Choosing a wedding planner is one of the most important decisions to make on your checklist of things to do for your big day. They can be invaluable, and make your event more amazing than you could have imagined (and most importantly, more stress free!). So when selecting your second most important partner in the wedding, know the answers to ten important questions. Ask before hiring and feel that much more confident that this is a marriage made in heaven.
1. What do you get for your price?
Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting for your money: what is included; different package options; how they bill (hourly, deposits, payment plans, billing, etc). This will help to ensure that there are no surprising costs that will pop up unexpectedly during or after the wedding planning process. Perhaps you don’t need help with every little element, or you have an hour cap that you need to keep in mind. Does the fee include the cost of assistants on the wedding day, and how many? Know what you are paying for.
2. Do you understand my vision?
A planner could have done every celebrity and high-end wedding in the world, but if they don’t share your understanding of the style and vision, you might be unhappy with the final outcome. Some planners can create one fabulous look, but if that look isn’t you, then be sure their portfolio reflects many styles – look for the personality of the couple to shine through in the events, not the same likes of the planner over and over again. Talk with your planner and bounce ideas off each other to make sure you’re on the same page before you begin.
As obvious as it may seem, make sure to ask for and check your planner’s references. Know their experience level, how long they have been in business, the size, scope, and budgets of the weddings they have done to make sure they have enough experience in the type of wedding you want and can afford. Check with past clients they refer you to, but also do your web and chat room research. Make sure there are no outstanding issues out there.
4. Are they familiar with your venue and vendors?
Most wedding planners are well connected with other professionals in the wedding industry, and can help give you reliable options that they know of or have worked with before. If, however, you chose some of your own vendors, make sure they are willing and able to work together so that everything goes smoothly on the day of and egos stay out of the way. Ask if the event planner takes a referral fee from vendors and if so, be sure you’re seeing the selection you want. If one company is heavily pushed on you over all others, that can be a sign of a backend financial agreement. This is very common and often industry standard, so don’t be too put off by it, just be smart about your selection.
5. How involved will you both be?
Find out how often you will meet, if they will come to your vendor meetings, how much planning you will do on your own. Think of things that you really would want to do on your own, if any. Make sure both of your jobs are clearly discussed and understood.
6. How busy are they?
See how often your planner has a wedding on a calendar, especially for the month, week, and even your same day. If you feel like they are trying to overbook there is a good chance that you won’t get the personal attention that you need and deserve. You want to be the only bride she or he tends to that day. You might also ask if wedding planning is their full time job or if it is a side hobby as that can also lead to scheduling conflicts.
7. Emergency situations
Although hopefully you won’t have any last minute emergencies to deal with, such things do happen and you need to be prepared. Ask what would happen if your wedding planner was suddenly not able to make the wedding, if someone in the wedding party got sick, bad weather affecting out of town arrivals and the event itself, etc. Find out if they have had any situations like this in the past, and how they did, or would, deal with them – in case of an unforeseen occurrence, does the planner have staff and/or a backup plan if they cannot make the day.
This may be an assumed task for the wedding planner to oversee, but you can never be too cautious. A wedding can quickly go over budget, so make sure you find a planner who makes your budget limit their top priority.
9. Is it a real business?
Ask your planner if they have a business license, insurance, education. See if they belong to a professional organization like the ABC, ACPWC, Weddings Beautiful, June Weddings, WIPA and ISES, all of which are respectable bridal consultant groups. Also ask if the group they belong to requires them to have training every year or simply pay an annual fee.
Don’t forget that after the party is over, you want to have an amazing relaxing honeymoon with your new spouse! Ask if your wedding planner has travel contacts or resources for you to use. Perhaps they can even help to plan your special vacation or destination wedding.
But above all the rules, paperwork, and fine print, most of all, make sure you really like your wedding planner, because you will be spending a lot of time together in the coming months!