Did you book the DJ? Drop the deposit off at the bakery for the cake? Confirm rehearsal time with your wedding officiant? How about finalizing that guest list? Buy those bridesmaids gifts?
Planning a wedding is an amazing time in your life, but it can also be extremely stressful and exhausting. There’s a reason why six out of 10 engaged couples have at least considered eloping!
And there’s also a reason why couples are looking to a wedding planner to make the entire process — not to mention the wedding day — easier.
A good wedding planner handles all of the logistics of the wedding, allowing you to focus on what’s most important on your special day. With a wedding planner, you don’t need to worry about if the flowers made it on time or where your photographer should start shooting when he or she arrives.
In other words, a wedding planner takes the stress out of it all, but it does come at a price.
If you’ve wondered about the price and process of hiring a wedding planner, you’ve come to the right place.
How Much Does a Wedding Planner Cost?
A wedding planner, on average, costs $1,300 to $1,500. That figure rises and drops depending on the level of planning you need and what area of the country you’re getting married in. A wedding planner in New York City, for example, is going to be considerably more expensive than one in Des Moines, Iowa.
For some couples, that cost may seem like too much money, but a good wedding planner can actually help you save money in the long run.
Remember, wedding planners are ingrained in this industry and if they’ve been working long enough, they’ve likely developed some solid relationships with vendors in your area and know where to get the best deal. They’ll also help you create a wedding budget and be diligent about sticking to it.
And that’s on top of taking a lot of stress off your plate as you get ready for your big day.
All of a sudden, that average cost for a wedding planner is sounding more like a steal.
Wedding Planning 101: What Do Wedding Planners Do?
Out of all of your wedding vendors, the duties of your wedding planner vary the most. Some couples need a lot of help with wedding planning, while others simply need someone to coordinate for the day (which we’ll also touch on in this article).
So, what exactly should you expect your wedding planner to handle? Here are a handful of items:
Create a Wedding Budget
The first task your wedding planner will likely take is helping you create a budget. After all, this person is going to be making deals with other wedding vendors, so they need to know how much they can spend.
A good wedding planner will find out what’s most important to you as you create this budget. A photographer, for example, might be more important than really elaborate decorations or floral bouquets. With those priorities in mind, the wedding planner can tailor your budget to your needs and make the rest of the planning process much easier.
Help You Find a Wedding Venue
Planners not only know the main wedding venues for all budget types, but the really good ones may even have some connections at venues you didn’t even know were an option for your wedding ceremony or reception.
Your planner understands the overall vision of your wedding, so it only makes sense they help bring it to life by assisting in finding the venue.
Manage Your Guest List
While this should be an easy task, managing your wedding guest list can become quite stressful.
A wedding planner can help you create and narrow down your guest count so it fits the size of your venue and — most importantly — your budget. This can be helpful for the bride and groom who may feel like they need to invite someone to a wedding but don’t really want to. A third party mediator, like a wedding planner, takes away the difficulty of that decision.
After creating the list, your wedding planner can potentially manage guest RSVPs, send out reminders to get those RSVPs back, and assist with the seating chart at the reception.
Source and Work with Your Wedding Vendors
The average couple is going to use 14 different vendors for their wedding. That means contacting at least 14 different companies, but many couples will actually interview a few extra in each category until they find the one they want.
Your wedding planner should know several vendors in your area, giving you a nice head start on figuring out who to hire.
More importantly, they will make sure vendors get paid, understand the deadlines, and the services they render are exactly what you want.
Develop Menu with Caterer
Developing a menu for a group of 100-plus people is a little trickier than you think. An experienced wedding planner understands what works best for weddings and can guide you in the right direction when it comes to planning your wedding meal, while keeping it personalized to your tastes and style.
Wedding planners are also really good at creating menus on a budget, which is extremely helpful for couples who are trying to keep costs low.
Work with Florist on Flower Arrangements
Wedding florists are another vendor you’ll need to deal with during the wedding planning process. A good wedding planner understands you need flowers not only for decorations, but also for table centerpieces, bouquets for the bride and potentially bridesmaids, and then boutonnieres for the groomsmen.
More importantly, an experienced wedding planner is going to make sure all flowers are in the right place on time.
