Wedding Etiquette

Should you Hire a Wedding Planner?


Marilyn Woodman


These articles on wedding etiquette are not designed to cover every single situation that come up during a wedding, but to point out the general principles of wedding etiquette and offer some tips in dealing with awkward situations that often arise.


Hiring a wedding planner can be a monkey on your back or the best thing you ever did. Since most wedding planners are female, in this article, we will be referring to a "she," but there are good male wedding planners out there are well.

The Pros

She knows all the tricks, she knows the best places to get things, she can check all your contracts to make sure you are getting what you paid for and she can see to it during the wedding that your suppliers live up to their contracts. Consider the fact that your suppliers will be a lot more influenced by a wedding planner they would like to see and do business with again then they are a couple who is going to have one single wedding (one hopes!) regardless of the size of the wedding, so her displeasure has "teeth" with them. She can negotiate prices and contract terms, and she knows how much you should pay.

Obviously, you and your parents will not be available to deal with any crises that arise during the ceremony, and it is difficult for any of you to deal with crises that come up during the reception. She will be there from beginning to end on that day to make sure things go smoothly, people are in their places, and she can deal with unusual circumstances with a steadiness and familiarity that none of you will have.

She can shield you from being overwhelmed before, during and after the wedding. Many a family relationship has been strained because of tensions and circumstances before a wedding; she can alleviate that.

Often, an engaged couple will wait until the last minute until they're impossibly overwhelmed before they hire a wedding planner -- and then pay full price for their services with half the benefits. A good wedding planner can save you endless time and aggravation -- and if you hire a good one -- a lot of money, but if you are too late in hiring one you can't take advantages of the benefits one has to offer.


Some wedding planners will steer you to their suppliers, who will mark up the price as a commission to the planner--in addition to taking a percentage payment from you directly!


Wedding planners will work for a percentage of the total price of the wedding, a flat fee, or for the wedding day only. Some wedding planners are available as an add-on service through hotels, if you are having your reception or ceremony and reception at that location. Those planners work as employees of the hotel, and their services are generally more limited than a full-service, independent wedding planner.

How Do You Tell?

First, decide on the role you want the wedding planner to take in your wedding, so you can decide which type of planner you are going to hire. The very best way to hire a wedding planner is by referral. If you know of a bride or brides who have used one they are satisfied with, that is probably the best way to hire one. When you get a referral, though, consider the source as well.  The former bride who is giving a negative review may have been difficult to deal with! 

Another way you can check is to make tentative contact with her and focus on something you need to purchase, for instance the wedding cake. See who she recommends (don't pump her for multiple sources, though -- one category only), then stop by the store and take a look around. With a brief visit, you can get a good idea of the prices of their wedding cakes. Stop by another store and do the same thing. Are the two stores comparable in price and quality? When you go there to look at wedding cakes with her, are the prices different? When you go to a store she recommends, are the prices marked, or are they quoted? This will give you a good idea of whether or not you are being set up--particularly if your arrangement with her is a flat fee.

If you decide not to hire a wedding planner, it is essential you have a friend or family member to perform in that role on the day of the wedding -- you will simply not be available. Make sure that the person who agrees to do be your representative receives a gift for her services--preferably after the reception is over. You can put it in the trunk of your parent's car--and make sure it's a nice one!

We would appreciate your sharing your experiences, and with your permission, we will be glad to publish them on this page, if we feel that it would be helpful to our visitors. Please write us at to share with us.

Wedding etiquette is really just a guideline based on tradition. It actually the art of making those around you feel comfortable and accepted. The most important part of etiquette is the latter--making those around you feel comfortable and accepted. That requires putting yourself in their shoes, and it can be an especially tough thing to do when you are up to your elbows in wedding preparations. It's a necessity, though--with the merger of two families, this is a big day for your friends and relatives too and your behavior, good and bad, will be remembered for years and years to come.





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2003, by M. A. Woodman


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