In many respects, yes, but you might need to qualify it. Planners have longstanding relationships with vendors who often provide them with discounts, depending on the season. “If we get discounts we pass them on to our clients,” Prosser says.
A good planner will review your vendor contracts to look for problems. Fitzpatrick recalls the client who attempted to cut costs with a caterer but wound up removing the breakdown service from the contract. A busy venue, such as a museum, won’t tolerate dirty plates or glasses lingering in the space when more weddings are scheduled, and few brides want to clean up in their wedding dresses.
Bailey remembers the caterer who was charging a per-person fee for coffee at an outdoor beach wedding. Since not everyone would drink coffee, they cut back. Ditto for the client who was going to pay $12 per person for cheese and fruit for 200. “That’s a lot of money for a cocktail hour,” she says. They reduced the count. When the cheese ran out, it ran out. There was more food to come.
Fitzpatrick, who handled events when she was with ING Direct, can quickly spot critical details the layman can overlook. Take the bride who told Fitzpatrick that a friend with a restaurant would handle food. “What does he know about catering?” Fitzpatrick asked the bride. “Does he have the staff? How will the food be presented? Will he provide utensils: forks, knives, spoons? Are there enough?”
Planners can also find ways to save money. At a reception held in a field, for instance, guests can dine off sturdy yet elegant paper plates but use traditional silverware, Fitzpatrick says. Instead of having a caterer bring rented chairs and tables, which a caterer will mark up, she might recommend going directly to the rental company.
If hotel rooms are involved, a planner can negotiate room rates and perks such as a complimentary suite for the parents or a hospitality room. “There are all these things that the average person doesn’t know to ask,” Fitzpatrick says.
Planners can also offer do-it-yourself tips to save money. For Tessa Shoup’s wedding, Burgess plans to collect her backyard tree branches for centerpieces.
“Having a wedding planner is a small price to pay for a worry-free wedding day,” says Shoup.
» For more Pros and Cons of Hiring a Wedding Planner, click here.