Finding the right wedding planner is an important step in planning your big day — but it doesn’t have to be an expensive one.
About 2 years ago, my husband and I finally tied the knot. We’d already lived together and had children together for quite some time, and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to walk down the aisle.
As we were planning our wedding, I accounted for every penny. I acquired quotes for venues. I pretended everyone was going to order steak to motivate us to save more than enough money to cover dinner. I found a designer dress at an ultra discount. And I scheduled our big day for the off-season.
My Fairy Godmother
I was even more ecstatic when I found out that our venue came with a perk: a free wedding planner. We had booked our wedding and reception at the same spacious, fancy restaurant. As a part of our booking, their event planner held our hands the entire time to make sure everything went off without a hitch.
While he didn’t necessarily specialize in weddings, the venue had hosted enough of them that he was more than familiar with the process. He coordinated with all of our vendors, making sure the cake and flowers arrived at the appropriate hour. He got me thinking about things like napkin options and procession order when I wouldn’t have thought to do so myself.
Essentially, he was the fairy godmother of my wedding. I was an admittedly relaxed bride, so he compensated and picked up all of the stress for me. While we did pay to rent the space, we didn’t pay a penny extra in fees for his fantastic work.
You Can Do It Too
To get a free wedding planner, book your wedding and reception at the same venue, making sure it’s one that provides an event planner or coordinator as a part of the package.
If your venue doesn’t provide a planner or coordinator, here are other options to pick from and shape to your budget.
A wedding planner will hold your hand through the entire process, attend vendor meetings with you and help you sort through the smallest of details. Their goal isn’t necessarily to save you money, but to ensure the vision you have for your big day is met. They typically hold a certification or degree related to event planning. They also cost big bucks; be sure to budget them in accordingly.
As you’re budgeting and selecting your wedding planner, you’ll likely go through the interview process several times before you decide on the perfect fit. Here are some important questions to ask through that process.
A wedding coordinator is a step down from a planner in price and involvement. They will do things like provide you with vendor referrals and make sure everything runs smoothly the day of, but their job is to facilitate your vision rather than help you create one.
The cheapest of the three options, a wedding director will make sure everything goes smoothly the day of. Alternatively known as wedding coordinators, they’ll set up timelines, communicating with the vendors you have identified and chosen yourself. They’ll start the communication process around a month prior to your wedding day, and will make sure the event itself flows well. They will not help you pick out color schemes or tell you the best place to buy your cake.
Family Member or Friend
If you have a family member or friend who is willing to take on the task, making them the wedding director can bring your bill down to $0. You should pick someone with great organizational skills, and a clear vision of what you want your big day to look like. Keep in mind, though, that by asking someone to be director, they are likely to miss out on enjoying the wedding in the same way as your other guests.
Planning on having a family member or friend direct? Check out these tips learned from experience.
It’s Up to You
In the end, it comes down to how much involvement you want from a planner and how much money you have available to actually spend on them. If you’re on a tighter budget and don’t want to book a venue with an in-house planner, you may have to do more on your own than you’d prefer. Luckily, there are pros out there willing to give you pointers if budget constraints steer you toward DIY.
If you have more money to spend, and have decided it’s something you’re willing to drop upward of tens of thousands of dollars on, then you can hire someone who is going to help you create vision boards and go the whole 9 yards.
Every bride has her budget, and gets to make her own decision on how much she is going to spend on her wedding’s fairy godmother.