Why do I need a wedding planner?
Wedding planners are for the rich and famous, or for couples with big ideas and even bigger budgets right? Wrong! With over 25% of couples now opting to use a wedding planner to plan all, or some, of their big day, hiring someone to help you plan this momentous event is becoming more popular and common-place, but should you also be investing in one?
Weddings are becoming increasingly complex to organise with the expansion of the wedding industry and the seemingly endless list of suppliers and options to choose from. Brides, and grooms, to be can spend hours agonising over who to hire for their wedding, negotiating rates and getting recommendations and referrals to make sure their day is perfect. If you don't have the time or desire to do that, or the thought of all the 'web-min' fills you with dread, a wedding planner could be for you.
A professional wedding planner isn't as expensive as you may think and many offer a variety of packages and wedding services to suit every brief and budget. Often, your planner will also be able to get you discounts from suppliers to ensure you get the best possible price and can actually save you money as well as helping you avoid costly mistakes. They can introduce you to suppliers they have used before to give you peace of mind about their quality of work and professionalism - a recommended supplier from personal experience and previous use can be invaluable and safer than choosing one just because they come at the top of your Google search!
Is a wedding planner for you?
If you're not sure if a wedding planner is for you, or how they can help you, consider the following questions...
Do you and your partner work long hours?
Do you have a stressful and demanding job?
Do you have friends and/or family who are willing to help, and do you want them too?
Are you getting married in the area in which you live or in an are which you're not familiar with?
Do you want your wedding to have a professional edge?
Do you want someone to take away the responsibility of the planning and the running of the day so you can relax and enjoy your engagement and the day?
Do you handle stress well?
Do you want someone with experience to lean on for advice and reassurance?
If the answer is yes to any of the above you may wish to consider to hiring a planner. And your next step is to find the right one.
So how do you find the right wedding planner?
There are hundreds of planners across the UK now, each offering a different service with different specialities and their own twist on things, so you need to find the right one for you. Start by asking friends and family as chances are they will have used, or will know someone who has used, a planner in some capacity. This doesn't mean that exact planner will be the right one for you but it's a start!
Use the internet to search for wedding planners in your area, or in the area in which you are getting married, and look carefully at their websites. Check they can do and have experience in the style of wedding you want, and that they offer the service you are interested in. Most planners will have a guideline to their fees on their website so you will know if they are within your budget as there's no point wasting your time and theirs if you find out you can't actually afford them. Instantly dismiss those with badly designed websites, or those with little content or ones riddled with spelling mistakes. You want your planner to have good attention to detail and an eye for perfection and if they can't even manage the content for their own business, it's not a good start!
There are also a number of directories you can look at which will list planners in your area. Be sure to visit the website of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners who lists members by area, all of whom are carefully vetted and adhere to a strict code of conduct and ethics to give you peace of mind about their abilities and professionalism.
When you have a shortlist of planners to consider, set up appointments to meet with them. Personality is a huge part of being a successful wedding planner, and you have to ensure that the planner you choose is someone you can get on with and trust. This person will be heavily involved in your day and privy to lots of personal information so make sure whoever you choose is someone who you like, who you trust to do a good job and is someone who has the right experience and connections for the type of wedding that you want.
It's a long journey to the alter, with a lot to do before you get there, so make sure you are choosing someone you want to make that journey with. You are interviewing them for an important job so go to your initial meeting armed with the right questions:
How long they have been a wedding planner for and what other experience do they have?
How many weddings they have organised and can they provide references?
How do they charge? Some planners operate an hourly fee, a fixed fee or a percentage of your total wedding budget. Do you feel comfortable with their fee structure and does this work for your budget?
Do they accept commission from suppliers?
Do they pass on any negotiated or offered discounts from suppliers onto the client?
Do they operate on a full time basis or do they have another job?
How many weddings do they take on at any one time? Do they have colleagues to act as assistants or as a back up if they become unavailable?
Ensure they have public liability insurance.
Do they have a portfolio for you to look at?
What can a planner do for you?
You think you need, or would like, a wedding planner, your budget allows, and you've found some suitable candidates... but you're still unsure what they can do for you, or what you should be asking them to do.
There isn't a one size fits all answer to this as most wedding planners offer a variety of services to suit different needs and budgets, and many will tailor make a package bespoke to you and quote you a fee for this accordingly depending on what is involved. Every wedding is different, and rightly so, so a bespoke package is the best option to allow for the flexibility needed to deliver your dream day.
Check what services the planners you are considering offer, but most will be able to help with:
Recommending and organising suitable suppliers such as caterers, florists, photographers, hair and make up, entertainment etc. - Remember: they will only recommend the best as it's their reputation on the line too
Wedding styling and theming
Budget management to make sure you're spending your money in the right places and ensuring you don't overspend (easily done!) as well as handling supplier payments and invoicing
Guest admin such as sending invitations, handling all RSVP's, managing bridal party accommodation etc.
Timing scheduling to ensure everything is planned correctly for the day and nothing is rushed or missed. A good planner will make sure everything is covered, including things you wouldn't even think of!
On the day coordination to make sure the day runs smoothly so you can just concentrate on your marriage and having a great time with your family and friends
Having a wedding planner is like having your own PA in the world of weddings. They can help you as much or as little as you would like and will always have your wishes and vision for your wedding at the very forefront of mind. You get one lucky chance to experience this magical and wonderful time in your life, so make it fun, happy and stress free!