Most of us grew up with a vision of what the “perfect” wedding looked like from a myriad of rom-coms, from Father of the Bride and My Best Friend’s Wedding. But, perhaps one of the most notable is The Wedding Planner. This Hollywood film inspired so many actual wedding planners to take on their profession and gave brides and grooms the idea that a wedding couldn’t take place without one.
It’s absolutely true that a wedding planner is an integral part of the team of vendors that you can hire to ensure your special day goes off without a hitch. But, if you’re planning a budget-conscious wedding, you might find yourself deciding on whether or not it makes financial sense to get one. After all, when you tack up all of the expenses for your big day—including the venue, the catering, the band or DJ, the photographer, and the videographer—a wedding planner might seem like one of the vendors you could go without.
The average cost of a full-service wedding planner ranges anywhere from $3,000-$10,000, depending where your wedding is taking place, and a day-of planner can range anywhere from $1,000-$3,000, according to Betsy Dawn, event planner and co-founder of The Wedding Planning Guide. “A wedding planner will spend countless hours working on coordinating all of your wedding details and elements. When the day comes, they typically have one or more assistants helping run your big day,” she says. “For all of these reasons, wedding planners are expensive. Also, we can't forget you're paying for all of their years of expertise.”
If you can’t afford a wedding planner, it still pays to enlist some form of help in the planning department. As any former bride will tell you, there are a million and one things to think about when you’re planning a wedding—and you have enough to focus on being the bride or groom.
Thankfully, there are now wedding-planning services that provide you with all of the basic tools you need to put your wedding planner hat on. From timelines and checklists to how-tos and 101s, here are some of the best new services that are helping brides and grooms plan without actually having to hire a formal wedding planner.
The Wedding Planning Guide
Co-founders Betsy and Elyse Dawn have compiled their 10 years of experience planning weddings in their guide to make a 'wedding planner' accessible to more couples who want one. Their tips and advice plan your wedding from start to finish, including downloadable worksheets along with incredibly detailed timeline-creating tips and tools. They even have an entire section with guidance on how to best coordinate friends and family to help. You can purchase their wedding-planning guide alone, or choose to tack on a package of two hour-long video meetings to go over any and all questions you might have and score an email rundown of everything discussed during each call.
If you’re looking for a local planner who you can hire on an hour-to-hour basis or simply for day-of assistance, you can do this using Plannie, the first global platform that sources local event planners. You can choose between three types of planners: a day-of planner, an hourly consultant, or a COVID compliance officer, which is a new addition. A COVID compliance officer is actually a pretty important role. They essentially act as a hall monitor for your big day—ensuring people are practicing social distancing, answering any questions guests might have as far as safety measures go, etc. They even provide rapid on-site testing in some instances. The cost varies depending on the event planner you hire. The average ranges from $50 per hour for a newbie wedding planner to $200 or more per hour with a more luxury wedding planner.
MAD About Weddings
Celebrity wedding planners Mindy Weiss and Debbie Geller have joined forces to launch this pretty incredible business that’s helping couples all over the world plan an epic wedding—without having to hire a full-service wedding planner. Their 12-video program walks couples through the wedding planning process step by step, including everything from vetting venue options to saying “yes” to the right dress. While the regular program is $349, you could also choose a higher-end package that includes four live sessions for $449.
Cost: $179 per month
This new wedding planning subscription, founded by “it” wedding industry professional Jacquelyn Aleece and launched by the Wedding Plan & Company, provides couples with a team of wedding pros who are available for private consultations and services when you need and want them. They are there to give you the 411 on how to choose a wedding DJ or the right photographer, or to simply answer any random questions you’ve acquired as you plan on your own. The cost is $179 per month through automatic subscription, but the silver lining is that you can cancel at any time if you feel like you no longer need assistance.
Although not a wedding app by design, if you’re working on your millionth to-do list for the big day, Thomas Waters of The Renaissance in Richmond, Virginia recommends AnyList, a simple app that you can download right to your phone or desktop. Best of all? It’s free! “It allows you to custom create to-do lists that you can then share with friends and family, so it’s perfect if you’re splitting the responsibilities with your partner and want to keep track of who is doing what,” he says. “Better yet, you can add pictures to your to-dos to help clarify and illustrate what’s needed.”
Carats & Cake
If Pinterest isn’t cutting it as a source for inspiration and guidance, consider Carats & Cake, which provides couples with a plethora of advice for planning a wedding. “You run through some real weddings, check out vendor reviews from actual couples, and even book those vendors through the website itself,” says Waters. “I love this resource for our couples because it gives [them] the power to do their own informed research based on what design and trends they’re interested in, and does a wonderful job of giving a comprehensive list of vendors for each real-wedding feature. So, if you see a floral display you love or a must-have venue, all of the information is at your fingertips.”
Rock Paper Coin
Cost: $29 per month
Although this online platform is designed for wedding professionals, couples can also find it incredibly useful for all sorts of planning to-dos, from managing their vendors and contracts to keeping invoices in one place. “It is essentially a wedding binder that will keep you organized and on top of all planning,” says co-founder and wedding and event planner, Nora Sheils.