PLANNERS, COORDINATORS AND CONSULTANTS
If you are attempting to plan a complicated
wedding where an extraordinary amount of details have to be coordinated, hiring a wedding planner
can save you a significant amount of time - and stress - and sanity - and ensure that all elements of your wedding have been taken care of properly.
When it comes to a service business like wedding planning, time is money
- so plan to spend some
money for the planners time while keeping in mind that you are paying for time that
you would have to spend doing it yourself. Additionally, you are paying for their
knowledge to save you money and to make sure that all of the details of
your wedding are
SELECTING A WEDDING PLANNER,
CONSULTANT OR COORDINATOR
The recent "work at home" business boom has created companies who offer rapid
"certification" programs for wedding, party and event consultants, coordinators
and planners. For a few hundred dollars you too can become a "certified"
wedding or event planner. Unfortunately, there are a number of
inexperienced "planners" and "consultants" and "coordinators" running around
with "certified" stamps on their foreheads hoping that people will buy into
believing that "certified" means "experienced". Selecting an
experienced planner, consultant or coordinator is essential if you are going
to have a worry free and problem free wedding. There are just too many
details that can easily be overlooked or messed up to trust your wedding to
someone who has never planned a wedding before. Be sure to inquire about the
planner's experience and the number of weddings they have coordinated.
Ask to obtain several recent references from the
wedding consultant or planner so you can check their clients satisfaction level. If they are not willing
to share several recent references with you, don't waste time. Move on to
another wedding planner.
Services that are offered will vary and
can range from simple consulting services to make the job of "doing it yourself"
easier, to complete "start to finish" coordination of your wedding. A consultant
usually takes a more passive role and may simply offer "guidance" in areas where
you may not be familiar while allowing you to do it yourself. On the other hand, a
full service wedding planner or coordinator will provide more "hands on" expertise and
take an active role in planning and supervising your wedding, handling everything from
working with you to establish a workable budget, to
selecting the best suppliers at the best price, to addressing and sending
wedding invitations, to on-site supervision of the components
of the actual wedding. Depending upon your budget you will have to decide which level
of service is right for you.
When you speak to different
wedding planners, take notes and determine your comfort level with the specific planner.
Do they seem to listen and understand what you have in mind?
Inquire about the fee
structure and obtain a written outline of the fees or an estimate of the costs
Do they charge by the hour or based on a specified
percentage of the total wedding cost? (A percentage based fee is not
really a preferred arrangement since the wedding planner makes more money when the
wedding costs more - which offers the planner very little incentive to save
Find out specifically what you
are getting for your money, which areas of the wedding planning process they are taking care of and which
areas they are not taking care of.
Ask if, in addition to the fee
they charge you, they also receive a fee from the vendors that they contract
for your wedding. If your goal is to receive the best value, planners
who charge vendors should probably be avoided since the fee they charge the
vendor sometimes (frequently) is "built -in" to the vendor's charges to the
client. This is pretty much like paying the planner twice, isn't it?
*The above also applies to wedding and special event facilities who have an
"approved" vendor list and who receive a fee from the approved vendors for
requiring the client to use their services. Remember though, that just
because a facility may have a vendor list does not mean that they
automatically charge the vendor a fee. This is a question you will need to
ask the wedding facility.
Payment for the wedding planner's fee is also something to
discuss initially. Normally, the planner will charge a retainer in
advance that either covers a percentage of the anticipated total or for a
specific number of hours of service. The balance is then payable
either in periodic time billing amounts prior to the wedding - or in full at
the conclusion of the wedding - or a combination of the two.
Avoid paying 100% of all fees in advance unless you know
that the wedding planner has a rock solid reputation. From a practical
standpoint, it is usually best to reserve final payment until the conclusion
of the event - just in case something goes wrong due to negligence on the
part of the wedding planner.
Payments to vendors contracted on your behalf by a wedding
planner will either be paid by you directly or paid by the wedding planner
from funds paid by you to the planner for that purpose. When paying the
planner for services provided by contracted vendors, be sure to obtain the
ORIGINAL invoice copies rather than paying from a statement.
DISCUSSIONS WITH THE PLANNER
Once you are comfortable with the wedding planner and have contracted their services it
is time to get down to the nuts and bolts of planning your wedding. A thorough
initial discussion with the wedding planner will give him/her the information needed to begin
planning your wedding. Be honest with the planner relative to the amount of funds
available for your wedding since the planner will need to establish a
realistic plan and wedding budget that is based on both your requirements and
your available funds. Thorough discussion with the wedding planner will
allow the planner to advise you if your requirements are not realistic when
compared to your available funds and will also allow the planner to offer you
alternative suggestions to stay within your available funds and within your
wedding budget. Keep in mind that
some fine tuning of the components, i.e. facility, decor, food and beverage,
entertainment, number of guests, etc. and their associated costs may be needed to stay within your
available budget. For other money saving alternatives see our
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