Large or small, weddings involve tons of preparations.  With so much already going on in everyday life already, all of these arrangements can soon become overwhelming for a bride planning her upcoming wedding

Wedding stress isn’t pretty, and that’s why many brides turn to the expertise of a wedding planner. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to search for these wedding professionals and how to hire the right one.

Step 1. Get an Idea of Budget Basics

Before hiring a wedding planner, the first step for any bride is to determine where a wedding fits into the budget. This is where the bride, her fiancé, and possibly their parents need to come together to hash out the specifics. Who will pay for the wedding? How much can they or are they willing to spend? 

Since the average U.S. wedding costs about $30,000 to $35,000, it’s a significant expense for most couples. Better to get a few numbers down on paper as soon as possible. When doing this, consider the cost of a planner. Does the budget allow for one? Great! It’s time to layout those options.

Step 2. Understand the Hiring Options

Wedding planners aren’t one-size-fits-all. Typically, brides searching for a wedding planner will see two options: full service and day-of. 

Some wedding planning professionals coordinate for the wedding day itself. Other planners handle everything from vendor booking to stationary and flower selection. Still, others include wedding design and styling in their service package. 

Here’s a breakdown of what wedding planners offer:

Full-Service Wedding Planner

  • Works with the bride to plan the guest list
  •   Researches vendors
  •   Books wedding venue and caterer
  •   Plans seating, vendor booking, floral arrangements, and other wedding components
  •   Handles all communication 
  •   Organizes day-of setup and coordination
  •   Handles urgent situations on the wedding day

Day-Of Wedding Planner

  • Communicates with already-booked vendors
  •  Sets up venue according to the already-made floor and seating plans
  •  Acts as point-of-contact during wedding day emergencies

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Step 3. Research or Get Social

The next step for brides is to research wedding planners in their area. Local planners have better connections with wedding vendors—maybe even existing relationships—and can recommend venues based on price or preference. For out-of-town brides, a wedding planner who works in the chosen location is even more of an asset.

Brides with time constraints can turn to friends, relatives, or social media for recommendations on choosing the ideal wedding planner. With a few names to work with, the bride can then check out each planner’s portfolio and skill set.

Step 4. Arrange In-Person Meetings

Get ready to narrow down on a few planners and reach out. While a few phone calls or emails can be a good start, nothing beats meeting face-to-face. This meeting is more than saying hello, though—it’s a way to personally vet them. Since the wedding planner and bride work closely for many months, they need to get along and see the wedding vision the same way. Personality checks are a must!

Step 5. Pepper Them with Questions and Ideas

Brides should bring a list of questions to the meetings, which will help them choose the best planner. Focus on what matters, like cost, availability, allotted hours, or communication.

Here are some questions to consider:

  1.   What does the package include?
  2.   What’s not included?
  3.   Does the planner offer design/styling?
  4.   What are the most common additional costs?
  5.   Is the planner available on a preferred day?
  6.   Does the planner know/have experience with the preferred venue?
  7.   How will communication work?
  8.   Does the planner allow package customization?
  9.   What are some suggestions for remaining in budget?

Apart from those essential questions, it’s a good idea to bring along an idea board or image gallery to see how they respond. Wedding excitement should never wait!

Step 6. Pick your Favorite

There are a few routes here: the bride can make the decision, the bride and her fiancé can make the decision, or the bride can gather opinions from close friends before making a final decision. Ultimately, it should be the decision of the person or people who will be most often communicating with the planner.

Once settled on the perfect fit, it’s time to make it official! Wedding planners have busy schedules and could quickly become unavailable. Contact the planner and ask to book their services for the wedding package of choice.

Step 7. Sign That Contract

Of course, nothing is official without a signature. Brides must read the contract from start to finish to avoid any surprises down the line. Ask any final questions, sign on the dotted line, and relax, knowing the wedding planning is in excellent hands. Congratulations!

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