Professional wedding planners like myself price our services at what we know our value is, and just to be clear, our services are worth way more than $1,000, so why does hiring a planner for anything less make any sense?
Most of the 'planners' charging $500 to coordinate your wedding are either new or doing it as a hobby, meaning they don't have professional wedding planning experience. Now, this article is not to bash those $500 planners, but rather explain why paying more for professional planner services will save you in the long run. If you happen to be one of those 'price savvy' planners, I have a special section in this article for you at the end of this article.
What Do Professional Wedding Planner's Cost?
This question can get tricky, because it'll depend on what services you're specifically looking for. On average, most wedding planning professionals charge anywhere from $2,000 - $4,000+ depending on your location, and their experience. If you don't need a wedding planner to help through the entire planning process and are just looking to hire someone hourly, a planner typically charges about $75-$275 an hour depending on their experience and level of service.
I've started to see couples searching for wedding planners and day of coordinators in the $500 price range, and in that case, you're better off just not having a planner at all. Most of the coordinators and planners charging these low prices are just starting out and that's why they charge such low pricing, which is ok. We all start somewhere, right? The problems start to arise when couples expect these $500 planners to do the work of a $2,000 planner.
Why a Wedding Planner Charging $500 is Unrealistic
As mentioned above, most of the planners charging these low prices are just starting out and that's why they charge such low pricing, which is ok and understandable. However, the problems start to arise when couples expect these $500 planners to do the work of a $2,000 planner. These cost effective 'planners' don't help in the initial planning of the wedding, instead they typically just show up on the wedding day to take over for the bride, which can start to lead to difficulties on the wedding day, such as these:
They won't travel to multiple locations. If you're getting ready in a hotel, getting married in a church, and having your reception at a different venue, more than likely your price savvy planner will not travel with you to those three different locations, but will instead just meet you at the reception venue.
A professional planner has lots of experience creating a wedding day timeline, however, your new planner probably doesn't. Creating a timeline takes a lot of skill, you need to know how long events throughout the day take, such as your ceremony, grand introductions, speeches and toasts, dinner, etc. Not only that, but you need to make sure the timeline of the day flows smoothly.
A wedding planner showing up on your wedding day without planning ahead of time, will not have a connection with your vendors. How will your wedding planner know how long your photographer will be at the venue snapping photos? How will they know when your caterer is showing up? How will they know that you have a pianist for the ceremony and a DJ for the reception? These are all things the planner will need to know ahead of time if they want to be successful on the wedding day.
They probably didn't tour the venue before the wedding day, which means they won't know how to guide your vendors throughout the space, let alone your guests.
Your planner needs to be experienced and poised while handling stressful situations. How many weddings has your $500 planner executed? If they're just starting out, they might get overwhelmed with all the pressure and stress of the wedding day (because let's admit it, almost everyone is anxious before the reception starts to pick up speed). Handling stress is a skill planners like myself have mastered after multiple weddings over the years.
If your coordinator/planner hasn't planned a lot of weddings, they probably aren't comfortable leading multiple vendors and a large number of guests throughout the day.
Are they going to direct your rehearsal? If not, how do they plan on coordinating your ceremony? Are they even going to help coordinate your ceremony?
They have a very minimal vendor list (if they even have one at all), so if a vendor doesn't show up or they pull out last minute, how will your planner find someone to fill their shoes? More than likely, they don't have connections with other vendors to help find that quick replacement, so you're stuck without the vendor that didn't show up.
They probably won't be checking in with your vendors before the wedding day and sending them the day of timeline, which means your vendors will be hounding you for on the wedding day.
I'm not trying to diss on these price friendly day of coordinators and wedding planners, but I want your expectations of them to be realistic. I know that if I didn't spend months and countless hours planning with a couple, and instead just showed up on their wedding day, I'd be a lost cause. In fact, I have done that before. I've stepped in for a wedding planner who got sick last minute and asked me to and fill in for her, and it was awful! Not only did I not have a strong relationship with the couple because I didn't know them, but I didn't know any of their vendors either. I was going about my typical tasks of a coordinator, setting up the décor, running through the ceremony, keeping the timeline on schedule, etc. but the whole evening made me way too anxious because I didn't have enough time to plan and understand all the details of the wedding!
As your wedding date starts to get closer, you'll worry you're forgetting important details. You've never planned a wedding before, so you don't know what you're missing! That's where planners like myself come into play. I've been planning weddings for 3 years, and I am there every step of the way to help keep my couples on schedule and to ensure no step is missed. In fact, most couples tell me I bring up things to them they never would have thought of!
What About Venue Coordinators?
Your venue coordinator is there to be a main point of contact for the bride and venue staff, and is ultimately there to take care of the venue, not you. They are there to make sure all of the venue facilities are operating correctly and making sure the bar and catering services are good to go (If the venue handles that). Venue coordinators are also there to ensure that no rules are broken during the day, such as décor studios hanging things on the walls or guests bringing in outside alcohol.
