can't stand the idea of not doing everything yourself, it might be hard for you to turn over the details for one of the biggest events you're likely going to have. It's not impossible, of course, former wedding and event consultant at the now-defunct Leslie-Manning Events: Contrary to what I was told when I first got into the business, Type-A clients work well with planners; in fact, I think they make us better planners.
However, you need to be honest with yourself about whether it's something you can do comfortably. If so, an online marketplace for finding event venues, be sure that your planner is as detail-oriented as you are and has values and communication styles that align with your own.
Pro: They Have Insider Knowledge of the Local Market
Planners can be a godsend if you're putting together a wedding in a city where you don't reside. Even if you're keeping things local, you'll be able to benefit from their services because they've likely worked with most of the venues and vendors in town. Since many of us are full-time event planners, we are networking and researching vendors and suppliers to build our network and to stay ahead of the trends almost daily. If we have a client who is looking for a cinematic photographer, finding one does not take weeks of research and sending emails that appear to go into the ether.
Con: It's an Additional Cost
Yes, planners have an inside track, which means sometimes they can save you money—but not always. According to Atlanta wedding planner Susan Graham, planners often offer multiple tiers of service. Be sure to ask for a customised service if you don't see what you need on the planner's initial price list.
If your budget is already stretched, but you could use help, consider a day-of coordinator. As Cooke mentions, if you choose a venue that offers pre-packaged services, it's also unlikely you'll need a planner's services.
Pro: They'll Troubleshoot
According to Graham, your wedding planner has the time to chase down obscure details and stay in constant contact with vendors for the day-to-day questions. Plus, if something goes awry during the ceremony or reception—and something always does—you don't have to take care of it. They'll worry, so you don't have to.
Con: It Can Be Hard Finding Someone
Specifically, finding someone that you trust and get along with. It's a process to find "The One", and sometimes it can be as hard as dating. They'll be in charge of planning one of the most important days of your life after all.
When Should I Go Ahead and Get a Wedding Planner?
If you have checked off one or more of the above options, you should, at the very least, investigate hiring a wedding planner. Of course, if you are looking to save money, this may be an expense that you can avoid entirely. However, keep in mind that because of inside connections and experience, wedding planners have the toolset to avoid common mistakes. Hiring a wedding planner might be the most cost-effective move, in the end, to save you from troubles and make the entire wedding process seamless and easy.
How Can a Designated Planner Help Me?
Wedding planners have professional and advanced experience in all aspects of wedding planning, from helping couples to set up realistic wedding budgets to putting together overall blueprints with details on how the wedding day will go. From photography to catering and flowers to the music playlist, wedding planners keep you and your ceremony organised all while lessening your stress. It is amazing what wedding planners do, and you can consider the cost of wedding planners when you are deciding if you should hire some outside help.
Another benefit to hiring a wedding planner is they typically help to plan and book your honeymoon inside of your wedding planner package, including travel plans. It is best to look into wedding planners in your local area, ask for referrals and find a wedding planner that meets your expectations.
When is hiring a wedding planner worth it?
By and far, the largest drawback of hiring a wedding planner is the cost.
Hiring a wedding planner makes the most sense for couples that:
- Can afford it
- Plan on having an elaborate wedding
- Lack the time (or interest) to plan it themselves
In short, if you have the room for one, a wedding planner can ease the emotional and logistical burden of planning a major event at which you and your partner are the centres.
Hiring a wedding planner isn't worth it for couples that:
- Have booked an all-inclusive venue, i.e., one that manages almost every major wedding element, from cake to decor to catering
- Are comfortable doing DIY projects, or have family and friends that are willing to help
- Plan on having a smaller wedding celebration
For those lacking extra leeway in their budgets, hiring a wedding planner may be more stressful than their worth, especially on your finances.
However it's 100% worth it to add at least a day-of planner. While you may feel inclined to try managing all the moving pieces yourself, it's near impossible to fully prepare for your wedding day when you're already involved as a central part. There's no shortage of last-minute complications, both big and small.
You can't imagine the things people need you for on the day of handing out tips, direction on where things go, showing vendors where to go, etc. I wish I did it looking back!
