In my previous blog, I shared some personal details about my life drawn from the general questions I get asked at consultations. So now you know that I like Celine Dion. Big deal, right? Here comes the meat & potatoes of shopping for a wedding planner. The 10 key questions to ask in your search for the right planner for you. Knowledge is power, so ask away! I've given my responses, too, for good measure:
Are you available on my wedding date? Have you planned any other weddings at our venue?
I obviously can’t pre-answer this one for you, but be sure to ask this at a consultation right away! Some planner’s, like myself, only book a certain number of weddings per year: quality over quantity. So, if you’ve nailed down your wedding date for certain, discuss that first.
Another question that I cannot pre-answer, but one you need to ask! It’s always a perk when your planner is familiar with your wedding venue. This means, not only familiarity with the physical layout, but a rapport with staff members and processes, too. I like to stick around Wisconsin mainly for that reason. If I can’t be knowledgeable of, or an expert on your wedding venue, I will feel ill-equipped. It’s important for me to visit your venue 2-3 times before your wedding day.
Do you handle professional services, contracts and payment processing?
I do not handle your money as it relates to paying other wedding vendors. I’m there to source, recommend and communicate with wedding vendors on your behalf. I’m also there to review, revise and assist with vendor contracts. However, I think it best for you to pay vendors directly rather than through me/your planner. Having said that, I will do things like pay for wedding favors or late night snack pizza and get reimbursed.
Are there specific pros you like to work with? What's your process for selecting and hiring them?
I’ve been doing this for a while now, and am lucky to know many talented wedding professionals in the area! My process of selecting and hiring pros is one that my clients are one hundred percent a part of. If my client’s aren't involved in selecting their wedding vendors, then what is the point?
My process of assembling a team of wedding professionals typically starts with the couple’s budget. From there, I analyze their style or wedding ‘vibe.’ I usually send over a list of 3-4 vendors fitting those criteria for the couple to review and decide on. Oftentimes, once I’m brought in the picture, the couple has already chosen their venue or photographer…so I simply assemble from that foundation.
Will you handle the invitations? Addressing, RSVP tracking, etc.?
Once you’ve assembled your guest list, tracked down everyone’s mailing address and formulated it into a well-organized spreadsheet, the last thing you should have to do is hand-address them or lick 200 gross envelopes. I should, though! This is something I offer and happily provide to any Rosewood couple (for FREE). From save the dates to invitation wording and everything in between. I’m happy to help.
Will you coordinate delivery, arrival and set up times?
Of course! While you’re off getting ready and sipping a breakfast beverage, your wedding vendors will be knocking down the venue door. One of the most important things that I do is formulate a detailed day-of wedding timeline that’s distributed to your vendor team 2-3 weeks before your wedding day. The timeline outlines specific arrival, drop-off, set-up and pick-up times…among other things.
It’s nice when there’s a planner on-site to greet vendors, field questions, assist and direct. Where is the DJ setting up? Which is the head table? All of your wildly talented vendors will arrive eager to get started and appreciate anything that expedites their processes.
What are some ideas you have for pulling off our vision?
This is kind of like a pop-quiz for your potential planner. After hearing a bit about your wedding vision and preliminary list of vendors, ask the planner if any ideas come to mind in seeing that vision come to life. Maybe he/she has planned something similar, or is inspired by your style and sparks an idea! If they’re a smart planner, they won’t give too much away though; just enough to get you intrigued and encouraged.
How will you help me stay within my budget?
In every way that I can! A small example of how I help with budgets is, starting with this question at planning meetings:
Number this list 1-6, 6 being what’s most important to you & your wedding:
From there, I’m able to help allocate money accordingly. If you really want your guests to walk into the room and gasp in awe, but don’t really have a preference on food, I might suggest taking some money from catering and bulking up your floral and décor budget. You’d be amazed how much money you can save by not putting money into things that you don’t really care about.
How many meetings will we have? How often can we communicate?
Because I only take on a certain number of weddings per year, I’m very available to my clients. I also only book Wisconsin weddings, so that I’m able to meet in-person and be present in the entire planning process. Anyone who knows me knows that I love meetings and emailing. As long as I’m given enough time to make proper arrangements, I’m available to meet! I’ll answer any/all emails, with a 24-hour response time. And although my husband gives me dirty looks, I also love texting my clients, and hold myself back from sending them inspiring pictures at 11pm.
What happens if you're sick or otherwise unable to be there on the day of our wedding?
I get this question a lot because I am a Lone-Ranger; and it’s more related to if something happens with my kids on the day of your wedding. To answer briefly, I have many support systems in case something happens to my kids on your wedding day, like my husband, parents, in-laws and siblings.
If I get sick or otherwise unable to be there, I will send a colleague in my place to produce your wedding. This person would follow my detailed notes and timeline; and works as a wedding planner herself. These back-up colleagues are local and I’d happily forward their information to you for reassurance. Side note, I’d have to be bleeding from the eyes to not be there on the day of your wedding.
Do you have references? How do payments work (a percentage of budget, a flat fee)?
This seems very job-interview-y, but ask it anyway. Even if you just get a link to their reviews on The Knot –it’s something! Also, yes I do have professional references as well as letters from past couples.
And money talk is always uncomfortable but it's pivotal, so don't glaze over it! Getting a grasp on a planner's fees and payment process is essential. My fees are flat as pancakes - I don't believe in add-ons or hidden charges. I took a ton of time valuing my work and that’s reflected in my two wedding planning & design package prices. The flat rate package payment works like this: clients book, sign & return the contract with a 40% deposit. The last two payments of 30% each will be due 6/3 months and 1 month-prior to your wedding day.