Wedding Planning

How to Find the Right Wedding Planner

If you’re a brand new bride-to-be, you’ve probably already discovered that planning a wedding involves a tonne of organisation. We’re talking over 100 hours of planning for the average wedding. That’s probably a little more than you anticipated, right?!

Once the initial excitement of your engagement has worn off, the intimidating to-do list that comes with organising your dream day can feel a little overwhelming to say the least.

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Photography: Scott Omalley

From creating your wedding budget (and sticking to it!) through to sourcing quotes, liaising with vendors, and creating your seating chart. There’s definitely a whole lot of work required in the lead up to your wedding.

And let’s not forget about the big day itself. Who exactly is going to set up your furniture, meet with suppliers, and be able to deal with any last minute emergencies that might arise? Wet weather, power outages, last minute guests…are you feeling a little bit panicked just yet?!

If so, it might be time to think about investing in a wedding planner.

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No matter how organised you might feel, wedding planners are honestly worth more than their weight in gold. Hiring the right wedding planner might just be one of the best investments you make in the lead up to your day.

However, not every wedding planner is the same. It’s so important to know exactly what each planner has to offer before you make a decision. This way, you can ensure you find the perfect planner to meet your requirements.

Finding the right wedding planner means doing the research and asking the relevant questions to find the best fit. Luckily we have some helpful tips when it comes to choosing the perfect wedding planner to help bring your dream day to life!

Do you need a wedding planner?

Are you unsure if you really need a wedding planner in the first place? After all, wedding planners come with a price tag so it’s just going to mean another expense for your big day, right?

It might be easy to dismiss the idea of a wedding planner as an unnecessary luxury. Maybe you feel like you can conquer this wedding planning business all on your own. If you have an unlimited amount of time, and previous experience planning an event, then you could be right.

But take a second to think about how you want to feel on the morning of your wedding. Do you want to be relaxing, champagne in hand, getting ready to marry the love of your life? Or do you want to be dealing with an emergency phone call because the cake hasn’t arrived?

Wedding planners take care of scenarios like this, all day every day.

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Photography: Erich McVey

They have been through last-minute venue changes and family members going AWOL. They have dealt with missing rings, unexpected guest arrivals, and suppliers getting lost on the way to the venue.

You name it, wedding planners have seen it a thousand times before and taken it all in their stride.

If you’re worried about the cost of a wedding planner, you’ll find that the initial investment you make will repay itself a thousand times over in the stress it saves you. They have years of experience in managing and maximising budgets and can help you delegate your finances appropriately.

Wedding planners also have amazing connections in the industry. They’ll know exactly which suppliers to recommend based on the funds at hand.

Basically, they are a godsend to any bride!

Choosing the right service

If you’ve decided that you do want to enlist the services of a wedding planner, take a second to think about your exact requirements.

Maybe you want someone to take care of every last detail for you, or you just need a set of helping hands (or ten!) to be there on the day.

Most wedding planners will offer a choice between two services. These include full wedding planning and day-of coordination.

Both services can be total lifesavers when it comes to bringing your dream day to life, but the inclusions are very different. You’ll want to make sure you think carefully about exactly what you need help with before making a decision.

Full wedding planning

Full wedding planning is suited for you if you are feeling overwhelmed with absolutely everything. You just can’t see yourself being able to take on this mammoth task by yourself.

It’s also the best option if you are simply time poor due to work, family or other commitments. If you are planning your wedding from overseas or interstate, a full wedding planning service is also a great investment for you.

What’s included

A full wedding planner will come on board at the very beginning of the planning process. They will be able to assist you with the nitty gritty tasks like creating and delegating your wedding budget, creating your guest list, organising your invitations and even tracking your RSVP’s.

Your wedding planner will also conduct a thorough consultation with you to figure out exactly how you want the day itself to look and feel, and what you’re going to need to make that happen. Then, they make it happen!

If you haven’t already defined your wedding vision, make sure you sit down with your partner and do this first.

This way, you’ll be able to clearly communicate your dream day to your wedding planner and make sure you’re on the same page.

