How Much Will Your Wedding Planner Cost in 2018?

Planning a wedding takes extraordinary organizational skills, scheduling, selecting, and managing dozens of moving pieces so that the most important day of a bride's life will go exactly as she dreamed. It can be too much for brides that already have full time jobs, which is why so many hire a professional wedding planner to help them make it all happen. However, is it worth the investment?

According to real time wedding quote data captured by Decidio, couples can expect to pay an average of $1,160 for their day of wedding planner in 2018, which is roughly 3.7% of their total budget. This ranks number 10 in terms of cost behind hiring a wedding videographer and ahead of hiring a wedding DJ. You can also click here to see a list of complete wedding costs.

Wedding planners can be expected to charge for their services either by the hour, as a percentage of your total wedding budget, or by a flat fee. Services performed can range from a simple consultation and vendor recommendations to complete negotiation, planning and day of management services. The top professional full service planners can expect to cost over $10,000 or more. However, their relationships and ability to negotiate with vendors and arrive at creative solutions can easily recoup you that much and even more in savings. Continue reading to gain an understanding of how wedding planners charge for their services and how they can benefit you, and if you decide to hire one read some fantastic tips on how you can lower your costs and get the best deal possible!

2018 City and State Averages

The cost of a wedding planner can vary widely, mainly depending on what services you need them to perform. The area you live and month of the year will also affect how much you can expect to pay. Shown below are the average costs for day-of wedding planning services over the past 9-12 months. How does your area compare? *NOTE: The amounts appearing below are updated throughout the year.

The Average Cost of Wedding Planners by State

StatesAverage Cost
USA$1,106
Alabama$1,087
Alaska$1,329
Arizona$1,192
Arkansas$1,005
California$1,431
Colorado$1,229
Connecticut$1,254
Delaware$1,128
District of Columbia$1,410
Florida$1,183
Georgia$1,087
Hawaii$1,295
Idaho$1,024
Illinois$1,256
Indiana$1,087
Iowa$937
Kansas$961
Kentucky$1,067
Louisiana$1,132
Maine$932
Maryland$1,262
Massachusetts$1,239
Michigan$1,163
Minnesota$1,021
Mississippi$1,077
Missouri$985
Montana$985
Nebraska$942
Nevada$1,197
New Hampshire$1,066
New Jersey$1,366
New Mexico$1,038
New York$1,215
North Carolina$1,071
North Dakota$937
Ohio$1,147
Oklahoma$1,102
Oregon$1,147
Pennsylvania$1,092
Rhode Island$1,111
South Carolina$1,110
South Dakota$883
Tennessee$1,055
Texas$1,182
Utah$1,148
Vermont$903
Virginia$1,141
Washington$1,274
West Virginia$985
Wisconsin$1,173
Wyoming$1,205

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What is Included?

Before we break down the various ways that a planner can bill you for their services, it is important to know the different types of wedding planners available to you, such as wedding consultants/coordinators, 'day-of' planners, and full service planners. Learn how the tasks performed and pricing of each differ from the others so you can pick the right one for your needs.

  • Consultants and Coordinators: Are mid-term specialists hired the month before the big day to take over and assist with the logistics running up to and including the event itself. They will make sure that your guest counts are accurate and create a timeline for the day of your event as well as make sure that every detail is addressed as per your signed contracts, all your vendors are still on schedule and are ready for your event. They will not be involved in the original planning or conceptualizing of the event, the selection of vendors, or for the negotiation phase or signing of contracts.

  • 'Day-of' Planners: You've done all the planning, organizing, negotiating, and managing the process for what seems like forever. Fortunately you can take a back seat and enjoy your wedding day by hiring these short term specialists that will make sure everything goes as planned. Just like consultants/coordinators, they will confirm details with all hired vendors, create the event timeline, and manage everything on your behalf. Unlike wedding coordinators that will work on your behalf the month leading up to your wedding, day-of wedding planners will only be available the day of the event.

  • Full Service Planners: Don't have the time, inclination, or confidence to organize your wedding? Full service wedding planners are available to take care of every single detail related to the event from day one. They will handle the logistics and negotiate contracts with your selected vendors to ensure that you stay below budget, and be available the day of your wedding to make sure that your vision has been executed properly. Some may also help with the creative styling and design of your wedding, although this may be for an additional charge.

