To Hire or Not To Hire: Do You Need a Wedding Planner

I was in my twenties when I first heard of wedding planners. My first thought was ‘what a ridiculous idea!’ because it never occurred to me that anyone would need someone to tell them how to get married. In my thirties, I actually briefly flirted with the idea of becoming one because I love weddings, and I’d had such a good time not only planning my own, but two other weddings that had gone off very successfully, as well. In the end, I decided not to take that particular plunge. While I love writing advice for brides, I still think that most people are more than capable of planning a perfectly nice wedding so long as they have a little advice from friends, family, and resources…well…like this one and NtB’s soon-to-be-published book.

But over the years, it’s become clear to me that some brides do seriously benefit from hiring a wedding planner. Others (and this was me all over) would only cause ulcers for all parties involved by trying to use one. How to know which bride you are? Well, here are a few questions that should help you figure out whether or not to hire a professional to help you make your dreams come true.

How much time do I have for wedding planning? This is a biggie. If you’ve decided to get married on a very short schedule while working full time, a wedding planner could be very helpful in saving you valuable time on legwork and research. After all, there are a lot of reception locations and florists and photographers in the phone book and chances are you don’t already know which ones are just not worth the trouble of talking to whether because of budget, comptetance, or conflict with the style you’re looking for. A good wedding planner will know local resources and be able to steer you toward the ones that will fit your budget and style. If you’ve got the time and inclination to do the homework youself, though, a planner might not be terribly helpful.

Do I feel confident that I can organize things myself? This is even bigger than the time issue. If you know you can organize things and feel that you’ll be able to cover all the bases, then why would you even consider hiring someone to do it for you? On the other hand, if you don’t know a lot about weddings, or you tend to be disorganized, it can be a huge stress saver to know you’ve got someone with you who can tell you what’s missing and help you sort through the unfamiliar language to figure out what’s actually covered in your contract.

Am I trying to plan something long-distance? If you can’t be where the wedding is going to be held, it’s important to have someone on the spot who can deal with emergencies and finding resources where you plan to be. If you have a trusted friend or family member you can rely on, then that’s great. If you don’t, then a planner might be the way to go.

How much of a control freak am I? And this is where I would have driven some poor planner to drink. If you’re most comfortable leaving details in someone else’s hands, then a wedding planner is terrific. You can tell her (or him) what you want, and how much money you have to spend on it. You can then pick from pre-winnowed choices and leave the planner to deal with many of the details including last-minute emergencies on the big day. If, on the other hand, you’re the sort who needs to see every option and fine-tooth-comb every contract, and head off your own disasters, you’re probably better suited to being a wedding planner than hiring one. Save yourself the head-butting.

If you look things over and decide to hire a planner, be sure to do your homework. Get references from recent brides and grooms. Ask about your potential planner’s organizational skills, flexibility, and contacts. Find out how professionally they handled payment schedules and meetings. Read your contract carefully. Try to guage how well you’ll get along with this person. If you find yourself disliking or mistrusting her, don’t hire her. After all, you’ll spend a lot of time working with this person even if you want to leave nearly all the details in her hands. You don’t want to spend your wedding day with someone whose personality you find grating. You don’t want to leave important decisions in the hands of someone you’re not sure is up to them.

Whether or not to have a planner involved is a very personal decision hinging on a combination of circumstance and personality. Make the decision based on what works for you.

12 Responses to “To Hire or Not To Hire: Do You Need a Wedding Planner”

  1. Melissa B. says:

    Fantastic advice, Twistie! I’ve only been to one wedding that had a professional planner, but the bride’s parents said over and over again how wonderful she was and how hiring her was the best thing they could have done. The wedding was being held quite a distance away from where the couple lived and from where the bride’s parents lived, and arranging all of the details long-distance would have been a major headache.

  2. Never teh Bride says:

    I would be a planner’s nightmare — in the end I’d probably end up micromanaging her so badly that she’d wonder why I hired her in the first place! Looking back, though, it might have been nice, being that I planned my wedding remotely, and some details were harder to work out than others. Sometimes you can actually save money with a planner because they can get you fab discounts!

