A wedding planner can be part fairy godmother, part logistical magician. They have the ability to turn dreams into reality and can wrangle a spreadsheet with one hand tied behind their back while also explaining to a vendor why wheat pasta won't work for a gluten-free buffet. These professional multitaskers can make life so much easier for engaged couples organizing their big day, but bringing in the big guns usually comes with a big price tag.
When should you hire a wedding planner and when should you go it alone? Your answers to these questions will help you determine whether you should get a pro to assist or stick to DIY as you prepare to say, "I do".
Do you struggle to stick to a budget?
It costed an average of $19,000 to get hitched in 2020, but your wedding may cost a lot less or heaps more depending on your choice of venue, catering preferences, entertainment options, and other wedding options. Putting together all the puzzle pieces of your ceremony and reception while also honoring your financial constraints can be a juggling act of epic proportions that makes the average person feel like they're losing their marbles.
A talented wedding planner can make your vision come to life while also ensuring you stay within your budget. Those tulips you wanted are out of season and therefore triple the estimated price? You might still be able to afford them if your bridesmaid bouquets also double as wedding centerpieces, thereby cutting your overall cost of flowers almost in half. Wedding planners have the hands-on experience to offer those kinds of money-saving tips, plus they have valuable relationships with vendors that often result in sweet discounts.
Are you good at multitasking?
Wedding planning is hard work. There are always a multitude of things going on. You may be negotiating with a furniture rental place one minute and trying to schedule cake tasting the next. And there's always something that will go wrong at the last minute, which means you'll be in your dress or tux and need to put out a fire (hopefully not literally) before you can actually say "I do."
There's a reason wedding planning is so often left to the experts. A great planner does so much more than plan. They know how to read and tweak vendor contracts, finesse the financial aspects of those deals, coordinate vendor load-ins, take care of post-event cleanup, and tackle unexpected hurdles with grace. They sweat so you don't have to.
Do you have a full-time job?
If you work full-time, whether that's an actual salaried job or another important position like stay-at-home mom or caretaker to your grandmother, you likely don't have space in your schedule to tackle everything on your wedding checklist. Hiring a wedding planner means you can delegate major responsibilities and time-consuming errands like measuring venues and getting fabric samples but still be involved in the things that are important to you like customizing your wedding invitations.
Also consider that your office hours are likely the same as vendors' office hours. If you work 9-5 and so does your photographer or florist, then that means you'll use up vacation time or sacrifice your lunch break to get stuff done. Wedding planners can do their job while you're doing yours — a total win-win.
Do you know all of your options?
In most cases, this will be your first wedding. Even if it's not, you probably only have one other event under your belt. Wedding planners have dozens, if not hundreds. It's their job to be up on trends and know what's available. Would you rather find out six months after you get married that you could've had a food truck pull up at midnight instead of leaving guests on the dance floor with a serious case of munchies or find that information out during the planning process because your experienced wedding planner clued you in?
The internet is an incredible place, and you can find an amazing amount of wedding ideas if you take the time to research. But in some cases, you can only look for things you know to look for — you don't know about the local woodworker who makes one-of-a-kind cake toppers unless someone tells you about them. You might love wine but not realize you can get mini bottles with custom labels. Did you know you can create cocktail napkins with fun facts about you and your soulmate on each one? Your wedding planner does.
You can have a great wedding using the same venue your friends used and the first caterer that popped up when you did a search on Yelp. Or you can sit with your wedding planner and find out that it only costs $50 to use the local park for your ceremony and you can do a clambake to honor the summers you and your childhood sweetheart spent on the shores of New England. Wedding planners get to know you and then make suggestions tailored to your likes, dislikes, history, and vision for the future. How sweet is that?
Do you want to be the one figuring out where the ice sculpture goes when you're about to walk down the aisle?
No matter how prepared you are to get married, you're going to be nervous once it's time to actually say I do. It's completely natural to feel overwhelmed on what's likely the biggest day of your life. The key to having a great wedding is to enjoy every minute of it, and that can't happen if you're trying to sit through hair and makeup while also dealing with a delivery mix-up that has left you with no tables for the reception.
As vital as a wedding planner is during the planning process, their presence on your wedding day is when you truly get your money's worth. They troubleshoot so you don't have to. While your wedding planner is chatting with vendors and sourcing extra champagne flutes because someone dropped an entire case on the way in, you're off soaking up the love of your bridesmaids or groomsmen and eating a light brunch arranged by — you guessed it — that uber-talented wedding planner.
Are you having a destination wedding?
You can't plan a wedding from several thousand miles away and also maintain your sanity. This is especially true if the destination is in another country. Use a local wedding planner who knows the people, the layout of the town, how long it really takes to get from place to place, and what the weather is like when you plan on tying the knot. A local planner will also know how to take care of necessary paperwork if you want to legally get married abroad instead of getting married on paper at home and having a symbolic celebration and party at your resort (the second option is much easier, just FYI).
When NOT to hire a wedding planner
While hiring a wedding planner can be a lifesaver in many cases, professional planning assistance isn't for everyone. Couples having a small wedding on a tight budget might be better off using their limited funds on actual wedding costs versus paying a planner. Anyone interested in lots of DIY might not want a planner involved either. If you're creating your centerpieces, baking your own wedding cupcakes, using flowers from your mom's garden, and having your cousin cook up some BBQ for the big day, a wedding planner might be unnecessary.
You can also skip the wedding planner if you're getting married at an all-inclusive resort or other venue that takes care of everything in-house rather than involving outside vendors. In those situations, you have one point person that's overseeing everything from décor to dessert. Think of it like having a general contractor supervising a home renovation — you convey your vision, approve details leading up to the project, and then the general contractor takes care of the rest. It's the same with an all-inclusive resort. Their on-site team is your wedding planner and the day-of event squad all rolled into one.
Keep in mind that there is a middle ground, too. If you don't want a wedding planner to take over the whole event but do want some extra help on the actual day, you can hire a wedding coordinator to oversee last-minute tasks like arranging furniture, decorating venues, and cleaning up the confetti after you and your spouse head off on your honeymoon.
Wedding planning isn't for everyone. That's why there are people who make marriage their life's work. Whether you decide to plan by yourself or collaborate with a pro, start your brainstorming using wedding inspiration boards to see what ideas get your pulse racing, which color trends strike your fancy, and what you want to eat on the happiest day of your life.