8 Questions That You Shouldn't Ask Your Wedding Planner (and 20 That You Should!)
After being in the wonderful world of wedding planning for over 20 years, we understand that there is no question left unasked, not a nerve left untouched. We understand that brides are coming from an innocent place when they ask these questions, so please read these with a grain of salt and laugh along with us!
"SO, YOU'LL BE THERE ON THE DAY OF, RIGHT?"
It's funny that people think we would spend months and months working on their wedding and attend multiple site visits and meetings and calls to coordinate everything then expect us to not physically be there. The day of the wedding is such a important time not only to you, but to us! We've put our blood, sweat, and tears into the planning and production of this special day and and we sure as heck aren't going to miss it!
"THERE'S THIS GREAT BAND WE SAW IN CONCERT. CAN WE GET THEM FOR OUR WEDDING?"
A touring band is very different from a wedding band. While there have been some weddings where we have booked a touring band that doesn't traditionally play weddings, this can be risky. Touring bands are reluctant to book several months in advance as they want to keep their options open for festivals or other tours. There have been instances where we book said band and they back out two months before the wedding, despite their contract. Remember, if they get a chance to play their dream tour, they understandably will ALWAYS choose that over your wedding gig.
"THE (INSERT VENDOR HERE) COSTS $X, CAN YOU NEGOTIATE THEIR PRICE DOWN FURTHER?"
As a wedding planner, we will always do our best to build you a reasonable budget and manage our clients expectations within that budget. We have long-standing relationships with our vendors that we work with, and they often name prices based on that relationship. While we are happy to put some pressure on the vendor to reduce costs where they can, there's a fine line between fair negotiations and aggressive negotiation that can often leave the vendor feeling slighted or undervalued.
"I HAVE A VERY DEMANDING JOB AND CAN ONLY MEET AT 8 P.M. ON WEEKDAYS OR ON SATURDAYS. CAN YOU MAKE THAT WORK?"
We are always willing to adjust our schedules where we can to accommodate our clients. It is important for us to set boundaries early on in our relationships with our clients. We want every event we plan to be a success and our clients to feel they are top priorities. We work with people all around the world on different time schedules and are always able to find a common ground without overextending ourselves and keeping a healthy work/life balance.
"CAN YOU MAKE SURE THE HOTEL PUTS US ON THE 10TH FLOOR, FOURTH ROOM DOWN THE HALL FROM THE ELEVATOR, FACING THE COURTYARD NEXT TO MY MOM'S ROOM, WITH MY SISTER'S ROOM BEING ON THE OTHER SIDE, AND THEN THE BRIDESMAIDS ROOMS FURTHER DOWN THE HALLWAY?"
Hotels will always do their best to accommodate requests as much as they can. Unless you are doing a full hotel buyout, it is almost impossible to guarantee any of these requests for a hotel as they have other paying guests they need to respect as well.
"I AM TALKING TO A LOT OF PLANNERS RIGHT NOW. WHAT IS THE BEST PRICE YOU CAN OFFER TO DO MY WEDDING?"
While we completely understand and respect meeting with a few different planners to find the best fit for the engaged couple, we do not believe in discounting our expert services just to "win" a client. There are plenty of weddings and plenty of planners that are excellent at what they do. The decision of which planner to move forward with should be heavily based on personality fit and experience and NOT on their fee.
"WE THINK FIVE HOURS OF PHOTOGRAPHY IS PLENTY OF TIME ... CAN YOU ASK THE PHOTOGRAPHER TO CUT THE QUOTE DOWN FROM EIGHT HOURS?"
Seasoned wedding photographers know what amount of time they need to capture the caliber of photos that a couple and their families expect from their wedding. Always defer to the photographer or planner's expertise on how much time is needed to properly capture the day.
"FLOWERS AREN'T IMPORTANT TO US. WE JUST WANT LOTS OF CANDLES, SO THAT SHOULD SAVE US A LOT OF MONEY, RIGHT?"
