Should You Hire a Wedding Planner?
COVID changed weddings in a big way. Micro-weddings have gained in popularity. Strained budgets are a post-pandemic reality. And all this has got some couples wondering whether they actually need to hire a wedding planner.
Let’s face it: on the outset, planning a wedding sounds like a lot of fun. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend an afternoon taste-testing cakes? But since weddings are the kinds of things many people do only once, it is nearly impossible for most couples to accurately anticipate just how much time, sweat, stress, and tears will go into planning an event the magnitude of a wedding.
To shed some light on exactly what a wedding planner does and whether hiring a wedding planner is right for you, we interviewed two of Minnesota’s top wedding planners: Naa Abban of Twinkle Events (@twinkle_events) and Sam Nutting of Plus One Events (@plusoneeventco). These women are masters in their field, and each has years of experience planning perfect (and perfectly unique!) weddings.
Let’s start with the basics. Are there certain types of weddings when you should definitely have a planner? Likewise, are there some wedding styles that really won’t benefit from hiring a planner? I’m thinking of backyard weddings and other more “casual” styles…
For sure if you are having a large wedding it is best to have a planner. This is simply because of the number of vendors you’ll be contracting with. A planner can help navigate that. You probably do not need a planner for a small backyard wedding with only a few vendors, but it would be nice to have a “Day-of Coordinator.” If it is a small wedding where a planner or coordinator has not been hired, sometimes that role can be filled by a good friend or family member (such as a cousin). The point is to have someone who can help with logistics to take the stress off the bride and groom so they can enjoy their day!
I would say always have a planner no matter what the size of the wedding. A planner will help you get what you want out of your wedding. They’ll keep everything in check and on track, and they’ll stay on budget and help to manage costs. They understand the business well.
How soon after becoming engaged should you hire a wedding planner?
First thing, or within a couple of weeks. Your planner will give you the best insights to get started. They’ll help you define a vision for your wedding and will walk you through the process.
As soon as possible! Because of Covid, venues are still very booked up. A planner will know who has openings. They’ll also know the best alternatives if you can’t get the date and venue you want.
Speaking of venues… if a couple knows they want a wedding planner, but they are getting married in a far-off location, should their planner be based where they are, or where their wedding will be held?
There are pros and cons for both. If your planner is local, you can meet in person before the wedding more often. If your planner is at the location, they will likely know the venue and vendors better than a planner you have hired from home.
I would say if you can afford it, take your planner with you. They know and understand your vision and the dream you have for your wedding… If that option is not feasible, I would recommend hiring a Day-of coordinator at your venue.
Okay, if you know you want a wedding planner, how do you find a good one? What kind of questions should you ask your planner before hiring them?
Use word of mouth! Personal references are a great way to find a wedding planner. You need to vibe with that person so that you want to work with them. It’s important to have a strong connection with your wedding planner. Another good way to find them is through social media searches. This lets you see their work, check out their style, and get inspiration. How did they make that day come to life?
Do Google searches. Ask friends for referrals. Compare pricing and look at their work. See if there is a passion behind what they do.
Passion is a great word. It’s exactly what a wedding ought to convey–a couple’s unique passion for one another. That leads us to our next question…will hiring a wedding planner cause a couple to have a more generic, “one-size-fits all” wedding? Is it going to feel more personal if the couple does everything themselves?
Weddings used to be a traditional, check-off-all-the-boxes kind of event. Over the past five years or so, weddings have really changed and become more personalized. A planner can come in with some fresh new ideas for your wedding. Covid kind of enhanced that because weddings became a lot smaller, and so planners became even more creative at helping couples express their visions, too. Different kinds of colors, music, flowers, food… anything that’s not “cookie cutter” has become more normal!
The role of the wedding planner is definitely to listen. We hear their story, and give them the vision of what they want.
Okay, so once a couple has found their planner, what can they expect of the planner in the months leading up to the wedding?
Your planner will make sure you are on task and on schedule. They’ll help manage RSVPs, seating charts, and food and beverage plans. They’ll confirm details with vendors, in essence, taking over communication with vendors.
There will be a checklist and your planner will be making sure everything on it gets checked off. Bookings, tastings, rentals of items, invitations… we get very detailed with our couples.
What can you expect of your planner on your wedding day?
With our couples, it is usually a sixteen-hour day. There is a very detailed timeline we go through, and that usually starts very early in the morning. Hair, makeup, venue set up, photos, etc.
