Wedding planning is no easy task, which is why so many couples hire planners to help them pull off the biggest party of their life without a hitch. "When you hire a wedding planner, you're getting an advocate, too," says New York City event designer Marcy Blum. "They not only collaborate with you on the design of your wedding, they negotiate with and hire vendors and deal with those contracts; liaise with the venue; and troubleshoot things like how many bathrooms or generators you'll need." Are you sold? If so, read on and take notes: These are the most important questions you should ask any potential planner you're considering.
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Before you can hire a planner, you need to know how much you can spend overall. Come up with a target number, then hash out the details.
1. Do you charge a flat fee, a percentage of my total budget, an hourly amount, or some combo of all three?
2. Will you charge for things like mileage and office supplies used for my wedding?
3. Do you take a commission from any of the vendors you refer us to?
4. What amount do you require for a deposit?
5. When is the final payment due?
6. Do we need to pay our vendors directly, or do we pay you and you handle it?
7. Are there additional fees I should know about?
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Understand the Scope of Their Services
Not all planners are created equal. After making sure they're available on your date, find out how much they do (or not do) in the lead-up to your wedding.
1. Will you go with me to dress fittings?
2. Will you mail out the save-the-date cards and invitations?
3. Do you also plan events surrounding the wedding, like the rehearsal dinner?
4. If our event is outside, will you put a contingency plan in place in case of bad weather?
5. Do you work with a team? Will they be on-site at the wedding?
6. Will you go with us to meet with other vendors?
7. What parts, if any, of the planning process are we solely responsible for?
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Get to Know Them
You have to work with a planner you love, so personality is important. If you're a hands-off type of bride, you may not mind if they check in with you every other week or as necessary. If, however, you want a little bit more hand-holding, you need to know how available they'll be to you during the planning process.
1. How many times do you typically meet with clients during the planning process?
2. Do you prefer to communicate in person, by phone, or e-mail?
3. Can you provide a list of references that I can contact?
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Nail Down the Nitty-Gritty
These are the "small picture" questions that shouldn't be overlooked.
1. What time will you arrive the day of the wedding?
2. How long will you stay?
3. Will you require a meal?
4. Have you ever worked at the venues I'm considering?