A wedding planner can be costly, but reduce or even remove all the stress of wedding planning. So is it worth hiring one? We explore the costs and benefits.
Finding a venue and caterer, hiring a DJ, renting a photobooth—the list of standard wedding day to-do’s seems endless. For any engaged couple, it’s enough to take the excitement out of getting married, especially if you’re planning on a big wedding.
Enter wedding planners, the answer to managing all of the pieces of your big celebration. With a wedding planner on your side, you can focus on fully enjoying your nuptials without the stress of communicating with vendors and making sure all goes right.
But needless to say, there’s a lot of money that goes into the average wedding celebration—in fact, nearly $20,000 on average in 2020. (And that’s low, considering the pandemic’s impact on the wedding industry.)
Since weddings can be so costly, is hiring a wedding planner worth it? We dive into this question below.
- What does a wedding planner do?
- How much does a wedding planner cost?
- The 3 Biggest Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner
- When is hiring a wedding planner worth it?
What does a wedding planner do?
Remember the 2001 romantic comedy The Wedding Planner? Fortunately for all the brides out there, wedding planning isn’t quite about falling in love with the groom.
While many typically associate a wedding planner’s work with logistics and coordination, these duties can vary based on the couple. Besides handling the wedding day schedule, wedding planners also:
- Manage a couple’s wedding budget
- Coordinate hotel room blocks
- Plan event timelines and organize seating
- Schedule meetings and negotiate contracts with a couple’s vendors, e.g., florist, photographer, caterer
- Send invitations and track guest RSVPs
- Handle sound checks and resolve technical difficulties
- Oversee the rehearsal dinner
Some wedding planners also double as designers, offering style and aesthetic tips to help create a more unified wedding theme. This is ideal for any couple that may want more guidance in carrying out their wedding vision—or couples who simply don’t have much of a preference.
How much does a wedding planner cost?
Fortunately, getting professional help with your wedding is not all-or-nothing. In other words, full-service wedding planning isn’t your only option. For those working with a smaller budget, you can opt for a partial wedding planner or day-of wedding coordinator instead. Compared to a full-service wedding planner, their rates tend to be significantly more affordable.
Wedding planner prices ultimately vary based on a few factors, like your location, the planner’s experience, and the complexity of your wedding. Planners also take different approaches in how they charge clients, from charging a flat fee to an hourly rate to a portion of your total wedding bill. Here are rough guidelines for what to expect, based on data from WeddingWire and CostHelper:
- A full-service wedding planner in the U.S. has an average starting price of $3,000. Service from more experienced planners ranges anywhere from $4,500 to $12,000.
- One alternative: hiring a full-service wedding planner on an hourly basis. The average starting cost is $75, but higher-end professionals may charge as much as $275/hour.
- A partial wedding planner helps with organizing logistics closer to the wedding date, typically a month or two in advance. Their average starting rate begins at $1,250, but more experienced planners can charge as much as $6,000.
- A day-of wedding coordinator, involved only on the actual wedding day, may charge an hourly or daily rate; their services generally range anywhere from $800 to $1,500.
The 3 Biggest Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Planner
1. Reduces your stress in planning
Nicole Stallings Bates points out that hiring a wedding planner, or even a day-of coordinator “takes your focus off of the day-of items and can help you save money as you plan.” She shares from her own experience:
“We hired a day-of coordinator for our wedding (of about 180 guests) because the venue didn’t have staff and we didn’t want to be the point of contact for all of our vendors. We also had her support some of our early design / theme decisions with a small design package. It was not tremendously expensive since we only paid for what we needed, and allowed us to just focus on the day without having to set up anything or ask family and friends to pitch in.”
2. Exclusive deals and better pricing from vendors
Anne Knox points out that wedding planners aren’t only helpful for their logistical know-how.
Beyond making sure everything’s in place, Knox says that wedding planners generally “have contacts with vendors and can get special pricing. They also know which vendors are easy to work with.”
In this way, wedding planners can potentially save you from additional costs you would have incurred on your own. Sure, these costs may not ultimately outweigh the price you pay for a planner; however, don’t forget that a planner’s services also translate into less stress and work on your part.
3. Priceless experience and judgment
It may not be your first wedding, but even then, you likely won’t have the best judgment for planning all the details of your wedding—unless you have extensive event planning experience, of course.
In this way, a professional wedding planner’s experience is beyond invaluable. They’re not only familiar with local vendors, but also generally have keen insight on other major wedding elements like dress, theme, decor, and even contingency plans.
Experience working with other brides and grooms also means more familiarity with what you’re going through as an engaged couple. Some may find the process of planning a wedding fun while others view it as overwhelming. In either case, a professional planner can help couples navigate their ideas and choices to create a cohesive theme and wedding day.
When is hiring a wedding planner worth it?
By and far, the largest drawback of hiring a wedding planner is the cost.
Hiring a wedding planner makes the most sense for couples that:
- Can afford it
- Plan on having an elaborate wedding
- Lack the time (or interest) to plan it themselves
In short, if you have the room for one, a wedding planner can ease the emotional and logistical burden of planning a major event at which you and your partner are the center.
Hiring a wedding planner isn’t worth it for couples that:
- Have booked an all-inclusive venue, i.e., one that manages almost every major wedding element, from cake to decor to catering
- Are comfortable doing DIY projects, or have family and friends that are willing to help
- Plan on having a smaller wedding celebration
For those lacking extra leeway in their budgets, hiring a wedding planner may be more stressful than their worth, especially on your finances.
However, according to digital marketing director Taylor Henrie, it’s “100% worth it to add at least a day-of planner.” While you may feel inclined to try managing all the moving pieces yourself, it’s near impossible to fully prepare for your wedding day when you’re already involved as a central part. There’s no shortage of last-minute complications, both big and small.
As Henrie points out, “You can’t imagine the things people need you for on the day of: handing out tips, direction on where things go, showing vendors where to go, etc. I wish I did it looking back!”
Hiring a wedding planner tends to be a luxury, not quite a necessity. For couples planning a smaller wedding or working with a limited budget, it probably isn’t worth it.
However, if you can afford one and are looking to ease the stress of planning your own wedding, it’s more than worth it. Hiring a professional wedding planner—even a day-of coordinator—comes with peace of mind, meaning you can ultimately spend more time enjoying your wedding day festivities with loved ones.