What makes a good wedding planner?

In a world full of Pinterest boards, Excel spreadsheets and phone calls to vendors, a wedding planner is someone who can help you stay organized, on task and on budget. From the smallest details to the biggest, the job of a professional wedding planner includes:

Meeting with clients to discuss their options for planning their special day, including venue size and capacity, music choices, catering, entertainment, etc. Identifying, hiring and contracting vendors (florists, bakers, photographers, DJs) and negotiating terms. Coordinating and overseeing the preparation of invitations, RSVPs and other wedding-related documents. Developing detailed timelines and checklists that ensure each element of the wedding will take place in a timely manner.

Creating and managing the couple’s wedding budget. Recommending vendors that align with their vision and budget. Designing a cohesive wedding style, including menus, tablescapes, favors and floral arrangements. Designing, ordering and printing invitations, programs, place cards, and other wedding-related documents. Arranging the delivery and set-up of all vendor equipment and supplies, ensuring they arrive at the wedding venue on time. Ensuring that the wedding ceremony, photos, food and beverages, toasts, cake cutting, first dance and departure from the venue occur in the contracted time.

A successful wedding planner has excellent customer¬†their website service, organizational and time management skills. They also have creative problem-solving abilities, which is especially important when faced with unforeseen challenges on the wedding day. Many wedding planners have a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or event management, and certification through the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners is preferred.

The average salary for a wedding planner varies by location. Those who work in major cities, like New York or Los Angeles, tend to make more money than those who work in smaller towns. The salary of a wedding planner can also increase as they gain experience. Michelle Rago, owner of Michelle Rago Destinations, is a wedding planner who has worked in the industry for more than 25 years and has planned over 800 weddings. She credits her extensive hospitality background for her success in this highly competitive field. She studied at the New York Restaurant School, worked in hotel sales and owned her own flower business before becoming a wedding planner. She now specializes in destination weddings. She says that her diverse background has helped her to “develop a more holistic approach to producing with an emphasis on design, food and beverage and service.” This unique perspective allows her to help brides and grooms plan the perfect wedding for them. She also recommends that brides and grooms look for a wedding planner who “speaks their language.” For example, she notes that a well-meaning mom may be unable to provide helpful input about bridal shower ideas because they have different styles and perspectives. The same is true of other family members who may have competing priorities.