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How Much Does a Wedding Planner Cost, Actually?

Sep 26, 2023
By Wedding Spot

Planning a wedding isn’t easy. After looking at the mountain of work ahead of you, no one can blame you for wondering: how much does a wedding planner cost? And, more importantly, is it worth it?

A skilled wedding planner can transform your vision into reality, ensuring a seamless and unforgettable celebration. However, understanding the cost associated with hiring a wedding planner (as well as the pros and cons) can make all the difference with your budget. In this guide, we will delve into the different types of wedding planners, how they work, and what you should consider when hiring them!

How much does a wedding planner cost?

At this point, you probably know that planning a wedding is a lot of work.

That’s why the cost of hiring a wedding planner varies widely. According to Shutterfly, you should consider setting aside 5-10% of your budget for a planner. But you can expect it to change depending on factors like location, the planner's experience, and the level or depth of service.

You may even find that hiring a wedding planner is a smart financial move. Some money experts even say hiring a wedding planner can cut wedding costs–score!

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There are a few levels of service commonly offered by wedding planners, and your budget will differ based on what level of support you're looking for. Here's a general overview of what you can expect to spend per service level:

1. Full-service wedding planner. Full-service planners typically charge a percentage of your overall wedding budget, which ranges from 10% to 20%. For a $30,000 budget, this translates to $3,000 to $6,000. Some may charge a flat fee, usually starting from $5,000 and going up based on the scale of the event. Your timeline (six-month wedding planning timeline versus two years) may also affect costs.

2. Partial wedding planner. Partial planning services are often priced lower than full-service packages. Expect to pay around $1,500 to $3,000 for partial planning. This service is a little more fluid so you may be able to present a planner with your budget and ask what they can do for that amount.

3. Day-of coordinator. Day-of coordination is generally more budget-friendly and can still make a great impact. Costs range from $800 to $2,000 for management services. Your wedding venue may even offer a package that includes this service, so make sure to check!

Remember that these figures are approximate, so even if you don’t have these funds exactly, you can still connect with potential planners and see what options are available in your given budget!

Types of wedding planners you should know

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1. Full-service wedding planner. A full-service wedding planner is your partner from the start to the finish line. They assist with every aspect of wedding planning, from conceptualization to execution. This includes budgeting, selecting vendors, managing invitations, and overseeing the day itself. Full-service planners offer unparalleled convenience and expertise, making them ideal for busy couples or those planning elaborate events.

2. Partial wedding planner. Partial planners come into the picture at a specific point later in your planning process, often a few months before the big day. They take over the remaining arrangements, streamline details, and ensure that everything goes off without a hitch. This type of planner is suitable for couples who have started planning but need professional assistance to wrap things up.

3. Day-of coordinator. A day-of coordinator steps in to manage the logistics and execution of your wedding day. They manage vendors, handle setup, and troubleshoot any unforeseen issues, allowing you to enjoy your special day with peace of mind. They’re also often the most affordable option and may be the answer to your wedding planning prayers if you’re on a tight budget!


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What do wedding planners actually do?

1. Initial consultation. The process usually begins with an initial consultation, during which you discuss your vision, preferences, and budget with the wedding planner. This meeting helps both you and the planner understand if you're a good fit for each other. It’s also a good time to figure out if they really get your vision, so come prepared to share initial thoughts, visuals, and must-haves.

2. Planning and coordination. For full-service planners, the planning phase involves vendor selection, venue visits, design conceptualization, and more. Partial planners step in when the major arrangements are made and tie up loose ends. Day-of coordinators take charge on the wedding day itself, ensuring everything goes according to plan.

3. Budget management. Wedding planners assist in creating and managing your budget. Full and partial planners often handle payments to vendors, helping you stay on track financially. Even if you have great personal finance skills, budgeting for a major event may require a time-consuming learning curve, so hiring someone with this experience can be helpful.

4. Vendor communication. A significant part of a wedding planner's role involves communicating with vendors, from florists to caterers. They ensure that everyone is on the same page and that your preferences are met. You’ll be fielding a lot of emails and texts about your wedding from loved ones anyway, so having them take these additional messages off your plate might be a huge relief!

