9 Things Wedding Planners Will Never, Ever Tell You

She looks honest enough...

Wedding planners are great. Fantastic. From consultants to full-time planners, they can make it a lot easier to plan a wedding. Had I been able to afford one, you bet you tush that I would have hired one and had a better, less chaotic wedding as a result. But I didn’t know then what I know now, so I can’t exactly beat myself up over who I did and didn’t hire, right? If you can afford to hire a wedding planner and the idea of assembling favors doesn’t sound like the best way to spend a Saturday night, then go for it!

Just remember that, as in all bunches, the wedding planner bunch has a few bad apples, so you need to be careful when hiring one. Below are nine things that most wedding planners don’t publicize – not all of which are true for all planners. As you’re hiring a wedding planner, keep these possibilities in the back in your mind and, above all, make sure the planner you hire is someone you feel comfortable with!

1. Wedding planning requires no formal training. There are certification programs and classes, but there is no formal licensing scheme in place. Anyone can decide to start calling themselves a wedding planner, so when you hire a wedding consultant or planner, get those references and follow up with them.

2. Not all wedding planners are full-service wedding planners, especially when it comes to wedding planners and wedding coordinators at resorts or in-house planners at venues. Consequently, it’s important to have all of the services your planning professional will be providing outlined in a wedding planner contract.

3. Because the majority of full-service wedding planners charge their clients a percentage of the wedding budget instead of a flat fee, it’s in their best interests to encourage brides and grooms to spend big. There’s precious little reason for the planner to negotiate with vendors for the best deal, so don’t assume your wedding planner is getting you the best deals unless she or he has agreed to do that.

4. Not every wedding needs a wedding planner. Event planning isn’t nuclear engineering, so given enough time and research and patience, anyone can do it. In cases where the couple doesn’t have the time, etc., a wedding planner can be a boon, but your planner is probably not going to tell you that the wedding you want is one you could DIY with ease.

5. Wedding planner clients can ask for anything they want. Which isn’t to say you’ll get everything you ask for at the budget that works for you, but since the wedding planner market is saturated, word on the street is that planners are more willing to go above and beyond the basic service level these days.

6. Bridezillas will be charged a headache fee of up to 20 percent. Some wedding planners will build this into their contracts, so it just doesn’t pay to treat your wedding planner like those terrible people on reality shows.

7. Wedding planners really, really appreciate respectful clients who are fun to work with and don’t act like those terrible people on reality shows. If you start out on the right foot with your planner and then stay on the right foot, you may find that the service you get is a few degrees above exceptional. And she or he may work harder to get you discounts from wedding vendors and venues than they might otherwise..

8. The Internet is not your wedding planners best friend. A lot of planners and wedding coordinators out there have come to hate the Internet because in some cases, it gives brides and grooms unrealistic expectations when it comes to prices and availability. Wedding planning professionals have seen it all, from brides getting terribly wrong advice on forums to brides who decide to ditch their planners after getting encouragement from the wedding DIY community.

9. The vendors and venues that a wedding planner refers you may not be the best. Rather, those vendors and venues may simply be the ones that paid an annual fee to get on a list of preferred wedding service providers. Be sure you like what you see and communicate with a particular vendor before choosing him or her – don’t simply rely on your wedding planner’s every recommendation.

P.S. – Not working with a planner? Turn your Kindle into a one!

4 Responses to “9 Things Wedding Planners Will Never, Ever Tell You”

  1. Great tips! Some of them are spot-on! Especially the internet = unrealistic expectations 🙂 Also, AMEN to # 7!

    Although as a wedding planner, I want to say that the concept of wedding planners charging a PERCENTAGE of the total wedding budget is very old-school and for the most part, being phased out. Most of my wedding planner colleagues charge a flat fee (myself included), and it is pretty much the norm now. We DO have lots of incentive to secure our clients the best possible price. Why? Because that makes us a hero in our clients’ eyes… and that’s exactly what we strive to be!!

    I never encourage my clients to spend above their comfort level and I try not to recommend vendors that I know will be above their budget (but that they will fall in love with). Most planners do try and negotiate the best possible price for their clients (and I say “most” planners because as with every profession, there are always a few bad eggs). One very important thing to note is that we can tell our clients what they should EXPECT to pay for each service type, relative to our local market. They can look online all they want and find websites that tell them that “photography should be 10% of your budget.” But how does that translate in Chicago (where I am based) and is that realistic to finding a wonderful photographer? Do they even need to fork over 10%?

    I WILL say that I am not a “haggler”. I will not haggle a vendor to death to lower the price. Reason being – I prefer to work with other independent vendors – photographers, cinematographers, florists, etc. – versus large corporations. And being an independent vendor myself, I understand that we charge what we charge because it’s what we feel we are WORTH, because we are good at what we do… and we charge what we do because we need to make a living. This is not my hobby, and I have bills to pay and a mortgage too!

    I hope these insight helps 🙂

  2. Thank you for a wonderful blog – I’ve been telling these things to my clients all along – they are important! I’ve built a business based on honesty and integrity; that’s the best way for any planner to build a following. Wedding planning is NOT rocket science but it is solid knowledge based on experience that boils down to being able to advocate for our clients to make sure that their wedding day is one the most memorable moments of their life. It’s also about being able to think on our feet and deal with the unexpected.

    The uncertain economy is challenging us as wedding planners to stretch our clients’ budgets and to reinvent and innovate the art of wedding planning. The Internet is here to stay and so is the DIY community. I believe that these aspects of our industry are useful tools to enhance the services that we provide. I invite you to check out my newly launched packaged planning services and let me know what you think about our 24/7 wedding planning hotline – momentsbywayne.com/online-services

  3. The Jananator says:

    I have never worked with a wedding planner myself, but for all the other brides out there’s sake, I hope more wedding planners are like Charlene than not! If most are, then brides have nothing to worry about!

  4. So glad some wedding planners are chiming in – I hope more do! And I agree with The Jananator about being glad that there are so many good, honest ones out there. I think it’s a great profession since so many brides and grooms work full time and then some these days. The swamped couples deserve beautiful weddings, too!