Décor does not come cheap. Candles are NOT inexpensive! Just like flowers, they are a one-time use, and the candleholder can be just as much, if not more than a vase. Whether you choose to have abundant florals or hundreds of candles, the amount of décor needed to have an impact on the space is going to come at a cost. There are ways to cut back on floral prices by substituting high-end blooms for a less expensive option. It all comes down to the look you are trying to achieve.
Now, if you are left wondering what SHOULD I be asking the wedding planners to determine whether they are the wedding pro for me...
Your wedding day is an extremely personal event. It's about celebrating your love. So it makes sense that you'd want to hire a professional wedding planner you really click with to make the process easier. Here is what to ask your wedding planner before deciding to hire them...
With everything from basic questions, are they available on your wedding date, for example, to pre- and post-wedding logistics, we've got you covered. Before you decide to hire a planning pro, it's important to thoroughly vet them to ensure that they're the right fit for you.
1. Are you available on my wedding date?
Why you want to know: When it comes to questions to ask a wedding planner, this should be your first.You don't want to waste your time (or theirs) if they're not free on your selected date. If your wedding date is flexible and you'd be willing to wait to work with someone you really love, ask for a few options so you can take them into consideration when you're finalizing your timeline.
2. Can you work within our budget?
Why you want to know: Next up on the list of important topics to cover: money. While not necessarily a fun topic, it's extremely important for the couple and their planner to have a thorough discussion of the wedding budget as early on in the process as possible. Come into an initial planning meeting with an idea of who will be contributing and how much. This question is great because it also opens up the discussion about potential services they provide you in your budget. For example, if you really love the planner but can't afford their full-time services, ask if they'd be willing to do part-time planning or month-of coordinating for a lesser fee instead.
3. What sorts of services do you offer (month-of coordination, full-service planning, or even day-of planning)?
Why you want to know: It's not always clear from the website what services planners offer, so it's good to ask for a thorough explanation of the types of ways they can help you with your wedding planning. This information will make it easier to decide what type of planner would be best for you and your budget. For example, if you're super-organized and have time to follow up with pros yourself, then you may only need someone for a month-of coordination role. But if you're planning a destination wedding, it may be best to work with a full-time planner who can manage all the logistics for you.
4. How many meetings will we have, and how will we be involved?
Why you want to know: This is when you should get an outline of what the wedding planning process would look like. Some planners will email you sketches and follow up over the phone, while others may create online inspiration boards and will verbally walk you through swatches and sample designs in person. Certain planners will ask you about each and every detail while others wait and fill you in on everything all at once. There's no right workflow—it's all about what you like best.
5. Do you handle professional services, contracts and payment processing?
Why you want to know: The answer to this question should help you get a sense of how other vendors will be handled throughout the planning process. It's a good idea to figure out how they prefer to work ahead of time. Some planners request a lump sum and then will hire and pay vendors for you. Others will request that you cut the checks for other vendors yourselves. Our advice? It's generally best to pay your vendors directly instead of through your planner. This way, you'll have more control over the contract and your budget.
6. Can you walk us through the process of selecting vendors and how we would be involved?
Why you want to know: You want to make sure you have the best team with you on your wedding day, so it's important to understand your planner's selection process. Professional wedding planners often spend time cultivating relationships with other wedding vendors, so you'll be exposed to their already-built network You'll also want to make sure they're sending the best people for the job your way. During the meeting, jot down some names of professionals they prefer to work with so you can do your own research.
7. Are you willing to step in as our advocate, conveying our visions and desires to our wedding vendors when we can't?
Why you want to know: If your planner is speaking to other vendors directly, you want to ensure that they're assertive and will ask for what you want.
8. Will you handle the invitations, from wording and ordering to the addressing and mailing? What about guest list coordination and RSVPs?
Why you want to know: "Full-service" can mean different things depending on whom you ask, so find out if managing the guest list and invitations is part of their standard services or if it requires an additional fee.
9. Do you handle rentals? Will you coordinate delivery, arrival and set up times with the photographer, the florist, the musicians and the caterer and bartender?