Once your wedding vision has been clearly defined, your wedding planner will then start researching on your behalf. This means sourcing all of your quotes and liaising with the appropriate vendors based on your requirements and your budget.

From your florist and stationery designer right through to your cake artist, your wedding planner will be their point of contact throughout the whole journey.

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Photography: Shannen Natasha
Floral Design: Lily Paloma

Your wedding planner can then run all of the quotes by you, make amendments where necessary, and start booking in suppliers for your big day. Even though you will be kept in the loop, you won’t actually have to make any phone calls or deal with any back and forth emails.

The logistics of your wedding day is also something that a wedding planner will take care of for you.

A thorough run sheet will be created for your wedding, which will clearly detail how the day is going to run from beginning to end. Your run sheet will include timings for everything, from your ceremony set up right through to your speeches and first dance.

If you are feeling overwhelmed just thinking about all of the above, then a full wedding planning service could definitely be something to consider!

What’s not included

Hiring a full wedding planner doesn’t mean relying on them for absolutely everything. There may be certain tasks that your wedding planner just isn’t equipped to take on board.

For example, a common misconception with many brides is that wedding planners are also stylists. But styling a wedding requires an entirely different skill set to planning one!

You have to remember that wedding planners are hired to handle all of the logistics of your day.

They are amazing organisers, communicators and delegators. They work well with numbers and swear by spreadsheets and timelines. But when it comes to the purely visual aspects of your wedding like creating a colour palette, designing a vision board or crafting DIY favours, this is a completely different role in itself.

Most wedding planners do offer a styling service or will be able to recommend someone for you, so if you need assistance with anything from a styling point of view then make sure you ask them about this upfront.

If you already know how you’d like the day to look and feel, then a great wedding planner will be able to work with your vision and source the right suppliers to make it happen. You may not require any styling assistance if you have a clearly defined vision in mind.

This is where it becomes invaluable to have a Pinterest board dedicated to your wedding. A vision board will be the best way to communicate the look and feel of your dream wedding to your planner! If you haven’t already curated the perfect Pinterest board, we have some great tips to help you use Pinterest for your wedding planning.

Don’t rely on your wedding planner to run errands for you either. Picking up your dry cleaning or running to the post office is not something you should expect your wedding planner to take care of for you!

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Photography: Cooper Carras
Floral Design: Shotgun Floral Studio

Day-of coordination

So maybe you have done all the hard work already. You’ve locked in your suppliers, successfully created your budget, and feel pretty comfortable with how the planning is coming along. But have you thought about how you’re going to set everything up on the day?

What’s included

A “day-of” coordination service is the perfect solution if you know exactly how you want the day to run, but you just need a set of hands (or ten!) to put it all together for you.

Before you go delegating the job to your chief bridesmaid, remember that a wedding set up is extremely time-consuming, physically demanding, and usually involves a last-minute surprise or two that needs to be dealt with. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone that should be spending the day celebrating with you!

Hiring a day-of wedding coordinator will take all of that stress and responsibility away from you (and your loved ones) on your big day.

It’s also a more cost-effective solution if you just can’t afford a full wedding planning service. Day-of coordination packages are at a much cheaper price point and definitely suitable for DIY brides.

A day-of coordinator usually steps in around 4 weeks prior to your big day. This is where you will meet to run through all of your plans from beginning to end and essentially hand over your wedding into your coordinator’s capable hands.

Your handover will include your supplier contact details and contracts, invoices detailing what has been booked and paid for, along with your floor plans and seating chart.

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Photography: Clary Pfeiffer

From this point forward, your coordinator will become the contact for all of your suppliers in the lead up to your day. They’ll use the information provided by you to create your wedding run sheet.

Not only will their team be physically setting up all areas of your wedding on the day, your coordinator will also be liaising with your team of suppliers according to your run sheet. They’ll know when your vendors are arriving, what they’ll be supplying, and where they need to set up.

Your coordinator can also greet and direct guests, signal your ceremony music to begin, and make sure that your timeline is travelling according to schedule at all times. Any questions or concerns on the day that be handled directly by your coordinator, and not yourself!

