This is such a good question, and one that as a professional wedding planner I'm often asked.
There is a big stigma around wedding planners and it's thought that couples with an above average wedding budget are the only ones who can afford a planner. This is really not true!
So... How much does a UK wedding planner cost?
Every planner will charge differently, they will have based their costings on their overheads, their experience, their qualifications, their uniqueness, the size of the wedding they specialise in and what they believe is a good hourly rate but most UK wedding planners will have similar packages;
• Full planning package
• Partial planning package
• On the day coordination
There are a few ways planners charge;
Percentage: A lot of planners charge this way. They normally charge between 10% and 15% of your budget depending on where they are geographically and depending on their experience. Most also have a minimum fee, so for example if the percentage they were charging of your budget doesn't exceed their minimum fee, they will then charge you the minimum fee.
Set packages: The next way wedding planners charge is through set packages. This is how I charge. I have set out my packages based on the amount of hours I take to plan your wedding, or coordinate the last few months, etc... I'm the kind of person who likes knowing exactly how much I'm paying for something from the get go so that is honestly why I went down this route.
Bespoke pricing: Following a meeting with you, the wedding planner would go away and work out what her fee would be and that is what they would be charging. So the fee is agreed in advance so you know exactly how much you are going to be paying and so does the wedding planner. This is another service that I am more than happy to offer if you find me half way through your wedding planning journey and don't need certain bits and pieces from my full planning package (for example, you've already found your venue or have your styling organised)
So, these are the three main ways that a wedding planner charges:
1. Percentage of your budget with a minimum fee
2. Set packages
3. Bespoke pricing - A fixed fee agreed in advance
You then need to find out about commission
Some planners charge you a fee for organising your wedding and accept commission from your venue or supplies.
Basically, you have hired a wedding planner who you are paying 15% of the budget with a minimum fee, but that planner also takes commission. They will be earning from you, but they also earn an additional percentage from suppliers/venues.
I will be open and honest with you, and I do not agree with this at all. I believe that all discounts are passed down to you.
Some suppliers sometimes may add the wedding planners commission to their fee, which is then increasing your wedding budget and I'm not here to make your wedding more expensive, in fact, I try to challenge myself to make it cheaper for you.
Final question is what do you do when you have two quotes that are quite different?
Make sure you compare them like for like. As wedding planners don't have a set "guideline" to follow when charging, their packages may be named the same, but the level of services may be very different.
Lets take on the day coordination for example:
Planner A may have quoted you £400 and Planner B may have quoted you £525. So when you look at the quote, obviously you'd pick Planner A.
When you look further into it though, Planner A limits the amount of contact and emails you can send, whereas Planner B offers unlimited emails and calls from the time of booking. Planner A contacts your suppliers and creates timelines, but Planner B does a venue visit (if they haven't worked there before), contacts all your suppliers and even family contacts if they've been involved with the day and makes sure the suppliers know who else is working on the wedding before the day itself. You then see that Planner B offers extras like being the 'emergency contact' the night before so you can relax and will tidy the bridal suite if it has been used for getting ready (yep... I'm Planner B! 😉).
So you can see how a service can be called the same but what is actually included in it could be different so just be clear that they are both providing the same service which will help with your decision. Also, check what their experience is like, what is their knowledge like and their background. Some wedding planners are new but actually they have been working in corporate events or hospitality and event running for years so if someone is a new wedding planner it does not meant they are not experienced. It is just about asking those questions beforehand.
Now the other thing I just want you to bear in mind is the number of hours it takes to plan a wedding. To plan a full wedding it would normally take you at least 250 hours, maybe even more. For a wedding planner it will usually take us around 150 hours, maybe more for a marquee wedding, so when you are receiving a quotation from a wedding planner think about the number of hours it will take them. How many meetings, how many suppliers they will be finding for you because sometimes when you receive a quotation you may think that is high but actually when you begin to break it down into the amount of work they are doing for you, you realise actually it is not.
The final point I want to make is please don’t forget that not just for wedding planners, but all wedding suppliers out there, the fee we are charging you is not the fee we are taking home. It is different when you are working for yourself. Most of us put around 35% away and that goes toward the running costs of our business – insurance, our staff, all of our materials, national insurance, our tax bill, over heads... so the money we receive from you is not our salary.