Wedding planning is probably the first service you’ll hire for your wedding – and because of that, it might be also the first impact of values that the couple will have while planning their big day.
But apart from working in the organization and planning of the wedding, to be a competent professional you need a lot of previous investment – courses, training, a good team and many many hours of work. A wedding planner also carries the responsibility of running everything smoothly on the wedding day.
And that’s why a good wedding planning can not be a cheap service. Check out six reasons why a wedding planner costs what it costs and why the amount charged may be considered fair.
Wedding planner: Cecilia Pineda Rosas | Photo: Jos Hernandez
Many professionals set their prices according to their working hours. However, for the wedding planners, it doesn’t work like that – mainly because if they charged this way, prices would be incredible high, since planning an entire wedding usually takes many hours and meetings. The wedding planner Vivianne Brichaux says that she spends like 560 hours to plan and organize a wedding. For the wedding planner Belen Esquivel, on the day of the wedding, is approximately 15 hours and during the whole year of planning, it can be more around 100 or more in meetings, phone calls, emailing, etc. The wedding planner Cecilia Pineda Rosas agrees with that: “it takes around 140 – 150 hours when we talk about planning around from 10 to 12 months, including all the appointments with the couples, scoutings, vendors briefs and the day of the wedding”.
The wedding planner Pilu Delgado says that once, her team actually tracked their working time and it took 338 hours to coordinate a day off the wedding, starting 4 weeks prior to the wedding – including the RSVPs for the guests (300 guests).
However, due to the characteristics of this job, many wedding planners don’t even count the hours. “To be honest I never counted them as I try to personalize our service as much as possible to needs of our clients. I try to be very flexible on their requirements and also time to reply, emails, calls etc. As many other professionals involved in weddings being a planner can take you way from your private life often during wedding season for events but even off season for inspection visits, meetings or call later in the afternoon. I do not mind though I really like my job”, says the wedding planner Valentina Lombardi.
For Rui Mota Pinto, it is also hard to determine the hours of work. “I do believe it is not possible to know how many real hours I spend in a process of creating, planning, organizing and coordinating a wedding. From the first step when in a blank sheet I start drawing the concept till the end of the wedding, there were many hundreds of hours spent. Just to have a small idea only on the wedding day, my work can be around 20 hours straight. From the first moment to the last, I am present with the couple. From making sure everything is assembled just as agreed to the moment the last guest goes home and everything is disassembled and the venue is just as we arrived I am always coordinating and organizing all vendors and my team. Besides this, during the process there are all the meetings, all the negotiations, all the visits, all the processes are planned and coordinated by me. So it is really almost impossible to define how many hours I spend on each wedding. But for sure they are many hundreds of hours during the normal 1 year – 1 year and a half that my weddings normally take to conceptualize and plan”, he says.
Wedding planner: Guadalupe Alvarez | Photo: Eric Suarez
A wedding planner never works alone. And it is really important for them to have a great team, who is capable of solving problems and dealing with all kinds of situations. For that, it is really important to invest in their preparation and education. And we all know that it is not cheap to have good professionals on your team. The wedding planner Vivianne Brichaux, for an example, has two assistants, one captain and also a photographer. “I prepare my team by giving them training, previous information about every Wedding and incentives”, she says.
The wedding planner Guadalupe Alvarez works with a big team: “We have 6 main planners, 7 assistants, 1 accountant assistant, then all the staff for the equipment etc. We have a weekly payment roll of 38 employees, plus kitchen, waiters etc”.
Rui Mota Pinto says that at his company, every wedding requires a team created specifically for it, regarding the wedding’s needs, the couple’s needs for that day, the specifics of the venue and every detailed of the wedding. “My direct team is me and my partner, Rute Sousa, also a wedding planner. I also receive each year 4 to 5 trainees from some Hotel and Tourism Schools with whom I have agreements for Professional internships. After the internship, the trainees become part of my teams in the weddings”, he explains.
