How to Choose a Wedding Planner – Questions to Ask

January 24, 2018

Weddings nowadays can be very expensive and stressful, and with couples getting married older most have very busy work schedules, which means they have no time for wedding-planning, which is why they need to choose a wedding planner. Professional wedding planning is great for many reasons, planners often know the best vendors; be it florists, photographers, decorators, hotels, caterers. And also they know all the little secrets of the business, like where to buy wedding favors inexpensively but make it look like it cost a fortune!

Wedding planners have been trained to deal with stress as well as knowing when to do things and the proper etiquette of who pays for what and how to set up a proper budget so you stay on target on how much you want to spend.

Wedding planning calendar
Failing to plan is planning to fail!

Wedding planners are trained to know colors and often are great at color co-coordinating and brainstorming great ideas for themes and such. Most couples think a wedding planner would cost too much when in reality hiring a wedding planner is very economical. Most wedding planners have their own vendors that they work with and are able to get discounts for their clients which helps lower the prices. They are good at negotiating for maybe a free dessert with the catering company or have the hall throw in the chair covers!

Ideally, a wedding planner should, in the end, pay for itself.

In the sense of a wedding planner should be able to save you enough money and headaches that in the grand scheme of things they have paid for their services in your savings.

Wedding planning is a great business, however, be wary as many call themselves wedding planners but few have gone through professional training, or have enough experience to be fully reliable. Now it’s OK to have a wedding planner who is planning their first wedding, and it’s yours, as everyone needs to start somewhere, and if they have had formal training, they know to an extent what they are doing.

If you choose a wedding planner from directories, or online listings or by referral from friends, see if they offer a free consultation. Most wedding planners do offer a free consultation, where they will sit down with the couple and review the couple’s wants, plans, and budget. This is the time to look out for some key attributes in the planner.

What to look for in a wedding planner when considering hiring one for your wedding:

  • Take a look at where they will meet you, whether they have their own office or are willing to come to the house, or perhaps at a snazzy cafe. A wedding planner that asks to meet at Starbucks isn’t maybe as professional as someone who offers to meet you at your home or their home or office. However, most wedding planners work out of their own home so it may be a possibility to meet them there.
  • Watch to see how they are dressed. Remember this is a job interview on their part in a sense. You are the client and are looking to employ their services so they should be taking this as serious as any job interview. Do they come dressed in a suit or classy attire or a sweatshirt and jeans?
  • They should have a portfolio of what their services are and how much they cost. Again this is like a resume. They should have clearly written on a printed paper the packages they offer, whether they will be employed for just the wedding day, or just for consulting, or for the entire time from start to finish of the wedding. Their prices should be clearly indicated as well as a business card attached.
  • You have every right to ask for references if you like.
  • The planner should be ready with a pen and paper and should be asking what you and your partner are looking for in your wedding and how much you are willing to spend. They should be engaging with you and your partner and giving their professional opinion in what he/she recommends and how he/she is willing to work with the color themes you would like. They should be taking notes.
  • They should have a list of vendors that they have worked with in the past, and although they may not provide you with the list unless you have chosen to employ their services, you need to know that he/she has vendor’s that know them.
  • Ask questions, see how modern they are, in the fact of does he/she know of websites that can help you in your planning? Does he/she know of websites for posting pictures of your wedding? Etc.
  • See that at the end of your consultation he/she shakes hands and make sure you walk away with some kind of business card and information so that you can make a good decision of who to hire after.

Never be afraid to have four or five or more consultations with different wedding planners as this is your special day, and if you are going to be spending money on hiring someone, make sure you are happy with who you hire.

Questions to ask your wedding planner:

