Welcome to the final installment of my wedding planner series geared towards educating engaged couples on wedding planners. You’ve learned what a wedding planner is, what a wedding planner does, what the different types of wedding planners are, and why you would hire a wedding planner. Today we are going to talk about how to hire a wedding planner.
Congratulations! You’ve made a great decision to hire a wedding planner, but where do you go from here? The first thing you need to do is figure out what type of wedding planner you are looking for. In Part 3 of the series, we discussed the different titles wedding planners have and differences between those. Every couple is different with different needs, so think about the type of help you are looking for. Do you want a wedding planner or a wedding coordinator? Are you looking for help with just event design or do you need help with everything? One thing to keep in mind is that wedding planners typically have 3 “packages” – full-service planning, partial planning, and day of coordination. Full-service planning means that your wedding planner will be there from the beginning of the planning process through the wedding day. Partial planning packages can vary, but essentially it includes some planning before the wedding and then coordination on the wedding day. Day of coordination is really month-of coordination and has the wedding planner coming in about a month before the wedding to help with the final preparations and execution on the wedding day. So, think about the type of wedding planner you need and then the type of service. This will be based on what you would like to manage yourself and where you feel you need help. And if you don’t know, it’s totally ok to talk to a wedding planner first and they’ll help you to figure out what kind of help you need.
Now that you have an idea of what you want, how do you find a wedding planner? The first place to start is to seek referrals. Talk to your coworkers, family, and friends and see if anybody knows of a wedding planner. If you have started planning your wedding and have chosen some of your vendors, ask them for referrals. Similar to finding a dentist, esthetician, mechanic or dry cleaner, it’s always nice to work with someone that comes recommended. Someone you know is vouching for this person and that automatically makes you feel more comfortable.
If your network doesn’t have any referrals for you, check out wedding websites, wedding blogs, and even yelp for recommended wedding planners. The internet is a great place and all wedding planners will have an internet presence. You will come across a ton of wedding planners, but it will give you a starting point. When you create your initial list, make sure the wedding planners are able to work in the location you will be having your wedding and/or live in your area.
Once you have a list of wedding planners what you need to do is figure out which one is the right fit for you. The first place to start is by looking at their websites. Every planner should have a website or at least, some kind of internet presence and if they don’t, stay away. Look at the logo and design of the website, their galleries, and the wording they use. Read about their philosophy, information about the company, testimonials, services they provide and pricing if they have it. All of these parts of the website should give you an idea of what they do and/or specialize in, what their personality and style are, and what people have to say about them. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on each website, but treat it as a first impression. You will know immediately how the website makes you feel and use that as a guide. Cross off the ones that don’t appeal to you and keep the ones that do. Also, cross off the ones that don’t provide the services you are looking for and the ones that are out of your budget. There is a good chance you will pare down your list considerably with this process. If you still have quite a few planners, look at their social media pages and blog to get a better feeling of their personalities and interaction and remove the ones that you don’t have a strong connection to.
When you have a smaller list of planners (3 is ideal and no more than 5), now is the time for you to contact them. Send them an email or give them a call to have an initial meeting. If you can, it is best to meet the wedding planner in person. While it will take more time than a phone call, nothing compares to meeting someone in person. When you meet with them or talk to them over the phone, pay attention to their speech and tone, body language, and their appearance. These will all give you clues as to the type of person they are. Ask questions about their background and experience, weddings they have done, and about how the planning process will work. Find out about their services (full service, partial and day of) and pricing (flat rate, percentage or hourly). Listen to their responses. There are no real right or wrong answers, but see how their responses make you feel. This is your chance to see if they are the right wedding planner for you. Similar to meeting anyone in person for the first time, you’ll immediately get an idea of their personality and you’ll have a gut reaction to the person.
As with hiring any vendor, the stars have to align. What I mean is that everything has to fall in place for you to feel comfortable moving forward. Their services, pricing, personality, style and work ethic all have to fit with what you are looking for and your style. In the end, the best piece of advice I can give to anyone hiring a wedding planner is to trust your gut and hire the person you feel most comfortable with. You will be spending a lot of time with this person, so they should feel like almost a friend. Like a friend, they should be someone you like and can easily talk to. They should be someone who you think you can be honest with and someone you can trust.
(Photo credit: Emily Piraino)
This is the end of the Wedding Planner Series, I hope it helped to demystify the world of wedding planners. And if you need a wedding planner, you know who to call!