Deciding to hire a San Diego wedding planner or event planner is an important step in the process of planning your dream wedding. A wedding planner can help coordinate all the details, provide access to exclusive vendors, manage your budget, and even save you money in the long run. When selecting a planner, it’s important to find someone who is knowledgeable, experienced, and understands exactly what you and your partner want for your special day. To help make this decision easier, we’ve compiled a list of tips for how to choose the right San Diego wedding planner for your day.
1. Be Prepared
Before you begin your search, it’s best to decide on the basics of what you’re looking for. Researching online and reaching out via direct messages are great ways to find the perfect fit, but without an idea of what you want, it can be hard to move forward. Take some time to figure out these essentials before diving into the internet/Instagram rabbit hole. Once you have a clearer picture of your needs and expectations, finding the right match is much easier!
Prioritize your planning process by starting with these fundamentals:
A. Guest Count Estimate
Crafting your perfect wedding day is a balancing act between your head (finances) and your heart (guest list). For any San Diego event planner to help turn your vision into reality, one vital piece of information they need upfront is the anticipated guest count. Though larger weddings may appear grander at first glance, their price tag can easily become exorbitant. It’s essential to factor in just how much more it will cost to expand your guest list before committing yourself financially. It ultimately it comes down to what feels best for you as a couple.
Alternatively, having a smaller wedding can allow couples to focus on adding personal touches while still staying within budget. When your guest list is more limited, it makes it easier to create a unique and meaningful celebration that reflects the couple’s tastes and style. Keep in mind that a wedding of 50 guests with a budget of 60k is a very different celebration than one with 200 people for the same cost.
PRO TIP: Having an initial list at hand – categorized into “definite” and “potential” attendees- can benefit both you and your wedding planner immensely when budgeting for the big day. This will provide an understanding of whether or not your desired event can fit within your budgetary constraints. Planning your guest list well in advance also offers flexibility in terms of reception size should numbers shift unexpectedly closer to the date.
B. Scope of Service
Planners can help you with as much or as little as you want. Consider how much time you and your partner will want to dedicate to planning. If spending your evenings after work and sometimes a Saturday or Sunday seems daunting, it is! It’s no wonder so many couples sneak in wedding planning at work. The average time spent planning a wedding is currently 550+ hours for a 12-month engagement. (For 2022 the average engagement period is 15 months) That’s 10-12 hours per week for 52 weeks after your full-time job.
San Diego event planners have a variety of services that you can select. No two planners work the same way or offer the same services, so keep that in mind when comparing companies. Some offer day-of, and month-of event management, while others focus on planning for an extended period of time over the course of your engagement. Our most popular collection includes our partial planning and design. Figure out how much of your time you’re willing to sacrifice for the wedding. If it turns out that you need more help than you expected be sure to ask if there are options to add more service BEFORE you select a planner.
If you’re interested in full-service planning, including design and day-of services, contract negotiation, and logistical oversight—a planner who offers a full-service package may be your best bet. They can help you create a cohesive look and design for your event from start to finish while alleviating stress and saving you hundreds of hours. From helping negotiate contracts to overseeing day-of logistics, this kind of planner serves as a reliable quarterback for all aspects – even welcome and after parties! While the cost may be higher than just relying on someone for the day-of logistics, it’s often worth the price.
At its core, partial planning services are designed to help couples who want to plan their own wedding but need consistent support along the way. From vendor referrals and contracts to detailed timelines and floor plans, San Diego event planners help negotiate better deals and create a budget that meets your needs. Some planners also attend a site visit for you to visualize where everything is going and identify potential problems before they arise.
If you’re confident in your own design and concept skills, but need a helping hand on the actual day of the wedding, then consider bringing in a month-of coordinator. They won’t get involved in any of the planning before your big day, but are typically brought in during the final weeks for logistics, vendor arrivals, deliveries, and setting up the ceremony and reception. A day-of coordinator is like a soldier that will ensure everything runs according to plan.
PRO TIP: If you’re getting married at a hotel, resort, country club or traditional event space, an in-house wedding planner may be offered to you. They are typically less involved than an independent planner, but their intimate knowledge of the venue and its capabilities can be very beneficial throughout the planning process. From basic room layout and design to overseeing day-of logistics like setting tables and sound checks with your band or DJ – they will be there every step of the way. However, keep in mind that they won’t help with planning that extends beyond the venue itself such as wedding invitations or dress appointments.
