How to Hire the Right Wedding Planner
Hiring the right wedding planner can change the course of your wedding planning process. Their role goes beyond just the organization, design, and execution of your wedding. They also give you invaluable support throughout, which can even make planning a wedding more fun for you! As a wedding planner myself, I highly value the relationship I have with my couples and this all starts with choosing the right professional for you. So here is the ultimate guide to finding the right wedding planner for you.
The process of looking for your wedding planner may seem simple at the outset, but there are a few nuances that I think couples often miss. So much time is saved if you follow these four steps.
1. Decide what kind of wedding planner you need
This is such a crucial step! Couples usually jump straight into Googling for a wedding planner, without realizing what help and support they may actually need. The wedding planner average cost can vary widely depending on the help you are looking for too. While this could be a whole article onto itself, as a preliminary guide you'll want to narrow down your specifics to the following:
- Full/ Bespoke Wedding Planners - Full wedding planners help couples plan their ideal wedding from beginning to end. This involves devising a realistic budget, finding a great venue, sourcing all of their vendors, negotiating rates, logistical planning, styling and design, accommodation and transport booking, and on-the-day coordination. Everything is done bespoke to the couple which often makes wedding planning way more interesting!
- Package Wedding Planners - Some wedding planners are package planners, which means couples pay them a fixed fee that includes location, photographer, decor, fixed menu, etc. This can be great for those looking to save money and don’t mind forfeiting the flexibility of choice here and there. Your planner would be in charge of organizing all of the elements in the package you’ve purchased. This is a very common way of operating for destination weddings.
- On-the-day Coordinators - There are also wedding planners who specialize in on-the-day coordination. This means couples would plan most of the wedding themselves. Your wedding planner would help you create an on-the-day schedule and would be in charge of running your wedding day events. This is great if you love the idea of planning your wedding but would like to relax on your big day.
- Wedding Stylists - This often crosses over into the wedding planning realm, but stylists are solely in charge of the design and styling of your wedding day. The details of these services can vary from simple design consulting to doing a full setup on your wedding day.
As you can see, wedding planners all do very different things, so it is important to figure out what kind of professional you are looking for.
2. Research using a variety of sources
Cast the net wide when you are searching for your ideal wedding planner. Consult your friends and family for recommendations. Scout on Instagram using relevant hashtags like “wedding planner Los Angeles” or “destination wedding planner Italy” for example. But I know you. It’s likely you’ll jump straight to Google which is also a great source. If you do use Google, be as specific as possible. “Full wedding planner Los Angeles” will yield much more specific results than just “Wedding Planner LA”. Specificity is your friend, my friend.
3. Review Wedding Planner Websites
A great wedding planner knows the value of a killer website. Wedding planners use that very judgement to decide who they want to work with and recommend. It doesn’t need to be the Rolls Royce of websites, but a wedding planner site certainly needs to be clear to navigate and well written.
- Do you connect to the voice they use in their blogs?
- What do you think of their portfolio?
- Do you feel this is a trustworthy, professional person from what you can see and read?
- Is there a guide to the wedding planner’s prices?
These are all communicated on a sleek, well designed website.
4. Contact for a Free Consultation
The contact stage is important. You’ll want to make sure that your prospective wedding planner responds to your enquiry quickly and professionally. Not all wedding planners are great at communicating their personalities through their writing, but at the same time, if the reply sounds very robotic, it probably was a robot.
All wedding planners have different steps after the first inquiry to see if you are the right fit for them. For example, many planners send a questionnaire to all prospective clients to learn more about their wedding and see if theirs is a project they're excited about. Almost all wedding planners will offer a free consultation which is where you can really get to know them.
Important to note: If the consultation isn’t free, RUN!
Questions to Ask Your Wedding Planner
In all honesty, I am not a huge fan of wedding planning checklists! Why? Well, for one checklists don’t always cover what is specifically important to you. Secondly, I can always tell if a couple is reading from a checklist with me and it changes the mood of the consultation - which I prefer to be conversational and relaxed. The questions to ask your prospective wedding planner are the ones that connect to what is most important to you. What are you concerned about in the wedding planning process? What would hold you back from hiring this specific planner? Those are the topics you’ll want to inquire about to set your mind at ease.
Those checklists, however, are helpful if you aren’t sure what to ask; so here are some ideas:
- What do your services include and what don’t they include?
- How do you manage budgets? Do we send the full amount to you to distribute or do we pay vendors directly?
- Do you use any software or tools to track our planning?
- How long have you been a wedding planner? (This is a better question than “how many weddings have you done?” which can be tough to recall)
- Are you experienced in (insert culture/ religion here) weddings?
- Are you experienced with weddings of this size?
- Are you able to help us with accommodation and transport for out-of-town guests?
- Are you able to track RSVPs?
- What are your fees and what is the payment schedule?
- Is our budget realistic for the type of wedding we want?
- Do you have a team?
- What happens in case of emergency if you are not able to attend the wedding/ continue planning?
- Are you experienced in wedding cancellations and postponements?
What You Should Look for in a Wedding Planner
Personality & Professionalism
Understandably, this is the key to a successful relationship with any vendor. They need to be capable and you have to like them! There is nothing worse than working with a wedding planner with whom you simply do not connect. You want a wedding planner you can laugh with, speak to openly and, above all, trust. After all, you are working with this person sometimes for over a year! A good working relationship from the beginning is paramount.
Reviewing a wedding planner’s portfolio goes beyond the simple fact that they have done weddings. Are you seeing a pattern in the style of weddings they do? What are the venue types they have worked with? Do they have a diverse and inclusive portfolio so you’ll know that your cultural heritage will be respected? These are all very clear to see in a good wedding planner’s portfolio.
Clear Terms & Conditions
Generally after the consultation stage, the planner will send over a proposal and possibly their contract for review. The terms and conditions need to be easy to read and explicitly clear to you as a client of theirs. Must-haves are:
- Cancellation policy (for if you cancel or if they cancel)
- Postponement policy
- Force Majeure/ Act of God
Wedding planners should have public liability insurance and sometimes also personal indemnity insurance. This varies from country to country, too. In the US, wedding planners are easily able to get both. For destination wedding planners, insurance that is available is much more limited. For example, I have public liability insurance for the day of the wedding to cover our activities on the wedding day, but we have to apply to a new policy for each individual wedding! Crazy, I know! Whatever your wedding planner's policy, they should have some sort of insurance and this should be detailed in their contract.
Fast, clear communication is so extremely important. Now this is not to say that if you WhatsApp message your wedding planner at 5am on a Sunday that you should expect a response within the hour. That is unreasonable by any measure. The planner, though, needs to be clear about how they communicate, what their office hours are, how best to contact them, and how they will alert you of updates.
It's good practice to have a monthly call for a thorough catch-up, in addition to frequent contact via email. Don't expect your wedding planner to give you their personal line though; WhatsApp is only for emergencies or the run up to the wedding. If it isn’t clear to you how you’ll be trading ideas and how fast you can expect a response, then ask them!
Whoever you choose, don’t rush the process of finding the right wedding planner. Assess your needs and the options out there to find the perfect fit for you!
Olivia de Santos
Olivia is a British wedding planner, writer and founder of the destination wedding planning company Nulyweds in Portugal. She is passionate about travel, weddings, beauty, cinema, horse riding and BIPOC issues. She lives in Portugal, and is in her element exploring the country to create unique, colorful weddings.
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