10 Questions To Ask A Destination Wedding Planner

Tokyo Wedding Photographers

It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed with all the work required to organize the destination wedding of your dreams. The easiest way to relieve some of the stress is to hire the wedding planner, preferably one that is familiar with your destination.

You can hire a planner to handle specific tasks or hand over the entire thing, leaving you to enjoy the final months before your marriage. Planners can be hired hourly, by the day or for as long as you need them so don’t be intimidated by how much it might cost (read “How Much Does A Destination Wedding Planner Cost?”)

Selecting the right person for the job will ensure that everything goes according to plan on your wedding day. In addition they are an invaluable resource in helping you find the right wedding venue, block rooms at a hotel, and hire the best vendors within your budget.

Here are questions you should ask a wedding planner.

How long have you been in business? How much experience do you have planning the wedding of my size?

Ideally, you want somebody who has been planning destination weddings for at least five years. Anything less and you run the risk of having someone who may not be doing this as a full-time business and possibly may not be around to complete your wedding.

Have you worked at the destination before?

You want somebody who is familiar with your destination, knows the vendors, and can expedite your marriage license requirements. Plus, a wedding planner who is familiar with your destination will also know the best venues, restaurants, scenic locations for the ceremony, best sunsets, and popular activities for wedding guests.

How many weddings do your take on each weekend? Are you available to work on my wedding date?

Ideally, you want your planner to concentrate on your wedding only. However, depending on the size of your wedding, that may not be a reality.

If you’re having a small wedding, your planner may only spend a few hours with you while he or she concentrates on other weddings. However if your wedding is large, you should ask to be the exclusive wedding on his or her calendar.

When asking about your wedding date, make sure to inquire if he or she sees a problem with the date selected. Are there any big conventions, or festivals going on that would drive up prices. Is your wedding weekend part of a larger holiday where you might have difficulty finding good vendors?

Do you work alone or do you have a team? And will you be at the wedding or someone from your team?

Once you’ve developed a rapport a wedding planner, it becomes very difficult to have to deal with someone different on your wedding day. So it’s imperative that you ask that the planner you work with is the person who will be helping you on the day of your wedding.

If your planner should fall ill, or in the case of emergency, you should ask who the backup would be.

Do you only take on full weddings or can you be hired on a per diem basis (hourly, daily, weekly, job based)?

Most planners are flexible and will work with you anyway you want. If you need some guidance on the best all-inclusive resort for wedding, you can certainly consult with a reputable wedding planner for an hour to get some direction. It may cost you $200-$300 for an hour of consultation, but you will be surprised at how many questions will get answered, saving you days of research trying to find the same information on your own.

How much do you charge?

What is your hourly rate? Is there a flat fee per day or per week? If I hire you for the entire wedding, do you charge a percentage? If so, what is that percentage? As mentioned earlier, a destination wedding planner will charge you anywhere from $100-$300 an hour if you just hire them for a limited amount of time. If however, you’re handing over the entire wedding, you’ll end up paying 15 to 20% of the cost of wedding.

Can I see some of your work?

A reputable destination wedding planner will have no problems sharing past wedding successes. In fact, they should encourage you to call their references. When asking for to see their work, request events they have planned at the same destination as your wedding.

If the wedding planner is not willing to share their portfolio, then consider moving on to someone else.

What kind of services do you take on? Are there things you don’t do?

Some planners will only get involved in full service weddings whereas others prefer a limited scope, specializing in a certain area such as helping you find a vendor. Most destination wedding planners can help:

  • Book hotel rooms for wedding guests and for the bridal party
  • find the wedding dress for you in your wedding party
  • plan your honeymoon
  • help wedding guests with their airfare
  • plan the rehearsal dinner in the post-wedding brunch
  • set up a gift registry
  • help you with your marriage requirements

Do you have preferred vendors?

If they do have preferred vendors, ask if there are any back end commissions that your planner will receive. If they are getting a commission on the back end, then this is not the planner you want. Their interest will be in having you spend more money so they can increase the amount of commission they receive. The only person paying the wedding planner should be you.

Will you help us stay within our budget?

Make sure the planner sees the wedding budget before you hire them so they can tell you if it is realistic or not. Remember, that the destination wedding planner is the one who’s going to have to own up to the budget so you should make sure that they’re comfortable with it from the very start.

Bonus Question: Do you prefer to be contacted by phone or e-mail or both?

Most people nowadays prefer to be contacted by e-mail because they have a written record of everything. If your vendor is proficient with e-mail and has a good Internet connection, then you should be comfortable with email being the main form of communication. However, you should insist that an hour long call each month should be included in the contract so you can talk things through. In addition, let the planner know that you expect a response to your e-mails in a timely fashion (one business day is standard). Same rules apply when you leave a voice-mail for them.

Once you’ve gone through the interview, ask yourself if you feel that the planner understood your vision, and whether you felt a good connection with them. Did your personalities jive? Did you feel like they understood what you were looking for?

If your gut says that someone is not right for you, then move onto the next person on your list. A destination wedding planner is someone who will be responsible for your entire wedding, and you don’t want to select somebody who will ruin the most important day in your life.

What should you do next?

Start researching planners that specialize at your wedding location.

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