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Selecting Your Wedding Planner - What to Look for

What to look for (and ask) in choosing your own personal Wedding Planner?

You’ll want to be upfront right from the beginning as you meet a wedding planner.  Don’t hold back on your expectations, your budget and your time frame.  All of these are important to both you the bride and groom and they’re important to the wedding planner as well.  After all, they’re in business to serve you and if for some reason they don’t feel comfortable with your plans, most will not accept the task, and possible refer you to someone they know can meet your requirements.

Of course, it is appropriate to ask them their fees.  They will probably want to ask you a few questions before hand so they can quote you based on your needs.  When choosing your wedding planner, there are a few things to consider in respect to rates. There are three ways that planners are paid:

  1. Some planners offer ‘free’ service and are paid by vendors with ‘commissions (kick-backs)’. This occurs when the vendor provides a percentage of the service fee to the planner for bringing them the business. A word of caution: this may inhibit the planner’s desire to send you to the best person in the business if the best person in the business is not giving them the highest ‘commission’.
  2. Another form of payment is a percentage fee. Planners using this method generally charge anywhere from 15 – 20% of the total budget for their services. This method is primarily used when a planner is orchestrating an elaborate, large wedding and reception and typically when the event has a cost of more than $30,000.
  3. Other planners offer flat rate fee services. These types of package include a specific amount of hours dedicated to specific activities. Some consider this a better way to go because they feel that the wedding planner will be less inclined to find the most expensive vendors; however a good planner makes it his or her job to keep the bride within her budget.  No planner wants to get a reputation of taking a bride outside of her budget on her special day and a good one will work very hard to stay under budget and provide the bride with savings if at all possible without compromising quality and style.

While there are many different methods planners use for fees, you will find that most wedding planners offer packages that include both flat fee and percentage based packages with a variation of services that will suit your bridal needs.

Before hiring a wedding planner, be sure to interview her/him thoroughly. Find out how many weddings they have handled in the past (experience matters) and ask for references.  You may want to contact vendors to check on their reputation. Make sure you establish a price in advance and, above all, get everything in writing. You’ll probably want to interview a few planners to be sure you find the one best suiting your needs.

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