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Wedding Planning Timeline – When to Hire a Planner

I recently came across this timeline from The Knot, which indicates the average length of time before the wedding that brides book various items for their weddings. Now, as a wedding planner, I have a thing or two to say about where the planner category is ranking in the timeline.

There have been several times when I’ve met with a couple who has followed this timeline exactly — They’ve booked their venue, they’ve purchased a gown, they maybe have a photographer (or at least have it narrowed down to one or two), and now they are starting the search for a wedding planner. Now, here’s the problem….

Sometimes these same sweet and well-intentioned couples haven’t figured out their overall budget yet… even though they’ve already spent a big chunk of it. Or if they have figured out an overall budget, they haven’t taken that big budget number and broken it out into smaller categories (venue, catering, videographer, etc.) to figure out how much they have to spend in each area. One of my jobs as a wedding planner is to assist with budget allocation, so if I’m involved in the process after all the big budget items have been committed to, it’s sometimes a big (and usually not pleasant) reality check when I take the budget and determine that they in fact have spent too large of a chunk in one area and now don’t have money remaining for things they really want, but put farther down on their to do list – like a band, upgraded linens, lighting, or even a substantial amount of food!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know hiring a wedding planner will not be on the top of everyone’s priority list, but for those couples that aren’t extremely budget savvy, or just don’t have a good feel for how much things cost when planning a wedding, hiring a planner earlier in the process can certainly save a lot of heartache (and budgets) in the long run.

For more of my rantings about how important it is to figure out your budget numbers, check out this post (What To Do Before You Spend a Penny on Your Wedding) that I wrote back in 2011 talking about the importance of breaking out your budget.


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  • Sara McDowMarch 19, 2013 - 8:04 am

    The sooner, the better! Having your input on the venue – especially in regards the size and budget – was critical for us. There were so many “little things” to consider as part of the contract and pricing that we may have otherwise missed.

    My advice? Make “hiring a planner” task #1!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly | Hitched EventsMarch 19, 2013 - 11:00 am

    Great advice, Sara!ReplyCancel