bride laughing with wedding planner during dress fitting

The Ultimate Wedding Planner Cost Guide

Nov 5, 2019
By Wedding Spot

Budgeting for a wedding can be very stressful. The costs for wedding venues, planners, catering, flowers, and so much more really begin to add up quickly.

The good news is most wedding planners typically charge a flat fee (the most common option), an hourly rate, or take a percentage of your budget - similar cost structures you’ve probably run into before. Ultimately, the price you will pay for a wedding planner is determined most by two things: your wedding venue’s location and what services you’ll need from the planner. Explore our handy guide to see the cost of wedding planners. Plus, find out what they do, and how to find a great one. Let’s dive right in!

How much does a wedding planner cost on average?

A good rule of thumb for budgeting is to only spend 15% of your total wedding fund on a wedding planner. And that’s for full-service coordination. Other types of wedding planners (outlined below) will cost less.

Here are the costs for different wedding planner services:

1. Full-service: $2,000 – $10,000+ total

Full service wedding planning is exactly what it sounds like. From the proposal to the honeymoon, full-service wedding planning means your wedding planner will take care of basically every major and minor task associated with your big day. Here’s a great list of things you can expect your full service wedding planner to do.  

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2. Day-of wedding planner: $600 – $1,800+ total

On the actual day of your wedding, you’ll want to focus on enjoying yourself, not running the whole event. Which is why a wedding planner is so helpful. They’ll make sure everyone follows your schedule, your guests are taken care of, and any issues that come up are dealt with on the spot. Experts say that if you can’t afford full service, a day-of coordinator is still an absolute must.

3. Wedding consulting: $40 to $150+ per hour

Maybe you have some experience planning events or you have a reliable team of friends and family to help plan your wedding. In that case, you might only need a wedding consultant. This person’s job is to help work out the kinks in your plan, advise you on major decisions, and send you on the path towards a successful wedding experience. Make sure you do some research on how to survive your first wedding consultation and have your wedding binder or mood board handy when you go in.

Once you’ve decided on what level of investment you’d like to make in a wedding planner, you’ll need to figure out how to tell the difference between a good wedding planner and a great one.

Explore 9 ways to pick the best wedding planner for your budget:

1. The planner has liability insurance (a key cost consideration).

Wedding planning insurance includes things such as lost venue reservation deposits, onsite vendor injury, and earthquake coverage. If your planner has it, it means he or she is truly experienced in this industry and that they understand that sometimes bad things do happen. And if/when big issues come up, they’ll have themselves (and, by extension, you) taken care of.

2. The wedding coordinator’s portfolio features styles that match yours.

Experts say this is one of the key things to look for in a wedding planner because it helps determine how compatible your tastes are. If you see an example of their work that closely matches your dream wedding, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Or, if not, you might notice some common themes that you’d really love to include in your wedding plans.

3. Their communication is on point.

Forbes says there are a handful of distinct things good communicators always do. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has (or will) the wedding planner take time to establish a personal connection with me?

  • Does he or she ask me to clarify requests they don’t understand (rather than guessing at what I want, wasting my time and money in the process)?

  • Do they only share information they know is 100% accurate?

  • Do I feel like he or she listens attentively when I speak?

  • Is the wedding planner’s electronic communications detailed yet brief?

If you haven’t had a conversation with the planner by this point, you can also save this list of questions for when you contact their latest references. If they consistently check all the boxes, according to past brides and grooms, then you can place trust in their communication skills.

4. The planner has time to prioritize your wedding.

Some wedding planners work individually. Others work with big teams. Either way, if your wedding planner has too many wedding on their plate, it could mean that details from yours may or may not get lost in the shuffle. Or at least, you might not always be the priority.

Be sure to find out how many weddings the planner currently has coming up this season, and specifically on the day of your wedding (yes, your wedding planner might have teams at more than one simultaneous wedding). Then ask them how many more they anticipate working on in those time frames. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask how they typically handle any competing deadlines when they work with multiple clients at once.

Supplied with this information, you can do another gut check to determine whether or not you feel like this wedding planner can make your wedding as important to them as it is to you.

5. The wedding planner specializes in what you’re looking for.

Some event designers have specific skills like cake decorating or dress styling. Others routinely find themselves pulling of spectacularly elegant weddings with strict budgets. Still others might even own a flower shop or have planned long distance weddings at your chosen location for years now.

Whatever your wedding priorities are, make sure you be up front about them. You might even find out that the planner has a unique experience that makes them more compatible with your wedding than anyone else!

6. The planner makes it easy to check in with their recent references.

Job search statistics show that professional references help knock out 20% of potential candidates. Once you’re at the stage where you’re checking references, you might not be able to tell who is the best planner for you. Actually following through with this step will be a huge help in eliminating wedding planners until you’ve narrowed it down to the very best possible one.

7. The wedding coordinator is honest about their strengths and weaknesses.

It’s one of the 10 signs you’re a mentally strong person. And you’ll need someone mentally strong to handle all the demands of your wedding! Remember to keep some deal breakers in mind (they sometimes miss payment deadlines, they tend to favor their style choices over a client’s, etc.) and believe whatever they tell you. Getting very honest with yourself about what you can or cannot deal with at this stage will help you ensure a strong partnership with your wedding planner.

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8. You see eye to eye.

Collaboration statistics say that 97% of employees believe a lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a project. If you want your wedding planning partner to work well with you, you’ll both have to be on the same page. And that’s much easier to do when you genuinely like someone!

9. The wedding planner offers a free consultation.

They should also come to the client consultation having done their research prior to the appointment, wearing professional attire, and ready to ask you some foundational questions. When you offer up your opinions and ideas, the wedding planner should also offer up some value in the form of recommendations or ways to improve on your vision.

Do you really need to pay the cost of a wedding planner?

Here are a few reasons hiring a wedding planner could be super beneficial:

Things to remember about the cost of wedding coordinators

Your wedding day will be special, no matter what. The months and weeks leading up to it, however, can be as hectic or as easy going as you like, provided you have the skills or the team necessary to pull everything off. Wedding planners can provide anything from full-package planning to consultations, with prices varying widely (anywhere from $40 an hour to $10,000+ for the whole shebang). If you remember anything from this article, keep these key points in mind when thinking about your wedding budget:

  1. There is a wedding coordinator available for virtually any budget.

  2. Choosing a wedding planner comes down to your needs, wants, and some specific qualifications you’ll want them to have.

  3. When in doubt, book a day-of coordinator to orchestrate the actual wedding day proceedings so you can just focus on having a good time.

Now that you know the cost of your wedding planner, find the cost of your wedding venue. Or discover budget-friendly alternatives to a traditional sit-down wedding dinner.

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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.