You said “Yes”! Congratulations on the engagement! Now your sights are set on the big day!
With so much to consider, it seems that the planning for your wedding can’t start soon enough. The truth is: not every part of wedding planning is fun. There’s finding a bus lines, chair and tent rentals, seating charts, and, well, you get the point. With so many moving parts involved, hiring a wedding planner is appealing to many couples.
Hiring a wedding planner is a big deal. You work closely with them, allowing them into your lives and sharing your vision for your wedding day. It may seem expensive, but it can really be worth the money. Just think, you are planning your first wedding, a professional wedding planner has planned far more. They have built connections and experiences that can help find appropriate vendors, advise you on proper etiquette, and suggest ways to use your budget wisely.
Here are five steps that make finding the right planner a little easier.
Before you think about a wedding planner, you need to sit down as a couple and consider how much time, budget, and help you have available for wedding preparations. Maybe you need help in one of those areas and not others. Think about what areas could benefit from a professional planner.
Now that you have any idea of where you need help, start looking into wedding planners in your local area. Even if you’re unsure about hiring a professional wedding planner, it won’t cost you anything to give them a call and find out the range and price of their services.
When reviewing their websites, look at the photographs from previous wedding projects. Does their style match what you want to do, what type of planning services they offer, and take a look at client reviews. You can also find out if they are a member of any professional planning organizations such as the The Wedding Planner Institute of Canada.
2. Narrow The Search
Narrow your search down and contact a few of your favourites. Send them an email; share some of your vision and needs. Ask about the types of planning they offer, their availability, and an estimated cost. If they align with your vision and budget, set up meetings with them.
Remember, wedding planning is not only limited to start-to-finish planning. It spans the spectrum of services from consulting, to getting you started, or helping get past a roadblock. The most popular service for planners is month-of consultation. This is for couples who have planned the majority of the wedding and need help finalizing the details and coordinating the actual wedding day. Keep this in mind when you create a budget.
3. Prepare for Your First Meeting
Now it’s time for some preparation. Scan the Internet and gather pictures of weddings that share elements of your vision. See something you love on Pinterest? Bring it. Make sure that you have a clear vision of what you want your wedding to be.
As we mentioned above, you are going to be working very closely with this person. Personality is a big deal. You may be working with this person for months. Do they seem excited about your ideas? What is their experience and background? Why did they get into planning?
The initial consultations let you get a feel for each other and determine whether you will be on the same page during the planning process. Be prepared to answer questions about the number of guests you’d like to invite, the colour scheme or theme, which aspects are most important to you (such as the food, music, flowers), and your budget. This information will help start the brainstorming on everything from invitation decoration to venue locations.
Questions to think about:
- What is their general philosophy about weddings?
- Do they have a minimum budget they work with?
- What types of venues have they worked in?
- How do they deal with difficult family members?
- Can they supply a sample budget?
4.Call Their References
You have met the wedding planner and you have a good rapport. Excellent! Now, step back and take sometime to make the decision. You do not have to decide on the day of the meeting. It is very important that you call their references. Keep in mind, that since the planner has supplied these names, that they are happy customers. If they are not over the moon happy, that may be cause for concern.
Here are some questions to ask the references:
- How closely did they stick to your budget?
- Can you email me photos from your wedding? (This way you can see pictures that are not selected by the planner, like the pictures on their website)
- How well did they interpret your ideas?
- Was the wedding’s style exactly what you wanted?
- Did they have good vendor recommendations and coordinate with other pros?
- Did they respond quickly to your calls or emails, and were they nice to work with?
- Did the wedding go smoothly, according to your guests?
- Did anything go wrong, and how did they handle it?
5. Get Started!
You have put in the work, now it is time to make the decision. Once you have selected your planner, get their acceptance in writing (or by email) to ensure you have a paper trail. Then, ask for a contract between you and your wedding planner.
There are a number of key pieces of information that is essential to be included in the contract:
- Name and contact info for you and the vendor.
- Date, times and locations of your ceremony and reception.
- Itemized list of all the services you need.
- A list of anything the planner will supply or take care of.
- Arrival times and time needed for setup at the ceremony and reception sites.
- Total cost (or calculation).
- Deposit amount due.
- Balance and date(s) due.
- Cancellation and refund policy.
- Planner’s signature.
- Your signature.
Once you have signed the contract and paid the deposit, you now have your wedding planner. Woo hoo! Next stop an awesome wedding.