If you're even vaguely considering hiring a wedding planner, you should decide that first. The more involved in your wedding the planner is, the more likely it is that she can save you money and hassle. If you've already signed contracts with multiple vendors, you may be better off hiring a Day of Coordinator.
There are three basic categories of wedding planners:
As with any wedding vendor, getting recommendations and referrals from friends and family is a great way to start your research. OneWed.com lets clients post ratings and reviews of vendors so that you can ensure you're chosen planner is as good as she seems.
Even the greatest wedding planner on Earth isn't going to be the right fit for every couple. Movies and reality TV shows make it seem normal for wedding planners to be bossy or overbearing,
but in reality this person should be helpful and understanding. If you find yourself being afraid to tell the planner your thoughts or opinions, you've got the wrong planner.
Consider asking questions about contingency plans and "day of" problems that the planner has solved in the past. You're hiring a planner to remove stress from your life, so you want to make sure he or she won't be the one stressing you out!
Some wedding planners get commissions from vendors for referring clients to them. In these cases a planner refers you to a caterer, you hire the caterer, and as a thank you to the planner, the caterer gives the planner a commission or finder's fee. Unfortunately, this finder's fee often winds up being charged back to you by the caterer. When interviewing planners, ask about their policies. Many see this practice as unethical whereas others see it as one way that they're able to charge you low fees.
It's common business practice to give special discounts or perks to repeat customers. Because they know that if they do a good job the wedding planner will continue providing them with clients, many vendors will offer special discounts and services to the clients of a wedding planner. Unless you've asked the planner to interview and hire wedding vendors for you, the planner should always provide you with about three options. The planner should help you think about the pros and cons of each vendor, but you should never feel pressured to make a specific choice.
Make sure to read and understand your contract. Different wedding planners charge in different ways. Some have specific packages from which you can choose. These packages may specify the number of
hours they'll be working for you or the services they'll provide. Others work with you to determine your needs and then give you a flat fee. In either case, the contract should spell
out exactly what the services and fees are. You should expect to pay 50 percent of the fee when signing the contract.
If the issue of whether or not the planner accepts commissions is important to you, you may ask to have that written into the contract.
As with all "day of" vendors, tips are not required, but are of course appreciated. Ten percent of your planner's bill would be an appropriate amount to tip a wedding planner who had gone above and beyond the call of duty. If the planner brings an assistant for the day of the wedding, you may want to split the tip between them or tip the assistant separately.
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