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The Definitive Guide to Choosing Your Wedding Planner

Couples often have the impression that wedding planners are a luxury, when really a good planner should be able to save you both time and money.  They are not pompous and should be friendly and approachable whilst being very organised and focused. Really they are your own “Wedding PA”.  

 Wedding Planning Editor, Susanna Richardson 

When looking for a good planner it’s a good idea to ask around and see who anyone else may have used before. You could also try google searches and take a look at their website. Their website should be easy to read, understand and contain information about what they have done before with a portfolio section so you can see the weddings they have worked on. Client testimonials are good as well as any testimonials from industry such as TV, magazines or radio. It is also an advantage if they give you an idea as to their fees.    Definitive Guide to Choosing your Wedding Planner

Not many planners will have a brochure to post out but some will have a PDF version you can download. When you do email, make note of their reply, is it to the point? Does it list the information you wanted to know? Don’t ask for specifics like “how much will it cost?” as most won’t be able to answer this until they have had a consultation with you. If they do give you an exact price be wary, especially for full co-ordination as this may mean you are being over charged, a rough guide is all your should expect. 

It would be normal for the planner to call you once you have exchanged emails, they will then usually arrange to come out and visit you at a time to suit. They are used to working evenings and weekends so don’t think you are putting them out. Normally they would visit you at home and bring along their portfolio for you to look through. This is a chance for you to ask lots of questions about what they do and what they have done in the past. They will ask you lots of questions about the type of wedding you want and you may find that some send you a questionnaire for you to fill out before they meet you, some may go through this in person. Each one is unique and works in their own way so there is no wrong or right. As long as you are given a clear idea as to how this works and you are happy that is all that matters. Remember when choosing a planner that you will be working with them for a long period of time so you need to feel comfortable. If the rapport isn’t there move on and look for someone else. 

Your planner should be well groomed, they should look neat and well put together. Scruffy clothes just don’t cut it, when it comes to weddings.  They should have lots of ideas and have a real flair for design. Of course, they won’t share many of these ideas at an initial consultation but they should give you a few thoughts to mull over. Make sure that the person you meet is the one who is planning your wedding. It may be that they come to the wedding with an assistant but it’s not vital that you meet any assistants. 

Following this initial consultation they should then write you a wedding report and quotation document. This will be an outline of the points you discussed and a quote outlining all costs. Make sure you read this carefully and check that they have really grasped the concept. It is will be very loose as most plans change along the way. This document will set the foundation of the planning so make sure you it’s correct. At this point they should send you a copy of their terms and conditions, so make sure you are happy with this.

 Once you have decided to go ahead another meeting should be arranged to discuss the plans in more detail. You should start to make a scrapbook so you can go through your ideas. Your planner should also bring along some material for you look through, whether it’s books, magazines, websites, anything to show you ideas of how it can all come together. Another document will then be written which details each stage of the planning along with a brief for each, such as the type of photographers and the budget. A detailed budget planner must be written so that this can be used as guideline for services. 

Questions to ask 

How do they charge? Is it a percentage of the budget an hourly rate or are just priced on a per wedding basis. If it’s a percentage and the budget rises will the fee be set? 

How many weddings do they work on a year? This should be a reasonable amount, not too few and not too many. 2-4 a month would be normal. You don’t want to be on a long list of weddings and not get a good level of service.  

Who will be there on the day? If you are having a full co-ordination package make sure they include attending on the day. Ask how many planners will attend. Normally it’s just the one, if you want more you would pay extra, unless they felt it was required. 

Do they have references? Ask for the details of two – three clients for you to contact yourself, normally via telephone and email. A good planner would include references on his/her planner document anyway. 

Will you be the person planning my wedding? This is very important as you want to deal with one person throughout the whole process.

How many meetings will we have? There is no set amount and it will normally depend on the package. If you want monthly meetings have this written into your contract. Most of the work can be conducted remotely but you should have a meeting a few weeks before the wedding. 

What happens if they are ill? Most wedding planners are self employed and will either work alone or have a few assistants. Make sure you ask who would cover if they were sick. 

Are they on call? Planners are there for you to call when you have any issues so you need a contact number for them. Of course, planners have lives too so don’t expect them to be on hand 24 hours a day. You should expect a response the same day though unless they have told you they are away or out of the office. 

Do they take commission? A good planner should pass any commission to you as their client. However, some may work for you for free and make their money from commissions. Make sure this is clearly stated in the contract. Remember, a good planner should save you money along the way.  They also should suggest suppliers that match your requirements, not just the ones that pay them the most commission! 

Will they negotiate on your behalf? They should always be looking to get you the best value for money at all times, whether this be with hotel rooms or favours. 

Who makes all final decisions? A planner should never take over, they should simply make suggestions and search on your behalf. Yes, they should offer tips and advice but all final choices are yours.  

Who signs contracts? In some cases you may ask your planner to sign contracts on your behalf but mostly it would be you as the client that did that. Your planner should oversee all contracts and have them changed if you or your planner are not happy.























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