No two weddings are ever the same, meaning no two weddings will ever be the same to plan.
By this logic it makes sense that wedding planner pricing would be complicated – two couples could have nearly identical weddings in execution but the planning that went into them was likely drastically different. Location will also have a big impact on price, The Un-Wedding Movement pricing reflects Edmonton wedding planner costs and your local area may have a higher or lower average cost.
While it would be easier if we could write a blog and explain how much a wedding planner will cost based on the wedding you want, a lot more goes into the planning, and therefore the pricing, of a wedding than meets the eye. Understanding wedding planning pricing models, what kinds of fees to expect, and what is going to make up the cost of your wedding planning at the end of the day can remove a lot of stress and anxiety from the process of choosing and hiring a wedding planner.
Choosing a wedding planner can be one of the most important, and most confusing, decisions you need to make when planning your wedding. Check out our blog from last week on choosing the perfect wedding planner for you to learn more about the process of finding a wedding planner that is the right fit for you and your dream wedding.
Finding a wedding planner should be based on the values we talk about in this blog (style, service type, and overall fit), with pricing being the final consideration. Make sure you fully understand how your planner prices their services and any additional fees that could be added on before making your final decision to hire a planner.
Flat rates are given at the beginning of the planning process once a planner has assessed the scope of work and the estimated time commitment from them needed to bring your dream wedding to reality. This model allows you to know your final bill at the beginning of the planning process, which may be an important factor to you depending on how you are budgeting for your big day.
The planner will provide a list of what their service entails, detailing what services they will provide throughout your planning, vendors they will find and hire on your behalf, and what their day of execution will look like, and quote you a final price based on all of this. The risk of this model comes in the rigidity of it – once the plan has been set it will be difficult to make adjustments without needing to pay your planner additional fees or even losing money.
When hiring a flat rate wedding planner be sure to read your contract carefully and understand completely what is covered in that fee, and what happens in the event that more work is required from the planner (especially how you will be charged for it). REMEMBER: Cover your ASS-ets.
If you are interested in wedding management services rather than full planning services you will likely be looking at flat-rate pricing. Because a significant amount of planning will be done by you and your partner(s), percentage and hourly pricing often don’t work well.
When looking at wedding management services be sure to understand exactly what level of support you will be receiving. Some planners are with you for the majority of your planning and some will step in weeks or days in advance. As always, cover your ASS-ets and ensure you understand exactly what service you are purchasing, what the scope of services is and how it will be priced.
Planners that use a percentage charge you based on your final budget, typically around 15% to 20%, with a starting minimum fee. As every wedding is different, the budget can be a good way to predict the work needed by the planner to effectively plan and execute your big day. This is the most straightforward pricing model, and works well for nearlyweds with a strict budget to adhere to.
Hourly is rarely used for full-service wedding planning and is more likely to be seen with consulting services or other partial planning services. This is a less structured approach to pricing than flat rate or percentage, as you are paying for your planner’s time rather than their service.
Every wedding is different, and the planning behind every wedding is different, and the needs of some nearlyweds may cause their wedding to take longer to plan than another wedding with a very similar final result. In this case, you may end up paying quite a bit more than if you were to receive the same service from a planner with a more traditional planning model.
As always, read your contract carefully and ensure you fully understand how your planners bills their hour and their estimated time to plan your wedding.
Our Pricing Model
Here are The Un-Wedding Movement, we use a hybrid of flat rate and percentage. When planning a wedding we divide the work into three key areas:
Visualizing the wedding’s look and experience with the nearlyweds and creating a final design proposal with an estimated budget.
Everything that goes into making the design proposal a reality, including contacting and securing vendors, sourcing supplies and organizing logistics.
Finalizing all the details and creating a timeline and production plan, and then making all the magic happen on the event day.
For design and coordination, we charge a flat rate, plus any hard costs like travel and/or additional staffing for coordination. These services tend to be consistent in the work needed, so once we know the scale of the wedding and the scope of the work, we have the experience to know how much work will be required to execute these two stages.
For production, we charge a fixed percentage, with a minimum fee. This is the stage that is going to vary the most from wedding to wedding, and budget is the best predictor of how much work will be required from our team, so we base our pricing on it.
We have chosen this model because it is the most transparent and most fair to our clients.
All planners choose the model that is right for them and their services, the most important thing you can do is find the planner that makes the most sense for you and ensure you fully understand their model and their contract.
(Not So) Hidden Fees
With every model there is the potential for additional, and what can feel like hidden fees. Read your contract, talk to your planner, and understand their policies for common things like those listed below to ensure you have a 100% understanding of what you will be charged at the end of the day.
If your planner has to travel for your wedding there will almost always be additional fees involved for things like mileage, additional time commuting, and a hotel if needed. Understand your planner’s travel policy and what exactly they will require for your venue. There may be opportunities here for you to work with them on mitigating these costs – just ask!
Planning a wedding on a strict timeline means rushing, potentially hiring more staff, and having to prioritize your event over other weddings they are currently planning. At The Un-Wedding Movement, we implement our rush fee for intimate and micro weddings that need to be planned in 2 months or less, and for custom elopements planned in 1 month or less.
If you are planning a wedding on a short timeline check with your planner to see if they have any policies regarding this.
Something many nearlyweds have had to deal with in the face of COVID-19 is rescheduling their weddings. When a wedding is moved there will be additional expenses as the planner cancels and reschedules all of the vendors and logistics. Even if it seems unlikely you will have to replan your wedding look for a clause in your contract that outlines the rescheduling policy and any re-planning fees that might apply so you know what will happen if your wedding date has to move.
Surprise work often comes from DIY projects or elements of the wedding that the planner does not exclusively plan.
If a planner has to hire more staff or take additional time to set up decor or finish last-minute projects on your wedding day, (especially if they need to call in additional help last minute!) there will likely be additional fees.
This is why it’s important to be fully transparent with your planner about anything you intend to DIY or provide yourself, as well as if there’s anyone planning a surprise of some kind (don’t worry, we’re good at keeping secrets!) so they can adjust timing and plan for it.
Remember, you get what you pay for. There is no government or professional organizational oversight in the wedding planning industry for minimum education requirements or pricing standards.
So cover your ASS-ets and make sure you understand the skills and experience of your planners and how they will calculate their final fee before hiring on a planner.