Plan for Emergencies
Your wedding can look picture-perfect on paper, but emergencies happen. The most common one a wedding planner deals with is rain for an outdoor wedding. Your planner will have an air-tight contingency plan that will allow the day to be as special as possible — even if you have grand dreams of getting married outside.
There’s a good chance the person planning your wedding will also help you with a contingency place for a destination wedding.
Finalize Wedding Timeline
The biggest stress factor with a wedding is making sure everything remains on schedule. This starts with sending out invitations on time and goes all the way to the reception, where you need to make sure the caterer has cake ready to go for your guests.
An experienced wedding planner loves a good schedule and will make sure your wedding runs smoothly — even if it’s a destination wedding.
How Do Wedding Planners Charge for Their Services?
When shopping around for a planner, you’re likely going to run into a few different business models, from planners who only handle a few aspects of the wedding to a full service wedding planner. Every wedding planner charges for their services a little differently.
Here are the most common payment models:
All Inclusive Fee
Think of this as the top-of-the-line, platinum wedding planning package. As you can expect, it tends to be the most expensive, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
An all-inclusive wedding planner plans EVERYTHING. Often, they design and produce everything for the wedding, like invitations, ceremony handouts and menus for the dinner tables, so that everything coordinates perfectly. This is a full service wedding.
Some wedding planners who do all-inclusive planning services won’t accept a job if it’s not past a certain dollar amount, which is why this can be an expensive option.
But if you have a specific — and detailed — budget and find the right person who will take you on as a client, a full service wedding planner could actually save you money in the long run since you won’t be tempted to cut corners and potentially overpay for a service.
When it comes to the wedding planner cost, a flat fee model is most common. Your wedding planner will coordinate your vendors and then tack on a percentage of the total cost.
So, let’s say your final bill for all services, from the caterer to the DJ, totals $12,500. Most wedding planners will charge up to 10% for their services, which means you would owe them $1,250.
To keep this cost down, you’ll obviously need a more affordable planner, or less vendors.
This tends to be a preferred route, because your planner cost is very clear cut. If you have a $20,000 wedding, you know you’re going to pay your planner $2,000. If you have a $5,000 wedding, you will only pay her $500.
Á la carte
The most affordable option are wedding plans that are à la carte. Under this model, you pick and choose what you need your planner to do and agree upon a price ahead of time.
Need someone to just handle the flowers? Or maybe someone to design and send invites, and manage your guest reservations? Finding someone who offers an á la carte option is the way to go.
Questions for your Wedding Planner
To ensure that you’re getting everything you expect and to justify the planner cost, it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page. Remember, wedding planning isn’t a black-and-white, set-in-stone profession. Here are a few questions to ask before hiring someone:
- Will you be charged for your planner’s mileage or any other travel expenses? (The answer is likely yes for destination weddings.)
- Can the total cost of the wedding planning service change without first alerting the client?
- Will the planner handle the legal aspects of the wedding, such as securing a wedding license?
- What’s the preferred communication style for your planner? Texting? Phone calls? (This can help secure a clear line of communication between the planner and the client.)
Wedding Planners vs. Wedding Coordinators: What’s Best for Me?
Not every couple needs a full service planner — especially for smaller weddings. Sometimes, a day-of wedding coordinator is enough to make your wedding day run smoothly.
So, what’s the difference between the two?
A day-of coordinator is typically available on the day of the wedding. He or she will ensure your wedding ceremony runs smoothly and will coordinate all of the vendors for that day, instead of leaving you or your wedding party to figure it out. A full service planner does that, in addition to figuring which vendors to hire, designing the wedding and managing your invitations and RSVPs.
How much does a wedding coordinator cost?
A day-of wedding coordinator is typically cheaper than a wedding planner because it’s only for one day. Expect to pay between $500 and $800.
Most day-of wedding coordinators will meet with you a week or two out from your wedding to get a firm grasp on what the day will look like so they’re well-prepared to make your special day run like a well-oiled machine.
Hire a Wedding Planner Today
We get it. The wedding planner cost is always scary, especially if you’re on a tight budget. But the cost of a wedding can actually stay low if you implement some level of wedding planning services into your wedding.
Planners love working off a budget and wedding planner costs can stay low if that budget is extremely detailed.
More importantly, you won’t be stressing out on the day of your wedding. Wedding planner services come at a price, but taking the anxiety out of your special day is well worth the wedding planner cost.