Organising a wedding is fun and exciting, but it takes a great deal of time and can be very stressful. With busy careers and hectic social lives, couples are increasingly turning to professional wedding planners to help them organise their special day.
All planners offer different services, but in essence they exist to take the strain out of planning a wedding. They can help style your celebration, do all of the legwork required to find the perfect venue and suppliers, and negotiate discounts with trusted service providers. Wedding planners are also a valuable source of advice and reassurance — not only do they know all the finer details relating to a wedding, but they understand the pressure, anxiety and emotion that accompany this special event.
Hiring a wedding planner is a very personal decision. You will be trusting them with one of the biggest days of your life, so you need to have complete confidence in their abilities. Start out by finding who is available in your area. Online supplier directories, such as Hitched, and local wedding magazines are a good starting point. Spend some time reading planner websites and find out exactly what they offer and how they work. Arrange to meet 2-3 on your shortlist — most planners offer a complimentary consultation, so use this time to find out more about them and their business:
- Are they enthusiastic about your wedding? Do they understand what you want and offer ideas on how it may be achieved?
- Ask them questions about their work. How long have they been in business? How many weddings have they organised? Do they have a portfolio of previous weddings for you to view? Also make sure that they have public liability insurance
- It’s incredibly important that you get along with your planner, so do you actually like them?! They may be brilliant at their job, but if your personalities clash you could be in for a bumpy ride instead of enjoying a seamless partnership
- Find out how they charge for their services — are you expected to pay a fixed fee or a percentage of your budget? This is very important as fees vary from planner to planner. Make sure you are also aware of any additional charges, such as travel expenses, that may add to the overall cost
- Ask how often they will be in contact with you. Handing over your wedding arrangements isn’t easy and you want to be sure that you’re going to be kept up-to-date with your preparations
After the consultation most planners will provide a written proposal that summarises your meeting and outlines the work to be completed. Does it cover what you discussed? Is the quotation as you expected? If not, contact the planner and ask them to explain any differences. Once you have made your decision, make sure you sign a contract. Always read the terms and conditions carefully before signing, and query anything you are unsure about.
Helen Carter is a professional wedding planner and director of Helen Carter Weddings.