There is a lot of manpower you need to hire and work with for your wedding. There are the caterers, the event staff, photographers, officiants, wedding planners, and more. You always need to consider, not just the price of their services, but also if those people are easy to work with. But some professional vendors are easier to choose than others. You can generally get a good understanding of what they can offer once you check their portfolios. But for wedding planners and coordinators? They need a little bit more thinking and extra consideration because their job is to manage your whole wedding. You have to get a wedding planner you can trust and work smoothly with.
Before you sit down and have a meeting with your prospective planner, do your research. Check their website. Check their online portfolio. Read their reviews. Get a feel of who they are and what they do. If you like what you saw and you want to consider them, it’s time to set up and meet in person because their image online may not always match with their personal persona. See if their personality suits yours. Ask questions, and think of the questions as a compatibility test.
Here are some important questions to ask when meeting them in person before you hire them.
1. How many weddings are you working on at the same time? Can you be with us on our wedding day?
The most important thing to consider when hiring a wedding planner is choosing one who is free and available on your wedding date. You don’t want to waste time if they are not free. You would want their full attention on the day of your wedding. If your dates are still flexible, you can wait in order to work with a planner you really love, so it’s best to ask for a few options so you can take them into consideration.
It’s realistic – especially if they are a professional – that during your planning process, your planner will be working with other couples at the same time. It is important to ask how many weddings they are working on at the same time so you can get an idea of how busy they are and how much time they can devote to your wedding. The number of weddings they can handle at the same time depends on the size of their team, and whether the weddings are planned locally or afar, so you have to consider those details, too.
2. What services do you offer?
It’s not always clear from their website or initial interview what services can they offer, so it’s best to ask for an explanation as to what ways they can help with wedding planning. This way, you can find it easier to decide what type of planner would be best for you. Do they offer full-service event design or a la carte planning? Are they more of a producer and logistical pro that brings in an event designer or do they create the overall vision? Will they help you with creative aspects of the wedding (like developing a theme and choosing a backdrop) or do they only handle setup, coordination with vendors, and scheduling? Do they handle even the details like invitations – from the wording, designing, ordering to the addressing, and mailing?
By asking about every service that they can cover, you can find the planner who will be best for you. For instance, you might be an organized person yourself, and you are willing to follow up with the vendors yourself, you may lean into a more creative wedding planner who has the design and style ideas you wouldn’t have thought of.
3. How long have you been in business?
If you want your wedding to be the best one you’ll ever have (and hopefully the only one), you have to make sure your planner has the experience. Wedding-specific experience is a plus, so you’d want someone who has planned at least a few or preferably a lot of them. There are planners who have planned parties and corporate events, but a wedding is not the same, as weddings have the emotional and personal details that other parties don’t have.
Wedding planners who had a lot of experience already have a grasp of what to expect when working with wedding vendors, working with couples, working with the couples’ families, and you would want that kind of expertise for your wedding. If they have been in the industry for long, they have probably made some good connections that can translate to a better wedding for you and your future spouse.
4. How do you work? How do you communicate with clients?
This is a crucial detail that you need to ask a wedding planner about when they sit down and talk about the details. Most couples dive into the planning process without any idea of where to start, so this a good way to know how the next few months will play out. Do they have a game plan on how they can tackle every step of the planning process? Their response will give you an idea of where their priorities fall.
Get a sense of how they communicate with clients. Ask how he/she prefers to keep in touch? Will they rely on phone calls or emails? Will they be able to respond via text? How often will they want face-to-face meetings? Some planners will email sketches and follow-up over the phone, while some will create inspiration boards online but prefer to discuss it with you in person. Some are going to ask you about every detail, while others wait for your input and fill you in on everything at once. Of course, you must choose whose style works best for you.
5. What’s the cost of the average wedding you plan? What’s the cost for your services?
Check the potential planner’s range of prices and check if they have a minimum wedding budget that they are willing to work with. This is a good way to see if they are within your budget range or perhaps give you an idea of what your budget could be. The wedding industry is a big business, and there are a lot of high-end wedding planners that won’t handle a wedding that costs less than around $40,000. This is why looking at their portfolio and getting an idea about the former weddings they have planned is important – if they only planned grand weddings and you’re only planning for a 100-guest party, then you may need to look for someone else.
