Big or small, simple or elaborate, every bride needs at least some help planning her dream wedding.
But how much help do you really need? Can you pull it off with the aid of just your fiancé and a few trusted friends or family members or will you need the help of a professional?
If you’re waffling on the necessity of hiring a professional, our guide will help you answer the question you’ve been mulling over: Is a wedding planner worth it?
The Pros of Hiring a Wedding Planner
Hiring a wedding planner can save you a lot of time and energy not just during the planning process but on your big day. Eliciting a planner’s services will enable you to focus on the fun parts of planning your wedding — like dress shopping — and leave all of the less enjoyable details to a professional.
Still not convinced? Here are six reasons why a wedding planner just might be worth the cost.
Helps you stay on budget
Planning a wedding on a budget can be much more difficult than it sounds. Getting the wedding you want at a specific price point takes a lot of time and energy which can lead to a whole lot of stress.
With a wedding planner, however, all of that stress is taken off of your shoulders. Your planner will not only organize your wedding according to your budget, but they will help you stay realistic on what you can and cannot afford.
A planner can also help you navigate the endless number of vendor contracts you’ll need to deal with. Not only will your planner help you to understand what you’re agreeing to, they will make sure you’re not hit with hidden fees that you didn’t budget for.
Frees up your time
If you have a demanding job, a lot of personal commitments or both, trying to plan a wedding on top of all that can be stressful and draining. That’s where a wedding planner comes in —they will handle the bulk of the planning and will take over all of the tedious, time-consuming jobs such as booking appointments, following up with vendors and managing RSVPs.
While you will still need to be involved in the process, you’ll get to focus on the big picture and leave all of the small details to your wedding planner.
Offers invaluable experience
A professional wedding planner’s experience is priceless because not only will your planner be familiar with local vendors, but they will also help you choose a dress, theme, decor and caterer that meets your wants and needs — and all within your budget.
If you want a themed wedding, your wedding planner will know how to make your vision come together thanks to all of the contacts they have in the industry. Your planner will also know how to tie all the elements of your wedding together so everything from wardrobe, to decor to stationary flows together seamlessly.
Grants access to special deals and rates
While a wedding planner is a significant expense, many experienced planners will partially pay for themselves thanks to the money they’ll save you during the planning process.
Many wedding planners have ongoing relationships with vendors and service providers and, in exchange for continually steering clients in their direction, many of these businesses will offer discounts ranging from 10 to 15%. While this may not seem like much, it can really add up when you’re receiving multiple discounts on pricey items like your venue, catering and flowers.
Even if they can’t get a discount from every vendor, a wedding planner can usually get you an enhanced level of service because of the good relationships he or she has fostered with service providers in the wedding industry.
Helpful for large or elaborate weddings
If you’re planning a large wedding, a wedding planner can really be worth their weight in gold. Large weddings come with a lot of planning and details and staying on top of it all by yourself can be overwhelming.
A wedding planner will plot out what you need to do — and when you need to do it — so that the planning process stays on track and no important deadlines are missed. Your planner will also take on the majority of the legwork, leaving you free to focus on more important things.
Helpful for destination weddings
If you’re getting married far from home, having a wedding planner by your side can save you a lot of time and stress. A destination wedding in a foreign country means dealing with a whole new set of rules, not to mention a different currency.
If you don’t relish the idea of spending endless hours on the phone setting up the venue, food, photography, music and flowers, a wedding planner is a smart choice. Having a planner who specializes in overseas nuptials will save you a whole lot of time, not to mention the headache of dealing with possible language barriers.
Unless you or your fiancé are very familiar with the language, culture and currency of the country where you plan to say “I do,” hiring a wedding planner is a very wise decision.
The Cons of Hiring a Wedding Planner
While planners do bring a lot of value to the table, they’re not right for every wedding. Let’s take a look at when you’re better off going it alone.
It’s an extra expense
If you have a tight budget, hiring a wedding planner may be one expense you just don’t need. While experienced wedding planners can often score you some decent discounts from wedding vendors, the amount saved is unlikely to add up to what you’re shelling out for the planner’s services. So, if your sole reason for hiring a planner is to save money, you’re further ahead financially to handle the planning on your own.
It takes some control away from you
If you and your spouse-to-be are looking forward to the process of planning your wedding, are organized and don’t get stressed easily, a wedding planner may not be for you.
Detail-oriented brides can really thrive when planning their weddings. If you enjoy researching and hands-on planning, hiring a professional likely isn’t necessary — especially if you think you might have trouble handing control over to someone else.
So, if you prefer to have a firm hold on the planning reins, you’re better off going it on your own with your future spouse and friends or family helping as needed.
Not a match for every venue
If you plan to have your wedding at an all-inclusive venue, hiring a wedding planner will be redundant. All-inclusive venues almost always come with a wedding coordinator who will oversee all of the major wedding elements, from catering to decor to music.
Unnecessary for small weddings
If you’re planning an intimate or simple wedding, a wedding planner is likely an unnecessary expense, especially if you have the time, energy and organizational skills to handle the planning yourself. Even if you’re not the most organized person in the world, if you plan to keep your wedding simple, you may have all the help you’ll need right within your circle of family and friends.
Enlisting your mom, sister or best friend, not to mention your future spouse, to help with the organization and planning is likely all the help you’ll need for a small wedding.
All You Need to Know About Hiring a Wedding Planner
If you do decide to enlist the services of a wedding planner, knowing who to hire and what level of service you require is essential. Here are a few key elements to keep in mind.
How to choose a qualified wedding planner
Not all wedding planners will offer you top notch service. To avoid getting stuck with a dud, make sure any planner you’re considering is a member of an established wedding planner organization.
The best known associations in the U.S. are the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP), the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), the National Society of Black Wedding & Event Professionals (NSBWEP) and the Wedding International Professionals Association (WIPA).
Being affiliated with an association means your wedding planner must subscribe to a code of ethics and take courses to maintain or increase their knowledge in the industry.
Aside from being a member of one of the above associations, your prospective planner should be able to provide you with a list of recent references willing to vouch for their capabilities.
Types of wedding planning services to choose from
Not every bride has the same wants and needs when it comes to planning her wedding. If you’re considering hiring a wedding planner, but are unsure of how much help you actually need, knowing the types of wedding planning packages typically available can help you choose the right level of service.
- Full-service wedding planning — A full-service wedding planner will start working with you at least 12 months before your wedding day. They will keep track of your budget, help you choose vendors and will handle all of the small details throughout the process.
- Partial planning — Partial planning services are perfect for brides who want to oversee all of the major details of their weddings. Purchasing a partial planning package means your wedding planner will negotiate vendor contracts, provide recommendations and handle all of the small details you don’t have time for.
- Month-of planning — If you prefer to run the show but want some help for all of those last-minute details, this is a great option for you. In this case, your planner will map out a timeline for your big day, become the point of contact for vendor questions and make sure your ceremony and reception run smoothly.
How to budget for a wedding planner
On average, a wedding planner in the U.S. will cost at least $1,300 to $1,500, although that amount changes depending on location and the level of service required. Brides in New York City, for instance, can expect to pay at least $4,000 while L.A. brides are looking at a cost of at least $5,000.
If you know you want to hire a professional to plan your wedding day, research what planners cost in your area and then factor that into your overall budget. Once you hire a planner, you’ll be able to fine tune your budget according to the actual amount charged.
On the plus side, your planner may be able to help you find savings elsewhere in your budget to help offset the cost of hiring them.
If you want to delve deeper into the costs associated with hiring a professional, check out our article Wedding Planner Cost: Everything You Need to Know.