So, now you know the difference between planners, stylists and co-ordinators thanks to my handy guide, the next question on your lips is probably ‘Do I need to find a wedding planner?’. I chatted to my crack squad of planners and experts to discuss all of the important questions when hiring a wedding planner: what to look for when hiring one, how much they cost, and why they’re important. Take it away, ladies…
What should you look for when hiring a wedding planner?
Firstly, it’s important to find a planner who’s style suits the day you’re looking to have. Ellen from LND Events explains: “You will have to spend a good chunk of your time with them and even if it’s just your wedding day that you’ve asked them to coordinate, that’s still asking a stranger to be part of your special moments! Most should offer a non-obligation meeting of sorts, so don’t be afraid to contact a few, to see the difference in them and how you gel with them.”
This means getting on with them personally – like Lianne from Blonde Army says, “Having someone who you ‘click’ with is so important so that your working relationship is clear and strong. How great is it when someone just second guesses everything you’re thinking? That’s the kinda relationship I look for when meeting my couples.” But also, it means liking their style aesthetically, as Michaela from Clear Hearts Planning details. “I would look for words on their website or Social Media that relate to you and your partner! Images that catch your eye and make you think about how fun your day would be if these planners were part of it. We know exactly who our super cool, badass clients are so when you go on the Clear Hearts website or Insta you will probably see images you love.”
Laura from Devine Bride says you can’t overstate the importance of good testimonials either. “If they don’t have any on their website or on their Facebook page, this is a big no-no for me (that goes for any wedding supplier, actually). Facebook reviews and Google reviews are un-editable by the business, so you know you’re hearing it from clients themselves, in their own words, when looking at either of these.”
Lianne also suggests getting recommendations from your other suppliers. “It may be helpful to work with someone who has previously worked at your chosen venue. They’ll have a better understanding of the venue’s restrictions, access etc and be able to guide you through design choices based upon their previous knowledge and experience. Plus, find a stylist and coordinator who is recommended by both clients and suppliers as you want to be sure they can both deliver your vision but also work well with the other suppliers you’ve booked.”
And Chenai from By Chenai says, as always, communication is key. “Always ask questions about experience and ways of working. I am by comparison to most, relatively new to the industry but I always offer references from past clients and venues that I’ve worked with. Transparency is important.”
How can you spot a good wedding planner vs a charlatan or a chancer?
“Wedding planning is not easy, and the job can be viewed as something that anyone could do.” Cherelle from Perfectly Planned 4 You warns. “Where possible meet with (or speak over skype) to the planner, and talk through your ideas for your wedding and see how they respond and help you. Most planners will provide a written quote; how quickly was that sent? How accurate was it? Do the ideas match up to what you’re thinking?”
Chenai also describes what kind of credentials you should be on the lookout for. “A good wedding planner has credentials; I don’t necessarily mean degrees but references. Do they have venues or clients who can vouch for them? Not all planners have Companies House listings but they should have a credible store front (website, social media presence, directory listings). Basically, can you see evidence of their work? I’d also ask if they have insurance documentation as this is required to operate in most venues. Plus, an affiliation to associations such as UKAWP or NAWP are also indicators of credibility and integrity. Also, look out for someone who doesn’t formalise your agreements by way of a contract – don’t give money over to anyone who will not agree to a contract.”
When looking for images of their work, Elinor Softley of Inner City Weddings says looking for authenticity is key. “Look for planners who post pictures of their actual work rather than constantly posting other people’s ‘for inspo’. (Instagram has A LOT to answer for… but I do love it in so many other ways)”.
And on the topic of images, Lianne says don’t be afraid to dig deeper. “Always ask to see their portfolio of work – check out their website and social media as they should be keen to show off their work. If they only show a selection of their own images online ask to see the full portfolio from a particular wedding or editorial; that way you can see the full design concept they designed and executed and not just ‘the best bits’. Also, ask them about their previous experience. I’m quite new to the industry so my portfolio is still growing but I’ve been working in events for over 10 years so I very much know my stuff! Often a different background can bring a fresh perspective to wedding planning so it’s always good to ask – and you may find some common ground which makes for a stronger working relationship!”
And if you find someone you really, really love? Just go with it. “I’m a massive believer in going with your gut instinct. Don’t feel that you need to go with the flashiest, most impressive website. Planning a wedding is such a personal thing, my best advice is to work with a planner who you gel with and understand your vision.” advises Cherelle.
Do I need to hire a wedding planner?
“There seems to be an increasing misunderstanding causing couples to think they don’t need a wedding planner because the venue is providing one,” Ellen says. “However, venue managers or wedding teams are there to make sure your day runs smoothly once you arrive at their establishment. Personal planners are there to do so much more. The two can work together well but I have experienced independent planners being told their services aren’t needed because the venue will help, only to hear the couple have been stressed out because there wasn’t as much help as they first envisaged.” This is especially true if you have 2 venues but even if you only have one, it’s a whole different kettle of fish!
How much does a wedding planner cost?