Getting a planning service must ideally be around 15 percent of your budget. If their baseline is way above your set budget, then you may consider someone else. But if you really want to work with them though, ask if they are willing to work for part-time or simply blueprint planning for a smaller fee. After you have discovered what services they can offer, and if you have decided what services you only need, then you can ask for a quotation. Know exactly what is and isn’t included in the fee they have quoted so you can budget for any additional expenses if there ever will be. Having these in contract form is important, so there’s no confusion or disagreement after the contract is signed.
Some will calculate a flat fee or an hourly rate, while others calculate a percentage of your total wedding costs. Ask about the deposit and when the final payments are due. Also, know how he or she handles refunds if the wedding has to be canceled or postponed, or if a part of their services included in the contract wasn’t used. Some will return a portion of the deposit, while some have a strict no-refund policy.
6. How can you help us stay on budget?
The wedding planner plays a major role in keeping the funds in check. Even without knowing your budget range, a good wedding planner offers suggestions on venues and vendors that are budget-friendly. They can also offer creative ways to save and provide alternatives to the expensive options you like to help you stay in budget. Find a planner who will bring a steady business to the vendors you like. Of course, you have to be open about your budget to them and make sure that you are willing to work within this kind of amount and the financial parameters you will set. If the potential planner tends to gloss over this topic or isn’t willing to talk about discounted options, then find a planner who will.
7. How do your weddings differ, and how are they the same?
Wedding planners plan different weddings for a living, but of course, you want your big day to be special and unique. Does he/she ask you questions about your likes and dislikes, as well as your personality? This means he/she can be willing to take in and consider your quirks or your specific taste.
A lot of planners specialize in a particular type of wedding, for instance, a church wedding, a ballroom wedding, a garden wedding, a cocktail-style artsy wedding, a rustic farm wedding, a beach wedding, etc. If you want a variation of the type of wedding that the planner always throws, then it’s a good idea to hire them because they had the level of expertise on the wedding of your type. But if you’re looking for someone who can create something different, hire someone who can accommodate your vision, instead of the ones pushing for their own ideas.
8. What types of venues have they worked in? Have you planned other weddings on our site?
Coordinating a wedding in a local hotel, an events place, a destination spot, or a semi-remote campsite are all different jobs. You want to hire someone with experience working in the venues that are of the same type as yours. If you are holding a destination wedding, don’t pick someone whose experience only ranges in indoor hotels. A destination wedding requires travel and perhaps accommodation for all, so it needs an extra layer of coordination.
You also want to know if they have planned a wedding at your site before. It’s a major bonus for you since they’re most likely already familiar with the layout, the staff, and the logistics considering the site. This can help things go more smoothly for you. Also, they might have specific suggestions or design ideas they have learned from working on that venue before. If they did, ask for photos so you can envision your wedding there, too.
9. Who are your preferred vendors?
It’s great to find a wedding planner who can help you snag discounts from vendors, which you may not have gotten if you hired those pros yourself. But you also want to make sure that they are really sending the best people for the job. Jot down the names of their preferred vendors or ask for a list (if they have it pre-prepared) during your meeting and do your own research.
Ask them why they prefer these vendors. Perhaps the planner has already worked with them, and they have seen their work ethic, and they have established a solid relationship with them, giving them access to discounts. But this can also restrict your ability to find a florist or a photographer you really like who can make your ideas into reality. As a follow-up, ask if they are willing to go outside of their list. Avoid planners who will try to discourage you from hiring specific vendors without a good reason, because they might be trying to steer you towards other companies that offer them kickbacks.
10. How do you handle difficult family members?
This is a way to get a glimpse of how the planner works under pressure. If you ask the question, “How do you work under pressure,” it’s a broad question. There are so many things that can put pressure on wedding planning, but one of them is difficult family members. Your mom or your mother-in-law may ask too many questions at some point during the planning process, your bridesmaids may have a day-of-wedding dress emergency, and the photographer may get lost on their way to the venue. Your family may always have a say in this, pressuring the wedding planner. It’s better to learn how patient your planner can be before you hire him/her than to be surprised in a bad way when something goes wrong.