Planning Guide

Things Your Wedding Planner Won’t Tell You

1. "Everything over the Top"

Wedding BanquetThese days people tend to spend on weddings much more money than they used to spend even several decades ago. Today the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $27,000 and as the weddings tend to be more elaborate and chic, often the services of a professional wedding planner are required to put the grand event together. Let’s have a glimpse into the history of the career of a wedding planner. It first appeared in the 50-s and originally wedding planners catered to the wealthy elite, but recently have gone mainstream. Nowadays, according to the industry estimates, 20-30% of all weddings involve the assistance of a wedding planner.

What is the reason of such rapidly growing demand? First of all, people wait longer to get married and are very busy pursuing careers and just lack time to plan their big event themselves. Another reason is that many couples would like to have a perfect wedding which is often a re-creation of the luxurious affairs seen in movies or tabloids.

2. "Need a Reference? You Are Looking at Her"

Since the job of a wedding planner doesn’t require any former experience or any special education, many ex-brides who enjoyed planning their own wedding became wedding consultants. To make sure the services are high-quality, consider contracting certified planners nationwide. Or ask a recent bride for a referral. But before hiring a wedding expert don’t forget to get in touch with former clients and see the photos of the events she planned.

3. "I'll Do Whatever It Takes to Make You Calm, Cool and Oblivious"

Even with the most thorough planning some unpredictable circumstance can make things go wrong. And the best planners are those who are willing to take matters into their own hands if necessary and spare the happy couple a great deal of trouble and stress.

4. "I Won’t Necessarily Be Present on Your Wedding"

The constantly growing wedding planning industry has become more specialized, and as a result a bit confusing. Nowadays planners offer a wide range of services, including full service, partial service and day-of service. Full service means that the wedding expert manages the entire wedding process from start to finish and expect to get from 10% to 15% of the overall wedding budget in return. If you need help to find good photographers, caterers or other vendors consider contracting partial service which is paid by an hour (approximately $25 per hour). In case you need the professional to oversee the event as it goes on hire an expert for a flat fee for the day-of service and you will be charged a pretty high hourly rate if your wedding runs overtime.

Besides independent wedding planners, you will come across a great number of wedding venues that offer complimentary "wedding planning" as part of their packages. What differs these venue employed coordinators from independents is that the former operate interchangeably, like a help desk and sometimes the couple will see the assistant who will show up on their wedding day for the first time. Very often the bride and groom mistakenly assume that this kind of help stands for full service wedding planning. But if you prefer the same coordinator to help out on the day of the wedding you can just make a request and make sure it is specified in your contract.

5. "Congratulations, Tracy and Bill…Um I Mean Gloria and Tom!"

In order to prevent your wedding being pushed back (which is often the result of the very tough schedule when they have too many weddings to deal with on the same day) ask the prospective planner how many events they work at once and how cope with the overlap. If your consultant has more than three weddings a month, consider hiring another one.

6. "Mixed Marriage? Ka-Ching!"

With such a great number of multicultural and interfaith weddings, wedding planners customize incorporating several wedding traditions in a single event, for example combining the catholic wedding customs with some elements of a conservative Jewish wedding. Of course, such additional services will increase the estimated wedding costs adding roughly $10,000 to the total wedding budget after taking into account additional dresses, tents, and an extra cocktail hour, and this is only if you plan a one-day celebration. To minimize the wedding costs interfaith couples should have a clear vision of what they want and discuss this with their wedding consultant at the early stage of the planning process. If you decided to have two ceremonies to accommodate different traditions consider working with the same vendors who may offer you their special package with discount.

7. "The Early Bride Gets the Worm"

The earlier you start getting ready for your wedding the better. Qualified wedding planners live by the calendar. In fact, start searching for a good one well in advance – from 10 to 15 month before the event date. By doing this your wedding planner will not only have more time to implement the wedding of your dream but will be more willing to help you save money on photographer’s services and reception halls by contracting far ahead.

8. "Getting Married in Hawaii? I’ll Fetch the Suntan Lotion!"

If you check the Wedding Report on the wedding statistics you will see that more than 250,000 couples had their destination weddings last year, and most of them spent a lot of money to have their dream wedding organized at some romantic spot. Even though it is hard to save on travel and luxurious accommodation, couples planning a perfect paradise wedding are likely to score some savings on their wedding planner. As destination weddings are more appealing to high-class planners they will often charge lower prices trying to beat their competitors and win a client over.

The same is true for local offbeat weddings that can be attractive to a particular consultant as well. If a wedding is going to make a nice addition to her portfolio due to its pleasing aesthetics or is held at a five-star resort with which she wants to establish a relationship, the planner will often offer discount. Many wedding consultants are also eager to plan weddings which could give them access to a specific demographic, for example close-knit Greek community known for having large and expensive weddings and that is why are likely to charge lower fee.

9. "Custom Silk Wedding Fans, Anyone?"

 Nowadays the entire bridal industry encourages couples eager to make their big day unique to spend lots of money on celebration. From exquisite chocolate wedding-bell truffles to custom sparklers lit by guests who see off the newlyweds departing for their honeymoon, the opportunities to favor your wedding are bountiful and are pushed hard by the industry. Moreover, the today’s wedding often becomes an outlet to make a statement about your life. And wedding planners take advantage of the wedding market trends. In fact, three quarters of full-service planners get percentage of the wedding’s overall budget. As a result the more expensive the wedding is the bigger commission the planner gets. Needless to say, planners do have a very big incentive to make couples pay a pretty penny for the experience.

In order to avoid extra charges and needless expenses consider drafting a contract that would specify everything, from a statement of the budget to how the planner is going to meet it and how many hours she work.

10. "You Don’t Really Need Me"

When the wedding consulting just emerged, most planners dealt only with invitations, rolled rice for guests to throw after the ceremony and then showed up on the wedding day. Since then the art of wedding planning has become so elaborate that it is sometimes equivalent to staging a Broadway show. But as not all plays are made for Broadway, not all weddings require a professional bridal consultant. With such a bounty of information available in bridal magazines, how-to handbooks and numerous wedding-related sites, it is easy to plan your own wedding by yourself and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to do it right.

What to begin with? Ask the newlyweds and venues like prospective wedding halls for referrals for a good photographer, a deejay and other wedding services. You have more chances to have everything smooth if you hire vendors who worked together before. After you have selected vendors and collected contracts, prepare the event schedule and send it to all your vendors a week or two before the wedding. If you have doubts whether you will have enough time to get everything organized, consider asking one of the bridesmaids or the most reliable friend to assist in preparations.