The average wedding costs about $25,000 according to TheKnot.com. If you live in Manhattan the average was $65,000 in 2012, while weddings in Milwaukee averaged only $14,600. When you're spending that much money it makes sense to hire an expert wedding planner to help. Wedding planners will negotiate for you, reduce your stress level and make sure that special day goes off without a hitch, other than you two getting hitched. Of course that help comes at a price.
One way wedding planners come up with their fee is as a percentage of your wedding budget, not including your dress, rings, and your attendants' wedding apparel. The more detailed and expensive the wedding, the more they get paid. In other words, a wedding that costs $5,000 is less complicated and time consuming than a wedding that costs $50,000. Wedding planners who base their fee as a percentage of the budget charge from 10 to 20 percent.
How much you pay depends on what responsibilities the wedding planner is assuming and that translates into how much work she'll have to do. A planner that is only helping you find a site for the reception, and doesn't have to worry about the ceremony, limousines and catering, deserves less than a wedding planner that will plot out every detail with you, from selecting the menu to finding hotel rooms for the out-of-town guests. Wedding planners are available to assist you on just the day of your wedding for about $750, according to Smart Money.
Upfront or Referral Fees
Some wedding planners pass on discounts and others don't, using the discount as part of the fee. It's not unethical, and similar to the way an interior designer buys from vendors at a discount but passes on the full retail price to the client. Upfront fees may be a flat fee, based on a projected number of hours or by the hour. Hourly rates average $50, according to Midwest Wedding Industry Professionals.
If your reception is to be held at a resort or hotel, the catering manager or meeting planner there may coordinate everything for you without an additional fee. You'll still have to pay for the food, ballroom, centerpieces, bar and band, and possibly at higher prices than if you negotiated each separately. Many hotels will not allow food or alcohol from off-site sources on the property for liability reasons.
Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.