Understanding the difference between a venue coordinator and a day of coordinator is crucial! You don’t want to go into your wedding day with high hopes that your venue coordinator will preform all of the tasks a day of coordinator does, that’s just a recipe for disaster. It can be confusing as well since both titles sound pretty similar. The best way to figure out the tasks your venue assigned coordinator performs is to ask your venue/assigned coordinator up front. They’ll be able to tell you exactly what to expect from your venue coordinator on the day of your wedding.
Use this chart to see how venue coordinators differ from day of coordinators.
What All do Wedding Planners Cover?
On average I spend about 200 hours planning, designing, and producing each wedding. On the day of the wedding I work extra hard to ensure you, as well as your friends and family, stay stress free. I arrive at the venue before you show up, and I am the last person to leave at the end of the night. Where some wedding planners/day of coordinators just show up an hour before the ceremony and help coordinate for a few hours then leave after dinner, I stay all day to help you set up the venue, I help all of your vendors with their set up and answer questions for them so you don't have to, I coordinate your ceremony rehearsal as well as your ceremony on the day of the wedding, and at the end of the night I clean up the venue and coordinate vendors leaving so you and your fiancé can enjoy your night worry free.
Check out the services listed below that wedding planners offer on your wedding day and leading up to it!
Before the Wedding Day:
Go Through a Venue Walkthrough
Plan a Design Meeting and Consultation
Create the Day of Timeline
Send Out Your Timeline to Vendors
Create Your Floorplan
Help Research Quality Vendors & Contract Review
Help You Book Vendors
Main Point of Contact for Vendors/Vendor Liaison
Keep You on Track with Wedding Planning
Coordination of the Ceremony rehearsal
Pack a Wedding Day Emergency Kit for You to Use
Morning Of the Wedding
Stage Mimosa Station for Bridal Party
Spot Steam Wedding Dress and Veil
Deliver Bride and Groom Gift/Letter Exchange
Check in all Vendors (Hair & Makeup, Photographer, DJ, Caterer, etc.)
Ensuring all Vendors Arrive on Time and Set up on Schedule
Ensure Hair and Makeup Schedule is on Time
Ensure Photography Schedule is on Time
Keep Bridal Party on Schedule Throughout the Day
Stage any Décor, Gift Table, Tribute Tables, Place Cards, Centerpieces, etc. Based on Pre Design Layout
Make Sure all Set up is According to Seating Chart and Plans
Coordination of Ceremony Rehearsal, Day Before
Guiding Guests and VIPs to Their Designated Seats
Making Sure No One Sits in “Family Seating” Areas
Double Checking all Items are Ready and Presentable for Ceremony (Bouquet, Rings, Ceremony Items)
Gathering Wedding Party and Preparing Them for Ceremony
Cueing Bridal Party for Ceremony Entrances
Cueing DJ/Musician for Music Changes
Assisting Bride in Entrance (Fixing Veil & Fluffing Dress, etc.)
Retrieving and Taking any Belongings from bridal Party after Ceremony to Reception
During the Reception
Guiding Guests to Cocktail Hour after Ceremony
“Hiding” Bridal Party from Guests Until Grand Introduction
Lining up and Cueing Wedding Party for Grand Introductions
Making Sure all Special Announcements are Communicated with the DJ
Introductions, Proper Pronunciation of Bridal Party Names, Dinner Dismissal, Toasts, Transportation Info, etc.
Gathering Bridal Party and Speech Makers for Toasts
Dismissing Tables for Dinner
Cutting and Plating the Wedding Cake
Ensuring Special Requests are Accommodated
End of the Night
Coordinating End of Night Events Such as Desserts, Late Night Snacks, Sparkler Exit, Guest and Vendor Exit, etc.
Collect Personal Items: Wedding Gifts, Bags, etc. Ensuring they are Returned Safely and Orderly
Pack up Leftover Snacks, Food, and Desserts
Removal of Décor- Packed up and Ready by the Door at the End of the Night
Double Check the Space For any Bridal Leftover Belongings
Ensure all Vendors are Done and Checked Out to Venue Standards In a Timely Manner
Now after reading this article, I hope you can better understand the pricing outlines that come with wedding planners. Not to toot my own horn, but we are one of your most important vendors! Not only do we work the most hours, but we provide the most assistance for you on your wedding day as well as all the months leading up to it to make sure your whole day is perfect! So skip the $500 planner (because by now you should realize in the end, it isn't a good deal) and go for the planner with experience that will take care of your day from start to finish.
This is to the $500 Planners
If you are serious about the wedding planning business and want to make an actual career out of this, you need to price yourself at what your worth (that's not $500, your services are worth WAY more than that). You might be thinking that if you charge significantly less than others to plan and coordinate a wedding you'll be getting more experience and booking more clients to build up your portfolio. However, these significantly lower prices will hurt you in the long run because couples will only book you because you're cheap. If you want some guidance when it comes to becoming a wedding planner, just reach out to me, I would love to help in any way that I can!
Chart: Created by Elizabeth Bliss Events
1st Photo: Mikaela Armstrong Photography
2nd Photo: Bethany McNeil Photography
3rd Photo: Christina Ney Photography
4th Photo: Christina Ney Photography
5th Photo: Emily Battles Photography