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A Wedding Organizer: Do I Need One or Not?

Wedding-OrganizerSome folks say that if a couple's relationship can survive the planning for their wedding, it can survive just about anything. We won't comment on that, but we will point out that statistics show that the average American wedding takes about 250 hours to plan: that's well over a week of solid work. You can expect your fiance to help somewhat, and you can depend on your girlfriends and family to help too, but that still leaves quite a lot for you to do. There are times that you might be tempted to turn everything over to a wedding professional, and depending upon your resources and plans, that might very well be the best thing to do. A wedding organizer -- also known as a wedding planner -- is a businessperson with experience in handling all the many people and myriad details involved with pulling a wedding together. As such, it might be worth handing over a percentage of your wedding budget to them and letting them worry about renting the reception hall and hiring the band.

Your first consideration is whether you can afford a wedding organizer or not. Unless you choose your cousin Veronica, the planner's going to charge you a goodly percentage of your entire budget: 7-20% is not unheard of, and that's estimating from the $27,000 that the average traditional wedding in America supposedly costs. That's not a typo -- it's 27 with three zeros behind it: twenty-seven thousand dollars. That's the kind of money you have to mortgage your house to get, and 7-20% is on the order of $2,000-5,000. And don't think that will be the limit of your outlay: your wedding planner is there to spend the rest of your budget for you, so you can focus on the things that absolutely have to be dealt with by you and your groom. On the upside, a busy, well-experienced wedding planner will probably have special deals with caterers, florists, transportation providers, and other third-party vendors that allow them to acquire those services for prices you couldn't get yourself. So in the end a good wedding organizer will earn his or her keep, just by keeping prices down.

If you simply can't afford a professional organizer to handle your wedding, you can make do with a paper one. Several companies make binder-style organizers that will help you track every little thing you need to keep abreast of, from the budget itself to the kind of hors d'ouvres you plan to serve at the rehearsal. This will cut down on the clutter and help you keep your eyes on the prize, especially if you have a little help from others. Remember those 250 hours or so, and know that if you have to take care of everything alone, you'll probably end up pretty frazzled -- not the best look for your own wedding. Here's a good excuse to drag your hubbie-to-be away from the bachelor party plans and back to what really matters, like the color of your bridesmaids' dresses or whether the cake should be three tiers or four. At the very least, make him address some of the invitations.

Our advice is: if you can afford a wedding organizer, get one. But don't just grab the first Tom, Dick, or Harriet you come across. Grill your wedding organizer candidates mercilessly to determine their experience, credentials, and to get verifiable references (which, of course, you will then proceed to verify). Check to see if they have any particular vendor relationships, because if they do, they can capitalize on them to save you money. Another important factor is their personality: you need a take-charge individual who can get things done, but since you're going to be working with this person consistently on a long-term basis, you need to make sure you have compatible personalities.

If you do decide to go with a wedding organizer, thereby helping yourself and the economy at the same time, there will still be a few tasks you probably shouldn't hand over to them. Your wedding rings, for instance, are something you and your fiance need to pick out together, and of course your attire is also an important subject you should personally spend a lot of time on -- though your wedding consultant would no doubt be willing to help with both, especially if they're getting paid by the hour. On the other hand, it's traditional for the bride to shop for her own wedding dress, and then there's the special thrill associated with finding the ugliest possible dresses for the bridesmaids. If you plan to give gifts to your bridesmaids and Best Man, as some traditions require, of course you'll want to pick them out yourself. In the end, hiring a wedding organizer to do all the big things for you, and to organize the herds of people you've invited, will allow you to take care of these little details in peace -- and you just may decide it's the best wedding purchase you've made.
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