Key Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner
Reduces your stress in planning
Hiring a wedding planner, or even a day-of coordinator takes your focus off of the day-of items and can help you save money as you plan.
We hired a day-of coordinator for our wedding (of about 180 guests) because the venue didn't have staff and we didn't want to be the point of contact for all of our vendors. We also had her support some of our early design/theme decisions with a small design package. It was not tremendously expensive since we only paid for what we needed, and allowed us to just focus on the day without having to set up anything or ask family and friends to pitch in.
Exclusive deals and better pricing from vendors
Anne Knox points out that wedding planners aren't only helpful for their logistical know-how.
Beyond making sure everything's in place, Knox says that wedding planners generally "have contacts with vendors and can get special pricing. They also know which vendors are easy to work with."
In this way, wedding planners can potentially save you from additional costs you would have incurred on your own. Sure, these costs may not ultimately outweigh the price you pay for a planner; however, don't forget that a planner's services also translate into less stress and work on your part.
Priceless experience and judgment
It may not be your first wedding, but even then, you likely won't have the best judgment for planning all the details of your wedding—unless you have extensive event planning experience, of course.
In this way, a professional wedding planner's experience is beyond invaluable. They're not only familiar with local vendors, but also generally have keen insight on other major wedding elements like dress, theme, decor, and even contingency plans.
Experience working with other brides and grooms also means more familiarity with what you're going through as an engaged couple. Some may find the process of planning a wedding fun while others view it as overwhelming. In either case, a professional planner can help couples navigate their ideas and choices to create a cohesive theme and wedding day.
In addition to possessing a wealth of knowledge, planners have been in the industry long enough to know who the players are – which vendors can be trusted, and which make the most sense for your vision and your budget. Your wedding planner can recommend suppliers they've worked with before and know how to get the best prices, and the best results, from them. Even if we have to use a new supplier, we know how to find the best one for your style and price.
Your planner understands how each vendor relies on the others, and they'll serve as the team captain who coordinates the complexities of the timeline with all its moving parts. The planner is also the go-to person if the vendor is lost or forgets, something that was in the contract. When it comes down to it, wedding planners are passionate about what they do and genuinely want you to have the best day of your lives! Their goal is to help you plan your wedding and have an amazing, stress-free day. Who doesn't want that?!
Hiring a wedding planner tends to be a luxury, not quite a necessity. For couples planning a smaller wedding or working with a limited budget, it probably isn't worth it.
However, if you can afford one and are looking to ease the stress of planning your wedding, it's more than worth it. Hiring a professional wedding planner—even a day-of coordinator—comes with peace of mind, meaning you can ultimately spend more time enjoying your wedding day festivities with loved ones.
Anyone who's hired a wedding planner will tell you they're worth every cent. But unless you've already been through the process, it is hard to understand how helpful a planner can be. It's not until after the wedding that you can fully appreciate how much work goes into organising and running such a momentous day.
It can take hundreds of hours of your 'spare time' (the average is 200hrs), and if you're too busy with work or not the organising type, a planner will save you time, stress, money and is worth the financial investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
A wedding planner helps design and orchestrate a wedding from the beginning. As such, they help couples draw up a budget, find and hire vendors, structure and set a timetable for the ceremony and reception, and oversee everything on the wedding day.
They are budget ninjas in all things wedding related. They know how to negotiate with vendors when appropriate and get the best quality for the best price across the board. They also typically get trade discounts from companies they have good relationships with.
Participants were asked to rate different wedding expenses and share which they felt weren't worth it or were a waste of money. Of those polled, 48.5% said wedding planners weren't worth the cost, followed by 36.7% who said videography and 36.1% who said wedding favors.
A full wedding planner helps to plan your wedding from start to finish and is usually hired early on in the planning process—at least 10 months in advance. The average starting rate for a full service wedding planner in the U.S is about $3,000 with top-tier planners averaging $4,500 to $12,000.
The simple answer is weddings have many moving parts: caterers, reception, pictures, videography, makeup, etc. All of these things cost money, which makes the price tag add up quickly.