Between hunting for the right venue, finding that perfect dress and coordinating hundreds of guests, hiring a wedding planner can go overlooked. Quite often, the key to taking control of your wedding planning checklist comes down to allowing a professional to take the reins.
But how much does a wedding planner cost and do they even fit into your wedding budget? A wedding planner’s cost depends on your wedding size, location and the level of service provided. Experts suggest setting aside 5-10% of your wedding budget for a wedding planner. Doing so goes far beyond convenience — in the end, a wedding planner helps couples save money and time while providing peace of mind on their wedding day. Check out our comprehensive guide to understanding how much a wedding planner costs and why they’re worth working into your budget.
How Much Does A Wedding Planner Cost?
Let’s jump right into specifics by checking out what we found in our study of recently married women. On average, a wedding planner costs $1,800 for a range of service packages. Higher-end estimates are over $4,000 while low ranges with minimal assistance can run several hundred dollars.
Some wedding planners offer different levels of coordination to match both your budget and desired level of service. If you’re looking to save money, for example, consider hiring a wedding planner for day-of coordination only. Wedding day coordinators streamline communication with all of your vendors, ensure everything is set up properly and help you transition from one part of your celebration to the next. They allow you to focus solely on enjoying your wedding day without keeping the planning details in the back of your mind.
Wedding Planner vs. Wedding Coordinator
Hiring a wedding planner, wedding coordinator or both depends on your level of comfort throughout the planning process. Those with a passion for DIY and hands-on planning, for example, may prefer to skip the planner and only utilize a coordinator. Knowing the difference is a good starting point when finding the right planner for you.
Wedding planners often dedicate a couple hundred hours to guiding your wedding design choices, vendor hiring, contract negotiation and building a budget. They consult with each couple as they navigate their wedding ceremony and reception theme. Many planners will either offer coordination efforts within their contracts or include them as an extra service.
Wedding coordinators gather all the details planned by the couple and their planner in order to set them in motion on and around the wedding day. They act as the point person for vendors and guests that have questions during the final stages of the process. Some coordinators will also offer assistance on the events surrounding the big day itself, such as rehearsal dinners, wedding showers and Sunday brunches.
How To Find A Wedding Planner
Most couples leave at least a year to 18 months for the wedding planning process, but how much time it takes to plan a wedding comes down to your event size and wedding location. No matter your timeline, finding the right wedding planner should be one of the first steps in gathering your wedding team.
Begin by searching for wedding planners local to your area or wedding celebration. Meet with 2-4 wedding planners to ensure you work well together, share similar views of the planning process and can work within each other’s budget and timeframe.
A few wedding planner interview questions may include:
- What services do you offer?
- What services do you not offer/do you offer different planning packages?
- How often will we meet throughout the planning process?
- Do you have a preference for communication? (Email vs. text)
- What types of weddings have you planned in the past?
- What do you most enjoy about planning weddings?
- Have you worked with local vendors and venues?
What Does A Wedding Planner Do?
If you’re wondering if the investment is worth it, wedding planners can actually serve more than just the obvious parts of a wedding.
Above all, wedding planners help couples manage their wedding timelines. From start to finish, they ensure that you stay on track with interviewing and hiring vendors, placing all necessary orders and gathering everything into place before the big day.
Wedding planners often cut down your research time by providing lists of preferred vendors, clarification on contracts and advice about the best ways to spend your planning time and energy.
With a direct link to the wedding industry, a planner can help you cut costs through discounted rates and contract negotiations. They can also help answer your initial budgeting questions such as how much does a wedding photographer cost or how to organize vendor payment schedules. If you’re looking to trim your budget, a planner can advise what can be cut without sacrificing the beauty of the day.
Vision and Decor
Though your wedding theme and design are still in your hands, the wedding planner helps transform your ideas into reality. Their experienced eye can advise on how to tie all your details — from stationery to centerpieces — into one overall vision.
With so many moving parts, contracts, contact sheets and bills, wedding planning can feel a bit confusing and cumbersome. Your wedding planner can ensure you have every piece of important documentation before heading into the wedding itself. This level of organization provides peace of mind and keeps your team of designers on track.
The transition from wedding planning to the day itself can often feel a bit daunting. Wedding planners can coordinate the transfer of decor and wardrobe to your venue, ensure vendors are informed of their wedding-day instructions and keep you calm and organized heading into the morning.
If they also coordinate the event, coordinators help manage the rehearsal, wedding ceremony and transition to the reception. Coordinators and planners excel in gracefully managing large groups, keeping the wedding day events and guests flowing with ease.
Perhaps most importantly, wedding planners take care of all the small details that creep up throughout the process. They can help build the seating chart, manage RSVPs and ensure guests have all the information they need as they begin to travel. Planners can focus on organizing all the minute, time-consuming details, so you can look at the big picture.
Do I Need To Tip A Planner?
Since wedding planners often work independently from a larger company, tips are not often expected. If your wedding coordinator works with your venue, gratuity may also be included in your original agreement. However, whether you tip your wedding planner is up to you. If they went above and beyond during a difficult planning process or wedding day — or if you received a significant discount on their services — a 10-20% tip is appropriate.
Options Instead Of A Wedding Planner
If a wedding planner does not work within your budget, consider similar options to simplify your planning process.
Hourly Wedding Coordination
Hourly wedding coordination can help you pick and choose when and how you use a planner. Bring an hourly coordinator in to look over your venue contract, find vendors or complete all your final DIY wedding idea prep. Hourly wedding planning is particularly helpful for managing day-of and wedding weekend coordination. Hourly rates range at an average of $75-$150 an hour.
Wedding coordination is sometimes offered with larger wedding venues or catering packages, but be sure to clarify what is included before foregoing the planner themselves. Venue coordinators will often set up the reception and ceremony space, manage the kitchen and bar and act as a point of contact for vendors arriving throughout the wedding morning.
Using Your Community
Friends and family can be a huge asset when managing weddings with lower budgets. Be sure to speak with each person individually to ensure they’re 100% comfortable with jumping in to lend a hand. Balance out responsibilities by assigning one small job to several people instead of leaning on one or two guests to jump from task to task.
The cost of a wedding planner may seem like an unnecessary expense for an already pricey investment. In the end, hiring a planner can save money, time and energy that could otherwise go toward enjoying everything you’ve worked so hard for. Budgeting in wedding coordinator costs allows you to focus on the emotional side of the wedding ceremony and reception, leaving all the details to a seasoned and enthusiastic professional.