wedding reception table with purple and pink centerpieces

Photo: Tina Elizabeth Photography

Hiring a wedding planner is one of the smartest things you can do during wedding planning. Yes, a wedding planner's cost may be an added expense, but planners can actually help you save a ton of money (and your sanity!) in the long run.

So, how much does a wedding planner cost, exactly? And, what does that wedding planner cost entail?


Wedding planning services cost an average of $1,637 (but that varies widely depending on your location) according to WeddingWire's 2015 Newlywed Report — but what does that entail? We talked to Hannah Schumm of Weddings by Hannah in Kansas City, Missouri to find out. Note that these tasks are typical of a full-service planner, but there are many different types of wedding planners to choose from depending on your individual needs.

Correspondence

A big part of a wedding planner’s job (and therefore is factored into a wedding planner's cost) is communicating with you and with your vendors to make sure that everything will run smoothly on the day of your wedding. Since your wedding planner may be your and your vendors’ main point of contact during the wedding planning process, you’ll want him or her to stay on top of emails and phone messages and respond in a timely fashion (usually within 24 hours). Your planner will make sure that all of your vendors have all of the important information about your wedding and know where to be when—sort of serving as the coach for your “vendor team” who will ensure that everyone works together seamlessly. This is why correspondence can make up about 30 percent of a wedding planner’s cost.

Venue Selection and Tours

If you hire your wedding planner at the very beginning of your wedding planning journey, he or she will likely play a big role in helping you choose a venue. And this can be a time-consuming process that is quite different than selecting your other vendors. Your wedding planner will likely join you for venue tours, and be part of the discussions and decision-making afterwards. “After each tour we have to readjust the budget as to factor in that catering isn't included, or alcohol, etc.” says Schumm. “This also includes contract review and negotiation.”

Vendor Meetings and Selection

Your wedding planner will also probably attend interviews and meetings with all potential vendors (and you’ll likely interview more than one vendor in each category), and help you choose which pros to hire. Your planner will also review contracts and can mediate any back-and-forth that might occur. About 20 percent of a planner’s time is devoted to the vendor selection process.

Organizing Documents

One of the least fun aspects of wedding planning is all of the paperwork—and yes, there can be lots of paperwork associated with your wedding. “I prepare and manage a couple’s budget, prepare and adjust their timeline regularly as we make decisions, prepare and organize their ceremony logistics, drawing and updating layouts,” says Schumm. “Keeping these documents all up to date and organized, is a big piece.”

Photo: Riverland Studios

Wedding Prep

A full-service wedding planner will likely handle a lot of seemingly minor but very important tasks that will ensure your wedding looks and runs perfectly—and you don’t have to lift a finger. From putting together programs to arranging escort cards and setting up your favor display and ensuring each piece of décor looks as you envisioned it, a planner has a lot to do to prepare for your wedding so that you can relax and have fun.

Coordination

Your wedding planner will be on-site on the day of your wedding, and most likely at your rehearsal as well. A full-service wedding planner usually arrives well in advance of the proceedings and stays long after to ensure that everything runs smoothly and on time, and that any hiccups, minor or major, are handled. You probably won’t see much of your planner on your wedding day—and that’s a good thing—they are running things behind the scenes so that you and your future spouse can enjoy the spotlight and focus on enjoying your ceremony and celebration. All told, a planner will spend about 20 hours actually coordinating pre-wedding events and the actual day, which is why this aspect so greatly impacts a wedding planner's cost.

Post-Wedding Tasks

The work isn’t done just because the wedding is over. A planner will likely have to return rental items, follow up with family members and vendors, and more.

Business Expenses

All this work doesn’t even cover all of the expenses associated with running a business—from phone and Internet bills (so that your planner can actually communicate with you!) to marketing and advertising expenses, and much more. “I am the wedding coordinator for a couple’s event which is a lot of work in itself but I am also my own marketing team, accounting team, social media rep, and more,” says Schumm. “So aside from focusing on each event, there is a lot I have to do to maintain my businesses and my relationships that in the end, benefit couples as well.”