By: Kristen Castillo
There’s one very important rule to remember when planning a wedding: Expect the unexpected. But when you hire a professional wedding consultant, you’re paying an experienced professional to deal with those unexpected issues for you.
WHERE TO START
Wedding coordinators and event planners are available nationwide. The Association of Bridal Consultants website, www.bridalassn.com, is a great place to look for accredited bridal consultants in your area. It’s also a great place to learn more about what a bridal consultant can offer. You might also find a great professional in the San Diego Style Weddings magazine or on our webstite, sandiegostyleweddings.com.
Most consultants will work with a variety of budgets, and generally charge a flat rate or a percentage of the entire wedding budget. Even if you’re planning an intimate celebration with a modest budget, a consultant may be worth the expense if you’re extremely busy or planning a destination wedding. In many cases, a wedding consultant can even find discounts or negotiate lower prices by working with vendors they use often, thereby paying for themselves with the money they save you in other areas.
If you know you absolutely cannot afford a full-service consultant, consider hiring one for a portion of your planning. Many charge hourly rates for tasks like locating vendors, scheduling appointments, and overseeing the ceremony and reception details on your wedding day. The peace of mind alone to have someone looking after the details during your ceremony and reception may be worth any consultant’s fee.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Before you sign on the dotted line, do a little research into the consultant and his or her company. Take a look at the longevity of the business, the size and type of events they plan, and check any personal references the consultant provides. Your local Better Business Bureau is a good place to start. You may also want to verify that they’ve planned an event at the venue of your choice. If they’re familiar with your venue, they’ll have a better understanding of the layout and staff and should be able to help you avoid any pitfalls they’ve encountered before.
When you have your first meeting with a prospective consultant, you should have a list of questions; however the consultant should have his or her own list of questions for you. Good communication between the two of you is essential to insure the two of you will work well together. A good consultant will ask your input, listen to your ideas, and make suggestions to help you create a wedding that meets or exceeds your dreams. If you feel at all like the consultant isn’t listening to you or is trying to push you in a direction you’re not willing to take, move on.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
The very first question to ask is what type of service the consultant offers. You may be able to hire someone for recommendations on area locations, florists, photographers, and other wedding professionals and then book everything on your own. There’s also the option of hiring a consultant for the day of the wedding only so you’re not weighed down by a million little last minute details. And then there’s the full-service consultant who will handle everything wedding-related from start to finish. Most consultants will offer a combination of service options. Next, ask about prices so you’ll be able to see if the fees fit within your budget. In general, consultants will either charge an hourly rate or a percentage of the entire wedding budget.
If you’ve decided to hire a planner, make sure to contract with the professional of your choice as soon as possible. The best of the best will book up quickly, so plan ahead to ensure the planner has your date available. Once you have a professional working behind the scenes for you, you’ll be able to give a serene impression of bridal bliss knowing that a trusted professional is working to make your vision of a perfect wedding come true.