Take a deep breath and relax, because it is absolutely possible to hire someone who will give you as much or as little help as you want to coordinate all the plans for your wedding!
Today’s wedding planners offer a variety of services that fit into everyone’s individual needs. No matter what your budget, you can take advantage of an expert’s assistance for your wedding day.
A wedding reception planner is an expert on color coordination, food, music, flowers, and logistics. She (or he) can tell you whether your dress style will clash with the decorations you envision. For example, your Victorian gown might not harmonize with a modern floral design. She’s also a people expert, with advice for handling your recalcitrant Uncle Herbert and your flirtatious cousin Delia. And no matter what your budget is, there is a level of service that’s just right for you.
Do you only need—or want—a little assistance? Maybe you are someone who prefers to make your own decisions. If you like, you can retain a wedding planner for a one- or two-session consultation. He can coach you on how to allocate your budget and advise you on vendors.
If you choose a wedding planner just to come in at the end of your planning, you are hiring a professional who comes to your assistance in the days before the wedding and oversees the plans you’ve made so things run smoothly on your wedding day. He can pull together the loose ends or give you advice on matters of etiquette.
You can also arrange for a full package of services, from deciding your budget to returning tuxedos after the reception. This is a person who works with you on every little detail, who suggests venues and vendors. A wedding reception planner can help you visualize the difference between sit-down service for 50 guests versus a buffet for a larger group. As you put together your plans, she will tell you that you need to leave x-amount of time for this, or allow x-amount of money for that.
So how much does a wedding planner cost?
In the past wedding planners were available only with full-service packages and charged about 20% of the entire wedding budget. But in today’s market they offer a wider variety of services, so the cost really depends upon what you buy and where you live. You can buy just a few consultations for a few hundred dollars, or by-the-hour services, or wedding day assistance, for around $1,500, or the full package of services, approximately $5,000. The average cost of a wedding planner, according to recent statistics, runs about $3,700.
A few tips: Make certain your wedding planner has actual experience, because there is no educational or certification standard yet for these professionals. And keep in mind when you sign your contract, if something’s not spelled out in the contract you cannot count on getting that service. Also, some wedding planners charge less in December, January, and February, because these are slower wedding months.
What if you really want to be your own wedding planner? Many men and women prefer to have direct hands-on control of everything that happens, and they have a support network of family and friends to assist them on their big day.
You can find a comprehensive budget worksheet at http://www.wedding-needs.com/wedding-budget.asp. Using a tool like this will remind you of the details you need to manage each step of the way, and you can enter the amount you’re spending in each area plus make relevant notations.
Just remember: This is your wedding! When all the relatives have had their say, the bottom line is that the decisions are up to the two of you. Your memories are going to last a lifetime, so make it happen the way you have always dreamed.
Wishing you easy planning and a great wedding day,