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Hiring A Wedding Consultant

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

Very few brides are professional event planners, stage directors or project managers, thus there can be a huge margin for error in planning a wedding. In fact, most everyone in the wedding business has heard the same refrain from a frantic bride... "I've never planned a wedding before!"

Some newly engaged couples simply can't handle the added stress or cope with the time-consuming details of planning their weddings. As with any complicated project, there might be a need for a "project manager". In the wedding business, this person is known as a wedding coordinator or wedding consultant. Regardless of whether your event is large or small, a wedding coordinator can remove the burden of hundreds of details, and see to it that all the segments of the wedding are properly planned and implemented.

Coordinators will tell you, they wear many hats. They will counsel brides on what is possible within their budgets, offer advice on all aspects of the wedding and can do the actual leg work of booking, hiring, and contracting wedding vendors. In addition, they can manage the events of the wedding and reception, so the bride, groom and wedding party can be worry-free to enjoy the day.

A typical wedding consultant will begin by asking you to describe the style of wedding you have in mind. You may be asked to detail all the preferences you and your fiance have decided upon to make your wedding special and distinctive. Money and budgets will be discussed, and you'll need to pin down the cost range you have in mind. When a complete picture of your event begins to take shape, the coordinator will make recommendations which will eventually make your nuptials a reality.

Some people fear a coordinator will barge in and take over, but that's very unlikely. Reputable coordinators make your dreams come true, not their own. They have close contacts with all wedding vendors, such as rental outlets, jewelers, caterers, photographers, DJs and florists of the highest quality. A coordinator will only hire the best and will often guarantee these services.

Coordinators are experts on wedding etiquette, so whenever you have a question about what is "right" they'll have the answer. They can also shield the couple from problems arising on the wedding day. Familiar with wedding timelines, a coordinator knows what planning tasks need to be done when, and will alert you to them. This can lower the stress level for everyone.

When selecting a coordinator, be sure to interview several before making your final choice. Find one you feel comfortable working closely with and one who understands your wishes. Inquire about how many weddings the coordinator has worked on in the past. Find out exactly what services they offer and what they don't. Check their references. Ask yourself, does this person seem organized and professional? It's also a good idea to establish the fee structure up front.

Experts recommend the bride who is starting on the planning process have at least one meeting with a wedding coordinator, that could help her avoid many pitfalls. If the bride does nothing but spend $50 or $60 for initial consulting services, she will likely be savings hundreds of dollars down the line.

The cost of wedding consultants vary from region to region, and with the overall wedding size. As a general rule you can expect to pay ten to twenty percent of the total wedding costs for a person who is managing all aspects of a large wedding. Others may charge a flat fee. For simple consulting services, you might pay from $50 to $75 per hour. If possible, it's better to have a flat fee, thus you know the complete cost up-front. Going with a percentage, can create a conflict of interest because the larger your budget, the more the consultant will get paid.

If a wedding is in your future, but you feel "timed-out", consider a wedding consultant.


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