Your wedding day is bound to be one of the most memorable days of your life, but the 12-18 months of planning beforehand are filled with gut-wrenching and expensive decisions. What’s a realistic budget? How many guests can you handle? How soon should you start talking to vendors? Suddenly, your wedding planning checklist seems like too much for any sane person to handle.
Take a deep breath. The truth is, having the vision of your perfect wedding day and actually making it happen are two very different things. Let’s face it — planning a wedding is work. For busy couples who are both lacking in the organization department and have the budget to spare, bringing in a professional wedding planner can turn a stress-filled process into a breeze.
The decision on whether or not to hire a wedding planner will likely hinge on your budget. The average cost of a wedding planner can run anywhere in the neighborhood of $1,000-$2,500.1 But not all wedding planners (or weddings, for that matter) are cut from the same cloth.
Experienced, full-service wedding planners can cost several thousands of dollars. If you’re looking to have a wedding on foreign soil (or white sand), expect to pay handsomely for a destination planner. On the other hand, part-time planners can rescue you from the most troublesome aspects of your wedding planning for just a few hundred.
What does a wedding planner do?
Wedding planners plan, organize and execute your wedding based on your needs and budget. Full-service planners listen to you describe your ideal wedding scenario and help you do literally everything. Some tasks your wedding planner might handle are:
- Determining your budget
- Recommending and hiring vendors
- Securing a venue
- Narrowing down your guest list
- Handling save-the-dates, invitations and RSVPs
- Working out a floor plan
- Booking hotel rooms and accommodations
- Design and decoration
- Wardrobe, hair and makeup appointments
- Organizing and executing rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception and day-after brunch
Yes, you can truly hire an expert wedding planner to handle every wedding related task for you, from the cake to the seating cards.
If you’re looking at that list above and thinking “that looks awfully expensive,” you’re right. Thankfully, there are different kinds of wedding planners. A reputable, full-service planner with years of experience can cost over $5000, but if you’re working with a smaller budget, you still have options.
What are the different types of wedding planners?
Wedding planners range from part-time specialists who focus on a specific aspect of your wedding day to full-service planners who put hundreds of hours into making sure your big day goes off without a hitch.
Full-time wedding planners help you create your ideal wedding by choosing venues, vendors and accommodations based on the goals you lay out during your initial meetings. They’re also logistics experts, meaning they’ll make sure your vendors all work well together and your ceremony and reception order of events flow smoothly.
Full-time planners will spend anywhere from 80 to over 200 hours planning, organizing and executing your wedding. Since they handle the whole process, you’ll typically start shopping for a full-time planner 12-18 months before your wedding day. Full-time planners can cost anywhere from $3,000 to over $10,000.
If you’ve got a handle on most of your wedding plan but are getting hung up on a few small details, consider looking into a part-time planner. Part-time planners charge an hourly fee to handle specific wedding-related tasks.
Have a venue lined up but are struggling with finding the right caterer or DJ? A part-time planner can give you a hand by leveraging their connections in the industry to get you great vendors at a fair price. Part-time planners typically charge $75-$250 per hour.
Destination wedding planner
If your dream wedding involves saying “I do” from a beach on a far-flung island, or dancing with your soulmate in the French countryside, you need a special kind of planner. Destination wedding planners are experts at checking all the wedding planning boxes for a specific location.
A destination planner will get you up to speed on passport and visa requirements, the best hotels and resorts, traditions, customs and expectations for wherever you want your wedding to take place. Destination wedding planners fees are comparable to full-time planners’, plus travel expenses.
Day-of (or month-of) wedding coordinator
For some couples, planning isn’t the hard part. It’s the execution. Wedding coordinators are who you’d bring in if you just need to make sure all your plans run smoothly.2
They’ll meet with your vendors, make sure all your vendor contracts are in order and do a final walkthrough of your venue. On the day of your wedding, they’ll keep all the moving parts working together so your ceremony and reception go exactly as planned.
What factors into wedding planner costs?
Giving an exact estimate for how much a wedding planner will cost is difficult because so many factors can influence their fee. Things that can influence a wedding planner’s fee include:
- Location. Like most independent professionals, fees for wedding planners will be hugely influenced by location. If you live in a big, expensive coastal city, expect to see higher rates than you would in a small town in middle-America.
- Experience. With experience comes reputation, and wedding planners with good track records tend to charge more money.
- Amount of guests. Many wedding planners structure their pricing based on the total cost of your venue and vendors. A bigger guest list means a more expensive wedding—and a higher price tag for your planner.
- Services offered. The more time and energy you need from your planner, the higher you should expect their fee to be. Part-time planners and coordinators are great options if you don’t have the budget for a full-time wedding planner.
- Tipping the wedding planner. Should you tip your wedding planner? Most planners work independently, and tipping isn’t something they expect. However, if they absolutely knock it out of the park and you want to show your appreciation, 10-20% is an acceptable amount for a tip.3
Is getting a wedding planner worth it?
Planning a wedding is a daunting task that can take up hundreds of hours of your time. Relieving yourself of the work and stress involved by handing the wheel to a professional planner could be a good move, but it also comes at a price. On the flipside, wedding planners live and breathe the wedding industry. That means they have close ties to the venues and vendors in your local area. A good wedding planner can actually help you save money on those aspects.
The final decision rests in knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as your partner’s. Will the time investment and stress involved in planning your wedding take away from your enjoyment of the process? If so, going over your options could be a wise idea. If planning, organizing and delegating are your bread and butter, perhaps you could forgo the planner altogether. Or bring in a part-timer or coordinator to help you out in the final stretch.
Say “I do” to insurance
At the end of the day, your decision to hire a wedding planner will rest on what you determine will make your wedding day as spectacular as possible. Your wedding is a serious investment, and it’s a day you’ll want to remember for the rest of your life.
But even the most accomplished wedding planner knows that unexpected things can happen at any wedding. Injuries to guests or vendors, damage to the reception venue and mishaps involving alcohol consumption can ruin your day and cost you several times more than your wedding budget allows.
With event insurance from Thimble, you get coverage for bodily injury, property damage and liquor liability. In just 60 seconds you can get a policy by the hour, day or week, and your certificate of insurance in your inbox. So you can soak in every moment without giving “what if” a second thought.