You’re planning your wedding and realize—you have no idea how to plan a wedding. Your dream is becoming a nightmare of online research and endless venue visits. If only there was a solution….Never fear, professional wedding planners are to the rescue. They know the right caterers, the perfect venues, and how to make your wedding dream a reality.
We talked to Jessica Ralph of Parties A La Carte in Lago, Florida, Michele Palmer of We Plan – You Party in Damascus, Maryland, and Courtney Urquiza of InStyle Event Company in Costa Mesa, California are three top-rated Thumbtack wedding pros who answer your burning questions about hiring a wedding planner
What’s most important to know before calling a wedding planner?
Reviews and experience are crucial. Palmer advises against working with someone brand new to the field—you don’t want your wedding to be the test drive for a new career. Urquiza agrees that experience, and former client reviews, are key before picking up the phone.
What can someone expect when they call a wedding planner?
Understanding the couple’s vision is the first step to an intake call, says Ralph. She learns where they want it, how many guests, what the wedding budget will be—and then she creates a proposal based on that.
Palmer agrees that it’s all about what the lovebirds hope to achieve and how much help they need. Some want to hand over the reins entirely, and others just need help with loose ends. Your first chat helps planners determine what type of services you’ll require.
Do wedding planners need any special license or certification?
Nope! Urquiza recommends confirming they have insurance in case of injury or damage that may occur on their behalf. Many larger venues now require it.
Do only extravagant weddings need planners? What about my 50 person DIY event?
The consensus from these ladies is that everyone wins from professional assistance. Even the most DIY-savvy couples benefit from a “day-of” coordinator who runs the show while they’re busy getting married.
Palmer says many of her clients are between 24-30 years old and are busy with careers. They often don’t have time to plan details and want that stress relieved by full-service planning. But there’s certainly no age limit. Ralph recently planned the wedding of high school sweethearts who lost track of each other and then reunited late in life—getting married in their 70’s.
At what point should someone call and hire a planner?
Urquiza says ideally the sooner the better. A wedding planner is an investment, but it’s one that saves you money. Their professional world is built on vendor relationships. Once they know your vision, they save you time and effort by directing you to the perfect caterers, venues, and florists that fit your vibe, budget, and personality.
How much do wedding planners cost?
Almost all companies offer packages. Urquiza, Palmer, and Ralph each offer three packages: full service, partial service, and day-of service. Many companies also offer wedding design as an additional service. If you just need a quick consultation, most planners offer hourly rates ranging from $75 – $135, but if you plan to do anything more extensive, packages save you money.
What’s the difference in the three package types?
- Full service covers everything from a year or more before the event up until the last minute of your wedding day. Vendors, venue, lodging, flowers, decor, invitations, whatever you can think of—they’re on it. Ralph says the cost of full service varies depending on number of guests and what overall budget is—the grander the affair, the more coordination that is required on the planner’s end. Urquiza’s full service starts at $5,500 and goes up depending.
- Partial service is when the client wants a lot of hands-on help, but does take the reins on some of the planning.
- Day-of coordination should be rebranded ‘month of’ coordination, according to Urquiza. Palmer states that instead of one day, it’s actually four to six weeks of work prior to the wedding. Urquiza invests approximately 40-60 hours of work into the ‘day of’ package which includes two in-person meetings, venue walk through, rehearsal, double checking and confirming vendors, reviewing contracts, making and executing a detailed timeline of the day, keeping everyone on schedule, and orchestrating all activities the day of. Rates for these three professionals ranged from $1,100 to $1,500 on this type of package.
Regardless of the service you decide on, make sure you understand what is included. For example Palmer suggests confirming the number of hours the company will be on-site during your actual wedding.
Urquiza says few people understand how much work goes into a wedding, and suggests clients take into consideration that the least expensive company might not provide all you need, so be sure to learn what is offered before committing. In particular, she discourages people from hiring day-of services that truly are only the day of the event. She, and all the planners agree, that it’s hard to gracefully orchestrate a wedding when you walk in cold and meet everyone the day of the event.
Can someone on a budget still hire a wedding planner?
Yes! Palmer says that wedding planners work with a wide range of budgets. Even if your wedding will be smaller, the day will benefit from professional coordination four to six weeks out to make sure you’re on track. Ralph agrees and says that wedding planners actually save you money, as they let you know where to scale back and where to focus your limited funds.
What are the perks of having a wedding coordinator?
That the couple, family, and friends are able to enjoy the day without being stressed out, is the main plus, according to Palmer.
Ralph agrees that hiring a pro lifts the stress from the couple. They don’t have to answer questions or put out fires. From long-term planning obstacles to day-of hurdles, Ralph says, “it’s our profession to find a solution to anything that may happen.” Wedding planners solve the challenges so brides and grooms can “relax and enjoy the fun stuff, like cake tastings.”
Eliminating endless research is another big perk. The pros know the vendors and do a great job of reading clients to match them with vendors that are a good fit personality and price-wise.
What’s your favorite wedding trend from the 2015 season?
Ralph has been digging the use of metallic accents in color palettes and decor, Palmer is loving the beachy vibe of waterside weddings, and Urquiza appreciates the rising trend of urban industrial which mixes metal and wood with floral and greenery.
However you style your wedding, you can be sure it will run alot smoother from start to finish if you lean on a professional wedding planner to help.
Ready to get started? Here’s how to find a professional wedding planner in your area.