Delarah Banner

To Hire or Not to Hire a Wedding Planner? – A Complete Guide with Actionable Tips

Couple with their wedding planner

As Wedding Know How editors, we write about things that we love and we think you'll like too. We have affiliate partnerships and sponsorship and may generate some revenue from these at no cost to you.

Hiring a wedding planner is one of the several things around a wedding people seem most divided about – some laud it as the best decision they’ve ever made after getting married, while for others it’s just a waste of money.

So, have you ever wondered “Do I need a wedding planner?” Don’t worry, we’re not going to push you into doing it without mentioning all sides of the situation first.

Delarah Banner

Below, we’ll go over the top 6 reasons to hire a wedding planner, as well as several reasons not to. We’ll take a detailed look at exactly what wedding planners do, what’s the cost of hiring a wedding planner, and what are the 6 main actionable tips for picking the best one for you. Let’s get started!

What do wedding planners do?

The easiest answer would be that they “plan weddings” but in reality, it’s a bit more complicated. An equally quick but more accurate answer is that wedding planners help you with your wedding preparations in whatever manner you’ve agreed with them.

This means that you can hire a wedding planner just to help you coordinate things on the wedding date or to do everything wedding-related for months or even up to a year before the big day. Alternatively, you can talk with your wedding planner and delegate certain tasks to them while leaving others for yourself – a customized and personalized wedding planner experience if you will.

Simply put, a wedding planner will help you in whichever way you need them to with your wedding.

What’s the cost of hiring a wedding planner?

Wedding rings on a notebook next to a pen

All this is well and good but how much does it cost? As with anything else surrounding weddings, the cost of a wedding planner can vary greatly depending on the exact state/country you’re in. However, for the U.S. at least, there are some breakpoints that are easily defined:

  1. For basic services such as coordination and wedding day assistance, the prices usually range anywhere between several hundred dollars up to $2,500. The exact price will depend on the event itself, the number of venues, the number of guests, and so on, but you ideally shouldn’t have to pay more than $2,000-$2,500 for just basic wedding day coordination.
  2. For more mid-range services such as planning, venue styling, and more comprehensive assistance, you can expect to be charged between $2,000 and $5,500. Again, this will depend on the exact type of services you’re going to need. In this range, you can also expect the wedding planner to bring an assistant or two with them which further justified the increase in costs.
  3. For the most high-end wedding planner services, the prices can go from $5,000 up to $9,000 or more. Even in the more expensive states and cities you should be able to get away without paying more than $10,000 so keep that in mind. These expensive services will include everything including a personal assistant for you at all times, a constantly available wedding planner, and a 99% fully organized wedding that saves you from having to do any of the organizing.

How do wedding planners charge for their services?

Ok, these are the general price ranges you can expect. However, the next question is how wedding planners charge for their services. As with most other services of this manner, there are 4 main ways:

  • Standard fee. A lot of wedding planners have a non-negotiable fixed price that goes with a specific list of services. While this is great for your budget it’s also not a very flexible system so make sure you’re fine with everything the wedding planner is and isn’t offering for their fixed price.
  • Percentage of budget. This is a more “fair” system from a certain point of view, however, you should be wary as the costs of both your wedding and your wedding planner may suddenly skyrocket. When working based on a percentage of the budget make sure that you establish a certain upper cap to the planner’s fees so that there are no surprises.
  • By the hour or per service provided. This is another fair-sounding system but it’s really difficult to manage exactly how much your planner has really worked and how much their work has been worth it. In the end, this charging method tends to get more expensive than the others.
  • Bespoke fee based on wedding. This is what we’d recommend as the best arrangement most of the time – talk with your wedding planner in-depth and ahead of time, and figure out every single aspect of the arrangement before you do anything together. The bespoke method will usually end up with a fixed fee that both parties are happy with and that includes services that are specified ahead of time but still personalized.

6 reasons to hire a wedding planner and 6 reasons not to

Thumbs up and down, like or dislike

So, let’s go all the possible reasons to hire or not to hire a wedding planner. We’ll make sure to be thorough in both directions as there is no general right or wrong answer about where you should use hired help – it all depends on you and your preferences.

Why should you hire a wedding planner?

