As a consumer it can be daunting enquiring with a specialist, such as a wedding planner, when you’ve never worked with one before and you have no idea how much it might cost. So, in today’s blog I thought I’d outline some of the key factors on how a wedding planner charges for their services.
It’s helpful to start with a brief overview of the various levels of wedding planning. Most planners, including myself, offer services ranging from “on-the-day” wedding planning (read my blog here about why this is a misleading title), through to partial and full planning.
“On-the-day” tends to be priced on a fixed fee which we can provide to you once we have a better understanding of your plans i.e. guest numbers, number of venues, number of suppliers, complexity of design etc. From this we can estimate how much prep work will be needed in advance of your wedding and how many assistants we’ll need on the day and from there we get a price.
For partial and full planning, it will usually be based on a percentage of your total final wedding spend. Note, I say “final wedding spend” not “wedding budget”, this is because the fee will flex as your spend does. It’s standard across the industry to charge a percentage because, in general, the larger the wedding budget, the more work it is for the planner, often with many more suppliers to coordinate and more meetings to ensure you are getting exactly what you are after.
Experience & Knowledge
You aren’t just paying an hourly rate for when your wedding planner is sat at their desk or at your venue actually working on your wedding. You are paying for their experience and knowledge and that takes years to build. I’ve been in the weddings and events industry for 16+ years and I’ve trained countless event planners and I can assure you that they way an experienced planner handles issues is very different, it’s really worth the extra investment.
Do keep in mind that you can’t compare the rate your wedding planner charges with your own salary or hourly rate. The money you are paying them isn’t landing in their accounts as “their” spending money, it’s business revenue. We have to allow about 25% of all planning fees to cover business costs such as insurance, web hosting, marketing, training etc.
This is a controversial topic in the wedding planning industry. As a member of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, I commit to not charging commission. Let me explain why with an example… You have a budget of £80k for your wedding, and your planner has a 12% wedding planning fee meaning £9,600. This means your total spend is £89.6k and you get a wedding worth £80k i.e. this money is going to your suppliers in order for them to provide the goods and services it will take to deliver your dream day. Now, example two where your planner takes supplier commission… You have the same budget of £80k and your planner still charges a 12% fee, again giving you a total cost of £89.6k. However, your planner is also charging your suppliers 10% commission, or what they may call a “recommendation fee”, essentially saying that without them the supplier wouldn’t have got the business and therefore it’s like a marketing cost for them. However, what usually happens is the supplier simply adds the 10% commission on to the fee they charge you. This mean, at a very basic level, the value of the wedding you receive/the amount you are paying your suppliers for their goods/services is actually only £72k i.e. you’re getting less wedding for your money. Meanwhile, the planner, who you have already paid a substantial fee to, has also taken 10% off all your suppliers and made themselves a further £8k. The alternative is that your budget ends up swelling to accommodate the 10% commission your suppliers are passing on to you in which case your planners 12% fee also swells as it’s now based on your new larger spend, another bonus for the planner.
The other concern about commission is that it can mean that your planner is selecting your suppliers based on which they get the best commission from rather than choosing the supplier best for you.
When considering which wedding planner you want to work with do ask if they charge supplier commission. You may choose to go with a planner who does charge commission, that’s absolutely fine, I just believe you deserve to go into it with your eyes open.
If you’re enjoyed this post and think you might benefit from working with a wedding planner please do get in touch.