We’ve been planning our dream weddings since we were five years old. So it’s no surprise that we can’t get enough of Lover.ly, a wedding inspiration site that lets you search through pics of swoon-worthy gowns, bouquets, and everything else you need for the big day. Once a week, the ladies behind Lover.ly will be sharing their best tips for getting through the craziness of the season—whether you’re standing at the altar or enjoying a view of it from the audience.
While no one needs a wedding planner, if you and your partner-to-be are busy, planning a destination wedding, or just don’t love all the legwork you have to do, a wedding planner can be worth every penny. But we know that the initial search and finding the right person can be nerve-racking. Here are our tips for finding a fabulous planner who will make your big day extra special.
Determine what exactly you’re looking for in a planner. Are you looking for someone to make your wedding look like something out of a magazine? Do you need help finding vendors who will help make your vision a reality? Do you just want an extra set of hands on the day of the wedding? Figuring out whether you want a full-service planner, more of a consultant, or a day-of coordinator is the first step.
Set a budget. While the cost of will differ from city to city, we recommend spending no more than 10 to 15 percent of your wedding budget on your planner. We’ll be honest: if you’re trying to keep costs low, it may be tough to make it happen. Day-of coordinators often start at $1,000 and many planners charge between $10,000 and $15,000 for full-service planning. That said, there are tons of affordable folks out there, so don’t give up if the first planners you find are pricey.
If all the planners you find are out of your budget, get creative. While we promise that most of them are charging you a fair price, we know that sometimes you just can’t pay a pro at his or her going rate. But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope! If all you need is a day-of coordinator, start thinking of friends-of-friends who are great task-masters that could get things done properly, and who would be happy to do it for half the price of a pro. (We all know one Type-A friend who loves corralling everyone and reading wedding blogs, right?)
You can also look for students (interior design students are great!) or planners who are just starting out and won’t charge as much. A quick search of Cragislist in our area turned up a bunch of just-starting-out ones. They may not be able to get you a pony at your wedding like the planners who charge $20,000, but all that matters is that they meet your expectations.
Search the web for local weddings. Many of the weddings featured on blogs (and on Lover.ly) utilized a planner; to find ones near you, hit your favorite wedding websites, type your city into the search bar, and get busy! If you like a local celebration’s vibe, check the credits listing to see who the planner was. Then check out the planner’s website and, if he or she seems like a good fit, set up a first meeting.
Talk to other couples and find out who they’d recommend. Message boards are so helpful for connecting with other brides in your city, especially if you’re planning from a distance. Instead of just putting out a call for planners, follow up with people whose wedding’s style seems similar to what you want. Sending a private message to ask if someone used a planner and, if yes, how the planner did, can yield great results.
Do your homework. Once you’ve met with a planner and are thinking of hiring him or her, do a Google search for their name and see what’s being said about their work. And if the planner sends you a contract, read it very carefully. You’ll want to have a clear idea of what kind of deposit is required, when final payment is due, and if you’re being charged hourly or paying a flat fee.
Ultimately, you want to find a planner who will help you meet your vision, stick to your budget, and get to the church (or courthouse or beach) on time. While finding a person who does all those things can be a challenge, doing your research and asking around until you find the right planner for you will be worth it on your wedding day.
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