Should You Hire a Wedding Planner?

Vineyard theme wedding reception table

I used to work at a magazine for event professionals and got to see the behind-the-scenes of some events they threw. I had two major takeaways from that:

  1. Throwing events is a lot of work.
  2. I don’t want to do that work. (And will hire a wedding planner when the time comes.)

So I went into the wedding planning process with plans to hire a planner. You, on the other hand, may not be sure if you should hire one. So here are 10 things to consider when deciding if a wedding planner is for you.

  1. Is the wedding local to where you currently live? If not, a wedding planner will be a huge help. Relying on family that still lives in the area creates a lot of work for them and may add stress to your relationship.
  2. Does your venue have a planner on staff? Keep in mind that different titles imply different responsibilities. A venue coordinator will likely be the contact person for vendor logistics on your wedding day, but it’s not their job to plan your wedding. That’s different. Now, if your venue comes with a planner, there’s no need to hire someone additional.
  3. Do you have the bandwidth and do you enjoy the planning process? If so, then have at it! If not, then consider getting help. I love to plan events, but I also get stressed out. And it’s important to me not to feel stressed out for a year while planning this thing.
  4. Do you get discombobulated easily? A wedding has a lot of moving parts — it’s easy to get confused. Having someone else be responsible for those moving parts can give you major peace of mind.
  5. Are you a control freak? Seriously. If you’re someone who has a hard time letting other people take over, then a wedding planner may not be for you. But if you’re more a control fan (I’ll admit it: I fall into this category), then it’s worth considering. I wouldn’t be able to sit back while someone else takes care of catering for me — it’s just too important to me to be hands off — but I’ll happily let someone take the reins on decor. This is one reason we opted for a partial wedding planning package. Know when you’re capable of letting go and when you’re not.
  6. Do you know exactly what you want, or are you having difficulty envisioning your wedding day? I’m personally trying to wrap my head around which aspects of our wedding will be held in which rooms of our log cabin venue (and what will be held outside it). Beyond that, how should we direct our guests so they know where to go for what? I like the idea of having a professional to help me work this out.
  7. Is your venue hard to find? Personally, I’d rather have a wedding planner be on the phone helping vendors find the place than myself or a loved one.
  8. Will your wedding require corralling of crowds? If you’re having a ton of traditions throughout the event, that means you’ll need to get the crowd’s attention and gather them wherever they need to be.  That’s relatively easy in an open-space wedding venue, but if your venue lends itself to wandering, as ours does, you may need help. You don’t want to be the director of your own wedding, and you may not want a loved one with little planning experience to be in charge either.
  9. Does your vision of your wedding day require a wedding planner? If you’re picturing a little homespun family affair, then you could tackle that without the help of a pro. But if you’re envisioning grand centerpieces and striking lighting and a guest list of 200, you may need some help. The photo above, from wedding planner Yifat Oren, who planned the weddings of Natalie Portman, Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon, would definitely take a pro to pull off. (That said, here she offers tips on how to orchestrate a pared-down version of the above on a budget.)
  10. Can you afford one? I imagine for many of you, it all boils down to this. Personally, Robert and I felt a wedding planner was essential to making the wedding planning experience an enjoyable one for us, so we figured out our budget with one in mind. We’re absolutely fine with spending less on other wedding elements to have someone minimize stress and make sure our day runs smoothly. Keep in mind there are different levels of service (day of, month of, partial, full, design — more on these later) and planners with different levels of expertise. You are bound to find someone who suits your price point.

Photo courtesy Yifat Oren & Associates

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