Cecilia Pineda Rosas has four people on her team. “They are my two arms and my two legs. All of them are certified wedding planners and sometimes I have my own students practicing in the real weddings that I have. Twice a year, I send my 4 ladies to courses in my city and sometimes they go with me to the special events and reunions for wedding planner industry that Mexico has”, she says.
According to Pilu Delgado, her team has 3 full planners in the office plus a group of 12 people for events. “Sometimes, we will cover up to two weddings in the same day with two leading senior planners leading the team. That’s when we divide and use everyone on the team”, she claims.
Wedding planner: Rui Mota Pinto | Photo: NJ Mattos
Even though it is not required a formal education to become a wedding planner, it is really important for these professionals to take courses and training regularly. Rui Mota Pinto believes that it is crucial to building a market with specialization and excellence. “Only this way we can provide to the couples services of major quality. Taking a wedding planning course is a “must have”. Also, after the course, it is very important to find a good mentor to make some internships so the planner can learn in the real world the practice of the work. A good mentor is a half way to a successful career. It is also important to keep with the professional growth and learning. Attending to workshops, conferences, reading other professional books, and editions, being part of professional discussion groups, being an active member of internet professional groups is very important to make a Wedding Planner better every day”, he says.
For Valentina Lombardi, this is a very important and quite expensive step of being a planner. “It is always necessary to plan a training to start the business to have an idea of what you will do for your clients, how and when. It is important to know finance, laws, and rules in our country. More education on this will make the experience. However, once done a training or course it is not over! If there are conferences, international meetings among planners, upgrade training it could be a very good chance to know more, update and most of all meet other colleagues. This is the richest experience you can get!”, she says.
“We go to courses in the United States 2 times a year and the cost is from $ 500.00 to $ 1,500.00 for 3 days, plus hotel, plane tickets, meals etc. In our case, we like to teach our new members how Penzi does the planning, we are very detailed oriented and love service so we teach this to our new staff”, explains Guadalupe Alvarez.
Cecilia Pineda Rosas has set around $1,000 USD of the company budget for courses during all year. “I truly believe that nowadays wedding planners should know a little bit of everything. This budget just includes courses in my city. I always try to look for the online session to save money. For foreign courses, I program from 2 to 3 times going out during the year, this includes 1 national and 2 international trainings, this takes around $2,000 USD of the budget”, she claims.
On Belen Esquivel’s opinion, a full wedding & event planning course it is really important to know how a real planner really has to work, as well as decorating workshops. “My whole course lasted a year and a half and it costs around $2500”, she explains.
Wedding planner: Valentina Lombardi | Photo: Independent Pictures
When you hire a wedding planner, you’re hiring not only someone who will help to plan your whole wedding, but also a professional to create a good wedding concept as well as someone capable of coordinating all vendors and dealing with tricky situations on your wedding day. According to Vivianne Brichaux, a good wedding planner should be patient, organized, charismatic, honored, able to solve problems and support others.
For Guadalupe Alvarez, it is really important for a wedding planner to love the job, have good manners, be punctual, know how to work plan a,b c and d, be eager to learn and to please, be helpful e and don’t mind the long hours of work.
“I think creativity set us apart. We can be a great wedding planner without creativity, being an excellent technician, but I do believe creativity is what set apart the great from the outstanding professionals. But for being a great planner creativity is not enough. We have to be dedicated, passionate, totally focused on the couple and on what is our service. It is needed a great communication ability, a huge sense of commitment, and a true appeaser personality. We need to know the trends and to be always updated on what is new and what is up to come next year. Also, a great planner should be transparent on his work policies. A major characteristic of a great wedding planner is the constant need to grow and learn each day. A professional that exchange learning, ideas, experiences with other professionals, that teaches and that constantly seeks for new training and specializations are for sure a better planner each day. Finally, but for me, maybe the most important – ethics. We can only be a great wedding professional if we have ethics. We cannot sell what we do not know how to do. We have to respect our colleagues and competitors. We have the obligation to give to the couple all the true info on our work, our experience and our path on weddings.
