Using Bridal Consultants or Wedding Planners

Photo: Affordable Wedding Photography

Photo: Affordable Wedding Photography

For the uninitiated, planning a wedding can be a daunting task. Many brides feel overwhelmed and confused by the countless choices before them. If this sounds like you, you may want to hire a bridal consultant.

A bridal consultant is a trained professional hired to make your wedding-day vision a reality. A bridal consultant uses experience, knowledge of the wedding industry, organizational skills, etiquette expertise, and negotiation techniques to deliver your perfect day.

Depending on your needs and budget, you may choose to hire a bridal consultant to assist with every aspect of your wedding, from the planning stages right on through to the last dance. On the other hand, you may just want guidance and assistance with specific details of your wedding or the planning process.

You can request hourly consultations or help with a just specific part of your actual wedding day. You may want a consultant to:

• Understand your personal taste and offer appropriate vendor choices;
• Offer creative, cost-effective alternatives to expensive wedding preferences;
• Scrutinize contract offers and use knowledge of the wedding industry to you;
• Schedule appointments, accompany you to meetings, and review contracts;
• Negotiate with vendors and oversee the full delivery of contracted services;
• Ensure you and your fiancé do not exceed your established budget;
• Serve as a mediator with vendors and family members;
• Provide hands-on assistance throughout the wedding and reception.

Whatever your needs, be specific. An experienced bridal consultant can make sure that your big day goes off without a hitch.

In choosing a bridal consultant, go with someone with whom you feel comfortable, but also make sure your person of choice is a professionally trained consultant. The Association of Bridal Consultants and the National Association of Wedding Planners can provide appropriate referrals. If you do not follow this advice, you risk working with someone who does not have your best interests in mind. In addition, avoid:

• Vendors who claim to offer bridal consultant services. In this case, the bride usually just ends up working with a liaison for a particular vendor. The vendor, not the bride, benefits.

• Consultants who offer free services. Such consultants will often want you to work only with certain vendors—namely, the ones from whom these consultants receive significant vendor commissions.

• Consultants who charge a percentage of your total budget for their services. Obviously, the more this kind of consultant can encourage you to spend, the more the consultant makes. Instead, choose a bridal consultant who offers fixed-price packages catered to your needs or one who charges a flat-rate fee for providing exactly the services you want.

Either way, expect to spend about 10 to 15 percent of your total wedding budget on bridal consultant services. This price may seem steep, but compared to the cost of enduring a stressful engagement period and wedding day, it, indeed, may be priceless.