Most engaged couples spend months or even years planning their wedding—and many turn to a professional events organizer for help, whether they want a formal black-tie occasion or a Star Wars-themed blowout.
A wedding planner does all the work in the background, making sure the venue, food, flowers and photos match the bride and groom’s vision, dealing with the suppliers that provide those services, and coordinating the big day itself.
Below, wedding planners reveal which questions they get asked most often by the couples who hire them—and how they respond.
What COVID-19 Protocols Should We Have at Our Wedding?
Andrew Roby, an events planner in Washington, D.C., told Newsweek the primary question for couples in 2022 is what COVID-19 measures they should adopt for their wedding.
His answer is: “While many states have lowered their COVID restrictions, we still advise our clients to ensure all vendor contracts have a COVID-19 clause and that all guests be vaccinated and or have a PCR COVID test within 72 hours of attending the wedding.”
Stock image of a bride and groom. A wedding planner will make sure the flowers and other details match the couple’s vision and their budget.
How Much Will the Wedding Cost?
Miami wedding planner Chris Weinberg said clients were—not surprisingly—keen to know what the final bill for the wedding would be. Naturally, this will depend on the location, venue, date and number of guests, as well as the suppliers chosen.
She told Newsweek: “We provide our couples with a comprehensive estimated range of costs—AKA budget range to approve—prior to starting our planning process and prior to suggesting vendors to consider.”
Once the couple have narrowed down the options, “we set up meetings with each vendor to directly sell their creative services and prepare proposals.”
Shane McMurray, founder of research firm the Wedding Report, told CBS in February that the average cost of a U.S. wedding in 2022 would be more than $27,000, up from about $24,000 before the COVID pandemic.
And how much does the wedding planner cost? Weinberg explained that most full-service planners charge a flat fee. “Typically the fee is 10 percent of the total cost of the wedding expenses from venue and vendors that the planner works with,” she said.
Some event organizers offer different packages—full planning, an “on the day” coordination service and something in between the two.
Alexa Farese, a wedding planner in Los Angeles, states on her website that full planning begins at $6,500 for a celebration with up to 50 guests. Partial planning starts at $3,500 and coordination at $1,450.
What’s the Process for Designing Our Wedding?
Weinberg recommends that the bride and groom make a Pinterest board of inspiration to share their vision with the planning team.
“Once a design team is selected and a deposit is given, they will create a floor plan,” she said. “Several months prior to your wedding, you will see a sample in person of your decor and make some final selections for table decor and rental items such as chairs, napkins, table linens and charger plates.”
What’s the Wedding Timeline?
Farese told Newsweek that clients often seek guidance on when “each aspect of wedding planning” needs to be completed. “I create a timeline for my couples that takes the big-picture ‘wedding planning’ task and breaks it down into month-by-month to-do lists.”
According to Weinberg, after the COVID lull, “everyone, everywhere is booked to capacity.” She recommends “booking early to ensure a couple’s vision and budget can match with venue and vendor selection.”
For the venue and the dress, this means at least 12-18 months in advance to get what they really want. For florists, it’s 12-15 months to hold the date with a small deposit.
She added: “We can recommend a variety of venues that are available. We pre-check with venues and often put a ‘soft hold’ on a date until we can have a client visit the venue and the venue has time to prepare an agreement, and their pricing.”
What Should We Splurge On?
Roby said clients often ask which wedding elements they should spend the budget on and which not to bother with.
“I always recommend splurging on things that will cause guests to dance in their seats or pull out their phones to capture a photo or video. Great food can never go out of style. While you don’t have to serve your guests wagyu beef during the reception, consider splurging on good champagne or oysters for cocktail hour.”
He added: “If anything is seen as standard in the wedding industry, consider how you can upgrade it. Versus a regular photo booth, create a 3D photo experience.”
As for the details not worth worrying about, he suggested “wedding favors and unnecessary vendors who will not be missed.”
A partially decorated wedding venue. “The earlier you hire us, the better we can produce your wedding,” according to planner Chris Weinberg.
… And What Would Wedding Planners Like Clients to Know?
“The earlier you hire us, the better we can produce your wedding,” Weinberg said. She also suggested interviewing several planners and doing research so you end up with the right fit for you and your budget.
According to Roby, you need a vision for your big day before booking the planner. “A wedding planner or wedding designer cannot create concepts of their own, they need a vision to guide them.”
Couples should make sure they dedicate some time to the planning too. “There are many things your wedding planner simply cannot do for you and it’s key that you schedule time to focus on wedding planning,” he said.
For Farese, the most important thing is to know your budget and what you are hoping to gain from hiring a wedding planner. “Make sure you can fit a wedding planner into your budget before committing.”