No two weddings are the same, meaning no two weddings will ever be the same to plan.
While two weddings may look virtually identical, their planning processes can be wildly different – and don’t even get us started on how location affects pricing! What something might cost here in Edmonton can be vastly different from what you might pay for the same wedding in a larger city like New York, Vancouver or Toronto, so proceed with caution when looking at standardized lists and pricing. The same goes for wedding planners. Here in Edmonton, wedding planner costs may be lower or higher than other places too.
While we wish we could tell you that a planner will cost you $xxx, there is so much that goes into pricing out services then 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 planner’s services 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 here 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 on which planner you’d like to hire.
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 (aka day-of coordination) 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, read your contracts to ensure you understand exactly what service you are purchasing, what is covered in the scope of work for that service and how it will be priced.
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 one of the pricing models discussed above.
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
For our full planning services, we divide our work into the following three 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 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 fair to our clients.
For our coordination services, we use a flat rate price, since our scope of work changes little from client to client, with only travel and/or additional staffing charges added when necessary.
Ultimately, 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
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 needing staff to work overtime, and having to prioritize your event over other weddings that are currently being planned.
At The Un-Wedding Movement, we implement a rush fee of 25% for our full-service intimate, micro-weddings, and destination weddings that need to be planned in 2 months or less, and for elopements and minimonies needing to be planned in 1 month or less.
For our coordination services, the rush fee will apply for coordination services booked less than 4 weeks prior to your wedding.
If you are planning a wedding on a short timeline check with your planner to see if they have any policies regarding this.
Sometimes shit happens and for whatever reason, you could be facing needing to reschedule your wedding.
When a wedding is moved, this means as planners that we have to redo work to move your wedding date and reschedule and/or find replacement vendors. Even if it seems unlikely you will have to reschedule 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. Also strongly consider wedding insurance, which can potentially cover costs in the event of you needing to cancel or reschedule your wedding date for any reason (except COVID – because at this point its a known risk)
Surprise work often comes from DIY projects or elements of a wedding that the planner is not made aware of prior to the day of.
If a planner has to call in more staff, pay overtime, or take additional time to set up decor or finish last-minute projects on your wedding day that they were not made aware of prior to the wedding, or handle tasks that are outside their scope of work, then additional fees will apply.
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 always, you typically get what you pay for in the wedding industry.
Wedding planning is not a regulated profession and there are zero barriers to entry. There is no government or professional organizational oversight in the wedding planning industry enforcing minimum education requirements or pricing standards.
While we are huge cheerleaders for everyone who wants to create a viable business in this industry, many times over the years we have seen someone enter the industry with little to no experience, vastly undercut their competitors to fill their calendars and go out of business within 1-2 years (sometimes taking their clients’ money with them) because their business isn’t sustainable.
These same planners are also often not licensed or insured, which puts both you and them at far greater risk of being on the hook if something goes wrong.
In addition to proper business insurance and a business license, make sure you check to see if your potential planner has some form of formal education and experience. Here in Canada, we have organizations like the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (wpic.ca) that do offer education and require strict adherence to their code of conduct in order to retain our credentials. At the Un-Wedding Movement, we require all planners and coordinators on our team to have and keep their WPIC credentials in good standing.
Bottom line – if a price is too good to be true, it probably is. So cover your ASS-ets and make sure you understand the skills and experience of any potential planner you’re considering, make sure they have a business license and insurance and have a good understanding of how they will calculate their final fee before hiring them.