We have to be true to ourselves and to the market. We have to defend major human principals”, says Rui Mota Pinto.
Valentina Lombardi believes that a wedding planner should be very precise and attentive, always focused on what she/he is doing. “The professional must have an entrepreneur approach to work always curious and always updated on new styles. But he/she needs to be very emphatic with people, caring, kind, and sympathetic. Remembering also that we are not members of the bride and groom’s family, we are not sisters or brothers or bridesmaids.
We are coordinators and professionals so we also need to be firm and decisive if needed”, she explains.
Wedding planner: Pilu Delgado | Photo: Gustavo Samayoa
Like any other business, wedding planning has its regular costs. According to Belen Esquivel, her costs are basically: gas, telephone bills, internet bills, payments for her team and time.
Pilu Delgado rents an office to receive clients and they can feel more comfortable and secure. “It’s easier to talk and discuss their dreams than in a coffee place. I also have a person that helps us full time in the office, which is my assistant. We also have 3 cell phone lines. The salaries of both senior planners (Diego and I), plus office material (paper, ink for the printer, etc). Other costs: scouting for new places, gas to go everywhere; from legal paperwork to religious necessary documentation for the couple to get married, dress fittings, catering trials”, she explains.
According to Cecilia Pineda Rosas, one of the main expenses that her company has is branding. “I invest on my crew image cause at the end of the day there are the one wearing the Only Once T-shirt. The crew kit includes a t-shirt, cross body purse, pen, folder, and most of the time the wedding outfit too. Obviously, my image as well especially when I’m giving luxury and service as an ax of success”, says Cecilia. Rui Mota Pinto agrees with her: “More than other jobs/works there is a big need to keep a good image and that also have some extra costs. We can not meet with our couples, our vendors or partners looking like we do not take care of our image. Because nowadays with all the information at reach that the internet is providing, we need to keep up with a good image”.
Another expense is technology. For Cecilia, it includes social media campaigns, personal computer, iPads, social table membership and other programs that are paid monthly to have access and use them as part of her planning. Valentina Lombardi also mentions high-speed internet connection, planning tools, and all tech devices (computer, iPad, phones) that need to be always updated and well backed up.
Another expense for international wedding planners is traveling. “I spend a lot of hours traveling to meet vendors, to see venues and all the gas, hotel and food expenses have a big impact at the end of the year”, says Rui Mota Pinto.
Wedding planner: Rui Mota Pinto | Photo: staff
Mainly, the wedding planning is a safety measure for your wedding day – so that’s why you should hire a professional to do it. “On the day of the wedding, we coordinate and supervise the event to be sure that all will go smoothly as planned. Bride and groom and their guests’ tasks are just enjoying themselves”, says Valentina Lombardi. For Cecilia Pineda Rosas, one of the main wedding Planner’s duties is to always take care of the couple, before, during and after the wedding.
“The wedding planner will supervise the budget of the wedding, meet with vendors, design the wedding, suggest top vendors, supervise the day of the wedding, go through contracts with the bride and groom, give ideas for the bride about wedding trends for her wedding”, says Belen Esquivel.
According to Pilu Delgado, a wedding planner is here to help you maximize your budget and to make educated decisions towards your wedding. “The wedding planner will help you to find the best vendors that suit you and your wedding. They’ll keep you on track for the budget and your needs. Explain to you how the protocol is going to be, what can be wrong, always have a plan B and a C, and make sure everything turns out the way you have asked for it. The best thing a Wedding Planner can do is to make sure that no one realizes the ‘not perfect things’ that happen during an event. A wedding will never be truly and completely perfect but our job is to make sure no one knows it’s not perfect”, she claims.
First photo credit:
Wedding planner: Pilu Delgado | Photo: Lester Manchamé