So you want to hire a wedding planner? Today we’d like to share the info that you might be afraid to ask, the things you may not know, and some insight into why we do things the way we do them! Ultimately we want you to find a planner that is the perfect fit for you, your fiancé, your families, and your unique wedding experience. We want to give you a few tips to help you find the right company and planner for you! There are a lot of things to consider other than just if you like what they post on Instagram.
TYPE OF SERVICE
First things first, determine the level of help you need. Each company offers different options and different price points. Some companies focus solely on logistics, some do design as well, and some even do the production of a lot of that design. Some companies only do Day Of or Month Of Coordination, some offer a la carte services, some offer varying degrees of partial planning, some offer full planning and design services. As complexity grows, so does the price point. Of course we always think the best option is full planning because when it comes to something as important as your wedding, you want professionals to guide you through the whole process. A wedding is unlike any other type of event. There is a lot of emotion wrapped up into every decision and a planner can not only help you navigate those emotions, but can also help honor your budget and your time by eliminating so much of the research you would otherwise have to take on.
At Your Jubilee our main offering is full planning and design. We believe that is where we really shine because we can have our hands in every aspect of the day. Our full planning and design service is focused on curating the creative team to make the design and logistical vision come to life. We do not do the flowers or produce installations in house, but we work with some pretty amazing vendors to put together the best possible design and we focus on making it an easy day (or weekend) for everyone involved. We also offer Event Management which is our version of month of coordination. With event management the client manages their vendors and design and we take over about 8 weeks out to finalize counts, create your timeline and make sure all those contracts and ideas you’ve shared with us are executed. We give our full planning clients priority and only take event management clients about 8 months out from the event date on weekends that we still have availability.
Once you decide what type of service you are interested in, you need to consider your budget. We might be biased but we think a wedding planner can be the most valuable contribution to your wedding team, but you want to make sure it makes sense for your budget. If you are planning to spend less than $100K on your wedding, your planner should be around 10% of your total budget. That means if you are planning a $20,000 budget you will want to keep your planner at or under $2,000. If you are having a $100,000 wedding, you should plan to spend around $10,000 on your planner. If you are planning to spend more than $100K your planner is managing more details and logistics so it makes sense to allocate more of your budget to your planner, usually between 12-20% depending on the planner and their involvement. The truth is, your overall budget is linked to two major components of your event: guest count and complexity. A wedding with 80 guests could cost a couple $10K or $300K a wedding with 500 guests could be $10k or $300K.
It all depends on the complexity of the design and experience you are going for. You want a planner that is familiar with the level of experience you are trying to create, the level of vendors that match your overall budget and the level of complexity your wedding could require. It is not out of line to ask what is the average cost per guest or overall budget range your potential planner typically works with. Another important factor is the venue food and beverage cost. Your venue food and beverage is usually 50% of your total budget. When you get married at a luxury resort you can expect a higher food and beverage minimum as well as a higher site fee than if you are considering a private event venue. Saturday weddings have higher minimums than Fridays and Sundays. In Arizona if you are considering a luxury venue like The Four Seasons, The Sanctuary, El Chorro, the Phoencian, The Biltmore (and more) you can expect around $30-40K food and beverage minimum for a Saturday. That means your total venue food and beverage after site fees, service charges and tax will be around $50-65K. Minimums do vary each year based on demand, season and other factors.
At Your Jubilee we specialize in experience driven events with lots of custom details usually at luxury resorts. Most of our couples are spending around $800-2000 per guest. Some spend much more and some spend less, it all depends on the priorities of that particular couple. We like to be as upfront about a clients vision and budget as possible because we try hard not to show our couples vendors or design elements that are going to break their budget. That said, sometimes the scope of the project does change based on the couples priorities.
There are two general pricing philosophies for wedding planners. Flat Rate or Percentage. Some planners also have a hybrid of the two. Flat rate pricing means they are basing the price off of what the anticipated workload is and also the guest count. You will often see flat rate pricing for day of coordination or a la carte services. Additionally flat rate pricing is a common pricing method for planners that are newer or those that consistently manage events that are all similar in size and scale. Percentage pricing is common among luxury planners as the level of work and staff required often increases with increases in budget. To give you a frame of reference, we recently worked on a wedding for 100 guests and a budget of $80,000. We planned and managed their rehearsal dinner and wedding. Their file included about 320 emails and we worked on their event for a total of about 125 hours. We also worked on a wedding for 130 guests and a budget of $180,000. We planned and managed 3 wedding weekend events in addition to the wedding. Their file included over 725 emails and we worked on their event for a total of about 240 hours. Percentage pricing is a common pricing model for interior designer, project managers and even lawyers. As the price of a project increases, so does the scope of work. Hybrid pricing means they charge a flat fee, usually an administrative type of fee and a percentage of the total budget, often related to design. There are also provider that charge hourly rates, but that seems scary to us since you can’t possibly know how many hours an event will take until you get into the nitty gritty details.
