At some point after the initial excitement of your engagement, you may decide it's time to hire in some professional help with a wedding planner.
Increasingly popular in the UK as couples continue to focus on their careers and lifestyle, there is a huge range of options out there to suit different styles and budgets.
However it can be a bit of a minefield when trying to choose your own! Depending on your budget you may wish to hire in services for:
Full service planning and production, to cover every detail
Partial or bespoke planning services - for example helping to find the perfect venue, managing the budget and creating a design plan
Final co-ordination and styling services (typically starting a few weeks before the big day)
It's important to note that many venues will offer an "in house wedding planner". Typically this job role is actually more of a venue co-ordinator whom only recommends preferred vendors and won't undertake the same level of work as in independent wedding planner - so do make sure you check!
Once you've decided you do need some extra support, and what level of hand holding you preferably require, it's time to look at options. Before contacting anyone for prices and consultations, it's worth considering the type of support you would prefer - a large agency with lots of in house staff vs a single independent planner with a smaller client list, for example. When doing initial research you should be looking at websites and assessing:
A full and varied portfolio of real weddings (shows the planner has experience at full and complex events)
A selection of inspirational editorial shoots (shows the planner has an eye for detail and creative concepts)
Testimonials (if these aren't on the website, then request them!)
Press coverage (showcasing the planner as a leader in the industry)
If you aren't drawn towards the imagery on a wedding planner's website it's a strong indicator that your style preferences don't align. Always see this as a red flag, and keep looking until you find more inspirational content.
Before Contacting the Wedding Planner
Ensure you have key details to hand - namely your budget, estimated number of wedding guests, preferred locations and an idea of your requirements.
In addition to talking through your initial ideas, concerns and requests, also consider asking the following questions during an initial consultation:
Is my preferred wedding date available, and how many events would you normally commit to in that month
What is your professional and educational background?
How long have you been in business?
How many paid full weddings have you planned from start to finish, and when was your last one?
How many clients do you take on in a year?
Is wedding planning your full time job?
Do you have public liability and professional indemnity insurance?
Where are your main offices based?
Do you accept commission from vendors/suppliers when recommending them?
Can we choose our own vendors or do we have to use those from your preferred list?
What has been the most challenging problem that's come up at one of your weddings?
What is the largest number of guests you have co-ordinated previously?
Will you attend all meetings and review all contracts on our behalf?
Do you invoice us directly for all vendor payments, or will contracts and invoices be made in our own names?
Do you specialise mainly in logistical planning, or are you more well known for wedding design and styling?
Who will be the person attending my wedding on the day?
Will you be on site for set up and breakdown after the wedding?
Is there a limit on how often and when we can contact you?
Do you offer custom/bespoke services and packages?
What is your minimum fee requirements, and do you cap your fees?
Do you charge hourly, a % of the overall cost, or a flat rate?
If we decide to book, what would be the next steps?
After the Wedding Planner Consultation
Most often a couple will have a gut feeling as to whether the consultation went well and whom is their preferred choice of wedding planner to book services with. Sometimes budget will be the ultimate deciding factor (we generally recommend setting aside at least 10% of your overall budget for wedding planning services).
However there are some key questions to ask yourself:
After each interview is complete, ask yourselves:
Did the planner listen carefully to our ideas and requirements - did we feel heard?
Do I immediately feel calmer and more confident about wedding planning after that consultation?
Does our style preference align with my planner, and does he/she understand our vision?
Do I feel like I can trust them, and that they will work authentically and with integrity on our behalf?
Do we feel they can confidently work within our budget limitations?
Did we connect on a personal level, and will our families get on with this person?
Do we feel confident with all of that in mind, that they also have the credibility, experience and know how to do the very best for us?