  1. A planner can help you make the most out of your budget. Wedding planners cost money, yes, but a good wedding planner can also save you money. It can’t be estimated how much money you can save by hiring a wedding planner as that depends on a lot of variables, but generally speaking, the larger and more expensive your wedding is going to be, the more opportunities a good wedding planner will have to save you money. It’s not uncommon for people to save more than the wedding planner’s fee when they use their services.
  2. Wedding planners save you a ton of stress. Planning and preparing for the big day can mean a lot of stress for most people, especially if they are a bit of a perfectionist or tend to get easily anxious. A good wedding planner can spare you all that and do the hard work while leaving only the fun and joy for you.
  3. Good wedding planners will fight for your dream wedding with all their experience, know-how, and connections. Most people’s visions for their perfect wedding end up crashing or at least changing when they start negotiating with vendors and venue owners. A good wedding planner will have much more experience and connections than you and will be able to use them to achieve exactly what you want for your wedding.
  4. Wedding planners can coordinate even the biggest and most complex weddings for you. Few things are worse on a wedding day than disorganized commotion. Especially if you’re going to have a lot of guests moving between several venues, a wedding coordinator can turn your wedding from a managerial nightmare to a smooth-running party.
  5. Wedding planners can further decrease your expenses by getting you discounts from various vendors. Most vendors don’t give discounts to newlyweds as there’s not much “repeat business” in the wedding industry. That’s not the case for wedding planners, however – most wedding planners work continuously with certain vendors which incentivizes the vendors to give them discounts.
  6. By hiring a good wedding planner to organize everything for your wedding, you free a lot of time for yourself. At the end of the day, you can look at it like this – how much time, meaning how many actual hours, is the wedding planner going to save you? And how much does your time cost? If your wedding planner ends up saving you a hundred hours or several hundred hours, then maybe you can spend that time making up for the several thousand dollars you’ve paid them?

Why you shouldn’t hire a wedding planner

  1. If you’re planning a smaller and a more modest wedding, a wedding planner won’t be as necessary and won’t have as many opportunities to save you money.
  2. Single-venue weddings with an easily managed number of guests don’t need too much coordination either. It’s an added bonus if (almost) everyone knows each other at the wedding as that makes it easier for the people to coordinate themselves.
  3. If you have experienced, knowledgeable, and willing-to-help bridesmaids and best men they can help you a lot with the wedding’s planning, preparations, and coordination. After all, that’s the job of the best man and the bridesmaids anyway, right?
  4. If you are a well-organized person that doesn’t stress too much, your need for a wedding planner will naturally be lower.
  5. Working with a wedding planner usually restricts your access to certain vendors as most wedding planners work only with specific vendors – sometimes not for quality-related reasons but because of personal connections and higher commissions.
  6. A lot of wedding venues have on-site wedding coordinators that are often included in the price of the venue anyway. As coordination on the wedding day is a big reason for getting a wedding planner in the first place, you can end up paying twice for the same service.

6 actionable tips for finding the best wedding planner for you and working with them in the most efficient way

Bride in a meeting with her wedding planner

So, if you’ve decided to use the help of a professional wedding planner, how should you go about finding the best one? Additionally, once you’ve chosen your professional helper, how do you work with them as well as possible to guarantee the best results? Here are a few essential tips:

  1. Start looking for a planner as soon as possible. Pretty much as soon as you’re certain that you’re getting married, start looking for good wedding planners – about a year in advance is a good time frame to keep in mind. Doing this will guarantee you that both you and the wedding planner will have time to do everything perfectly, as well as that you’ll find a good wedding planner. It’s not uncommon for the best professionals to be booked for quite some time.
  2. Choose between multiple options. Don’t just settle for the first wedding planner you see just because they’ve offered you a good price and they seem nice – this is your wedding we’re talking about! Sample at least several different professionals, get their detailed proposals in written form and then compare them word for word.
  3. Don’t just look at the price and the experience – look for someone you can get along with. Your wedding planner is someone who’ll be by your side for months, maybe even a year or more. And while your relationship will remain mostly professional, it needs to be a good and smooth relationship as well. For the best possible results, the wedding planner should be able to quickly learn to understand you and intuitively know what you want.
  4. Talk about the price in advance and make sure there are hard caps on the budget. Having a flexible price is good in a lot of ways but it’s also important that you always know what’s happening with your money.
  5. Involve your bridesmaids and best men in the process. After all, they are not there just to look pretty, right?
  6. Don’t just leave your wedding planner to do everything without you paying any attention – even the best wedding planner won’t always do everything exactly as you want– keep an eye on things so that you can change things before it’s too late.

All in all, everyone’s experience with a wedding planner will be different, even when talking about the same wedding planner. There are just too many moving parts and subjective preferences when it comes to weddings. That’s why it’s vital to make sure that you’re always working with the right person for your needs, as well as that your working process is well-organized.