Let’s face it everyone’s on a budget of some kind, especially when it comes to a wedding! Whether you’re planning $80,000 event for 300, or a $5,000 event for 25; those evil, annoying, nagging little “can I afford that?” thoughts are always present in the back of your mind. Because of this, most brides mae “educated” decisions on where to cut money. One of the most common…. he wedding planner. After-all, if you’re on a “budget”, how can you afford to have someone else working on the wedding with you, right?!
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!
What most brides don’t realize is that working with a planner should SAVE you money in the end! And, besides the money, many don’t realize how many other things a good planner can save you… like time… or your sanity!
With the typical American wedding costing nearly $27,000, a lot of brides start out the planning process quite sticker-shocked. However, did you know that most wedding planners will only cost you between 2-5% of your total budget and will probably end up saving you more money than that in the end? And again, that doesn’t even count the value of your time and the cost of potential stress-induced insanity! Let’s take a closer look at how it works…
Most planners, myself included, have a preferred vendor list. The list is more than just a marketing tool for our fellow wedding professionals – it’s a bible that every wedding planner keeps that lists out the people that he or she thinks are the best in their field. The list is continually adapting and changing and no planner is shy about removing a vendor isn’t living up to his or her expectations or pricing!
But how does the list save you money? Well, it’s easy really… these vendors are the people that I am used to doing business with, the people that I continually call over and over again and send numerous referrals to. So this means one thing to the bride-to-be… cost savings. Because a planner will bring these companies multiple clients, you’re no longer a single wedding or event so t
the company is more likely to cut pricing or add in extras to their packages. In fact, I have one DJ / Photo / Video company on my list that automatically knocks $100 off any package if the bride is a client of mine. So there you go, there’s $100 off your budget right off the top. In addition, most of the vendors that work with a planner numerous times are more likely to work with clients with tighter budgets, working on adjustments to their standard packages to accommodate what the client can afford.
One of the more common ways brides save money is by using the old “Do It Yourself” trick… they think that they can save loads and loads of money by doing favors or invitations or even centerpieces themselves. Well sometimes, they’re right. Most of the time, they’re wrong.
You have to be weary of the DIY project. Once you buy materials and tools and spend time researching how to do something, you’ve probably already used up close to, or even more, money than it would have cost you to have a professional just do the service for you! A planner is someone that will help guide you in the right direction by providing information on the real cost of DIY projects vs. the cost of having someone do it for you!
By no means am I saying that “DIY” is always a bad idea, just that having a planner will help bring reality to the project in order to help you determine if it really is worth doing yourself!
Lastly, let’s face it… “DIY” projects are easier to procrastinate … so you may just end up DIY-ing the night before the wedding….and if that does happen, wouldn’t you rather have a planner on hand that will be there to help complete and finalize these last minute to do’s?
Tricks of the Trade
The reality of planning a wedding is that most people are going to plan one wedding in their entire life – maybe two or three if you count their children’s weddings. The average planner is going to plan 5-10 weddings…every year. What does that mean for their clients? Easy, planners have worked out various “tricks of the trade” that will help save you money!
Just one example – the “kitchen cake”. The basic principal of this trick is easy… you don’t actually NEED a 20-tiered wedding cake that will serve all of your guests. You can actually get away with a smaller tiered cake that appears that it would serve your guests but, in reality, may only serve 50% of them. But, what about the old adage “Let Them Eat CAKE?!” … queue the “kitchen cake”.
Most of the cost of a tiered cake is the decoration and construction of the masterpiece. So having a smaller tiered cake out on the floor, coupled with a “matching” large sheet cake (or 2… or 8….) waiting to be served backstage can take A LOT of cost of your sweets budget! And don’t worry – the kitchen cake is the same flavor / icing combinations as your tiered cake – so your guests won’t even realize that they don’t have a piece of the actual tiered cake!
However, that is only one small trick that planners can have up their sleeve. Hiring someone will open you up to all kinds of good hints and cost savings ideas that you may not have even thought of on your own!