How long is a piece of string? It all depends on what kind of service you’re looking for and what the day entails. “Much like the range for photographers, it varies hugely.” Elinor explains. “It’s always best to contact the folk you like the look of to discuss your needs and get a bespoke quote. Some planners do coordination only options and ad hoc advice sessions for a few hundred quid, some only take on weddings of a certain budget with a minimum fee. We have pop up wedding prices for certain venues, and go bespoke for others.”
Michaela details the two main ways planners can charge. “A wedding planner can cost either a flat rate or a percentage of your total budget. I decided to have mine as packages (with names like The Ozzy and Sharon and Johnny and June) as a guide which are easy to find on the website and then couples can add extras on depending on their requirements.”
Chenai suggests a ballpark figure for those with spreadsheets out ready and raring (but remember, it is all somewhat bespoke as no 2 weddings are the same!) “For a full plan (i.e helping you from start to finish) you can look at 12%-15% of your total budget spend. My services are completely bespoke so I give 12% as an indicator and I have a minimum fee. If you consider that a wedding takes anywhere from 200 -300 hours to plan, planners’ rates are normally reflective of this time and volume of work required up to and including the day.
On the day coordination services are usually charged at a day rate and in my observations, the scale varies from £450 – £1000 depending on what help is needed on the day and duration of time. For partial or final few weeks planning, for those couples who have done the majority of their planning but want someone to get them over the line, it varies in price. You can expect to pay up to half the cost of a full plan but this will vary on how much the couple have already arranged themselves.”
And remember, as Cherelle points out – “A wedding planner can help you get the most out of every pound you spend!”
When should you book your wedding planner?
“For Full Wedding Planning, I think between 18 months and a year in advance is ideal.” April from Kook! Events says. “But for On The Day Coordination, I would say a year or less before the wedding – I’ve had a booking 2 months out for On The Day Coordination before, but often if you’re getting married on a peak season summer date it’s better to get in there early doors so you can snap them up!”
Whilst shorter timeframes can be worked with – Elinor says she’s worked with everything from two months to three years – you do run the risk of your preferred planner not being available. “If you have your heart set on someone and you leave it until a few months before your day, don’t be surprised if they’re already booked.” advises Ellen. “People look over a year ahead for their venue and so a planners diary will start to have requests of the same nature. You also need to be prepared that if you are asking them to fully plan a wedding with not much notice, they might need to adjust their pricing to reflect the added pressure of workload.”
Bunch of babes, aren’t they? Check out my blog post to find their top tips for fun weddings, from the wedding planning experts themselves!
If a cool-as-fuck fairy godmother of weddings existed, it would be Cherelle from Perfectly Planned 4 You. She is the QUEEN of Hackney weddings, with the kind of knowledge you only get from a local, and her wonderful no-nonsense attitude means she’s the perfect person to bring your wedding day together. Website: https://www.perfectlyplanned4you.com
LND Events help take Yorkshire weddings from “how” to “wow” and their wedding planning prowess is just as wonderful as their tagline. With a focus on telling your story and making total magic, Ellen is 100% committed to making your wedding day exactly what you dream of it being. http://www.lnd-events.co.uk/
A lot of the coolest wedding venues are blank canvas spaces, which makes the vision of your wedding all the more exciting but the execution even more bloody terrifying. If you want someone you can trust to take your dreams for the day and make them happen non-negotiably, Inner City Weddings are your guys. They’re less chair covers and sashes and more hauling-6-chairs-at-a-time to transform empty spaces into uber cool wedding venues. https://www.innercityweddings.co.uk/
In her own words, Michaela from Clear Hearts Planning offers alternative wedding planning for “awesome freaks, geeks, weirdos, metallers, punk rockers, and hip hoppers”. If you’re planning an alternative wedding and want someone who’ll not only understand your vision but exactly why it’s important that you have it that way – plus someone who’s super wonderful and will support you through every step – then she is your gal. http://www.clear-hearts.com
If the idea of a wedding planner seems terrifying, we all but guarantee that Laura from Devine Bride will change your mind. The country’s first and best specialist in pick and mix wedding planning, you can (would you believe) pick and mix the elements of wedding planning that you want help with and hand them over to Laura, whilst keeping control of the bits you’re actually enjoying. http://www.devinebride.co.uk/
To do their job properly, wedding planners have to have a super practical, logistical mind – and to do their job well, they should be super lovely and easy to gel with. By Chenai ticks both of these boxes tenfold – she’s an incredibly inspiring lady who you’d be as comfortable meeting for a cocktail as you would having her in charge of your wedding day. Her luxe London style isn’t about gilded gold and more for the sake of it, but about meaningful moments. https://www.bychenai.com/
If you’re considering a wedding stylist or coordiinator but you’re not 100% sure you need one, we need to do nothing more than refer you to the fab Lianne from Blonde Army events. Just think, if she takes this much care with answering some blog questions – just IMAGINE how good she’d be on your wedding day, right?! And don’t be misled by the title either – alongside being a coordinator, Lianne is a fabulous wedding stylist, orchestrating good-looking great-feeliing celebrations. https://blondearmy.co.uk/
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