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Wedding Planner

A wedding planner will take the stress out of that special day.

A wedding planner will help you get the items you need for your wedding. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
A wedding planner will help you get the items you need for your wedding.

Wedding Planner

A wedding planner is a professional consultant who helps a bride and groom plan and coordinate any or all elements of their wedding and reception. The planner can assist the couple with setting a wedding budget, choosing a color scheme, finding vendors such as florists, caterers and photographers, and preparing a schedule for the wedding day, as well as the day's leading up to the event.

With the average wedding in the United States costing about $28,000, newlyweds-to-be are leaving nothing to chance. Hiring a wedding planner ensures that every detail will be coordinated. Since wedding planners prepare so many different types of weddings, they have a large number of resources to use. While many brides want to save money by using a friend or family member for this role, a professional wedding planner, who is trained and experienced in all the details, can help the bride and groom avoid the inevitable headaches that come with planning such a special and important life event. Using a planner will allow the bride and groom to relax and enjoy their day.

Cost of a Wedding Planner

In years past, a wedding planner worked only for the wealthy. Today, however, many brides use planners. These consultants can usually work with any type of budget. They can often help a couple on an extremely tight budget get the most for their money because they know the vendors so well. And wedding planners may be able to negotiate discounts with vendors because they bring in so much business. A good wedding planner will:

  • Set a timeline and make sure deadlines are met
  • Help the couple set a customized but realistic wedding budget
  • Negotiate prices with all vendors
  • Help choose a menu, making sure any special diet requirements are met and working closely with the caterer
  • Help choose a cake
  • Help choose decorations for both the wedding and the reception
  • Coordinate the wedding rehearsal
  • Help choose decorations and a menu for the rehearsal

According to the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, wedding planners are generally paid in one of three different ways. Some charge a flat fee for their services. After meeting with the bride and groom, the planner can estimate how many hours of service will be provided and set a fee accordingly. Others may require a percentage of the total wedding cost. This is usually common for extremely expensive and elaborate weddings in which the planner coordinates every detail. Other planners may charge by the hour.

Most planners are happy to meet with an engaged couple for an initial consultation at no charge. Couples should make sure to tell the planner about any special requirements they want for their wedding. The fee should be clearly determined up front so there will be no unhappy surprises later, and a written contract should be drawn up.

Many brides on a tight budget decide to use a planner just for the actual wedding day coordination. The wedding planner will set a timeline for everything that has to happen. Because the planner sees the big picture, he or she can successfully coordinate and work with all the different vendors in involved.

Choosing a Wedding Planner

Before hiring a wedding planner, the bride and groom should ask for some key information:

  • The length of time the planner has worked in the field
  • A list of references
  • A clear idea of what the planner's total involvement will be
  • Cost of the service

Word of mouth is the most common way of finding a good wedding planner. Brides can ask recently married friends for referrals. It is always a good idea to interview several consultants before making a final decision, especially since many brides find their wedding to be a highly emotional time. The personality of the planner can sometimes be as important as credentials. Couples should also check out the planner through their local Better Business Bureau and ask the prospective wedding planner for names of previous clients. Also, most confident wedding planners are comfortable having the couple attend a client's event to actually watch the planner at work.

Wedding planners are not licensed by the state, and some planners have no formal training. But many belong to professional associations, such as the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants, the National Association of Wedding Professionals or the Association for Wedding Planners International.

Destination Wedding Planner

Couples planning an exotic destination wedding can also use a planner, says the Association for Wedding Planners International. Since customs and wedding traditions may be more or less costly in other areas, a wedding planner can help plan a cost-effective event.

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