There are three ways that a wedding planner can charge for their services for the various duties that they perform for their clients (hourly rate/percentage of total budget/flat fee). Keep in mind that the price they charge will likely be higher if your wedding date is close, as the short notice will require them to work longer hours to get things organized and meet your schedule.

  • By the Hour - You and your selected planner will agree on an hourly rate they will charge to help you plan your wedding. Some planners may require a minimum amount of hours, and you can also expect the hourly rate to be based on their experience level, supply and demand factors, and other local market conditions.

  • As a Percentage of Your Wedding Budget - You and your planner will agree on a percentage on the total amount spent on your wedding. Keep in mind that if you wish to go over your original budget for any reason, the amount charged by your planner will also go up.

  • Flat Fee - Wedding planners can charge a flat fee for either full service or partial service or day-of coordination. The fee will be based on the planner working an agreed upon number of hours, with every additional hour worked costing extra per hour.

Key Points to remember:

  • In 2018, the average US couple will pay $1,160, or 3.7% of their wedding budget on hiring a day-of wedding planner.

  • How much you ultimately pay is determined by what area you are located, supply and demand factors, and what type of planner you need (coordinator/day-of planner/full service planner).

  • Your budget and level of need will determine what type of service you should hire. Top full service wedding planners can cost up to $10,000, although they will likely be worth it through the cost savings they negotiate with your selected wedding vendors and money saving ideas derived from their experience in the industry.

  • There are different pricing structures that you and your planner can agree on (hourly/percentage of total budget/flat fee). There are pros and cons for each, so think about your specific needs and total wedding budget to see which way works best for you.

Tips on Saving Money on Your Wedding Planner

You've given some thought to what type of planner you need and are ready to begin interviewing local firms to find the right one for you. Keep your costs in check in ways that you and your selected professional can work with by applying some of the tips below.

  • Most couples don't include the cost associated for a wedding planner in their total budget. If you have the time and inclination to do the job yourself (or to delegate it to a trusted friend) then save thousands by doing it yourself. Keep in mind that most of us get married once, so be sure You've listed your pros and cons of hiring vs not hiring a professional!

  • Honestly assess your needs, strengths and weaknesses can save you big and result in a (relatively) stress free experience. If You're organized and have the time to research and interview vendors as well as negotiate contracts like a boss, then perhaps a coordinator or day-of planner is the best option. If you don't have the time over the next 12 months to plan and execute your huge wedding, or you don't want the stress of negotiating with or managing multiple vendors, then a full service planner may be best for you, especially if they are able to recoup their fees via vendor price breaks and discounts.

  • Choose a planner that you connect with on a personal level and meshes with your personality. If they understand your taste and style they will know what's important to you when interviewing vendors, which will result in finding the right vendors to hire. While this won't necessarily directly result in reducing your costs, it will result in a better experience on your wedding day…and the best experience possible is what this is all about!

  • Ask your prospective planners during the interview process how much time they will be able to devote to your wedding. Also ask about their education level or if they will be attending to other wedding clients the same day as yours. An experienced, full time planner that is up to date on industry trends and will give you their full attention on your wedding day will give you confidence that their fee will be worth it.

  • Although you WANT a wedding consultant that has deep connections with many local vendors, you DON'T want to feel that they are only recommending vendors who are paying them a fee/kickback for bookings. To ensure there are no misunderstandings or potential conflicts of interest, be blunt about asking exactly how that planner structures their fees and if they receive any money/fees from vendors, then make sure that information is included in the final contract.

  • Many venues will provide a day of planner free of charge or for a minimal fee when booking their venue. See if this is option is available for you and save thousands.

  • If their fee is known in advance then ask if you can get a price break if you pay it upfront in cash.

  • Just like with every other vendor you hire, having your wedding on an off season month and day will not only result in price breaks to get your business, but also more personalized attention the day of your wedding (no competing events on the same day).

  • Hire a local wedding planner, as someone from out of the area will charge extra for travel expenses.

  • Don't be shy about asking direct questions and negotiating with your planner, just like you would with any other vendor you would hire. This may result in a small discount or additional hours devoted to your wedding.

During an average engagement period, brides and couples may spend upwards of 150 hours on planning every detail related to their event. Although hiring a wedding planner may net you big savings, brides will agree that the main benefit you will get from these professionals is from the ability to enjoy your wedding instead of stressing over the details for many months on end. They will take the pressure of logistics, vendors and even family members on the big day so that you can focus on what's really important, celebrating your undying love for each other!