Thursday, November 26, 2015

When to Wed With a Wedding Planner

You've just gotten engaged, and you may be wondering where to start when it comes to planning the big event. With so many vendors to choose from, details to nail down, and ideas to incorporate, it can become an overwhelming task.

But it doesn't need to. A professional wedding planner who specializes in helping couples plan their day might be right for you.

Benefits of hiring a planner

Wedding planning requires time, energy, and resources—and can be a stressful chore for engaged couples. Hiring a wedding planner to do the legwork of selecting the most reputable vendors, coordinating the events, and interacting with the bridal party can enable busy brides and grooms to focus on their careers and more fully enjoy the engagement process.

"I run a boutique PR agency and, while I was thrilled to be engaged, I was completely freaked out by the prospect of planning my own wedding, in addition to managing our business and keeping on top of client requests," recalls Rebecca Mosley, who got married a year ago in Seattle. "The wedding planner narrowed down the venues, bridal fittings, coordinated with the bridal party, kept relatives in check—all the time-sucking elements of event planning that make the process so miserable for some brides. I was able to relax, enjoy the engagement, and, on the day of, literally just show up. It was brilliant!"

According to Sara Gaum, owner of the Los Angeles-based event planning Web site, a wedding planner might be for you if:

  • You have an elaborate vision for your special day. "The event planner is able to keep track of many small details and the many vendors needed to create the vision," Gaum says. "By being able to take on tasks for the bride, keep track of details, and answer any of her questions, the event planner can keep the bride relaxed and happy prior to her big day."

  • You have no vision at all. Gaum says a bride who has absolutely no idea what she wants for her wedding can benefit from hiring an experienced event planner. Good planners know current industry trends and will understand how to make an event look cohesive since they have created many events before.

  • You have trouble staying on budget. Good event planners not only will keep you on budget, they'll also tell you where and how worthwhile it is to spend your money. "Many brides have trouble understanding that some things will not have enough impact in the room to warrant spending money on it, and a good planner would tell a bride to avoid spending her money this way," Gaum says. "Other times, a planner can tell a bride how to 'get the look for less.'"

    The people at your credit union may be able to assist with the financial needs of your wedding.

  • You're organizationally challenged. A wedding planner can save you the headaches of keeping the details straight, on budget, and on the timeline.

You also might find a wedding planner helpful if you're planning a destination wedding or live in a different state from where the wedding will take place. Hiring a local wedding planner can be invaluable, saving you time locating the best venues and the most reliable vendors from a distance.

What a wedding planner can do for you

Whether you want to be heavily involved in every detail of planning your wedding, or want a professional to arrange everything from the very beginning to the honeymoon, a wedding planner can personalize your involvement in the planning process.

"I wanted someone to help out who knows more about weddings than I did—like timelines and traditions," says Megan Capone, who got married in 2009 in Chelmsford, Mass. "And it's the best decision I've ever made. Hiring my planner freed me up to focus on the crafty parts of the wedding and personalizing it to make it uniquely us."

If you want to plan the event yourself, but want to avoid the hassle of directing vendors on your wedding day, you even can hire a wedding coordinator just to handle the flow of events on the day of the wedding.

Shonna Lester, an Atlanta native who got married in August 2009, went this route because she found planning enjoyable, but wanted assistance on the day of her wedding. "I don't know what I would have done without [our planner] the day of the wedding," she says. "When I got dirt on the hem of my dress from pictures we took outside before the ceremony, she had just what she needed to get the stains removed. She answered everyone's questions so they didn't come to me or my parents. We were able to just enjoy the day."

Will a planner's services fit in your budget?

In most cases, a good wedding planner will work within any budget. The key is to find a planner who is a good fit for your work style and can offer the right level of service for your needs.

A good wedding planner will work within any budget.

Jen Wooster-McBride, a wedding planner in Columbus, Ohio, says it's important for couples to sit down and list what type of help they think they may need and what budget they have for these services, then look for a planner whose packages match their needs. "Most planners offer a free initial consultation because we, like the bride and groom, want to ensure a good fit," she says. "Personally I have standard packages, but I usually end up doing a custom quote because every couple has different needs."

You also can turn to your credit union for funding options. The professionals there may offer wedding or lifestyle loans, or unique savings plans, to help make your special day come true.

Hiring a wedding planner

When looking for a wedding planner, consider these ideas:

  • Get recommendations. Ask your newly-married friends for recommendations, or seek out reviews from sites such as for opinions.

  • Interview potential planners face-to-face. "You need to feel that there is good chemistry between you," says Joyce Scardina Becker, wedding planner and designer, and author of "Countdown To Your Perfect Wedding." "An effective wedding planner must clearly understand your needs and articulate your visions." In addition, prepare a long list of questions to ask, such as:

    • Do you have a business license and business insurance?
    • How long have you been in business?
    • Do you have references?

  • Be wary of planners who charge for their services as a percentage of the total wedding cost. Scardina Becker says that there is no incentive for these planners to save money for the couple, because a reduced cost would result in reduced fees for the planner. "The fairest way for planners to charge for their services is either an hourly rate or a flat fee."

  • Avoid planners who represent one vendor. They may be taking 'kick-backs' from these vendors, who may not be the most reliable or provide the best service.

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