When you finally figure out just how much a wedding costs, you start to realize that you reallllllly want to get your money’s worth when it comes to your vendors. Considering that most couples will spend 10 percent of their budget on a wedding planner (the average amount of $3,262 but can go WAY up depending on who you hire), you want to make sure that you are getting the best you can afford. So, how do you make sure you are hiring the best wedding planner? In addition to getting references (online and off) as well as looking at their portfolio, you should make sure they ask you the right questions before you sign on the dotted line.
Author and Celebrity Event Planner Marcy Blum–who wrote Wedding Planning for Dummies–recently shared the Top 5 questions she believes a top notch wedding planner should ask you before you sign on the dotted line, below.
Are you hiring a wedding planner? How did you decide on THE ONE?
1. What’s your budget, how many people are you inviting, and what’s your dream venue?
These might be three questions rolled into one, but a good wedding planner will want to know your answers to these questions so they can get a sense of not only what kind of wedding you want to plan, but if you can realistically afford it.
“I just met someone with a $200,000 budget who wanted a four-day event in the Hamptons. After listening to them, I said there’s no way they could afford what their vision is,” Blum says. “Or let’s say you want to invite 500 people and have it in a garden. It’s unlikely you’re going to find a garden that’s big enough.”
Another important tip? “Don’t find someone who just agrees with you all of the time,” Blum says. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to reimagine big details in the middle of the planning process—after you’ve had your heart set on them.”
2. Do you have any vendors in mind?
“If a planner tries to talk you into their vendors at the first meeting—such as saying, ‘When are you scheduled to look at The Plaza?’—they’re probably getting referral fees,” Blum says. “If the planner is forceful and not a good listener, that’s an issue.” Asking if you have any vendors in mind (and their response when you give them the answer), will let you know if they have a hidden agenda. Ideally if you do have a photographer or DJ you love, they’ll be on board with getting them on board.
3. How involved do you expect a wedding planner to be?
Whether you want a wedding planner to handle every last detail and you just show up at the wedding, or you want someone you can collaborate with the entire way, a wedding planner should find out what kind of wedding planner you’re looking for. Blum says not only does it help her plan better, but it’s also how she determines a price tag. According to LearnVest.com, the planner who primarily offers advice along with day-of wedding coordination “could run you $3,700,” while “fees for a full-service professional shoot up to more than $5,000.”
4. What weddings have you been to that you didn’t like?
“People don’t usually even know what their priorities are until you ask them specific questions,” says Blum. “For instance, if you hated the food [at another wedding], that means that you’re someone who pays attention to food. Or if all you talk about is the flowers, it becomes obvious that you’re really interested in decor.”
5. Do you have any non-negotiables?
From beachfront ceremonies to garden receptions under the stars, the right wedding planner will ask if there’s anything you know you definitely want. For example, Blum told LearnVest.com she once worked with a bride who wanted an outdoor ceremony, but the golf course venue they were looking wouldn’t let the bridal party on the green for photos until 6 p.m. That would push back the ceremony time and it would be too dark to take photos by the time cocktail hour came around. So Blum made the unconventional suggestion of having the cocktail hour BEFORE the ceremony to give them more time for photos.
“As a planner you need to find out what that one thing is, and then try to find a solution to make it happen,” Blum says. “Because if someone has had that in their mind forever, they’re going to be disappointed if you can’t deliver.”