Wedding Ideas

What Type of Wedding Planner Should You Hire?

Posted on May 24, 2024 by Jacqueline Larcara

Photo: Leonardo Miranda on Unsplash

Wedding planners are “that person that you can rely on,” says MaryJane (MJ) Perez Fitzgerald, owner of MJS Weddings & Events in Parsippany. “We’re the problem solver, the chaos coordinator. We’re going to be your groupies. You guys are the rock stars.”

Here, MJ explains the different levels of wedding planning and which one could be the right fit for you.

Full Planning

Full-service wedding planning is the soup to nuts level of event planning. A benefit of full-planning services is that a planner will schedule vendor tours and meetings that fit the couple’s schedule. Wedding planners are also equipped with a list of vendor contacts and already have established relationships with those vendors.

When it comes to negotiating and finalizing contracts, they’ll make sure things like vendor insurance and a backup policy are in place.

Plus, “when you bring a planner into your negotiations,” MJ says, “most vendors will give you a more realistic price. If they give something outrageous, I’m going to be like, ‘Wait a minute, what exactly are we getting for this?’”

She’ll also keep her client’s budget in check. “Some people have that champagne taste on a beer budget,” says MJ. “We can help guide you in the right direction. Maybe we substitute half the flowers for silk flowers. Maybe we don’t go as grand on the invitations. Maybe we utilize certain things that the venue has.” Full planning starts at $8,900.

Partial Planning & Design 

Photo: Pablo Lancaster Jones on Unsplash

When a couple has already booked some vendors on their own and now wants additional assistance, that is considered partial planning. “Maybe it’s overwhelming, and you’re like, ‘I don’t know what to do at this point,’” says MJ. “[We] take that load off of you. It’s really flexible as to where you are in your event [planning process].”

For example, one client needed help canceling an existing vendor contract with a rental company. MJ helped them get out of the contract and get their money back.

At the partial-planning level, as well as at the full-planning level, some wedding planners also offer design support. MJ summarizes design as the “overall vision to your wedding.” This means weighing in on all the aesthetic details including invitations, furniture, linens, charger plates, menu cards, table numbers, centerpieces, floral arrangements, lighting, dance floor wraps and backdrops. “The look of everything is definitely one of those things that people don’t think about until it starts to get there,” she says. “The moment [guests] open your invitation, that should set the stage for walking into the venue.” Partial planning prices start at $6,000.

[RELATED: This Wedding Planner Shares the Essential Questions to Ask Every Vendor]

Month-of & Day-of Coordination 

Photo: Joeyy Lee on Unsplash

“Day-of coordination is the more chaotic realm of things,” says MJ. “We are tying up people’s loose ends.” She suggests hiring a day-of coordinator even if you planned the entire wedding yourself because otherwise, “you or your family members are working your wedding,” she says.

With day-of coordination—and all levels of planning—MJ meets with each vendor to go over contracts. “We’re learning to work together with [the vendors] and building trust within them and also within the client so that the client knows we can handle this,” she says.

Based on her conversations with the vendors, she creates a master timeline with details like the times each food course will be served so the DJ can appropriately plan for dancing time.

She also points out that sometimes people assume that their venue coordinator will act as a day-of coordinator. “Your day-of coordinator that you hire is working for you. The venue coordinator is working for the venue,” MJ says. “We’re going to be the point person for all your vendors on the job.” Day-of coordination can range from $3,500 to $4,000.

[RELATED: Wedding Planning Mistakes to Avoid, According to an Event Planner]

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