    I, too, have flirted with the idea of trying out my wedding planning skillz on a local level, but from what I’ve read there has been a huge influx of people who are trying to make planning into a career. I’m not a particularly competitive person, so I don’t know how well I’d handle having to pit my expertise and resources against those of scads of other gals.

  3. Meg says:

    I had a planner, of sorts — we did our wedding at the MGM Grand, so we basically got a booklet that said “based on your package, here are your options” and it was all dealt with in house.

    It was perfect for me — I got to make all the decisions I felt were important, but other than finding a place to have the post-wedding lunch, had no real jobs to do.

  4. sterlingspider says:

    A friend of mine is getting married next summer and is already having gigantic issues with one of the FMILs.

    Several people have suggested that the only way they managed to get through their own weddings without killing one or both mothers was by using a wedding planner who for them acted as a mediator more then anything else. I imagine that having a stranger around does a lot to keep discussions civil with the more image sensitive parties as well.

  5. Twistie says:

    That’s something I didn’t even think of, Sterlingspider! I really ought to have, too, because I’ve seen a few weddings where family feuding got out of hand. Some families do seem to need a UN negotiator to keep from killing each other over major family events.

    Yeah, NtB, I would have driven some poor wedding planner to drink, too. I was definitely better as a solo act. Not only was I micromanaging things, my tastes are extremely quirky and my priorities are often…unique. I think it was a kindness on my part not to hire a wedding planner. Then again, the wedding was being held quite close, was not particularly big, and was being held on a half-a-shoestring budget. Things might have been very different if I’d been getting married in another state, trying to see to the needs of five hundred guests, or dealing with feuding families.

  6. 7nina says:

    Beacuse of my FILs health issues, I’m getting married in their state, so I’m hiring a planner. My FMIL offered to plan, but I shudder at the thought-she’s a lovely woman, but we have very dissimilar tastes. I am nervouse about doing this, as I’m a micrmanager too, but I just can’t see any way around it. I do wish I could meet with them in person rather than just phone/email, but not happening. if circumstances were different, I would never do it. A Day of coordinator maybe, but not a planner.

  7. Dianasaur says:

    I didn’t even consider hiring a wedding planner. I’m pretty easy going and knew as long as I had planned every detail out ahead of time, I wouldn’t really freak out the day of if there were any snafus. But the one thing I didn’t want to risk at all was having any personality clashes or anything like that on my wedding day. I’ve heard so many horror stories from friends who had wedding “planners” that came with the location and were way more focused on their agenda than making the day great for the bride. I know there are some great wedding planners out there, but I knew I could do a great job myself.

  8. Stephanie says:

    One of my cousins hired a planner for her destination wedding. She really needed someone with local expertise to help her out. It never crossed my mind to get one. I love planning parties so my wedding was like the ultimate challenge for me.

    As for Day-of planners, my family started the tradition several weddings ago of the Trusted Friend, a cousin or close family friend who’s not in the wedding party to help out as a production assistant of sorts. It helps to have someone other than your mom or MOH helping you out “backstage.” And it’s just fun for us to include one more person into the big day.

  9. C* says:

    I planned our entire Pennsylvania wedding while living in Utah with hardly any problems. We spent about 10 days physically in the town we got married in during our 16 month engagement. Was it difficult? Definitely, but do-able. That being said we did hire a Day-of coordinator and handed everything off to her the day before the wedding. She was awesome and we didn’t have to worry about any details the entire day. It was an expense I would gladly do again.

  10. The good thing is that nowadays most event coordinators offer different packages to fit most brides. They have basic consultation packages that are just for when you have questions, day of coordination, or full service. Their industry input is always valuable no matter how you utilize it. We sent a questionnaire to recent brides asking “What Would Have Made Your Day Easier” and 50% of the responses were “hiring a wedding consultant”.

  11. Jackie says:

    I really think that wedding planners are terrific for very busy brides & grooms. Like most of my friends, I work full time in a high power (demanding) job. Being able to delegate the details has been wonderful. I’m still overseeing every detail, but rather than spending my own time getting floral quotes for a Phaelanopsis orchid bouquet & matching centerpieces, I have someone else doing it. My wedding planner is amazing! Kind of like a personal assistant for my life. Question: can I keep her when the wedding is over?