How to Choose a Wedding Planner, Part 1

white and green classy wedding reception

I’ve already covered whether a wedding planner is right for you, as well as what level of wedding planning you might need. Now we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of what to look for in a wedding planner. And if you’re on a budget, I have tips for you in particular.

Here’s are my guidelines for tackling the process.

Determine how much you’re willing to pay for a wedding planning service.

Robert and I created a budget and determined the typical amount you could devote to a wedding planner with that budget. As we looked around for wedding planners, if someone was outside that budget, they simply weren’t an option for us.

Be open to different sources for leads.

You’ll likely start with an online wedding planner search. But I also recommend making note of any wedding planners you come across while looking at real wedding photo galleries. Also, ask for recommendations from vendors you’ve already locked down. We chose our venue first and per my request, they sent us a list of wedding planners that they’ve worked with before and liked.

That said, I found the group that would become our wedding planner service in an unusual way. I saw a Q&A with a caterer who listed his favorite Nashville vendors to work with. He said he really liked Music City Events because they were fun, pleasant and did good work. We didn’t consider hiring the caterer — the food he offered didn’t match the vibe we had in mind — but he struck me as very honest, so I sought out the wedding planning company he raved about.

Take a close look at vendor websites … but view them with a grain of salt.

In Los Angeles, where I live, many businesses have robust websites because it’s part of the culture here. I’ve found this less the case in Nashville, where I suspect word of mouth still supplies a good deal of business to those in the event industry.

However, if a site was super-basic, this indicated to me that the wedding planner was a novice — and we wanted someone with at least a couple of years of experience. (Those new to the business will have cheaper rates, so if you want a wedding planner but are on a strict budget, this may be a good option for you.) Now, if the site merely looked outdated by a few years, I didn’t necessarily cross that vendor off my list. Many small businesses hire a developer to put their site together — they don’t have someone on staff to deal with a website.

That said, if a planner’s site impresses you, that’s worth taking into consideration. But keep in mind that sophisticated sites usually mean you’re dealing with a more established professional. The more established a professional is, the more they cost.  Their knowledge is worth something — you simply need to determine what it’s worth to you.

Look at their Facebook page.

I consider this even more important than looking at websites because, unlike websites, Facebook is easy to update. I have found that vendors are more likely to update their Facebook pages with their recent work than they are their websites.

And if they don’t have a Facebook page: Does that matter to you? Personally, I wouldn’t have cared before I was a wedding blogger, but now that I am, I liked the idea of working with someone who’s social media savvy because I use it quite a bit to communicate.

Read reviews.

Once I found a vendor that fit the bill, I read reviews about these vendors. While positive reviews are always reassuring — and a string of negative reviews is also telling — I didn’t count someone out if they had limited reviews. More than anything, this typically indicates that the person hasn’t been a professional in the industry for very long. That said, we felt like going in this direction was a bit of a gamble, which is why we opted for a company with more experience in the end. Again, you need to decide how much this matters to you.

These steps will help you narrow down the field as you look for a wedding planner. In my next post, I’ll discuss the next round in your wedding planner search as you interact with and interview planners to determine if they’re a fit for you.

Photo by David Bracho

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