November 22, 2018

When to Book Your Wedding Planner and What to Know

A few weeks ago I blogged about when to book your wedding florist. Many of you loved it so much, I decided to make a version for wedding planners. When to book your wedding planner is something you should know. It seems that many planners are happy to book a couple before there’s a date and venue so that they can help them through the process if they are hired for full service. Also, many of the amazing planners quoted talk about what you should know before reaching out. Thank you to these talented pros for lending their expert advice!
When to Book Your Wedding Planner and What to Know before reaching out to them, how soon to book full service or month of wedding planner/coordinator 

When to Book Based on Your Desired Service Level

Most of our couples will book anywhere from 9-18 months from when they are looking to get married, especially for full planning or design. We do fill in our calendar with a couple of smaller “Month-of Coordination and Styling” wedding planning packages each year, which we book about 6-8 months ahead of a wedding so we pretty much know what can fit into our upcoming season schedule.

For full planning and design couples (who comprise the bulk of our planning work), it is always helpful when couples come in knowing a rough guest count (so we can begin sourcing availability for suitable venues), and a rough overall budget (so we can have an idea of the style of wedding we can achieve for them and which vendors we can recommend).

The budget question is typically the tougher one, as most couples haven’t planned a wedding before, and budgets have changed quite a bit since their parents would have gotten married, so we do spend a fair amount of time itemizing projected costs in detail so that we can protect the budget and stick closely to it through the planning process. – Elizabeth of East Made Event Company
Weddings at L'Auberge Del Mar - San Diego Film Photographer Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

Availability Could Be an Issue if You Have No Set Date

My ideal situation is to have the couple hire me when they have their venue booked and wedding date set because I can make sure I am available to take on their wedding and there won’t be any conflicts. On the other hand it is fun to start at square one with them and really discuss their overall vision for their wedding and help them build their dream wedding weekend. I am able to make sure their venue fits their style, budget, location and needs. -Evelyn of Evelyn Francesca Events

Aria Lawn, Weddings at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, Luxury Mediterranean European inspired venue, film by Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

At the Very Least, Know Your Total Budget

Most couples book my wedding planning services about 4-8 weeks after getting engaged. By that point they have realized how much work it is! Personally, I prefer to have a month they would like, but do not need an exact date! And for having a venue booked, that is something I help my couples decide upon, so totally not necessary.

Before reaching out, it is best to have an idea of the budget decided upon. Without a budget, it is nearly impossible to begin the process. -Brynne of Merry Memory Planning
Weddings at Rancho Valencia on the Croquet Lawn, Cavin Elizabeth Photography - San Diego film photographer

For full service and partial, having an idea of their budget and guest count is SO important. We as planners can’t help steer them in the right direction of a venue, vendor team, and decor vision if we don’t know what we’re working with!

For Partial or Month-Of, they should probably have a date and/or venue locked in before reaching out. Full service should just have a preferred month/season or venue style and we’ll go from there. – Kayla of Simply Gorgeous Events

Upper Lawn at Weddings at The Inn At Rancho Santa Fe, Film photographer Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

Budget Allocation

Well, we always like to say, you can’t set your date until you select your venue! However, to a lot of couple’s surprise, it’s not the most important part of wedding planning. Your guest list and budget are! You need to know how much you’re comfortable spending on the wedding and then how many people you’re planning to invite before choosing a venue.

Don’t fall in love with a venue that can only hold 200 guests but your guest list is upwards of 300 or one that costs $30,000 to rent, but you’re only hoping to spend $10-15,000 to rent the space. Bringing on a planner in the very beginning makes it easier to find a space that not only fits your budget and guest count, but can be transformed so that you can give your guests an unforgettable experience!
-Debby Boh of Amber Events

Pavilion at Aria Lawn, Weddings at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, Luxury Mediterranean European inspired venue, film by Cavin Elizabeth Photography 

It’s usually in the couple’s best interest to come to me with a general sense of budget before they’ve selected a venue. The reason for this is to ensure their estimated budget will cover any venues and vendors they are considering.

Often couples will book a venue before meeting with a planner and it turns out they spend too great of a budget percentage on the venue and don’t have enough for vendors they prioritized or didn’t account for the hidden costs of a free-standing venue and that hurts them. I often do a comparative budget for clients who are venue shopping and that can help them decide what makes the most sense for them. -Nicole of Green Ribbon Parties
Image of pink entrance to Sands Hotel spa in Indian Wells, Cavin Elizabeth Photography


This is such an informative guide! I am in complete agreement that it is never to early to book your suppliers, that way you can avoid being disappointed if they’re already booked up! :)