Following on from our article on “what is it a wedding planner does” I thought it would be helpful to explain how is it wedding planners charge, just how much are wedding planners? By reading both these blog posts and/or viewing the videos on our Facebook page you will have a little bit of knowledge before hiring the right planner for you.
So today is all about how wedding planners charge for their services. Generally speaking there are a few ways that they charge.
If you are hiring a planner to plan your wedding from start to finish the majority of the planners, and definitely here in the UK, would charge a percentage of your budget. So what that means is they would normally charge between 10% and 15% of your budget depending on where they are geographically and depending on the experience they have.
Most will also have a minimum fee, so if for example the percentage they were charging of your budget, does not exceed their minimum fee, it is the minimum fee that they would be charging. There are normally a few things that will be excluded from the budget when someone is charging a percentage of your budget for example: rings, dresses, suits and some planners don’t put evening drinks in there. The reason that wedding planners charge a percentage of the budget is generally speaking the more that is being spent on a wedding the more work there is involved. Thus the more work they are doing as a wedding planner means the more they should be compensated for that work.
If your wedding planner is charging you a percentage you need to ask them if there is anything that is excluded from the budget, and also ask them what the minimum fee is. And finally you just want to be clear what services it includes, for example this is normally the organisation of the wedding itself not any pre or post celebrations. These would normally be charged for separately.
In terms of negotiations you can have discussions with your wedding planner if for example you confirmed the venue prior to them being hired and its an expensive venue, they might be willing to negotiate on what £ they enter into your budget for it. That is an open conversation you can have and remember we are all incredibly open to communication and having that discussion together about what is best for you and what is best for the wedding planner.
The next way that wedding planners charge is through packages. These will be set packages that you will decide to hire them from, quite often partial planning packages. An example may be that you want the wedding planner to do wedding day management / co-ordinate the last few months/ styling only, that is a set package. This service will be very clear on how many hours, how many meetings and exactly what is it they are going to do for you. Subsequently there would usually be a set fee for that package that they are charging, namely a package price. You are hiring a wedding planner for that package to include the services listed within that package and thus you know from the outset what you are paying for. If you want additional hours on the day, more meetings or for the wedding planner to source some suppliers for you , over and above the package price, you will be charged an additional fee which the wedding planner will advise you on.
As a side note if you are hiring a wedding planner for any kind of partial planning, I would advise that when they send the quotation or contract to you, it is very clear what is and isn’t included. You need to know how many hours/how many meetings are included so it is very clear what the wedding planner is going to be doing do for you.
So the third way that wedding planners charge is a bespoke fee, also known as a fixed fee. This could be for partial and also for full planning. Following a meeting with you, the wedding planner would go away and work out what her fee would be and that is what she would be charging. So the fee is agreed in advance so you know exactly how much you are going to be paying and so does the wedding planner.
These are the three main ways that a wedding planner charges:
- 1) Percentage of your budget with a minimum fee
- 2) Set packages (normally partial planning)
- 3) A fixed fee agreed in advance
With all of those make sure you know exactly what it is that your wedding planner will be doing for you. Don’t be afraid to ask those questions, some of those which we covered in previous Facebook lives and blog post .
The other question you need to be asking your wedding planner is commission. Some wedding planners charge you a fee for organising your wedding PLUS accept commission from your venue or suppliers. So assume that you have hired a wedding planner for full planning and you are paying 15% of the budget with a minimum fee but that wedding planner also takes commission . That wedding planner will be earning from you, (so as your budget increases his/her fee increases), but they also earn an additional 10% from suppliers / venue.
It is important that you have that knowledge in advance so that you can make the right decision for you. None of our members take commission, all discounts are passed back to you. So if it is not one of our members just ask that question before signing any contract to confirm you are happy with their fee structure. I am showing you in the table below how this could affect your budget, if a supplier has to pay the wedding planner commission invariably they will add 10% to their fee (not so much with venues as they swallow that cost).
It may well be that you have fallen in love with this wedding planner who charges commission but as long as you know from the outset you can make the right decision for yourself. I have created a little illustration below (these figures are fictional and for illustration only) to show how a planner taking commission could impact your wedding budget. Some suppliers may not add the commission onto their fee, one way to check is to ask for confirmation that the fee you have been quoted for a service is the fee everyone pays. i.e doesn’t have 10% added to cover a wedding planners fee.
Compare like for like
If you have quotations from a number of wedding planners, make sure you are comparing like for like, particularly true for partial planning. I want you to check that they include the same hours, how many assistants and is the service exactly the same. Two services could be called the same but actually the level of services included could be different.
Let’s use venue sourcing as an example.
Assume you have hired someone to find a venue. Planner A might charge £300 and Planner B might be charging £800 so when you first look at it as they are both doing venue searching you think I’ll go with planner A. What you need to check is what is included in that. It may well be that the first planner was doing on desk research of 10 hours but the second planner was looking at various countries, triple the number of hours and visiting the venues before recommending them. So you can see how a service can be called the same but what is actually included in it could be different so I want you to just be clear that they are both providing the same service which will help with your decision and check what is their experience like, what is their knowledge like and their background. Some wedding planners are new but actually they have been working in corporate events for years or working in a venue for years so if someone is a new wedding planner it does not meant they are not experienced. It is just about asking those questions beforehand.
Now the other thing I just want you to bear in mind is the number of hours it takes to plan a wedding, I think I covered this in the previous Facebook live and blog post as well. So for a full planning wedding it would normally take you at least 250 hours, probably more when you are browsing your social media fees. For a wedding planner it will usually take us around 150 hours, maybe more for a marquee wedding, so when you are receiving a quotation from a wedding planner I just want you to think about the number of hours it will take them. How many meetings, how many suppliers they will be finding for you because Sometimes when you receive a quotation you may think that is high but actually when you begin to break it down into the amount of work they are doing for you, you realise actually it is not.
The other final point I want to make is to you is please don’t forget that not just wedding planners, but all wedding suppliers out there, that the fee we are charging you is not the fee we are taking home. It is different when you are working for yourself. Most of us put around 25% away and that goes toward the running costs of our business – insurance, our staff, all of our materials, national insurance, our tax bill, so the money we receive from you is not like our salary. So we are putting part of that away which is the running costs of our business.
Feature Image Catrina from Fin Flukra