In order to pull off your dream wedding, you’ll need an amazing team in place to execute your vision. That’s why putting a boss professional wedding planner in charge is a must, right? Well, not necessarily. It’s true that a wedding planner can do a lot—from overseeing vendors to negotiating wedding venue contracts—but they aren’t an absolute necessity for all weddings.

If you’re on a tight budget, having a small wedding, or just on the fence about turning over control to someone else, you may be able to get by without a planner. Alternatively, you can just hire a day-of coordinator to help with some of the last-minute event logistics.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of hiring a wedding planner so you can decide what’s best for your day.

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What does a wedding planner do exactly?

Think of a wedding planner as a jack-of-all-things-wedding-day-related. A full-scale wedding planner can help with anything and everything on your to-do lists. That may include the following:

  • Initial planning
  • Managing the budget
  • Coordinating with the wedding venue
  • Negotiating vendor contracts/recommending vendors
  • Staying on top of current trends and making recommendations
  • Ironing out all-important last-minute details
  • Running interference with other family members if a conflict arises
  • Making a wedding day schedule and making sure everything runs smoothly
  • Executing and making sure your vision comes to life from the rehearsal dinner through the reception

Day-Of Coordinator

There are other types of professional planners, too. A day-of coordinator may not do a lot of planning ahead of time but helps to make sure everything is organized and set-up so your ceremony and reception go off without a hitch. They can also help out with the flow of the wedding and small details. That may mean getting vendors set up or directing your wedding party and guests to make sure everyone is where they need to be at the right times.

On-Site Coordinator

Some venues also assign an on-site coordinator who serves as a semi-wedding planner. You can choose to bring in your wedding planner, too, or work solely with the coordinator instead. (They may be in charge of multiple events each weekend, so don’t expect the same personalized attention, though.)

Whichever type of planner you choose, you’ll need to meet with them first to go over their services. Everything should be spelled out in their contract so it’s clear which professional services they are and aren’t responsible for. It’s a big commitment, so feel free to ask for references of past clients to e-mail or call to ask about their experience.

Why should I hire a wedding planner?

There are plenty of benefits to hiring a wedding planner.

  • Stress relief. Hiring a wedding planner will take a lot of stress off you and your partner, as he or she will take over a lot of the tasks on your to-do lists.
  • General knowledge. An excellent wedding planner will know all about the latest wedding trends and have insider knowledge of the wedding industry. They’re basically a wedding designer. This can be invaluable when you’re trying to make a million decisions and are looking for guidance.

Finally (and perhaps most importantly) the wedding planner’s job is to make sure your wedding day is beautiful and that it runs as smoothly as possible. While you’re off enjoying your day with your friends and family, you can take comfort knowing they are making sure the ceremony décor is set up, the photographer is in place, and your servers know which hors d’oeuvres to pass during cocktail hour.

What are the downsides of a wedding planner?

The benefits of hiring a wedding planner should outweigh the negatives. You are hiring them to execute your dream wedding, plus make your life easier for the upcoming months. However, there are a few potential downsides to consider.

  • Less control. Your wedding planner is going to take over a lot of planning and logistical tasks. If you’re a Type-A personality, working with someone else and giving up some of the control may be a challenge. If this is you, be sure to work with a wedding planner who complements your personality and whom you trust completely with your wedding day.
  • Cost. Wedding planners are expensive, especially if they have a lot of experience. If you’re on a tight budget, the wedding planner’s services may put your costs over the top. If this is you, put your money towards a day-of planner or ask if they can customize their services to your needs.

How much does a wedding planner cost?

On average, a full-service wedding planner may cost between $3,000 to $10,000. The cost largely depends on where you live and where you’re getting married. They may charge up to $20,000 in a high-cost area like New York City.

If you are having a destination wedding, consider finding a local wedding planner. Otherwise, you may need to factor in paying for the wedding planner and their team’s expenses like accommodation, meals, etc.

For a day-of coordinator, the costs are lower. They may charge a flat fee of between $1,000 and $3,000. Or, they may charge per hour. Always ask upfront about all costs so nothing comes as a surprise later.

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Do I need a wedding planner?

At the end of the day, whether or not you hire a planner comes down to your wedding budget and personal preference. Below are some questions to ask yourself and help you decide.

  • What is the size of your wedding? Is it small enough that you feel like you can handle the planning yourself, or a large wedding you definitely will need help to organize?
  • What’s your timeline? How much time do you have to devote to wedding planning yourself? Do you have a full-time job and/or other commitments?
  • What is your wedding budget? How will a wedding planner fit into your wedding finances?
  • Are you OK giving over some control of the wedding to a planner? What details can you relinquish ownership of?
  • Does the planner work with specific vendors? Will you be able to hire additional or alternative vendors that you are interested in?
  • Will this wedding planner help bring your vision to life? What wedding planning experience can they lend to your process?
  • Does wedding planning make you stressed or anxious? Will working with a professional help alleviate some of that stress?
  • Do you foresee wedding-related conflicts with family members, your fiancé, or someone else that a neutral third party voice could help mediate?

Wedding planners are exactly that: experts at planning weddings. Whether you choose a full-service planner, day-of coordinator, or an on-site coordinator, these people can help bring your dream wedding ideas to life.