After a bride gets engaged, the feeling of excitement can quickly cascade into a frantic to do list. First on her mind? Sharing the news with family and friends, picking a venue, setting a date, and, of course, finding the perfect dress.

But for anyone who’s working full time, the tasks can quickly pile up, seeming practically unmanageable. According to The Knot, the average engagement length is fifteen months, but many couples take longer. One of the main reasons? It takes a lot of time to plan a wedding! Most couples need to devote a few hours a week, unless they’re having a nontraditional or intimate reception.

Even if a bride and groom can devote enough time to plan, logistics, especially for couples who know little about weddings or planning, can create headaches.

That’s where a wedding planner comes in. A wedding planner acts as a central coordinator, ideally helping a couple plan every detail and saving them time, arguments, and possibly even helping to score better deals on everything from the venue to attire to catering.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of both anxiety and confusion when it comes to hiring a wedding planner. Here’s a look at the five most common questions brides and grooms ask, to help couples decide if hiring a planner is right for them and their wedding:

 

  1. How much will a wedding planner cost? Like anything related to weddings, the answer is very variable. Wedding planners tend to be a little pricy simply because they are a jack of all trades, operating as a coordinator, negotiator, and even conceptual designer. It’s important to review contracts before hiring a planner. Mindy Weiss, professional wedding planner and author of The Wedding Book guides, explains that most planners will charge an initial flat fee that is based on a number of hours of service, eight hours being a common standard. Off site and destination weddings may be subject to additional fees of anywhere from fifteen to twenty percent. Also keep in mind cheaper isn’t always better: a budget planner will likely offer to do less, so be sure it’s clear to all involved what services, and to what extent, will be included in the contract. Plan on investing anywhere from $1500 to $10,000 dollars–what services you select, and the planner’s professional experience, will be major factors. A day-of coordinator (see #3) charges much less than a full service planner, usually a flat fee.
  2. What are the Benefits of Hiring a Planner? Is a wedding planner a good choice for my wedding? A wedding planner, as already stated, can help organize, coordinate, and even help the bride and groom get a sense of their overall vision for their big day. A quality wedding planner will also understand how to score the best deals, all the steps involved, and structure a timeline for what needs to get done, and when. The best thing about hiring a wedding planner is that the stress of remembering everything that needs to be done is taken off the couple. A planner is even great for couples who simply don’t know where to start. Do you need a planner? If you have a destination wedding, or an otherwise logistically challenging wedding, it’s highly recommended. For anyone who honestly cannot commit the time required, who is not organized, or who has no planning experience or little knowledge about throwing a wedding, it’s also recommended. One big factor is the budget: does a planner fit? Are there sacrifices you can make for a planner? While some couples do fine without a planner, it’s important to be honest with yourself. If you don’t also have family that is willinging to help, it may be wise to at least consider hiring a planner.
  3. What different services does a planner offer? Wedding planners are not universally the same in the services they offer. Most people are thinking of full service planners when they consider hiring one. A full service planner works with the couple from the beginning, from a vague vision of the wedding to the wedding itself. Full service planners, while costly, can be helpful in countless ways. The most common services include booking venues and hotels, hiring staff/vendors, designing invitations and save the dates, arranging transportation, coordinating rehearsals, creating a wedding day schedule, helping plan music and menus, and even helping the bride find her gown. Essentially, a wedding planner helps plan, organize, and coordinate everything that needs to be accomplished.

A day-of-coordinator, a more budget friendly option,  helps things run smoothly on the wedding day by keeping the general timeline, as well as transportation concerns in her wheelhouse. He or she also is in charge of helping vendors and other staff, as well as the bridal party and guests, understand their roles and where they should be at a given time. Most experts recommend a couple at least hires a day-of coordinator.

  1. How does Hiring a Planner Work? Planners, whether full service of day-of-coordinators, will have a contract that must be agreed upon and signed by both parties. The contract should specify a flat fee, any additional fees, as well as time and services offered. To make sure you find a quality planner, it’s best to look for reviews, and preferable if they are registered with a professional organization, such as the Association of Bridal Consultants. Remember: signing a contract means you agree to the planner’s terms, so make sure you’re both on the same page before you decide.

Photo Credit: Anna Perevertaylo