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Why Hire a Planner and How to Choose One

Why Hire a Planner?

With an average minimum cost of around $30,000 - $35,000 to get married in New Zealand, you want to make sure that you’re really realising your dream wedding, so that the memories aren’t eclipsed by the cost.

Of course there are ways to cut costs by going DIY, but these also usually add stress – i.e. needing to find all of the materials and actually sit down and make 150 or so favours or finding people to clean up after the wedding you’ve held at your family home. A planner will have insights about vendors and relationships that undoubtedly offer benefits to you, the Bride and Groom, saving you money in the long run.

Maybe, it’s not even a matter of finance. You could be a busy working couple who simply doesn’t have the 250 or so hours or so spare that it takes to plan a wedding, or perhaps it’s that you live in New Zealand but want to marry overseas or conversely, you live overseas and wish to marry here in New Zealand, in which case, the local knowledge of an experienced planner is a godsend.

By hiring a wedding planner to take care of the details and liaise with vendors, you’re able to have your vision preserved and eliminate the stress and heartache of compromise. Everything will be ready for your arrival and immersion in this special moment of your lives together.

How to Choose Your Wedding Planner

It seems these days that wedding planners are popping up everywhere in the form of any woman who has planned her own wedding and has decided that serves as enough experience to turn it into a business and while the very occasional exception can be made, the majority of these are not capable of providing the right level of service or to get the kind of supplier discounts one can only obtain through establishing long-term relationships with vendors.

A wedding planner must be highly organised, preemptive to your needs, be able to listen to you and understand exactly what you want with the knowledge and experience to be able to achieve it.

If you meet with a planner who tries to run the show from the get-go leaving you feeling as if you aren't being listened to, tries to charge you upwards of $15,000 for a standard sized wedding or doesn't seem to you as if they have the experience or knowledge to execute your vision (or dream one up of their own), move on.

Your wedding planner - depending on the level of involvement you choose - is going to be your best friend and second in command for the duration of your wedding planning so it's imperative that you find a kinship with your planner that makes you feel at ease, open and listened to. Even with the highest level of full service clients wherein the wedding planner is effectively given free reign so that the bridal couple can simply show up on the day, the planner needs to demonstrate that they respect your budgetary limitations, that they've listened and understood what you envision and give you the feeling that everything can be trusted in their hands.

We've heard so many horror stories from suppliers (and even brides who have left their planners to come to us) about inexperienced wedding planners, especially those who have only planned their own wedding, charging huge amounts for very little input or strugling without the right experience or conversely, being so overbearing and taking over the show, leaving the bride-to-be more stressed than ever.

What to look for:

  • A professional portfolio of weddings - this can be online or in print - basically, you're just looking to see that they're not a one trick pony, that their style matches yours and that they have the experience and evidence of successful execution to be trusted with your wedding
  • Respect in the industry - have your other vendors heard of them? what is their reputation? - it's important that your planner has cultivated relationships with other industry vendors and media and that they're respected for their style, personality and ability.
  • Media coverage - if they're been in the business a while, they should have been featured in some form of media ie spreads in local bridal magazines
  • Website - their website is usually the first impression you have of them - is it professional? organised? do they have samples of their work?
  • 'Fit' - with you and the style of your wedding
  • Authority in the industry
  • Ideas - when you meet with them, they should listen to your ideas and excitedly or passionately come up with complementary ideas of their own.
  • Cost - this varies depending on the level of involvement but they should offer something for all budgets. In New Zealand, unless you're planning to marry overseas and need your wedding coordinated from NZ and including all flights and accommodation for the planner and her assistant, there's no way it should be costing you upwards of $15,000 which we've heard of all too often. $1,500-$2,500 for day of coordination or $4,000-7,000 for full service is more what you should look for on the high end.

For styling only, it'd be a lot cheaper, think around $30-50 per table for a standard ten table centrepiece display or more depending on your table configuration and ceremony styling - if you're looking to replicate Edward and Bella's 'Twilight' wedding ceremony right down to the petal and your stylist is also doing your flowers, that's where it gets costly - mainly in terms of the cost of flowers and the time constructing it all.

Your wedding planner should also be able to offer you a variety of industry discounts via their established relationships and have a concentrated focus on achieveing your vision on the lowest budget possible. While the wedding planners in America (especially those with TV shows) can charge upwards of $100,000 per wedding and encourage dramatic spending on behalf of the bridal couple, in New Zealand, it's unnecessary and wildly out of place. Make sure your planner respects your vision and your budget.

We know there are a lot of options out there and we've heard countless horror stories of brides choosing the wrong one so we wrote this post to help you separate the professionals from the others.

We'd love it if you'd consider Harlow Garland as your planners and stylists of choice, we've been planning and styling weddings for almost 16 years now and with the recent launch of our dedicated florals department, HGBlooms and the impending launch of our online store, we're better able to serve you across the board with a variety of industry discounts, incomparable service and established industry relationships.

At Harlow Garland, there are a wide range of packages to suit any couple, any budget and any style of wedding. After an initial, complimentary consultation where together we will review your vision for the day and lend you our ideas, Harlow Garland will work with you to develop a planning package that best suits your needs and budget.

Contact us now for a free consultation & embrace the experience and the knowledge of a seasoned wedding planner.


A bonus offer - we'll be advertising this offer later this week but we thought we'd let our readers in on it first - if you book a Wedding Day Angel (day-of-coordination) or Full Service package by the 18th of December 2015, you're in with the chance to win a package upgrade! That's up to $7,000 value if you book Wedding Day Angel, winning an upgrade to Full Service or up to $10,000 value if you book Full Service and win an upgrade to The Golden Ticket!