Are Wedding Planners Worth Their
Weight in Gold?

By Luke Ellery

The answer to that title is YES! Any bride’s most common fear is that disaster will strike on the big day. Perhaps it's a last minute disaster like a cake not showing up, or a guest walking through a door clearly labeled  ‘Do not open’ leaving the delicately decorated room exposed to the elements. This is where wedding planners come in, pre-empting challenges and solving problems as they happen to ensure that the day runs seamlessly, and often without the bride even knowing anything went wrong. With the experience and calmness of a planner, you’re able to relax and know it’ll all be taken care of.


All images by Kate Little Photography

Planners deal with venue managers, find replacement vendors when the booked ones cancel last minute (or forget!), move entire locations when the weather is in a bad mood - disasters come in many forms and wedding planners recognise them all. We know there are a lot of options out there and we've heard countless horror stories of brides choosing the wrong one so we wrote this post to help you separate the professionals from the others.

Wedding flowers, floral, bridal, planner

Why Hire a Planner?

With an average minimum cost of around $30,000 - $35,000 to get married in New Zealand, you want to make sure that you’re really getting your dream wedding, so that the memories aren’t eclipsed by the cost. Of course there are ways to cut costs by going DIY, but these often add stress – i.e. needing to find all of the materials and actually sit down and make 150 or so favours. A planner will have insights about vendors and relationships that undoubtedly offer benefits to you, which can ultimately save you money.

Maybe, it’s not even a matter of finance. You could be a busy working couple who simply doesn’t have the 250 or so hours or so spare that it takes to plan a wedding. By hiring a wedding planner to take care of the details and liaise with vendors, you’re able to have your vision preserved and eliminate the stress and heartache of compromise. Everything will be ready for your arrival and immersion in this special moment of your lives together.

wedding, bridal, bride, ceremony, wedding planner

How to Choose Your Wedding Planner

It seems these days that wedding planners are popping up everywhere in the form of any woman who has planned her own wedding and has decided that serves as enough experience to turn it into a business and while the very occasional exception can be made, the majority of these do not have the right temperament, the knowledge or experience from handling  disasters, and are not capable of providing the right level of service or to get the kind of supplier discounts one can only obtain through establishing long-term relationships with vendors.

A wedding planner must be highly organised, preemptive to your needs, be able to listen to you and understand exactly what you want with the knowledge and experience to be able to achieve it.

Your wedding planner - depending on the level of involvement you choose - is going to be your best friend and second in command for the duration of your wedding planning so it's imperative that you find a kinship with your planner that makes you feel at ease, open and listened to. Even with the highest level of full service clients wherein the wedding planner is effectively given free reign so that the bridal couple can simply show up on the day, the planner needs to demonstrate that they respect your budgetary limitations, that they've listened and understood what you envision, and give you the feeling that everything can be trusted in their hands.

We've heard so many horror stories from suppliers (and even brides who have left their planners to come to us) about inexperienced wedding planners, especially those who have only planned their own wedding, charging huge amounts for very little input or struggling without the right experience or conversely, being so overbearing and taking over the show, leaving the bride-to-be more stressed than ever.

wedding planner ​ 

What to look for

1/ A professional portfolio 

This can be online or in print - basically, you're just looking to see that they're not a one trick pony, that their style matches yours and that they have the experience and evidence of successful execution to be trusted with your wedding

2/ Respect in the industry 

Have your other vendors heard of them? what is their reputation? - it's important that your planner has cultivated relationships with other industry vendors and media, and that they're respected for their style, personality, and ability.

3/ Media coverage

If they're been in the business a while, they should have been featured in some form of media ie spreads in local bridal magazines

4/ Website

Their website is usually the first impression you have of them - is it professional? Organised? Do they have samples of their work?

5/ Ideas

When you meet with them, they should listen to your ideas and excitedly or passionately come up with complementary ideas of their own.

6/ Cost

This varies depending on the level of involvement but they should offer something for all budgets. In New Zealand, unless you're planning to marry overseas and need your wedding coordinated from NZ and including all flights and accommodation for the planner and her assistant, there's no way it should be costing you upwards of $15,000 which we've heard of all too often. $1,500-$2,500 for day of coordination or $4,000-7,000 for full service is more what you should look for on the high end.

Article contributed by Harlow Garland.


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