We make sure all goes as planned and that everything is adhering to the timeline we’ve created with the couple. This way we are all on the same page.
Will the wedding planner help with any aspects of the wedding besides the day itself? Things like Save the Date cards or engagement photo sessions, rehearsal Dinners, wedding Favors, etc.?
This depends on the level of involvement and your contract. There are a couple of avenues you can go here. You can hire your planner as a “Day-of Coordinator” which means they are in charge of everything that happens at your wedding on your wedding day only. In that case, they do not have a lot of involvement in the pre-planning of the event, and won’t have worked much with the vendors until the day of the wedding. That means the couple makes all the pre-wedding decisions.
When you have a higher level of involvement (a full wedding planner role), the planner is involved in many more of the details—anything from color palette, favors, food, and music… pretty much all aspects of the wedding. There’s a lot more hand-holding and assistance with making big decisions and handling other details.
Also, some venues have what are known as “Venue Coordinators.” This role is not the same as a wedding planner or even a Day-of coordinator. A venue coordinator focuses on venue-related details such as floor plans, food, drinks, etc. It helps to also have a “wedding planner” who’s primary interest is you, the client. They focus on all the other details: DJ, family, wedding party, decor, favors, etc.
Yes, a wedding planner is involved in everything. They act as your third eye, third mouth, and professional ears for the couple. They try to be involved in all of it.
So how much contact should a couple expect to have with their wedding planner?
With Plus One Events, contact goes on a set schedule depending on the package. We meet on a set schedule bi-monthly, monthly, bi-weekly and then weekly leading up to the wedding.
We offer unlimited texts, emails, and calls. We meet in person three times per month or two times per month depending on the preferences of the couple. As we get closer to the wedding, about two months out, we meet every week in person or over Zoom.
What should you really not expect from your wedding planner?
We do not setup or teardown things we did not provide for the wedding. Moving furniture or handling other vendors’ work is off limits. Once I was asked to be one of my client’s maids of honor. I had to turn that down.
What if something goes wrong on the big day?
Many things can go wrong on your wedding day. The reality is something probably will go wrong because there are so many moving parts. Usually, there is a way to resolve it and the planner does her best to do this without the client even knowing! This is why it makes sense to have a planner—to take the stress and pressure off the bride and groom. It’s great to have a planner who can improvise and is quick on their feet.
We always have a plan B for everything! We always have an emergency kit, and we know how to sew. One example of something going wrong was in a recent wedding, the bridesmaid did not try her dress on when she picked it up. It was too small for her and did not fit. We found some fabric close to that color and sewed it up, holding it in with pins so no one even noticed that we had to do a last-minute alteration to the dress.
Wow! That is definitely not a job for a bride to deal with on her wedding day! Let’s talk cost—how much can a couple expect to pay for a planner? How will hiring a wedding planner change the overall wedding budget?
In the Twin Cities it can be about $1,500-$2,500 for a “Day of” planner. It can go up from there to about $6,000 for a full wedding planner. The reality is, weddings are expensive and the cost of the planner depends on how large and detailed the wedding is.
Our packages range from $1,500-$2,500.
Okay. Just a few more questions! If a wedding planner has relationships with certain vendors, does that mean the couple is restricted to using only those vendors for their wedding?
Definitely not! They’ll never be restricted to the vendors we know and frequently work with. You can use any vendor you want, but a wedding planner might be able to help you get a better deal or discounts if they know your vendor. This can add value for you. A lot of couples already know what vendors they want and that is fine because it helps the planner know what they like and what their style is.
We can get good deals with vendors we know. If you use someone we do not know, that is fine, though! We will just meet with them to make sure everything looks good and the contracts make sense.
The thing we hear most from couples is that their wedding day went by too fast. Does hiring a wedding planner actually save a couple time and stress leading up to their big day, and does having a planner help them to be able to relax and enjoy more of their actual wedding?
Yes & Yes!
Yes & Yes!
When a wedding planner decides to work with you, what are their goals for your big day, and how will they know if they’ve achieved them? What does a successful wedding look like to a wedding planner?
We want happy and pleased clients! When we show the client their reception or ceremony space for the first time, that reveal is super-powerful. We love seeing how happy they are with everything, and how it all turned out. Client satisfaction is always the goal.
For me, it is to make sure they get the wedding of their dreams. Every detail—what they visualized—should come to life. When I see a twinkle in their eye, I know I have done my job.
All Images: Twinkle Events Instagram @twinkles_events
All Photos: Plus One Events Portfolio