Photo: Gianluca Adovasio
You've done your research, read the reviews, scrolled endlessly through their Instagram feed, and have finally found a wedding planner you think could be The One. Now's the time to sit down for a face-to-face interview to make sure it's a perfect fit, and to set the foundation for your relationship between today and the day you say "I do." Sure, you know to ask whether they're available on your wedding date and if they've worked at your dream venue before, but what else do you need to know before you sign on the dotted line? There's no one better to tell you what you should ask your wedding planner than a planning duo themselves, so we turned to Francie Dorman and Britt Cole, founders of 42° North Weddings, to fill you in on the things you might not have known to ask.
How many weddings do you do in a day or weekend?
You'll want to get a sense of your planner (or their team's) capability, as well as how much work they take on in one day. "If your planner is part of a larger firm, they'll explain that they have the capacity to handle more than one job per weekend," says Dorman. In that case, the firm may have more than one wedding at a time, but hopefully your individual planner is going to be able to devote themselves to you. "If you're meeting with a solo planner, you'll definitely want to know if they take on more than one wedding in a weekend," Cole adds. If that's the case, find out right away whether they'll be on-site for you, if one of their assistants will be taking the lead, or if they'll be splitting their time between two brides. Says Cole, "This will help you manage your own expectations of how much involvement and attention you'll have on the big day."
How do you set your pricing?
Every planner's pricing structure is different, ranging from a flat fee based on the scope of the job to a base fee plus charges for overages to an hourly rate. "Knowing how you'll be charged up front ensures that there will be no surprises or misunderstandings down the line. In fact, you should familiarize yourself with the pricing models for all of your vendors: It's a great way to start your planning on the right foot," says Dorman.
Who signs the vendor contracts, the client or the planner?
"Again," says Dorman, "everyone does it differently!" You'll want to find out whether you'll be signing the contracts and your planner will be managing the relationships, or whether the planner will be signing on your behalf. Familiarize yourself with where the liability lies and how the payments are handled. And no matter the case, make sure you read the fine print before anyone signs anything!
Do you make commission off of select vendors?
Transparency is the key to any great planner-client partnership, so you should find this out at the very beginning for the sake of full disclosure. Says Cole, "You'll feel much better knowing that your planner is recommending vendors that are a true fit for you, rather than vendors they'll be taking a cut from." If your planner does make a commission, find out exactly which vendors are included and why, then weigh whether you think you'll still be getting the best service.
What can I expect in terms of response time on emails and phone calls?
This might seem like an oddly specific question to ask, but it's good to set realistic expectations from the get-go. "Wedding planning ebbs and flows, and when it gets busy it can feel like everything needs to get done right away," explains Dorman. "During those frantic moments, you'll want to know when to expect a response — and your planner will be happy that you know what to expect." Knowing, for example, that your planner is completely unavailable on the day of another client's wedding, or that she'll always answer your emails within 24 hours (though it might be at 11pm!) will help assure that neither of you feels overly stressed throughout the process.