What’s not included

Day-of coordination is a completely separate service for a reason. You can see it’s a very different experience to hiring a full wedding planner, so make sure your expectations reflect this.

Coordinators are there to deal with all of the details related to the running of the wedding day itself. So don’t expect your coordinator to be sourcing quotes, finding a photographer at the last minute, or helping out with your budget.

If it’s not related to the timeline and schedule of your wedding day, it’s just not relevant to the service you have booked them for!

Packing down after the wedding is another task that might not be included in your package. A day-of coordinator usually clocks out after the guests have been safely ushered out of the venue. Anything that needs to be cleared or packed away might be the responsibility of your venue, not your coordinator.

Styling tasks on the day are another element that your coordinator might not be able to assist with. Make sure all of your crafty tasks and styling materials are prepped and ready to go before the big day.

Don’t plan on leaving a basket of tissue paper at the venue and asking for it to be hand cut into confetti that morning. That’s not a great investment of your coordinator’s time when they have a wedding to pull off!

Find your best fit by asking the right questions

The best way to know if you’re booking the right service for your needs is to simply ask questions upfront!

Whether you are opting for a full planning service or an on-the-day coordinator, it’s important to ask the relevant questions so you know exactly what your package includes.

You should definitely ask about anything that might incur an additional cost. This usually relates to any tasks that are going to result in extra time, travel and resources for your wedding planner.

Site inspections and venue walk-throughs are a perfect example. If you have chosen a venue that is outside of your planners local area, it may mean an additional travel fee for site inspections.

The same rule applies to ceremony rehearsals the day before your wedding, or any suppliers that may need to start setting up a day prior (like a marquee company, for example). If you need your planner to be onsite for any additional days to meet with these suppliers, this could also mean an extra fee.

Before making a decision on either service, you should also ask for a consultation either in person or over the phone. An initial consultation is the best way to decide if your planner is going to be a good fit for you and your partner.

You’ll also get a sense of how you connect on a personal level. Do they make you feel at ease and excited about your big day? Or does something feel off?

Top questions to ask a wedding planner before hiring them

Make sure you tick off the following questions to make sure you find the perfect planner for your requirements:

  • Are there any additional costs to be aware of that aren’t outlined in your package? Eg. travel, site visits, pack down, etc?
  • How many hours does your package include?
  • Is correspondence unlimited throughout the process or is there a specified amount of phone calls and meetings?
  • What is your response time for emails?
  • Are you familiar with the wedding venue and have you worked there previously? If not, do you have experience working at similar venues?
  • Do you have availability on the wedding date?
  • What kind of wedding budgets do you have experience working with?
  • Will you be able to make suggestions to work within the budget?
  • Are you able to customise a package according to my requirements if we feel there might be something missing?
  • How does the payment process work with other suppliers? Eg. Will each invoice be passed through for payment directly, or will they be bundled together into one lump sum?
  • Do you offer any styling assistance or will this need to be booked separately?
  • Do you pass on any discounts from other suppliers or do you receive a commission?
  • How do you handle any last minute emergencies on the day?
  • How many team members will be there on the day?
  • What do you love the most about being a wedding planner?

Go here to download a printable version of these questions!

Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials from previous clients, too. Testimonials are a great way to hear about the experience from another bride’s point of view.

Making your final hiring decision

Before putting any kind of deposit down, you should also ask for a copy of the contract. Have a really good read through the contract with your partner and make sure it ticks all of your requirements. If there are any grey areas or if you feel like something is missing, ask about this upfront.

Just be honest about your needs and expectations and if something isn’t included in your package price, your planner may be able to tailor something for you or quote on the additional work required.

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Photography: Ashley Sawtelle

Enjoy your dream day!

When it comes to hiring a wedding planner, you definitely want to focus on finding the perfect fit. You need someone who truly understands your vision and makes you feel excited about your dream day!

Whether it’s a full planning service you need or just a coordinator for the day, you’ll have no troubles at all finding the perfect wedding planner by keeping the above tips in mind.

Investing in the perfect wedding planner means taking away the pressure and responsibility from you and your partner, leaving you to enjoy this special time.

After all, your wedding day is something you have been dreaming about for years – so make the most of it!