Inquiring minds want to know. Why do wedding planners cost so much? You see a wide range of services and it can be head spinning to try to figure out a wedding budget especially when everything seems so expensive. It can be expensive but this is one scenario where the old adage “you get what you pay for” is oh so true. Before I get into the nitty gritty of why wedding planners charge what they do and how we determine pricing I want to dispel the myth that everything costs more because it is a wedding. That is a platitude that is very misleading. Weddings don’t cost more than birthday parties simply because it’s a wedding. It tends to cost more because of the sheer size and impact you desire to make with a wedding. Upstanding vendors charge for their time and effort, not for the type of event and trust me their time is what you’re paying for.
I have come to realize that not many people know what a wedding planner does outside of what is fantasized in the movies. J Lo really makes it look easy doesn’t she? Or remember Martin Short’s character Frank in Father of the Bride? He definitely doesn’t do anything for the image of a wedding planner. All of our weddings are recorded in a notebook so that we can review how much time we’ve spent in the planning and execution process for each client. So in order to show you what I do let’s go through one of our recent weddings.
Prior to Melissa’s (name changed for privacy) wedding day we had:
- 3 Venue Visits
- 2 Visits with the Caterer
- 2 lighting visits
- 2 Band Visits
- 2 floral visits
- 2 Officiant/Pre-Cana Meetings
- 2 Wedding Dress fittings
- 1 Bridesmaid Dress Consult
- 2 Cake Tastings
- 6 Different rental location visits (prior to choosing the venue)
- 3 Photographer Visits (which included 2 shoots styled by us — Engagement and Bridal)
These are just the appointments with vendors. We also had 14 meetings in person, 3 Skype sessions, 3 trips to the calligrapher, Hours sourcing items from local vendors and online and 40 hours of building a wedding website for our couple (we won’t even mention the hours we spent adding things to the registries). Welcome bag assembly and delivery to hotels, booking room blocks, transportation and countless other wedding planning related activities, phone calls, emails etc. We haven’t even considered travel time for these meetings. Once all this is considered we’ve already spent 204 hours and the wedding day hadn’t even arrived yet. It’s important to note that a lot of these calls/meetings/emails/texts occurred after 7 pm to accommodate the couple’s schedule and ease fears and concerns that would have otherwise kept Melissa and her mom up all night.
Prior to the rehearsal we spent 3 hours loading up our trucks full of wedding details and items from our warehouse to bring to the venue. Another 4 hours picking up tuxes, dresses, the wedding gown and other personal items to deliver to the hotel while our bride was getting a mani/pedi and having lunch with her girls. 3 hours setting up the rehearsal dinner location and receiving the delivery of all the rentals at the venue. Myself and 2 staff members spent an hour and a half getting the bridal party through the rehearsal and stayed after for another 2 hours to begin setting the stage for the wedding and reception.
On the wedding day we had a staff of 3 that arrived at 10am to finish the décor. In this case the venue’s staff had helped arrange tables, linens and set the place settings. This often is done by us prior to the caterer’s arrival. Had we needed to do this as well we would have needed to arrive 2 hours earlier (which is 6 extra man hours). We received all the vendors, managed the load in of all our items, arranged the escort card table, placed mercury glass votives, candlesticks, tucked linens, placed custom signage and made an emergency run to Hobby Lobby to grab some additional items that I had seen a few days ago and wanted to surprise the couple with. I drove over to the hotel to check in on the bridal party, managed the timeline of hair and makeup, and greeted the photographer and videographer. Cleared hallways, arranged a first look with the bride and her dad, zipped up dresses, tied bowties, ran to the tux shop to exchange shirts and arranged a first look with the bride and her groom. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with the transportation to give directions around the marathon that caused road closures and followed the trolley to the Capitol for bridal formal photos.
During the wedding we ensured every need was met, the bride and groom always had a drink in hand, they had a chance to eat and made sure all our vendors were well taken care of then we stayed to undo all the hard work we had put in at the beginning of the day. We are the last to leave at 2 am and the first to return the next day to pick up the bouquet and send it off for preservation, pick up tuxes and return to the rental place, drop off the wedding gown at the cleaners and returned any specialty rentals and borrowed items. We unloaded our belongings at our warehouse, brought all the gifts to Mom and Dad’s house and even picked up the Groom’s forgotten passport from the front desk and delivered it to them at brunch along with the redesigned arrangements we made from the wedding flowers. The rest of the flowers we dropped off at various churches and nursing homes so that they wouldn’t go to waste.
All this for a grand total of 367 man hours. Beyond the hours worked planning, prepping and executing there was the staffing cost, printing charges, domain fees, graphic designer costs to create custom graphics for signage and monograms, supplies for DIY projects (you won’t believe how much spray paint and glitter we can go through in a day) and various other things like tanks of gas or the personalized gift we leave for all of our clients to start their marriage with.
So now that you see how long it truly takes to plan and execute your wedding you may need to grab a glass of wine, put your feet up and thank the Lord that we don’t charge by the hour!! I kid but if we charged $20/hour for 367 hours that’s over nine THOUSAND…yes THOUSAND dollars! We seem like a total bargain now don’t we? All kidding aside when you work 40 hours a week an extra 10 hours or more spent wedding planning can be really taxing. Trust me when I say that it is worth every penny when you’ll be able to just enjoy it all and leave the worry and travel and logistics to us.
Every wedding is different. Yours might be smaller than Melissa’s… or it might be larger. In any case it could take more or less time to plan and that’s perfectly fine but this is a very average an accurate accounting of what a typical wedding looks like and should give you a good idea of what to expect from your wedding planner.
If you are interested in our concierge wedding planning please contact us for more information.