According to a recent newlywed report, of all the couples getting married in 2019, 27% of them will hire a wedding planner. And the wedding planning service most frequently requested in recent years is day-of coordination. Which explains why love birds are paying an average of only $1,850 on a wedding planner for their big day.
But that number might not be accurate for your unique wedding needs. Which is why we’ve come up with this guide to wedding planners: what they do, how much they cost, and how to find a great one. Let’s dive right in!
How much does a wedding planner cost on average?
Like most freelancers, wedding planners either charge a flat fee (the most common option), bill hourly, or take a percentage of your budget. The price you pay for a wedding planner is determined by two things: your wedding location and what services you’ll need from them.
A good rule of thumb for budgeting is to only spend 15% of your total wedding fund on a wedding planner. And that’s for full service coordination. Other types of assistance (outlined below) will cost less.
Wedding planner service options
Full service wedding planning is exactly what it sounds like. From the proposal to the honeymoon, full service wedding planning means your wedding planner will take care of basically every major and minor task associated with your big day. Here’s a great list of things you can expect your full service wedding planner to do.
On the actual day of your wedding, you’ll want to focus on enjoying yourself, not running the whole event. Which is why a wedding planner is so helpful. They’ll make sure everyone follows your schedule, your guests are taken care of, and any issues that come up are dealt with on the spot. Experts say that if you can’t afford full service, a day-of coordinator is still an absolute must.
Maybe you have some experience planning events or you have a reliable team of friends and family to help plan your wedding. In that case, you might only need a wedding consultant. This person’s job is to help work out the kinks in your plan, advise you on major decisions, and send you on the path towards a successful wedding experience. Make sure you do some research on how to survive your first wedding consultation and have your wedding binder or mood board handy when you go in.
Once you’ve decided on what level of investment you’d like to make in a wedding planner, you’ll need to figure out how to tell the difference between a good wedding planner and a great one.
10 Ways to pick the best wedding planner
1. Your gut says you can trust them.
Listen closely to your gut when you first research and speak to wedding planners. Intuition might just be the highest form of human intelligence that we know of. And the female intuition specifically has been thought to develop as a result of women’s historically low social power, which led them to develop sharp observation skills. This kind of intense scrutiny and attention to nonverbal cues can be used to determine the unspoken needs or weaknesses of people in power, their children, and even their event planner. So if someone gives you a bad feeling, trust yourself and find another option!
2. They have liability insurance.
Wedding planning insurance includes things like lost venue reservation deposits, onsite vendor injury, and earthquake coverage. If your planner has it, it means he or she is truly experienced in this industry and that they understand that sometimes bad things do happen. And if/when big issues come up, they’ll have themselves (and, by extension, you) taken care of.
3. The wedding coordinator’s portfolio features styles that match yours.
Experts say this is one of the key things to look for in a wedding planner because it helps determine how compatible your tastes are. If you see an example of their work that closely matches your dream wedding, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Or, if not, you might notice some common themes that you’d really love to include in your wedding plans.
4. Their communication is on point.
Forbes says there are a handful of distinct things good communicators always do. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Has (or will) the wedding planner take time to establish a personal connection with me?
- Does he or she ask me to clarify requests they don’t understand (rather than guessing at what I want, wasting my time and money in the process)?
- Do they only share information they know is 100% accurate?
- Do I feel like he or she listens attentively when I speak?
- Is the wedding planner’s electronic communications detailed yet brief?
If you haven’t had a conversation with the planner by this point, you can also save this list of questions for when you contact their latest references. If they consistently check all the boxes, according to past brides and grooms, then you can place trust in their communication skills.
5. They have time to prioritize your wedding.
Some wedding planners work individually. Others work with big teams. Either way, if your wedding planner has too many wedding on their plate, it could mean that details from yours may or may not get lost in the shuffle. Or at least, you might not always be the priority.
Experts advise that you ask a potential wedding planner how many weddings they currently have coming up this season, the month of your wedding, and the day of your wedding (yes, your wedding planner might have teams at more than one simultaneous wedding). Then ask them how many more they anticipate working on in those time frames. And finally, don’t be afraid to enquire about how they handle any competing interests or deadlines when they work with multiple clients at once.
Armed with this information, you can do another gut check to determine whether or not you feel like this wedding planner can make your wedding as important to them as it is to you.
6. They specialize in what you’re looking for.
Some designers have specific skills like cake decorating or dress styling. Others routinely find themselves pulling of spectacularly elegant weddings with strict budgets. Still others might even own a flower shop or have planned long distance weddings at your chosen location for years now.
Whatever your wedding priorities are, make sure you be up front about them. You might even find out that the planner has a unique experience that makes them more compatible with your wedding than anyone else!
7. They make it easy to check in with their recent references.
Job search statistics show that professional references help knock out 20% of potential candidates. Once you’re at the stage where you’re checking references, you might not be able to tell who is the best planner for you. Actually following through with this step will be a huge help in eliminating wedding planners until you’ve narrowed it down to the very best possible one.
8. They’re honest about their strengths and weaknesses.
It’s one of the 10 signs you’re a mentally strong person. And you’ll need someone mentally strong to handle all the demands of your wedding! Remember to keep some deal breakers in mind (they sometimes miss payment deadlines, they tend to favor their style choices over a client’s, etc.) and believe whatever they tell you. Getting very honest with yourself about what you can or cannot deal with at this stage will help you ensure a strong partnership with your wedding planner.
9. You see eye to eye.
Collaboration statistics say that 97% of employees believe a lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a project. If you want your wedding planning partner to work well with you, you’ll both have to be on the same page. And that’s much easier to do when you genuinely like someone!
10. They offer a free consultation.
They should also come to the client consultation having done their research prior to the appointment, wearing professional attire, and ready to ask you some foundational questions. When you offer up your opinions and ideas, the wedding planner should also offer up some value in the form of recommendations or ways to improve on your vision.
Ready to find your wedding coordinator? Check out top wedding planners in the U.S.
Do you really need a wedding planner?
Here are a few reasons hiring a wedding planner could be super beneficial:
- They’ll save you money in the long run, provided you don’t encounter any surprise costs last minute.
- Real brides and grooms on this forum are split between getting one if you have the budget or just doing it yourself if you’re an extremely organized (and laid back) person.
- They’ll often be equipped with timeline templates, venue referrals, and partnerships with equally talented vendors.
- Wedding planners provide innovative ideas you might not have otherwise come up with by yourself.
- Wedding planners can take care of everything for you. All you have to do is enjoy the process!
Things to remember about the cost of wedding coordinators
Your wedding day will be special, no matter what. The months and weeks leading up to it, however, can be as hectic or as easy going as you like, provided you have the skills or the team necessary to pull everything off. Wedding planners can provide anything from full package planning to consultations, with prices varying widely (anywhere from $40 an hour to $10,000+ for the whole shebang). If you remember anything from this article, keep these key points in mind:
- There is a wedding coordinator available for virtually any budget.
- Choosing a wedding planner comes down to your needs, wants, and some specific qualifications you’ll want them to have.
- When in doubt, book a day-of coordinator to orchestrate the actual wedding day proceedings so you can just focus on having a good time.