While it’s not required to provide an exact budget, it’s helpful to have a general idea of how much you are willing to spend on your wedding. According to estimates, the average cost of a San Diego wedding for 100 guests in 2022 was between $36,000-$38,000. This is higher than the national average of $28,000 yet still less than states like New York and New Jersey where weddings cost upwards of $48,000. Knowing ahead of time what your budget looks like can help narrow down your options and ensure you don’t overspend. Read this post to learn more about how to properly set a budget and adhere to it.
2. Know Thyself- Define Your Wedding Vision
It’s important to decide what look and feel you want for your big day. Are you interested in a beach celebration or a big party in the mountains? Is your color palette flexible? Do you need a six-course menu? Your wedding planner should understand the basics of your vision so that they can help bring it to life. Do some research beforehand by checking out magazines, social media accounts, and even Pinterest boards for inspiration. Have a general vibe or theme in mind so that your wedding planner knows what to look for when picking vendors, décor, and activities for your special day. If you need some help starting your San Diego wedding venue search, check out this article.
PRO TIP: If you are unsure of your venue, remain flexible on your vision, including your color palette. A beautifully designed venue might not need as many florals or rentals, which can directly affect your bottom line. Choosing a venue that already matches the aesthetic of your wedding can often be much more cost-effective than settling for a space and having to pay extra to transform it. For instance, hosting an outdoor wedding at a winery is likely to be significantly cheaper than booking a hotel ballroom and attempting to make it look like a winery.
3. Research San Diego Wedding Planners On Your Own
Look for reviews and ratings on Google and The Knot. Follow these leads and review their subsequent websites to learn about their services. Check out portfolios of past events they have worked on. Does their past work match your vision? This will give you a better idea of what the wedding planner is capable of and if they are the right fit for your needs.
4. San Diego Wedding Planner’s Values
When choosing a San Diego event planner, it’s important to find somebody whose values align with yours, as well as someone who has the experience and a strong reputation in the industry. Does the planner specialize in garden weddings only, or does their portfolio showcase a wide variety of landscapes?
It’s important to remember that, in the end, the planner you choose needs to be someone whose work and personality mesh with your vibe and the aesthetic of your wedding. It’s important to like the person you’re working with first and foremost.
Check references and portfolio samples. Before making a decision, ask for references from previous clients and review samples of their work if possible. If a San Diego wedding planner has the portfolio and references you’re looking for, then you can be confident they are up to the task. You should also read any reviews or testimonials that previous clients have provided. This will give you a clearer understanding of what it’s like to work with them and how satisfied their previous clients have been.
5. A Little Help from My Friends
If someone in your circle has recently married, ask them who their San Diego event planner was. Not only will this help you get an honest opinion on the San Diego wedding planner’s capabilities, but it can also save you time in researching potential candidates yourself. Keep in mind that a glowing review from a friend of yours might mean something different to you if your values are not aligned. For example, if your friend was going for a completely different look to her wedding approach. The bottom line, ask for referrals. If your friend loved their vendor, consider contacting them after you review their website.
6. Meet Up With Your Favorite San Diego Wedding Planners
When it comes to planning such an important occasion, the personal connection you make with your San Diego wedding planner is paramount. Whether virtually or in person, meeting with potential planners allows both parties to gain insight into each other’s communication styles and understandings of expectations – ultimately forming an invaluable foundation for success. As important as email is throughout this process, don’t underestimate the power of conversation; after all, you will likely spend over a year side-by-side working together.
Money and contracts should be a major part of the discussion when it comes to wedding planners. The payment structures can vary, with some working on a flat rate to produce the wedding and others charging a commission of 10-30% on the final cost of the wedding.
With the impact of the pandemic on the wedding industry, couples should inquire about any financial penalties that may be incurred if they have to reschedule or cancel their event. In addition, they should ask if the planner has personal liability and professional indemnity as a business, and understand Force Majeure—which defines liability for both parties in major occurrences beyond either party’s control.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right San Diego wedding planner is essential to having a successful and stress-free wedding. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to start. The first step is to research different wedding planners in your area and read reviews from past clients. You should also consider the type of services each planner offers, as well as their budget and experience level. Once you have narrowed down your list, contact each planner for an initial consultation and ask questions about their process, timeline, and any additional fees they may charge. Finally, make sure that you feel comfortable with the person you choose and trust them to help create your dream wedding day. If you’re interested in one of our custom planning packages, please contact us.