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Planning a wedding is a big job. No, I mean a REALLY BIG job. Even if you are an experienced party hostess, you’ve most likely never orchestrated an event as expensive, labor intensive or emotionally charged as a wedding. That’s why hiring a wedding consultant is worth every penny. Not once, have I heard a bride say, “I wish I hadn’t hired a wedding planner.” Those who didn’t often wish they had, even if it was just someone to help the day of the wedding.
Before you start looking for a consultant, make sure you are clear about exactly what services they provide and what you want them to do. A wedding “consultant” is often someone who helps with one or two aspects of a wedding or simply offers advice along the planning process. A “coordinator” is usually the person who is available for your rehearsal and the day of your event. Many churches have a wedding coordinator available to help with day-of processes and to make sure you are following the rules of the venue. A wedding “planner” is more of a project manager, someone who will assist you with all the details and take most of the heavy lifting off of your plate. Many planners also consider themselves to be wedding “designers” or stylists who oversee the aesthetics of your event.
A wedding planner will either charge a flat fee for her services or a percentage of your total wedding costs, usually 10-20%. Make sure you put a cost cap in place before you sign a contract. As most brides tend to go over budget, you don’t want any surprise costs coming at the end of your wedding. Overall, the costs associated with hiring a wedding planner are usually recovered in both time and financial outlay for other items.
Most wedding planners pay for themselves with price reductions from the various vendors you will use in your wedding. They know the best people to work with, and because they use them so frequently, many vendors have a special rate they offer only to planners. Those relationships can save you thousands of dollars that you would spend if you planned your event yourself.
Planning a wedding is time consuming. Full-time jobs do not allow for a lot of weekday planning, and many of your vendors are not available on weekends as that is their busiest time. A planner can gather all of your options based on your wants and bring you only those ideas and vendors that can meet your needs. Many planners go way above the call of duty to meet your personal time constraints. One bride who works twelve hour nursing shifts at a hospital reported that her planner even brought cake samples to her work where they held their cake testing in the hospital break room during lunch.
Besides the day-to-day making phone calls, gathering of details and the other million things that need to be accomplished, a good wedding planner has many, many resources. Regardless of how detailed you are, something is bound to fall through the cracks or go wrong. A planner makes sure those cracks don’t happen, and can fix an emergency without getting emotional. What would you do if your DJ had an accident the day before your wedding? You can bet your planner has 10 DJs stored in her phone, and at least two of them owe her favors.
The number one job of a wedding planner is to help create the wedding of your dreams – not your mother’s dreams, not your maid-of-honor’s. Weddings are emotional events, and all of your friends and family are emotionally invested. Everyone you meet has a story about their wedding and advice to give you about yours. Your planner’s job is to walk through the process with you and your fiance’ and to be your advocate during the planning process to ensure that you get the wedding you want.