Planning a wedding can be a daunting task and that is where a planner can be of a great advantage. They can be quite costly to hire but with their knowledge and connections in the industry they will ensure that you stay within your budget, on schedule and will keep your wedding planning experience as stress-free as possible.
The thing to keep in mind when looking for a planner is that you will be putting a certain amount of responsibility for the success of your special day in their hands.
This is why it is very important that you hire someone with whom you not only get along but who you also trust and feel comfortable with.
The best way to do this is to start by arrange face-to-face meetings with potential planners. The aim of this meeting is to get to know the planner on a personal level (Questions to Ask) to see if they make a good fit.
Now before you arrange any meetings you and your fiancé should have an idea of:
You then need to keep the following in mind throughout the meeting:
Do you and the planner get along?
This is probably the most important aspect - you will be spending a lot of time with this person and you need to feel comfortable. Does the conversation flow or does it feel forced? Do you feel like you can be yourself around them or is there awkward tension?
Are they interested in learning about you?
The planner you choose should be just as concerned as you are about the success of your wedding - and for you to have a successful wedding they need to know who you are and what you want. So if they don’t show interest in learning either of these it will be better to just skip them and move to someone else.
Are they organized and professional?
When they show up for the meeting do they have everything in order and ready or do they seem a bit disorganized? There are a lot of different aspects to planning a wedding and they all happen at the same time so you will need someone who can manage them all without making mistakes.
Do they listen to you?
Your wedding day should be the way you want it to be, not the way your planner wants it to be. So are they really hearing what you are saying or pushing for you to take their ideas instead.
Some other aspects to consider before hiring:
Discuss with the planner how they will be communicating with you - will it mainly be in person, over the phone or via email - and discuss with them how you would prefer to communicate and if they can adapt. You also need to discuss how often you want to communicate, would you prefer weekly check-ins or will a monthly update work.
Find out how they go about planning a wedding; let them walk you through the process from day one so you can start to understand how the next few months will play out. This s a good way to get a sense of where their priorities fall
This is not just their availability on the day (however it is important that they are) but their availability in regard to the time they have available to actually plan your wedding. Planning a wedding is time-consuming and requires great attention to detail and if your planner is juggling too many weddings at once something is bound to go wrong. So find out how many they are doing in the same month as your wedding - ideally it should not be more that 2 weddings a month. However, if it is only “day-of” coordinators they can get away with 3-4 weddings per month.
Most planners have different packages they can offer you from a full service - where they do everything from day one - to a day-of coordination. The package you decide on is dependent on your budget and schedule.
In your meeting with the planner you need to confirm with them exactly the types of services they offer and if they are flexible in them to suit your needs. You also want to find out what (if any) their limitations are to their services - e.g. they don’t manage the guest list/invitations or travelling.
Here is also a good time to request any references they have so you can do a bit of further research on them.
Have a look at their portfolio; this can help you get a sense of their style. Take note of what you like and don't like and whether they've come up with ideas that feel new and creative; or if they're reproducing the same look over and over. This is a good way to determine if their ways and ideas will mesh with your vision and if they will be able to make your wedding as unique as you want it.
Here it will also help to find out if they have planned a wedding at your venue before; if so they will be familiar with the staff, layout and logistics and may have specific suggestions or design ideas they've learned from working in the space before.
This is two-fold:
Find out from the planner how they will handle situations like this; it will give you an idea of how well they work under pressure.
If a planner has a list of suppliers they prefer to work with; it usually means that they have established a solid relationship, have access to discounts and an understanding of the suppliers’ quality of work. However, it can also restrict your ability to find a florist willing to make the crazy bouquet of your dreams or a baker that will make you up a non-traditional cake. So firstly you need to find out if you have to use suppliers from the planners list or if you can bring in some of your own.
Secondly find out if the planner gets any kickback if you use a supplier they suggested. You want to make sure they are suggesting suppliers because they are the best and not because of the kickback.
Find out if the planner has a minimum budget that they work with. Most couples will know what their maximum budget is but very few are aware that there is a minimum as well. You need to be honest about your budget with the planner (before you hire them) so you can be sure you are both on the same page and can set realistic expectations.
It is also a good way to determine whether they fit into your price range or, if you haven't set a budget yet, it can give you an idea of what your budget would be.
Very important - request a breakdown of the costs from the planner so you can see exactly what is included and what is extra.
Lastly once you have decided on a planner make sure that everything you have discussed and agreed to is put in the contract and signed by you and the planner.
So in short, do not hire a planner if:
It is important to listen to your gut - if an interview doesn't feel right, then maybe that person just isn't a good fit for you. You will be spending a lot of time with your planner, so it's important to pick someone who is compatible with you as a couple.