Why you want to know: Again, you want to find out exactly what's included to make sure you're on the same page about what they will and will not take care of. If their role is more to consult with you on ideas and help you find and book your vendor team, then you may need to find a separate coordinator to help you take care of these day-of details.
10. How many people on your staff will be at the wedding?
Why you want to know: Find out how many assistants, coordinators and event stylists your planner will bring on the day of, so you can rest assured that everything will be handled. The final size of the day-of team depends on your wedding's specific logistics, but they should tell you the number of staff members needed for the typical wedding they work on.
11. Can you create a timeline that tells everyone involved in the planning process (such as the other wedding vendors, members of the wedding party, bride & groom and their families) what to do and when to do it? How will you make sure everyone sticks to the schedule?
Why you want to know: A wedding planner's role isn't just to manage your vendor team, but also your friends and family, which isn't as easy as you might think.
12. What happens if you're sick or otherwise unable to be there on the day of our wedding?
Why you want to know: Back-up plans aren't just for outdoor weddings. You want to make sure they have someone capable on hand to take over if they get sick or can't make it that day, like another planner at their company or a seasoned assistant. They should also have a plan in place for what will happen if they have to hand over your wedding to someone else in case of an emergency.
13. How many weddings have you planned?
Why you want to know: Wedding-specific experience is a must when it comes to hiring a wedding planner. It's great if they've also planned parties and corporate events, but it's important to remember that those celebrations aren't at all the same. Weddings have an emotional and personal element that other events don't. If they've worked as an assistant at a wedding under another planner, ask which weddings they specifically worked on and what their role was.
14. How many weddings will you be working on throughout the entire process and on the day of?
Why you want to know: On the day of your wedding, you want your wedding planners full attention. Make sure they're not juggling multiple weddings at once. It's realistic that your planner will be working with other couples at the same time throughout the process. How many they can handle depends on the size of their team and whether the weddings are local or destination, so take note of details like that, too.
15. Have you planned any other weddings at our venue?
Why you want to know: It's a major bonus if they've planned a wedding at your venue before.They're likely familiar with the event staff, layout and logistics, which can help the wedding day run more smoothly. They may also have specific suggestions or design ideas from working in the space before. If they've worked with your venue before, ask to see photos so you can start envisioning what your wedding might look like there too.
16. Do you do destination weddings?
Why you want to know: Ask if they'll not only travel to plan your wedding (most will for a fee), but if they've planned an entire wedding weekend from afar. This kind of planning requires an extra layer of coordination, so it's good to make sure they have some experience under their belts.
17. What was the most unique wedding you ever planned?
Why you want to know: Specific details and photos of the standout weddings they've planned can help you get a sense of their style.
18. What are some ideas you have for bringing our vision together?
Why you want to know: It's okay if they don't cover every detail of what you want...you'll work together later on to hash out the specific details. But if all of their ideas are way off, like if you say you've always imagined a rustic wedding under the stars and they only suggest ballroom venues then that's a big red flag. It could mean they're not really listening to what you want or you may just have differing opinions. If that's the case, they are not the right fit for you.
19. What's your secret for staying calm under pressure, and how do you deal with day-of disasters?
Why you want to know: This is a super important question to ask your any potential wedding coordinator. Things like a foolproof backup plan, how they stay organized to prevent problems, and the steps they take to fix unexpected issues all demonstrate whether or not they'll be able to take care of any situation on your wedding day.
20. Do you have references and/or reviews?
Why you want to know: The way your potential wedding planners responds to this question will tell you a lot— they should provide these willingly and encourage you to reach out to their references or read their current online reviews.
21. How do payments work (a percentage of our budget, a flat fee)? Will there be additional expenses on top of your base fee (travel, parking, food)?
Why you want to know: You want to make sure you understand exactly what you're on the hook for before you sign the contract. Have them walk you through the payment system and any extra fees. That way, there won't be any surprises down the road.
22. Do you carry personal liability and professional indemnity insurance?
Why you want to know: It's important they've taken every step possible to protect you in case something goes wrong . You also need to find out if they have insurance and what types of scenarios it covers.