When it comes to the planning process, the bridal spectrum stretches from "I have no idea what I'm doing" to "I think wedding planning may be my calling. Should I quit my day job?" Accordingly, for brides who don't know where to start, hiring a wedding planner to help them along the way can feel like a no brainer. But for brides who feel like they've got this from the get-go, or think that extra help isn't financially feasible, is spending thousands on a planner really worth the investment?
Planners Claire Weller and Susan Cordogan of Big City Bride say it absolutely is worth it, and insist that their stance isn't just their bottom line talking—it's their clients' bottom line, too. If you choose your planner wisely, you could actually end up saving money.
1. Planners can help with your budget constraints and legal contracts.
A good planner can help you make the most of your wedding budget. "We can stretch your budget because we know what's more important. We know what's going to have more impact," Cordogan says. "We recently had a bride who wanted bagpipers, and we just did her day-of coordination. We learned that she spent over $1,000 on five bagpipers, and bagpipers are so loud you only need one. We could have saved her $800 in that small decision. Even small decisions can add up to big savings when you have a planner who knows what they're doing."
2. Planners will fight for your wedding vision and keep everything on track.
In addition to helping couples budget and supervising sticky details like legal contracts, the most important perk of a planner, Cordogan and Weller say, is having someone who'll fight for your wedding vision from start to finish. While many vendors tackle more than one wedding per day or per weekend, a planner is focused only on your special day and will push to make sure everything goes according to your unique plan.
"It really is a long journey to the altar. On the wedding day [you want] someone who knows what's in your brain, and knows that you want an outdoor ceremony even if it looks like rain, and will fight for that until the very last minute," Cordogan says, "Or if it does rain we're going to run out there and dry out the chairs."
3. Planners can keep things stress-free.
From a vendor's perspective, working with a wedding planner instead of directly with the bride or groom or their parents can keep things streamlined and stress-free. Erin Foster-Olszewski, owner of A Stem Above floral design, says especially as the wedding day gets closer, she'd rather bother a planner to iron out last minute details than worry an already-stressed couple directly. According to Cordogan, planners often have built-in relationships with vendors, which can also cut costs.
4. Planners can get you a vendor discount.
"Sometimes discounts don't appear on paper. If we call our lighting guy and on the wedding day we don't like what he's brought, you can be sure we're going to have him add extra lighting and [you're not going to] get charged for it," she says. "We are repeat business. Couples are not. [The vendors] aim to please us so we bring them more business."
5. Planners can handle ceremony-to-reception flipping.
Full and partial planning packages aside, Foster-Olszewski says a day-of coordinator is ideal, if you can wing it, especially if your celebration involves complex orchestration like flipping the ceremony space in a short time period so it's ready for the reception.
"It is so important to have somebody who can bring in vendors who are familiar with the space and who are familiar with what they're doing," she says.
6. Planners can help you coordinate the entire day (as opposed to just one aspect).
A wedding that's divided over multiple venues with their own coordinators may require less overall coordination, Foster-Olszewski says. But even if a venue offers an in-house coordinator, Cordogan advises couples to remember that that person will likely only be coordinating the specific details that venue is responsible for providing, like food or the space itself. They may not be focused on helping you juggle all the little details that will make your special day so special. And juggling details is the last thing you and your fiancé want to worry about on your wedding day.
"At a hotel or a venue, they see a wedding every weekend or two a weekend," Weller says. "Your wedding planner wants to make sure this is your wedding. So having someone help you understand how to celebrate that is so important."
Even so, full wedding planning assistance may not be practical or even possible for everyone. Maybe you have event experience yourself, your fiancé is a whiz with spreadsheets, or your budget just won't allow it. After you've booked your major vendors, you could still decide to consult a planner midway through the process as most planners offer partial or customized packages.
"Some brides are really creative, they're going to be able to do their print material on their own because they're a designer or their best friend is a designer. Some people have a vision and are great at decorating and are going to be able to manage their design, but a lot of brides have no vision, haven't been dreaming about their wedding forever, and don't know how to pull together a high-end wedding," Weller says. "So every couple is different in terms of what they need help with."