How to Decide if You Need a Wedding Planner

Discover what level of wedding coordination is right for you.

How to Decide if You Need a Wedding Planner

Photo: Nancy Cohn

As the wedding-planning industry has grown, so too have the levels and types of wedding-planning services from which you can choose. Options range from a “Day-of” package to full coordination, and depending on the consultant, the services included in each can vary. Which choice is best for you rests upon a number of factors, including your desired price point and how much time you’re able to commit to the planning process. Consider all of your options carefully before selecting the level that’s right for your situation.

This type of wedding package is the most economical selection, especially if you are planning your nuptials on your own. The coordinator will simply step in on the day of the wedding and provide an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands to help ensure that your event runs as smoothly as possible. This option works well if you’re a bride who has previous hands-on experience, is extremely organized, and has a lot of free time to conduct the extensive research that must be performed in order to make educated planning decisions.

“Day-of” service typically includes:

• Initial consultation

• Wedding-day schedule (approved by the bride and groom)

• Supervision of the ceremony rehearsal

• Management of vendors during set-up, the duration of the event, and clean-up

• Fulfillment assurance of venue’s contractual responsibilities

• Coordination of the processional, ceremony, and recessional

• Set up of escort cards, place cards, menus, favors, etc.

• Attendance at sound check with the DJ and/or band

• Administration of cues to the DJ/band for grand entrance, first dance, etc.

• Assistance with seating direction for reception

• Management and supervision of the entire wedding day

This category of service is a great option if you have a clear vision for your wedding and just need a little extra handholding and guidance leading up to the big event. It’s also an effective alternative to more detailed service when cost is a consideration. This level allows your coordinator to become familiar with your wedding in advance and oversee the events of the day with confidence, but without a full-time investment. Often, you can add amenities as needed, such as a décor consultation or having your wedding coordinator attend your tasting, for a nominal fee.

“Month-of” service typically includes:

• All “Day-of” services listed above

• Vendor confirmation and contract review

• Creation and distribution of vendor contact sheet

• Vendor walk-through at the wedding location

This option is like having a personal assistant throughout your planning process. The wedding consultant is with you every step of the way, helping to ensure that you make the best possible choices. He or she is instrumental in bringing your wedding vision to fruition while staying within your spending limit. Many times, a wedding coordinator can even save you money based on relationships and experience with trusted vendors. I always say, “A good wedding coordinator should pay for themselves!”

Full-service coordination typically includes:

• All “Day-/Month-of” services listed above

• Venue referral and management

• Location recommendations

• Assurance that client’s responsibilities and vendor set-up and breakdown is in compliance with venue contract

• Event design

• Development of wedding concept and advisement on décor details

• Presentation of décor mock-ups, including florals, linens, rentals, and lighting

• Suggestions for entertainment options

• Management of printed materials

• Advice on design, etiquette, and wording for stationery suite

• Proofing and editing of printed materials

• RSVP collection/coordination • Vendor referral, negotiation, and management

• Vendor recommendations

• Review and negotiation of vendor contracts and proposals

• Communication with vendors throughout the planning process

• Attendance at any vendor walk-throughs as well as any food tastings

• Cost and payment management

• Itemized breakdown of costs

• Development of a pre-approved vendor payment schedule

• Production and staffing

• Distribution of approved wedding-day schedule to all vendors

• Coordination and supervision of on-site arrivals for all products and materials

• On-site staff for entire event weekend from set-up through breakdown

• Guest relations, travel, and accommodations

• Assistance with concierge needs for out-of-town guests

• Assistance with the assembly and delivery of “Welcome Bags” or gifts

• Coordination of transportation and valet service

Regardless of which level of service you ultimately decide to employ for your event, finding a consultant with whom you communicate easily and trust completely is essential. The right wedding planner will help bring your dream wedding to life while easing your burden of stress and anxiety, ensuring you can relax and enjoy the day all the more.

Photograph by Nancy Cohn