Wedding planners can be a gift from the gods – if you need one. The truth is, most couples don’t. If you’re planning a wedding for 100 guests on a $10-25,000 budget, there are very few reasons to use a wedding planner. Here are three criteria to help you decide if you do:

• Your wedding budget is $50,000 or more. It’s not unusual to pay a minimum of $3,000 for full-service wedding planning. The final fee is likely to be much more.

• You’re planning to invite 150 or more guests.  More people means more of everything, and more time and effort involved in moving them from place to place.

• You have a complex wedding. By that I mean you’re doing more than hiring a venue, a caterer, a cake baker, a florist to provide centerpieces and bouquets, a photographer, and a DJ or band.

Let’s ask some questions: How are you at being organized and getting things done? Are you good at saying “no” as well as “yes”? Is talking about money easy or hard for you? How are you at making decisions? Do you enjoy learning about new things? Do you like to meet people? Are you comfortable with other people making decisions for you? Do you have a Pinterest Wedding board running into the hundreds of pins?

If you’re organized, are comfortable talking about money and making big decisions, and see planning your wedding as a new and exciting adventure, then dive right in on your own! Lots of couples do, and have a great experience and a wonderful wedding. If, on the other hand, you’d rather not do all of the legwork, are helplessly overwhelmed with all there is to do, and would be happy to give it all away and just show up at your wedding, a planner may be the way to go.

So if your answers are leading you toward a wedding planner, and your budget allows, then by all means, start shopping for one! By the way, the kind of wedding planners we’re talking about are the full-time professionals, with lots of experience and strong connections with a wide variety of wedding professionals. These are the people to whom you should trust your wedding and your money. Stay away from the part-timers and wannabes.

What does a wedding planner do? They will start by meeting with you to learn all about your vision for your wedding as well as the constraints around time, location, and budget, to name three. A good planner will listen more than they talk, especially at this stage. By the way, if the first thing they talk about is decor, you’re not dealing with a professional. Move on.

Wedding planners are heavily involved in finding and selecting all of the other wedding professionals. They typically have a short list of companies they favor. It’s a good idea to ask how many they use in a specific category. For instance, if they only use one or two or three caterers or photographers or DJs, they are either doing the same wedding over and over or simply don’t have enough good industry contacts and experience.

Your wedding planner will set up all of your venue tours and meetings with the wedding professionals. They will typically accompany you to those meetings.

Your wedding planner will build timelines for both your wedding planning and your wedding day, detail out and manage your budget, and handle all of logistics of your wedding. They will be involved in the preparation of decor items, selecting, printing and mailing your invitations, and all of details of your ceremony planning. They’ll also run your rehearsal along with your officiant.

The payoff comes on your wedding day, when the planner and their team make everything behind the scenes run smoothly and efficiently, on time and just the way you expect it to happen. Your one job on your wedding day is to enjoy yourself and get married!

Next time: Your Guest List. t

David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.

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David Egan
David Egan
David L. Egan is the proprietor and steward of Chase Court, a wedding and event venue in downtown Baltimore. Visit, and follow ChaseCourtWeddingVenue on Instagram and Facebook.