Contract Reviews & Negotiations
When you hire any vendor for your wedding, you’ll be expected to sign a contract. Some people will be more familiar with reviewing contracts, while others really won’t have any idea what they’re looking at. While most vendor contracts are fairly straight-forward, it’s always a good idea to have someone at least glance at the contract to make sure there isn’t a strange stipulation that you weren’t expecting.
Now, unless your future father in law happens to be an attorney, there is a good chance that you won’t actually know someone that is familiar with reviewing those kinds of documents. Enter, yet again, the wedding planner. Planners review contracts from vendors all the time – a lot of time from the same vendors – so they are used to the clauses and expectations of the contract and can quickly advise if you if something is missing or askew.
In addition, a planner will know if a vendor has been willing to make a specific exception or addition in the past and is more likely to be able to negotiate a similar deal for your wedding. This, of course, again equals cost savings or add-ons that you weren’t expecting (aka more bang for your buck!)
According to the 2010 Real Weddings Survey performed by The Knot, during the last three months of engagement, the average bride will spent 11 hours per week on their wedding. 11 hours…. A week….for three months…. Do you have that much time? Your planner does. And, better yet, your planner will actually be able to get the same tasks done in half the time. Wouldn’t you rather spend 1-2 hours a week with your planner finalizing details than the 11 hours a week that may be required otherwise? If the answer is no… then I honestly think you should make a career change and become a planner!
Planning your own wedding will be one of the most rewarding and stressful experiences of your life. It seems really easy at the beginning – pick a date
e, call your preferred religious institution or ceremony site, go visit some venues….but wait – which venues should you see? You know what you want… now how do you actually find it? Especially without having to visit 100 different sites? And if you do find it, how do you work out exactly how your vision of this “perfect day” is going to come together? Who has the linens you want and what about that cool idea you had for the cake?....
Questions like this will start to weigh on you and the stress WILL begin to . No matter how well prepared, organized and excited you are, I can guarantee you that there will be stress involved in your wedding day. A planner will, by no means totally erase every stress you have… they will just be there to calm you down, ease you off the guest-count ledge and whisk you back into a land of happy-wedding-planning-feelings!
How nice when you have a stress-out moment, to be able to call someone that isn’t related to you and has NO one else’s best interests at heart? And how reassuring to talk to that person and hear “I’ll take care of it”…. Or, better yet, “It’s already taken care of”. Trust me…there is no monetary value to that!
Remember – it ‘s not “all or nothing”!
I want all brides reading this to realize that hiring a planner is not an “all or nothing” proposition… meaning, you don’t HAVE to hire a planner to plan the entire wedding! Most planners will offer various packages that range in the number of hours they are hired to work. Some will determine how these hours can be spent (e.g. their lowest package has X number of hours and they will not be involved in your budget) but I find that it’s better to let the bride choose. With my packages, you choose how much help you believe you need and you tell me where you want me to use the hours you’ve purchased. This arrangement is ideal for the bride that DOES want to plan her own wedding – but may just need help keeping everything on track and understanding what she needs to do and when to do it.
On the far ends, planners will almost always offer a full service package, where they will plan the entire event. The cost for a package ranges from a set fee to a percentage of the budget for the event.
Lastly, on the opposite end, is the “day-of” coordination package. This package does not actually include any planning time but rather just the planner be there the day of your wedding ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. This most basic package is usually fairly inexpensive and will ensure you can truly enjoy your wedding day!
Let me end by saying that this is YOUR wedding day and it should be everything you want it to be! Hiring a planner will help make all of your dreams come true and will help you work within the confines of the budget you have outlined. They will result in your getting more bang for your buck, as well as saving you LOADS of time and stress! So whether you are 16 months from your wedding day, or 1 month, contacting a planner may be the best decision you’ll make…next to your choice of groom, of course!
The Knot’s 2010 Real Wedding’s Survey Results