As you begin to curate your unique wedding experience, knowing what to ask your wedding planner (before hiring one) is one of the most important things I can recommend. And this is as a planner myself.
I believe that the wedding planner at your side, before, on and after your wedding day influences not only how your wedding looks, but also how it feels and how you remember this unbelievably impactful day. Be sure that you partner with someone you can trust with the details for such a rare occasion as this.
From the design to the logistics and the overall approach, your planner should align with your dreams, but also be someone you’re comfortable sharing intimate concerns with. So before you ask anything, ask yourself, “Do I trust this individual with something so rare?”
Below, you will find the very questions to ask a potential wedding planner. It is my hope for you to find the personality, skillset and approach that fit your needs. I empower you to exercise confidence in asking these questions, the same confidence you should feel in the person you hire.
1. Are you available for my date?
Before you schedule a consultation or sit down with a potential wedding planner, make sure they’re available for your wedding date. This is the best use of both your time and theirs.
2. What’s the average investment of a wedding you plan?
Before hiring a wedding planner, you should have an initial budget in mind. I understand that you may not know what is realistic as you approach such a process, so having an idea of what feels comfortable for you is a great start. This is something your planner will ultimately help you nail down in a strategic and cohesive manner, allowing you to prioritize the elements that matter most to you. However, planners typically work within specific wedding budgets.
I have an example for you to chew on — you may happen upon wedding planners that specialize in intimate weddings with smaller budgets. On the other hand, you’ll find planners who specialize in comprehensive, forward-thinking events with high-end budgets that require full production needs. The first criteria in finding the best planner for you is ensuring that they have experience working within your target investment range.
Large-scale events require a completely different approach as opposed to mountainside elopements. This is something to keep in mind. (I am proud to say my team and I specialize in weddings that average at about 200k for the wedding, including all wedding day services, but excluding the investment for planning itself.)
3. What services do you offer?
Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in how your planner works and what they include. Be aware that some planners offer partial planning only, while others help you from the very beginning to the end with full-service planning and design.
4. How much experience do you have?
Learn a little more about your planner’s background. What other fields have they explored and gained expertise from? What made them choose this industry? Be sure to read their reviews. You can ask them about their experience too. Here’s a glimpse into my experience if you’re curious.
5. Tell me about your vendor network.
A quintessential aspect of working with a wedding planner is who they know. Oftentimes, planners have industry relationships with perfect partners that simply aren’t available on the general market. Perhaps your planner knows a florist who books out 12+ months in advance, but who always saves room for clients your planner will send them. These “ins” of the market are unbelievably impactful, so don’t be afraid to ask your planner about who they know and how they work with other vendors.
Make sure you are comfortable with the partners they have relationships with; you want to be sure their style and approach support your very unique vision. Who they trust is most often going to be who they recommend and hire for your event. If you find that your tastes differ, this may be a sign that this planner may not be the perfect match for you, and your needs.
How do you charge?
From the price to the payment structure, ask your wedding planner about their payment options. Here are a few common payment structures:
- Flat fee — typically applied based on the size of your event with a lower price for small weddings and so on
- Percentage — based on your overall wedding budget, some planners include their fee as a percentage of what you plan to spend (requiring 20% for a 150k budget for example)
- Hybrid — a flat fee with a percentage fee if the scope changes (the LSE way)
- Hourly — often available only for DIY weddings or consulting, you shouldn’t expect hourly rates with a full-service wedding planner
What’s in your contract?
Your planner should have a legally binding contract, that both guarantees their services and protects you. Read the contract in depth and don’t be afraid to ask questions before signing. I recommend that you keep an eye out for the following clauses:
- Services description — what are they contractually required to do?
- Availability — when will they be available to begin working on your project?
- COVID — what is their COVID clause and is there a fee for postponements (typically the answer is yes.)?
- Cancellation — what are the terms of cancellation?
Finding the right fit
1. What type of weddings do you typically plan?
From the size to the aesthetic, make sure to ask your planner about their ideal wedding. Do they plan events with 150+ people and a boho aesthetic, or is their typical event more sophisticated and intimate? The best relationships, even with an event partner, have similar visions. Their portfolio should contain the type of wedding you dream of.
2. How do you manage hiccups in the process?
Weddings, regardless of how much detail you put into the planning process, can experience last-minute or day-of changes. While you hire a wedding planner for the high-key preparation, it’s also the day-of management that can really influence your wedding experience. Ask your wedding planner about how they manage stress and day-of changes. The best way to ask this question is to ask for a specific example — have they ever had any day-of hiccups take place, and if so, how did they handle the situation? This is your opportunity to pay attention to whether or not they maintained composure, or if it negatively impacted the wedding day.
3. How involved can I be?
Ask your planner who involved you need to be or can be. You may want to be heavily involved, or you may want to just hand it over.
If you have the desire and know-how to assist in wedding planning, you should be looking for a planner who offers that level of collaboration.
On the other hand, many couples look to totally take it off of their plate, getting involved only when necessary. If you hire a planner because of your trust in their creative direction, and your desire for a wedding that looks like many of those in their portfolio, it’s typically best to trust in their expertise and experience.
Regardless, your planner’s goal should be to advocate for your vision, regardless of how they do so. Some planners work hand-in-hand with you while others, like myself, seek your feedback and perspective at tailored opportunities throughout the wedding planning process.
1. What’s the process like?
Planning a wedding is a collaborative, intimate experience, but the process differs from planner to planner. Ask your planner what the process is like from meetings to design and day-of management.
2. What do you need from me?
You should be aware of the responsibilities on your end. Do you need to attend certain meetings or submit design revisions? How quickly do you need to reply to planner emails? You likely have a busy schedule (which is why you’re hiring a planner) so going into the process with a clear idea of your tasks will make the experience work more smoothly.
2. Do you have a team?
Some planners work solo and others work with an experienced team to pull off large-scale events almost effortlessly.
Knowing the size of your event, you’ll have an idea of whether or not a team is needed for your wedding event.
Due to the bold, high-key aesthetics of typical weddings here at LSE, I work with a curated team to handle all event planning. I work as the creative director and remain as a point of contact while the associate planners and producers manage vendor communication and minute details that make a big impact. This allows me to manage the big picture while maintaining the smallest, but influential details.
3. Who is there on the wedding day?
It helps to have a good understanding of what the wedding day itself looks like. From who is there to what they will help with, these are critical questions to ask. As a planner, I attend every wedding with an average of 3-4 staff members.
This allows us to manage every detail and keep your event flowing without interruption.
Last, but not least, pay attention to the questions that your planner asks. Are they invested in your story and your vision? Are they noticing your priorities?
1. What’s the goal?
Both you and your planner should have an overall goal upon beginning the planning process. How do you convey something, be it your love for food or travel, and how do you do so without saying it, but rather illustrating it through both visuals and an experience?
For example, many of my clients plan local weddings with a destination feel. For clients that crave a sensory, food-based experience, the menu can be used to whisk guests away to the Mediterranean simply with the spread of hor d’oeuvres. However, if you prioritize the look and feel, perhaps flowers and art would be used instead. This is just one of a few ways that your wedding transforms from an idea into an experience, and your planner should be the creative lead for these types of concepts.
Planning a wedding isn’t just getting through the logistics of an event, it’s showcasing your story in a way that is uniquely yours, and unbelievably breathtaking. Learn more about my approach here, and get in touch if you have any questions on the wedding planning process.
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