We’re going to go out on a not-so-long limb and say it here first: Hiring a wedding planner is seriously a great idea. Wedding planners can help you find the right team of service providers, walk you through and manage logistics—not to mention keep you on track with your checklist to-dos and on a budget! Planners know the ins and outs of weddings. And, oftentimes, planners are there to save you money and help you manage that wedding budget accordingly, and averting day-of crises (hello, solid rain plan!). Having someone else take away some of the event planning stress and allow you to enjoy the planning process, your engagement, and the day-of is totally a worthwhile investment in our book. So just how much does a wedding planner cost? Start here.
Full-Service Wedding Planner vs. A La Carte vs. Coordinator vs. Consultant
Wedding planners don’t all play the same exact role. Some of them are there with you from day one holding your hand and accompanying you on every appointment. Others are there to guide you and still, others are there to simply create guardrails and keep you on track. In other words, wedding planners provide a huge variety of services, so let’s break down some differences:
- Planner: Full-service wedding planners are with you from day one. They work with you on a concept, planning, logistics, and all the little details. Depending on how your contract reads, they may even have you covered at your rehearsal dinner and maybe even your post-wedding brunch. If you’re dreaming up a destination wedding or dealing with a large-scale event, we highly recommend you go with full-service!
- Partial Planner: Also known as a la carte planners, these professionals help out with specific big-ticket items, like budget management, catering, or designing your floor plan. If you feel like you have the capacity to take on some planning (and you have the personality that doesn’t mind a lot of details!), you may want to opt for partial planning services.
- Coordinator: A wedding coordinator is much less involved in the long-term planning process, typically overseeing events on the day of. But just because their main role is to coordinate the day-of doesn’t mean you should leave finding a coordinator to the very last minute! You’ll want to bring a coordinator on board at least a month before you tie the knot so that you can set expectations and introduce them to vendors and other important people.
- Consultant: Think of a wedding consultant as more like a guide throughout your wedding planning process. They’ll help you work out any kinks in your plan and advise you on big decisions. Consultants’ services can differ significantly, so make sure you ask what their area of expertise is in and what they cover!
Which option is right for you? That’s entirely your decision! But know this: Without professional planning assistance, couples typically put 200+ hours into planning their weddings, so it’s up to you and your partner to decide how you’d prefer to invest your time.
How Wedding Planner Costs are Calculated
Depending on whether you’re going for à la carte, full service, or the help of friends plus a coordinator, planning costs can range anywhere from several hundred dollars to $5,000 plus. The average couple spends about $1,800 on a planner (keep in mind that’s not majority full-service). Look at it another way, it’s typically advised that couples plan for a pro to cost the equivalent of 10%-18% of their entire budget.
Here’s how wedding planners typically charge:
- Flat Rate: This is the most common way that wedding planners charge, and it’s helpful because fees don’t increase if your wedding budget does. Everything covered is outlined in the contract—no surprises.
- Hourly Rate: If you’re working with a coordinator or consultant, chances are higher that they may offer an hourly rate. These typically range from $75-100 but higher-end professionals may charge up to $275 per hour.
- Percentage of Overall Wedding Bill: The larger the wedding, the more moving parts there are to juggle. Planners bill this way so that they can adapt if the scope of the event changes. This can get pricey if you don’t keep a lid on your budget, but it means that no matter what, your planner has got you covered.
- Combination Flat Rate and Percentage: Hybrid pricing models have become increasingly popular. In this instance, your planner will charge you a flat rate for their services up to a certain budget amount. As you’re planning, if you decide to increase your budget, then you might end up paying a percentage fee just on the amount that you go over budget. Why do planners do this? Think of it this way: If the two of you set out to plan a wedding and halfway into the planning process, the budget doubles, so does the scope of work. This is just an easy way for your planner to manage their work and fees while providing you with the utmost in service.
What’s Included in a Wedding Planner’s Fee?
All wedding planning companies are different, so who you choose and what’s included comes down to your preferences and their way of organizing. Here’s a list of common inclusions to give you an idea of what you should look for:
- Planning consultation
- Checklist management
- Budget creation and management
- Venue scouting and negotiations
- Wedding vendor sourcing, communications, and negotiations
- Wedding vendor contract management
- Guest list and RSVP management
- Accommodation recommendations
- Weather contingency planning
- Catering negotiations, liaising, and menu design
- Stationery production
- Timeline creation & management
- Wedding day staffing
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Planner
Because wedding planners, coordinators, and consultants offer such different services, here’s a list of questions to get you started as you meet and interview different professionals:
- What service do you offer, and do you offer different packages?
- Do you charge a flat fee, bill by percentage, hourly rate, or a hybrid?
- How often will we meet throughout the planning process?
- When can I contact you, and do you have a preference for communication? (Email, text, call)
- What types of weddings have you planned in the past, and what style do you excel at?
- What’s your background? How did you get into wedding planning?
- What would you say are your particular areas of strength?
- Do you have any knowledge gaps/areas of weakness that I should be aware of so that I can have someone else cover these? (A good planner should be forthcoming about what they can and can’t do!)
- Have you worked with local vendors and venues in this area?
- What is your favorite part of wedding planning?
Don’t be shy on the first consultation when you’re looking for a wedding planner! You’ll be spending a lot of time and keeping in close contact with this person, so you want to find someone who is invested in your wedding day and with whom you have a personal connection. You need to know that they have your back as you begin a life together with your partner!