How to Choose the Right Wedding Planner

How to Choose the Right Wedding Planner
Columbia Pictures, Cass Loh

"Choosing a wedding planner is a huge step towards a stress-free and successful wedding day," says Maureen FitzGibbon, senior designer at event planning agency Kate & Company. "Remember that you’re going to spend a lot of time with this person or team."

This is probably the number one thing you should always have in the back of your mind while interviewing planners—am I comfortable with spending the next six months talking to this person every single day?

Your wedding planner will be right there next to you when you argue with your S.O. about the budget, he or she will be there when a family member throws a major tantrum over your seating chart, or when, suddenly, you get cold feet and start doubting your every life decision. That's why it is of utmost importance that you can see yourself in each of these situations in the presence of your wedding planner without any reservations.

And finding that person is no easy task. Here are a few tips that will make this process a lot easier for you:

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1. Compatibility and experience matter

"You want her to be an awesome fit for your personality and style but also experienced and seasoned enough to fully execute the type of event you want at the level you want," says Lisa Costin of the event planning company, A Charming Fête.

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"Face to face, in-person initial consultations are always recommended if possible.Your planner should also be asking you a lot of questions and showing enthusiasm about your style and ideas. If not, she may not be a good fit. After all, you will be working together intimately over the next several months or year, planning one of the best days of your life!

Are you comfortable having lengthy meetings with her and openly voicing your concerns—no matter how personal—as well as your wants and needs? Your planner should be your advocate throughout the entire process, she should understand your vision and priorities and work with you to polish and fine tune the vision, offer guidance expertise when needed and execute a wedding day that exceeds your expectations.”

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2. Do your homework

To narrow down the list of potential planners, check out their online portfolios, read reviews from other couples (websites like The Knot and WeddingWire are great resources), and ask for references.

"Ask them what vendors they work with," suggests Victoria Holland of Victoria Ann Events. "An experienced planner will be able to give you a list of vendors they work with, with no problems."

And another valuable piece of advice from Holland: "Don't go with the cheapest option. Like with anything in life, you get what you pay for.”

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3. Ask the right questions

Whether you decide to interview wedding planners on the phone or in person, asking the right questions is imperative.

"I suggest that you comprise a list of five questions that are most important to you so that you can gauge whether or not this particular planner is the best fit." says Lorrie Betsill Nielson of Unveiled Hawaii

"Ask questions such as: What type of planning services do you offer?, What is the average price range of the weddings you plan?, What will the overall planning timeline look like with you as my planner?, What will you need from me to ensure that we communicate effectively about my vision and areas of importance to me? And discuss what their overall fees would be."

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4. Talk money early on

To save yourself some major disappointment and financial issues in the future, you need to make sure A) your planner's fees are within your budget and B) you are giving them enough cash to do their job properly and make your dream wedding a reality.

"A good planner can work with all budgets to bring visions to life, but if everything in your planner’s portfolio is way out of your budget, it will be difficult for her to deliver the same results as the photos you are double-tapping," says Jennifer Stiebel of SoCo Events. "Talk openly about your budget and ask to see work they have done in the same ballpark to make sure you won’t be disappointed with product or shocked by costs down the road."

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5. Understand what their services are

"A wedding planner is all about the logistics," says Brit Bertino. "They can provide and are not limited to the following services: site selections, vendor referrals, assist with contract negotiation to day of planning services."

Having said that, you also need to be aware that there are other types of wedding-related roles such as wedding consultants, wedding coordinators, wedding stylists and designers, and wedding producers, and understanding what their job description and services entail is crucial. Otherwise, you may end up with someone who's great at negotiating contracts but whose ability to design a beautiful wedding is not as good.

 
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