A Few Key Things To Keep In Mind
1. Book Ahead of Time
It's best to secure these professionals as soon as you know your wedding date—even if they aren't getting involved until the month before. This tactic also can help you get the most for your money. "If a couple books us early, we're happy to provide them with our list of performance-driven vendor recommendations," says Anna Leath of Just About Married in New York City.
2. Consider the Cost
Planners tell us that, for the most part, full-service wedding production and design runs approximately 15 to 20 percent of the total wedding cost, depending on the planner's experience, what region of the U.S. they're based in, and how much time your wedding demands. A wedding director generally will cost at least 25 percent of what a full-service planner would charge (so if the total package is $10,000, you can expect to pay $2,500 for a limited-service package). You probably can expect to pay between $2,000 and $6,000 for a qualified wedding director and $8,000 and $30,000 for a wedding planner or designer.
3. Vet Your Pros
There's no license or certification required to practice wedding planning—and while belonging to an organization like the Association of Bridal Consultants, the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, or the Wedding Industry Professionals Association is an indicator of experience, it's not the only one. Talent speaks for itself via photos on the planner's company website or blog.
As with all the pros you hire, always read reviews and politely ask for references from other vendors and couples.
4. Always Put Someone in Charge of Day-Of Tasks
Someone—not you—needs to make sure the wedding day itself runs smoothly and that everything you've planned is executed properly. But what if a professional wedding planner is not in your budget? While most venue coordinators and catering managers are happy to handle basic on-site logistics and simple setups—like arranging escort cards on a table or placing menu cards on each plate—keep in mind that their allegiance ultimately is to their employer, not you (meaning they're making sure the food is served on time, not that the DJ is playing the right songs or that there are enough pens for the guestbook).
"It would be unfair to expect your vendors to handle tasks they weren't hired for, but it's helpful to tell them that you don't have a planner and won't be securing one," says Joyce Scardina Becker of Events of Distinction in San Francisco and Los Angeles. "The most professional people certainly will do as much as they can for you."
The best option is to ask a responsible, trusted friend to handle a few important tasks, like managing the timeline or handling any snafus that arise with vendors, and then to thank the person with a gift card to a store that they like. "But you have to be really understanding that this is not the person's profession—don't expect everything to be perfect," says Leath.
Visit brides.com for more tips on planning your wedding