At Your Jubilee, we currently use the percentage pricing model. We started with flat rate but as the complexity of our weddings increased, we felt the percentage made more sense for us. Percentage pricing allows us to assist with any wedding weekend events. It allows us to staff based on the unique needs of the wedding without charging for additional staff. It allows us to limit the number of clients we take on and give our clients more of our time and attention to create truly curated events. People have asked, isn’t it in a planners best interest to drive up the budget if they are making a percentage of it? And the answer is definitely not. First, one of our core values is integrity and we don’t think we would get many referrals if we had shady business practices like that. We believe in transparency and percentage pricing helps us have very open conversations about budget throughout the process. We usually see budget increases for a few reasons: 1. The clients decided to increase their guest count 2. They decide to add on additional wedding weekend events. 3. The client has no idea what their budget is but they know they want what they want. We always try to get a really good idea of a clients spending goal and vision and provide as much counsel as we can to align the two.
You definitely want to feel a connection to a planners work. Some planners have a specific design style or aesthetic, some are more varied. We don’t think it matters if a planner has regularly worked at a venue or not because a good planner can work at any venue and is usually excited to work in a space they haven’t designed before. We also think you need to be attracted to the work of the vendors they work with. Do a deep dive into the planners portfolio, website, instagram etc. See what inspires you! Its also important to understand what the ecperince is like. What can you expect through the planning process. What does it look like on wedding day? How many people will be there to help and what are their roles? When does the planner or planning team leave? What don’t they do?
At Your Jubilee, we design to our clients tastes. That means you will see weddings with all kinds of aesthetics in our portfolio. We have a lot of fun with this because we remain inspired and creative. We also don’t work with a limited number of vendors. Don’t get us wrong, there are definitely vendors we recommend often because they are rad humans and they are masters at their craft, but we specifically curate our vendor teams to the couple and wedding we are working on. We will never require you work with specific providers but we always work to recommend the providers we believe will be the best fit for your vision and budget. We’ll give a run down of what to expect in our planning process in a different post (this one is long enough!) On wedding day we have a team including the lead planner, their lead assistant who is also a planner on our team and depending on the size and scope anywhere from 1-8 additional assistants. All of our full planning clients get an event concierge- a person that is there to make sure photos go smoothly, help with those last minute getting ready details and carry all the things (train, veil, bouquet, lip gloss, sunglasses- you name it) Our team is there from set up to tear down. For multi day installations we have someone on site for any major deliveries to make sure the set up is perfect.
You will spend a lot of time with your planner and it is critical to trust them and feel comfortable with them. During your consultation you should get a sense of peace talking with them. You should also feel inspired by them. Your planner will be your advocate and your guide and it is critical that you have a high level of comfort with them. Yes they should be incredibly knowledgeable but also match your energy. We always recommend a little stalking here too! Read their bios, watch their videos, instagram stories etc. These things give you a really good idea of who the planner is or what the company values are.
At Your Jubilee, we like to think we are the kind of people you wouldn’t mind getting stuck at the airport with. We put a lot of effort into our work but even more effort into our relationships. Relationships with not just clients but also with the creative vendors and venues we work with. We think its important that every person feels seen and appreciated. We know it takes a village to create the magic for our clients and our village is pretty awesome! Our team leads with kindness but also has the knowledge and know how to problem solve just about any situation. We try to create opportunities to get to know us via social media as well. You can often find us being goofy in a reel or testing out a dance floor before the guests arrive.
We hope Your Jubilee is the right fit for you, but if we are not, that is totally okay! There are so many wonderful planners out there at varying price points with varying specialties and you have to choose the one that is right for you! Our best advice is go with your gut, read their reviews, don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure they make you feel comfortable! Good luck and happy planning!
Thank you to our featured video and photography partners: Ryann Lindsey Photography, Melissa Ivy Photography, The Shepards, Rachael Koscica Photography, Aaron Kes, Kayla Fisher Photography, Olivia Markle, Rachel Soloman Photography, Marie Claire Photography, Emily Vandehey, Morgan Mccanne, Andrew Glatt, Chiara Shine Photography, Mike Oblinski, and Good Vibe Media.