A wedding planner is someone that you hire to, well, help plan your wedding. But not all wedding planners are alike. They all offer different services, packages and (importantly) charge different fees, depending on what you need from them.
Some wedding planners act purely as ‘day-of coordinators’. This means it’s up to you to book all of your suppliers (your florist, DJ, photographer and so on). The wedding planner’s job is to create a wedding day itinerary, make sure everyone knows what they’re doing, and supervise the setting up of your venue.
However, some wedding planners go the extra mile and provide full-service packages. They may help you to organise your budget, find you a venue, book your suppliers for you, or organise all of your decor. As every wedding planner is different, there are many questions you’ll need to ask before you hire one.
What to Ask a Wedding Planner Before Hiring
It’s really important that you don’t just hire the first wedding planner you find on Google. Your wedding planner is the most important person you’ll hire through the entire process. They’ll have an enormous impact on how your wedding day turns out and whether it all goes according to your vision. So you have to make sure the person that you hire is a good fit for you.
Of course, the first thing you’ll need to ascertain is whether the planner is available on your wedding date. Once that’s out of the way, you can set up an initial consultation, during which you should ask the following important questions.
What Packages and Services Do You Offer?
Wedding planners offer a wide array of services. Some planners have ‘packages’, providing a set amount of services for a fixed price. Others will create a bespoke package for you, depending on the features that you personally require. For example:
● Choosing and booking wedding suppliers on your behalf
● Hiring and returning rental equipment (e.g. tablecloths, chair covers, centrepieces, decor)
● Organising the guest list (sending out invitations, collating RSVPs, creating the seating plan)
● Coordinating delivery and setup times with the florist, cake baker, caterer, etc
● Dealing with supplier contracts and handling payments on your behalf
You might find that one of the planner’s standard packages suits you right off the bat. If not, you’ll need to decide what specific services you require, and ask if they can provide them.
Can You Work Within Our Price Range?
Your budget should be the next thing you discuss after ascertaining what sort of services you’re getting. You should go into the meeting with your budget already worked out, including how much you can afford to pay not only the wedding planner, but the other suppliers too.
Your wedding planner will have a long list of suppliers they prefer to work with. So find out if your price range is suitable, and also whether the planner would be willing to sit down with you and help organise your budget.
Next, discuss the wedding planner’s fees. Do they take a percentage of your overall budget as commission, or do they charge a flat rate for their services? Don’t forget to discuss any extra costs’. (Will you be expected to pay for the wedding planner’s transport to and from your wedding? What about their meals on the day?)
How Involved Will We Be In the Process?
Some brides and grooms to be prefer to book their own suppliers, and have total control about who’s baking their wedding cake, who’s providing their flowers, and who the photographer will be. The wedding planner’s only job is to coordinate the suppliers and make sure everything is organised. If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to make sure that you can be as involved as you’d like to be.
However, some wedding planners insist only on working with a set list of suppliers (photographers, caterers, decorators, etc) that they trust. If this is the case, establish whether your wedding planner is happy to run everything by you and let you do your own research before committing to a supplier. Figure out what level of control you’d like and whether it works with your potential planner.
How Many People Are In Your Team?
Is your potential wedding planner a one-man band, or do they have a huge team of helpers and stylists working with them? Will all of the team be involved with your wedding, or only a select number of people?
You need to find out how many people will be on hand during your wedding, and what happens if anyone is ill or unavailable for any reason. Is there a backup plan in place? Does your wedding planner have an understudy or assistant who would be able to take over for them?
How Much Contact Will We Have with You?
Not all wedding planners like to involve their clients every step of the way, and chat with them regularly over text and email, keeping them updated with their plans and progress. Other wedding planners prefer to work away on their own, and tell you everything at a scheduled meeting in person.
You will need to know how you can contact your wedding planner, and whether their method of communication suits you. Will they be available over text, telephone, or email whenever you need them? How often will you have meetings with them, and will they be at set times or organised ad hoc?
How Many Weddings Have You Planned?
It’s important to get an idea of how much experience your potential wedding planner has. How long have they been working in the industry and how many weddings do they have under their belt? Ask for references at this point then you can get some testimonials from their previous clients.
You'll now have a chance to take a look at your wedding planner’s portfolio. You’ll get an idea of what kinds of styles and themes they specialise in (if any - some wedding planners are extremely versatile). You should also ask whether they’ve planned any weddings at your venue (if you’ve already chosen one). It can be a great help to hire a planner that’s familiar with the venue already.
How Do You Deal with Problems?
All wedding planners know that there’s no such thing as a perfect wedding. Something is bound to go wrong with such a huge, complex event - even if it’s only something small. This means that every wedding planner that’s been in the business for any length of time will have experience dealing with mishaps and disasters.
Ask your potential wedding planner for some examples of things that have gone wrong with weddings they’ve coordinated in the past. What did they do to rectify the situation? Were they able to avoid alerting the bride and groom to the problem, and deal with it in a timely and professional way? Don’t trust a wedding planner that says nothing has ever gone wrong for them before.
What Kind of Insurance Do You Have?
It’s extremely important that any and all wedding suppliers, including wedding planners, have comprehensive insurance. Find out what insurance they have and what scenarios it covers. The last thing you want is to be held liable for something.
For example, if one of the candles provided/set up by your wedding planner tips over and catches fire to the venue, who will be liable to pay for the damage? Their insurance should cover everything that could possibly go wrong.
Do You Have Any Ideas for Our Wedding?
If you think you’d like to start working with this wedding planner, now’s the time to start discussing your own wedding.
Go through your preliminary plans for your big day - the theme, colour scheme, what kind of entertainment and catering you’d like, etc - and see what they make of it. They should be ready and willing to listen to your ideas, and go through their plans for making your vision a reality. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, don’t be afraid to say so. You can use it as an opportunity to judge how well they respond to criticism.
Can I See Your Standard Contract?
Finally, before you go ahead and hire your wedding planner, you’ll want to see a copy of their standard contract. It should explain all of their services in detail, along with their fees (including any ‘extras’, like food on the day of the wedding).
Give the contract a good read over before you sign anything. If there’s any terminology that you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask what it means. And remember, you can always take a few days to think it over - you shouldn’t feel pressured into signing anything before you’re comfortable.