  1. Do you have a business card? (this should be offered right away)
  2. May I see a list of the services that you offer and your prices? (be a little weary of a planner that is not willing to give her prices, after all, you do not want surprises after the planning and wedding are done)
  3. Do you have references that I can contact? (if there are no references, with the exception of a new person starting out and yours would be the first wedding, walk away!)
  4. If this is your first wedding, is there someone with experience you can contact should you need to or who can work with you? (most new planners out of school will know a few old timers and can often get some help be it calling or have a more experienced planner there, and that should not come as an extra cost to you but should be for them to split their earnings)
  5. The colors that we have chosen are…….and……what do you see in terms of how to decorate and flowers and such, or my theme is……what do you see in terms of decorating and such? (let them tell you, see how much they know about colors and see how creative they are.)
  6. Can I see a list of vendors that you work with? (you may not be allowed to keep the list but at least know that they have one and have vendors they work with)
  7. Our budget is ₹xyz can you meet that with what we want for our wedding? (let them tell you how you can stay on budget)
  8. What are your hours of business that I may contact you? (it’s important to remember especially if this is a home-based business that they do not work around the clock so only calling between 9am-6pm would be best)
  9. Go through all the packages that they offer with them; for example.
    1. If we choose you for just the wedding day what does that entail and what do you do exactly?
    2. If we choose you for the whole thing start to finish what does that entail and what do you offer and do?
    3. If we choose just consultations how does that work?
      And so on…

After you decide on a planner that you like, phone them and inform them that you and your partner are choosing to employ them, and for which package, let’s say you have chosen to employ them for the whole thing start to finish. Make sure you set up another meeting right away at the earliest convenience possible. This is the time to review your contract and make sure they do work by contract. You should be able to review the contract and understand it and remember to never sign anything unless you understand it. If there are any things you don’t agree with, then come to an agreement with your planner and have it fixed, and then when you feel it’s ready, sign it.

Your next meeting should be where they inform you which vendors they recommend, and they start looking into things for your specific theme and colors. Above all, make sure that they give you a checklist of what gets done when. For example, when the hall should be booked, when the flowers should be ordered, etc. You will all decide on the date, the time, as well as how big it will be and who will be paying for what. Everything should be going according to the checklist as time goes by.

You and your wedding planner should not have to meet more than once a week to once every two weeks.

In the beginning, it will be longer spans of time, and as the date gets closer, you will find that you will need to meet more often. As you all visit halls, florists and such you will find that you will have to at least call your planner and fill them in on what you have chosen if you do not want them there with you.

Some couples want to take their wedding planners everywhere with them, and others prefer to do the initial decision making alone, and then just fill the planner in at weekly meetings. This all should be discussed at the first consultation after you have chosen to employ them and before you sign the contract.

Once the wedding planning is underway you should see:

  • That the wedding planner is useful to you in the sense of their ideas and vendors and such.
  • That you are staying on budget (at least mostly)
  • That you are all happy and getting along.
  • That everything is going according to the checklist and is getting done on time.
  • That you still feel in control of your wedding.
  • That everything is running smoothly and orderly.
  • That the planner is easy to get a hold of (however, remember they are your planner, not your slave so calling them at three in the morning is not acceptable. They have set hours for phone calls and do have their own lives as well as other clients, so make sure you are reasonable always allow 24 hours for someone to return your call or emails.)
Wedding planners setting up the venue
Wedding planners at work.

Once the day of your wedding arrives, your planner should be there early starting at the bride’s house, and then if the bride and groom are close by, they can go to the grooms, or else an assistant should be sent to the grooms and the two can talk via cell phones. He/She will have all the vendor numbers, and if you so choose she should be given all the checks to distribute to each vendor as things are delivered. Make sure it is decided ahead of time whether you want to give out the checks yourself or through your planner. To make it easier, the planner is the best one to do it, since they most likely will be dealing with the vendors.

At the end of the wedding, it should have been decided ahead of time who takes the gifts and money and where they should go. Whether it be the bride’s mother and father or the groom’s mother and father or a friend. This should be decided so the planner can make sure everything is in its rightful place before everyone leaves the hall.

Once everything is finished according to how you all have discussed it, the wedding planner should be paid at the end. If you were happy with their services, offer them a letter a recommendation. Also, be prepared that some wedding planners may ask for copies of your wedding pictures to help their portfolio. It should be negotiated in the contract whether they need to pay for the extra photos or you will be supplying them. Also, some wedding planners will bring their own cameras. So make sure you are aware and they should tell you all this at the very first free consultation.

Wedding planners are a wonderful tool when planning your wedding, and can be indispensable to the bride and groom in helping them make their wedding day as special as possible. There are a couple of apps on the market that can get you some discounts from vendors too. Keep these tips in mind when looking to choose a wedding planner, and remember this is your wedding! So have fun, and make sure above all that you are happy with the planner and the wedding plans. After all, you’re the boss!