1. Consider your needs. What type of service will you require? There are as many planners as there are choices, so it’s important for you to narrow down your selection based on what you need. Here are examples of the most standard types of services that wedding planners provide:
a. Day-of coordination (present only on the day of your wedding to ensure everything is handled professionally)
b. A referral service (the planner recommends different vendors based on your preferences and you do the hiring and liaising on your own)
c. Comprehensive service (the planner oversees everything from choosing the venue booking the church helping with providers etc.)
… or perhaps you are going to have such a small celebration that you’ll just need the planner to oversee a few minor details while you handle the rest. The choice is yours!
2. Consider their background and education. For example, if you are looking for lots of creative input, for example, you may want to hire a wedding planner that has a background in a creative field – such as art or graphic design. Perhaps you are looking for somebody who will do all the legwork and will work with you as a partner, but will allow you room for your own personal creativity to shine through. Or better yet, you may be looking for someone that has a good balance of both creativity and organization.
3. Consider their experience. How many years are they in business? A reputable planner will be open to prove their reliability and experience. For example, they will be able to give you references from past clients so that you can speak with them directly. They should be open to providing you with examples of weddings that they have planned in the past. They should be able to show you an extensive portfolio of wedding images and videos. And, of course, references from the providers that they were closest with. Feel free to ask your potential wedding planner in Virginia for this work history and be wary if they are unwilling to share this information with you.
4. Consider their training. What training does he/she have prior to becoming a wedding planner? For example, does he/she come from a related field, such as event planning? This will give you more insight into the type of planner they are and what drove them to do this professionally in the first place. Many planners are not only great wedding planners – they are also passionate about weddings and this comes across in their knowledge of the latest trends and wedding styles.
5. Consider their communication, organizational skills and professionalism. From the time that you’ve started communicating with them, has he/she proven to be professional and reliable? A professional wedding planner and one with whom you will be communicating on a daily basis, should answer emails promptly. The answers should be thorough – it can get very frustrating to have to send three or four emails just to get one complete response. And if you have a wedding planning emergency, you want to have the peace of mind that they will be quick in responding!
6. Consider his/her personality. Your wedding planner should be courteous and accommodating to your busy schedules; they should be flexible and adaptable; honest and realistic about your wedding vision and if they can make it happen on your budget, to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on. This should come across quite clearly from the moment that you start communicating with them.
7. Consider the fee structure. Your wedding planner should be upfront about how they calculate their fees and should make you aware of any additional costs that may come up later on. For example, if they charge a flat fee, ask if this is all-inclusive and if they will manage everything related to your destination wedding (not just the ceremony and reception, for example). If, on the contrary, your wedding planner works based on a percentage or an hourly rate, ask how many hours are included. Will they provide unlimited consultations and phone calls? Will you be required to handle a portion of the wedding planning yourself if your wedding budget changes and the percentage-based fee decreases? Having this information before committing to a wedding planner is crucial so that you know exactly what you are committing to.
8. Consider the work philosophy. Does he/she work alone or as a team? There is no right or wrong answer – this is very personal and each couple knows what they prefer! But if the wedding planner works alone, ensure that they have a back-up plan in case of an emergency – you don’t want to end up overseeing the wedding day yourself because the wedding planner has fallen sick. If, on the contrary, they work as a team, you have the advantage of having different people at your disposal, but also ensure that you know who your main contact will be. This person should be your go-to person and should be present on your wedding day, together with the rest of the team.
9. Consider how your vision has been interpreted. You and your fiancé are unique, and so is your wedding vision! A professional wedding planner should be able to understand your vision and input and use it to create an even better version of your dream wedding.
10. Lastly, and most importantly, consider the rapport you have with the wedding planner. The connection that you create in the early stages of communication is going to set the tone for how smooth planning your wedding will be, and you want to ensure that your wedding planner is going to be working in your best interests at all times. This person is going to be a major part of your wedding day and you will feel more comfortable working with someone that you trust and can confide in.
These are just 10 key elements to bear in mind when hiring a wedding planner – I’m certain there are many, many more. But I really believe that these are the most important when deciding on a wedding planner, because they will make the decision-making process that much easier… and give you peace of mind that you’ve hired the RIGHT wedding planner for your destination wedding!