Save Money and Hire a Wedding Planner

Save Money and Hire a Wedding Planner

We recently got the chance to ask some questions about how you can save money by hiring a wedding planner. Thanks to Keith Willard, of Keith Willard Events for answering our 4 common wedding couple questions.

What’s the advantage of hiring a wedding planner?

The first advantage is saving money! I know that sounds backward but a good wedding planner is going to help you avoid spending on items that don’t have an effect on the wedding or the experience. One area where this happens quite a lot is favors. I’m not a fan of most favors. Most of the time they are left behind which is a huge waste of money.

Decreased stress – planning a wedding is hard! As an experienced wedding planner, it can take me upwards of 400 hours to plan a wedding. Imagine if you don’t have the insights and contacts that I have built over years of being in the business. What takes me thirty minutes to accomplish may take a couple of hours, and in some cases, days.

Organization – A wedding planner will keep you moving in the right direction and ensure that you don’t forget any minor piece. It’s amazing how many times a couple will forget about hiring an officiant or printing place cards. Most venues require that you have a comprehensive list of your guests, table assignment, and food choice, which is then noted on their escort card.

Family Strife – Planning a wedding can be a pressure cooker on so many levels, with family taking the number one spot in most situations. Questions about where are you having it, how we book our room, what time we have to be there, and why we have to be there so early, will just be the beginning of questions that will remind you of a two-year-old. Why why why why…. A planner can alleviate that situation by being your middle person. Plus most family members will not question a wedding pro as they will question you.

Insider information – I have a resume a mile long that includes being the Director of Catering for Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt Regency. I know the ins and outs of contracts, room blocks, meal choices, and staffing. This can be incredibly valuable when having to start a discussion about minimums and the number of rooms for the room block. How many people would understand the term “attrition” or warn you about the “plus plus” which means plus service charge and plus taxes?

How much time do you spend working with a wedding planner?

Depends on the contract but most of my clients have a bi-monthly meeting with me for an hour. That way we can ensure that there is going to be a face-to-face for any questions that may come up during the planning process. My job is to alleviate time, stress, and budget issues for my clients. This means that I listen first, then advise. I take the complicated process of planning and break it down into bite-size pieces so that my couples are never challenged with more than one question at a time.

Should you tip a wedding planner?

If they go above and beyond – absolutely! Most wedding planners undercharge for their services. If you took their contracted rate and divided it by the number of hours that it actually takes to plan a wedding, the amount per hour would be less than working at a fast food restaurant. The day of the wedding itself typically means standing on my feet for 16 straight hours. There is no time to sit down because there is always something that needs to be done – and that includes me bringing a staff.

What fee range do wedding planners have?

This ranges dramatically based on location. Here in south Florida, good wedding planners can come at a premium.

For Day Of – Most planners charge between $1,500 to $2,500.

For Day Of Plus – The range of fees will be $3,000 to $4,500. Day of Plus means that they will be there for the day of the wedding but also be available to advise the couple. This typically does not include contract negotiations, being in person for appointments, and room blocks.

For Partial Planning – The range of fees will go from $5k to 8k. Partial planning means the couple has already booked their venue, catering, and one other major vendor such as a photographer. The planner will be there to help with all of the rest which is so much more than most people realize.

Full Planning – $8k to $25k depending on the planner and size of the event. When doing an offsite venue where everything has to be brought in – meaning tables, chairs, catering, bar, tents, etc – the number of hours needed increases dramatically, and then so does the cost of the planner. If you are having a wedding at a hotel, the location already has tables, catering, eating utensils, and staff. This reduces the number of hours and management needs on the day of the wedding. Now there will be some planners that charge less – especially if they are just getting started or you have a smaller event, but don’t think that an intimate affair requires less time planning. When I plan for a wedding that is thirty people or planning for a hundred and fifty people, it takes the same number of phone calls, emails, and meetings.

We want to thank Keith Willard, President of Keith Willard Events for taking the time to answer our questions. To contact Keith, visit his wedding planning website:

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