How Much Does a Wedding Planner Cost?

Here's what you need to know about planner fees, licensed wedding planners, and more.

A wedding reception table design with floral arrangements, place settings, and glassware.

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If you're recently engaged and in the early stages of wedding planning, you're probably asking yourself: Should I hire a wedding planner? And this is a smart question to ask! There are so many details that go into bringing a wedding vision to life, and wedding planners will not only help ease stress around the planning process, but they often end up saving couples money. So what do planners themselves actually cost?

In our recent survey of 1,000 Americans titled Weddings & Money 2021: A Brides & Investopedia Study, we found that the average budget for a wedding planner is $2,000. Keep in mind that this fee can vary greatly depending on many factors, like the type of planner you hire (a destination wedding planner, a day-of coordinator, etc.), where the wedding is located, the planner's experience, and more. Annie Lee, the principal planner at Daughter of Design and the founder of Plannie, notes that location is especially impactful in planner fees. "In Plannie's network of event planners, for example, the average hourly rate for a planner in New York City is about 10 times that of a wedding planner in Oaxaca, Mexico," she notes. "But location is not the only factor when trying to hunt down an 'average' price."

With this in mind, as you're deciding if hiring a planner is best for you, you'll want to consider a few key details, namely your overall budget, as well as the venue and location, the guest count, and how much time you yourself can invest in planning (without a planner, estimates are 200-plus hours over the course of 12 months). Based on these decisions, you can decide whether a full-service planner, a destination wedding planner, a partial planner, or a day-of coordinator would be best.

At the end of the day, all planners will save you time, and most planners will save you money by helping you create and stick to your budget. They also have ample money-saving strategies and a wide network of trusted vendors—and they’ll negotiate to get you the best deal without sacrificing quality. "[The wedding industry] is one industry where the golden rule stands firm: You get what you pay for,''" says Chanda Daniels of Chanda Daniels Planning + Design. "If you have a modest budget for a planner, understand what that means and have a conversation with the planner to understand their experience level," she advises. "If you are having a complex wedding or wedding weekend, understand the investment level of an experienced wedding planner. Managing expectations of your needs and the experience level of a planner is key."

Ahead, we speak with Daniels and Lee about the costs of wedding planners—and how hiring a licensed wedding planner might impact the pricing.

Meet the Expert

What's Typically Included in a Wedding Planner’s Fee?

So you've decided to hire a wedding planner: What exactly comes with that cost? Daniels explains that from her perspective, there are two key components: "Planning and day-of management: Planning all the work done prior to the day of, then managing the actual wedding day," she says. "That’s what you should have with every planner: The basics, then design. For my services, I include planning the wedding weekend, design, and day-of management."

Lee breaks down those planning specifics, noting that "wedding planners typically offer help with budgeting, finding the venue and vendors, design ideas, logistics, and of course, being onsite at the wedding itself." She explains that fees will vary from planner to planner, as well as organizational methods and business models.

How Are Wedding Planner Costs Calculated?

When you reach out or have your initial consultation with a planner, ask if the planner charges a flat fee, a percentage of total wedding costs, or an hourly rate for their services. "Every planner has a different way of charging their clients—percentage versus flat rate or a combination of the two methods," says Daniels. "But on average it's safe to say that it comes to roughly 20-25 percent of the couple's overall wedding investment. The way a wedding planner gets to that percentage is based on the planner's individual business model."

What Factors Impact Wedding Planner Fees?

As we mentioned above, the average price of a planner might hover around $2,000, but many factors impact how much a wedding planner costs—and there is a lot of variation. "The factors that can impact the price of a wedding planner are the location of the wedding (transportation and lodging of the team, per-diems, etc.) and the scope of work for the wedding," explains Daniels. "A lot of these are unknown until you actually get into the details of planning. Experience and expertise are also big factors but 20 to 25 percent [of the budget] is a good place to start," she says of determining a planner fee.

In terms of experience and expertise, some planners may be licensed wedding planners—and that type of licensing and certification could impact the fee that they charge—but make sure you understand what exactly their certification is. "It's really an elective course the planner has taken and depending on the reputation of the program they are certified from, the planner may use it as a factor in their pricing," explains Lee. "Having worked for another big planner is probably a bigger factor since our industry is very much about experience and apprenticeship help."

Daniels adds that various organizations offer training and certifications for wedding planners that teach the basics of wedding planning and running a business. "This may impact the fee as well because the said planner has invested time to really understand the business side," she explains.

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