5. Logistics and execution. On the wedding day, planners oversee setup, manage the timeline, and handle any unexpected challenges. Their goal is to create a flawless experience for you and your guests. In addition to logistics, your planner may even be able to help you wrangle that overly involved relative so you can enjoy the day in peace!

What to look for when choosing a wedding planner

1. Experience and portfolio. When hiring a wedding planner, review their portfolio and ask for references. Their past work can give you insights into their style and capabilities. Make a list of which examples of past projects most closely match your vision. You may even be able to copy/paste one of their previous weddings and add some easy customization!

2. Communication style. Effective communication is key. Ensure that your chosen planner understands your vision and has the ability to get back to you in your desired time frame. Setting expectations is key too! For example, you may want someone who can respond to every text message within 24 hours, but that probably won’t be realistic in the months leading up to the wedding.

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3. Budget transparency. Discuss the planner's fees upfront and ask about any additional costs. pricing transparency is essential for avoiding surprises later. If anything is unclear, just ask. Give them a hard number and make it clear you can’t go past it.

4. Contracts and agreements. Always have a written contract detailing the scope of services, fees, and cancellation policies. Consider having a lawyer review it, or, at the very least, have a meeting with the wedding planner to go over parts you don’t understand. If anything feels off to you, reach out to wedding forums or friends and family to do a pulse check. Even if the planner says a certain rate or percentage is standard, you don’t have to take their word for it.

The A’s to your wedding planner cost Q’s

Are wedding planners worth it?

Hiring a wedding planner offers numerous advantages (including their expertise and experience in wedding logistics, vendor negotiations, and event coordination) leading to a smoother planning process. They save you valuable time by handling the details, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your life.

Wedding planners can also alleviate stress by managing vendor communication, timeline coordination, and troubleshooting, ensuring a more relaxed wedding experience. Their extensive network of trusted vendors and contacts within the wedding industry can lead to better recommendations, potential discounts, and reliable professionals.

Additionally, wedding planners provide creative input, design guidance, and innovative ideas to bring your vision to life, and they can assist in budget management, negotiating with vendors for optimal pricing.

On the other hand, the decision to hire a wedding planner comes with drawbacks.

The cost of their services is an important consideration, especially for couples with tight budgets. Some couples may feel they'll lose control over the planning process, potentially sacrificing their personal touch and unique vision.

Miscommunication and differing expectations between couples and planners could lead to frustration. There might even be limited availability, causing delays or difficulties in reaching the planner.

And overreliance on a planner might lead to neglecting important decisions and missing out on the hands-on experience of planning your own wedding.

Ultimately, the choice hinges on your individual preferences, financial situation, and desired level of involvement in the planning process.

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How much of your budget should a wedding planner cost?

Typically, wedding planners' fees can range from 10% to 20% of your total wedding budget. But your budget for a wedding planner should be whatever makes the most sense for your stress and income levels—which vary from person to person!

Is it normal to hire a wedding planner?

Yes, hiring a wedding planner is a common and widely accepted practice in the wedding industry. Whether you're planning an intimate gathering or a lavish affair, a wedding planner can provide valuable expertise, assistance, and peace of mind. Ultimately, hiring a wedding planner is a personal choice. If you enjoy hands-on planning and have the time and resources to manage the process yourself, that's also a valid approach!

Now you’re ready to hire a wedding planner!

Hiring a wedding planner can be a game-changer, turning your wedding dreams into reality with finesse and expertise. Understanding the different types of wedding planners, their working styles, and associated costs will empower you to make the right choice for your special day. Whether you opt for a full-service planner, a partial planner, or a day-of coordinator, the investment in their services is an investment in a stress-free and unforgettable wedding celebration.

Up next, check out our guide on how to pick a wedding planner in 5 steps. And if you’re still deciding what to do, here's more useful information to help you choose if you should hire a wedding planner or not!

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Wedding Spot

The Wedding Spot blog is designed to help couples navigate every step of the wedding planning journey. From before the engagement to after you say “I do,” our goal is to give you the tips, ideas, and inspiration to prepare for your big day — and all that comes with it.