Of course I believe you need to hire a wedding coordinator. I am one, after all.
But how can you make sure you can afford one? Here are five ways to save money on your wedding coordinator:
Use one. I know this is counterintuitive- your budget is being pulled a million different directions and it can be hard to justify something so intangible. After all, you can smell the flowers, taste the food, see the photos. It can be hard to give some of those precious dollars to something outside the realm of your senses. After all, if a wedding planner has done her job right, you’ll never know about the tears you didn’t cry, the bridesmaid you didn’t snap at, the vendor who didn’t come through exactly as promised. There is no question that a talented event coordinator is worth her weight in gold. So many times, a planner actually saves her client money. Rosesinister at Offbeat Bride writes:
One day I had plans to meet with a caterer and a photographer and my planner tagged along, and brought with her a second photographer for us to meet with. The moment the amazing, wedding planner-picked husband and wife photography team commented on my TARDIS-blue nail polish, I was sold — SOLD, I tell you — on a photographer that I would never known about if it wasn’t for my planner.
The best part? The photographers are Eight. Hundred. Dollars. Less. than the not-too-pricy photographer I was dead-set on. $800 is no small amount of dough.
Then my planner convinced me to talk to a different caterer. The first caterer I picked had a quote of $37.50 per person (alcohol not included, that was another $35 per person). I thought that was fair…
The second caterer? Can I tell you how much I love this woman? We had a tasting with her. She is SUPER AMAZING! And because she isn’t as “established” as my first choice, guess what? She’s totally cheaper. $1750 cheaper.
Holy cow, did my wedding coordinator just save me $2,550? Yes, yes she did.
Be honest about your budget. Here’s the deal. Unfortunately, it’s true that some planners won’t return your phone call if your wedding budget is under the national average of $20,000. It’s also true that there are TONS of us out there who got into the business simply because we want to help make dreams come true. If you are dying to work with a planner whose fee is more than you wanted to spend, be up front about that. Depending on the time of year you are getting married, the coordinator’s schedule, your personal story, or a host of other reasons, she may be willing to work with you for slightly less than her typical fee.
Choose the right planner. When you are researching your options, don’t be shy about asking what other services the coordinator can provide under her contracted fee. Many wedding planners are not only brilliant at balancing budgets, vendors, and timelines, but are also extremely creative and talented individuals. Can she arrange flowers you’ve purchased in bulk to save some cash? Does she have table linens available for rental? Does she have a stash of decorative items (like vases, candles, etc.) that she frequently lends to clients? Is she talented at graphic design? If she offers these services for an additional fee, don’t be afraid to ask if she’s open to negotiating a discounted rate.
Get discounts for referrals. Truly, a successful wedding business is built on positive referrals. When a bride has a positive experience with a wedding vendor and shares her thoughts with a throng of about-to-be-married friends, that vendor gets a huge opportunity to work with more clients. This opportunity makes you, your word-of-mouth, and your happiness so valuable to a wedding coordinator. At Bliss Events, our referral program is our primary way of getting you top value for your dollar. For every client we book through you, we deduct 1% from your total bill. For example…You decide today you want to hire us to help pull together your big day. Your budget is $10K, so our agreed upon fee is $1,000 (our typical 10%). We meet for our initial consultation, and you are over the moon with excitement about working with Bliss. You share our Facebook page with a shout-out to how awesome we are. Immediately, your cousin Jenny books us because she’s engaged and has been looking for a planner. You pay 9%. Two months before your wedding, your best friend gets engaged and hires us through the referral program. You pay 8%. A $10,000 wedding coordinated for $800 is nothing to sneeze at, my friends. The limit is 10, and after you enjoy the free coordinating of your big day, we’ll continue to send you restaurant gift cards for every person you refer.
Barter. Call me old school, if you’d like, but I’m a big believer in bartering goods and services for what you need when you are short on cash. Reverse roles for a minute and consider what services you could provide that your planner might use. Do you have mad web design skills? Offer a website re-do in exchange for planning. Are you a massage therapist? I don’t know many people who would turn down a years’ worth of monthly massages in exchange for services. Straight up, I’m a girl on a tight budget, too. If I had a client who was a hairstylist offer me a free cut and color in exchange for a discount…well, I’d take a moment to consider that 😉