What to ask a wedding consultant

How do you charge?

Some consultants, especially those who are hired mainly to coordinate the wedding day, charge by the hour—a good option if you don't think you will need more than occasional consultation. Others will charge a flat per-wedding fee or a certain percentage of the total wedding cost (usually 10 to 30 percent).

Are there vendors you prefer to use, and why?

You want to be sure the consultant is not taking kickbacks from vendors, which might mean that you're not necessarily directed to the services that best meet your needs.

How many other weddings will you be working on at the same time?

You don't want a consultant juggling too many other events.

How available will you be to us as we plan the wedding?

Questions will pop up, ideas will need a sounding board. It's best to work with someone who returns calls and responds to e-mail promptly.

What is your experience?

Obviously, you don't want to be the very first wedding for a consultant. Having 10 or so weddings under her belt is a good amount of experience. But education—through, say, professional wedding consultant organizations—can make a new consultant an excellent choice too.

Can you describe a recent wedding you planned?

You are not actually asking about the wedding itself here; you just want to be sure you get an enthusiastic response. Being a wedding consultant can be a demanding, stressful job—you want someone who really enjoys doing it.

Can you give us a few references?

Get them, and call them. Ask about wedding dates, because you want couples who were married recently. If the consultant can't provide references, move on.

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