Elegant reception tables with gold chairs, floral centerpieces, and candlelight at the Blackstone Hotel, featuring lush overhead arrangements. Designed by Chicago wedding planner Savoir Fête.

What to Expect from a Full-Service Wedding Planner

What to Expect from a Full-Service Wedding Planner

Wedding planning is an exciting time in a couple’s life, but we know as well as anyone that when starting the process, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities and the ever-growing pile of to-dos. Like many complex, unique undertakings in life, enlisting an expert for guidance along the way makes perfect sense. However, “planning” can be a catch-all term for many types of services, and it’s essential that when hiring a planner, a couple understands precisely what they are looking for and how any potential planner could fill those needs.

Savoir Fête specializes in full-service planning for weddings and milestone celebrations. The next question could be: What does that even mean? Well, our jobs hinge on clarity and precision, so we’ll take a moment to outline exactly what couples should expect from a full-service planner and the benefits to their experience throughout the whole process.

The Essentials

Every planner has their own working style, but there are some baseline expectations couples should expect. Firstly, your planner should be the point person for all vendor communication. That’s not to say that you won’t have a relationship with your vendors; in fact, your planner should facilitate you getting to know each other as much as you’d like. Full-service planners and vendors will collaborate directly on the logistics and details, looping in the couple for only essential questions and presenting a final plan. You are most certainly “planning” your wedding even with a planner on board, but what you are not doing is fielding the literal hundreds of emails or hours of administrative work that go into every event.

Full-service planners are experts in event execution and will put their total weight behind fewer events per year than professionals working in a limited capacity. Even if you are working with more than one person on a team, you should be familiar with and completely trust the people who are actually producing your wedding weekend. Building a trusting relationship is paramount to your wedding weekend experience, and a great planner will instill that trust in you from day one.

The Power of Foresight

Bringing a full-service planner onboard before any other vendor is locked actually gives you a superpower: the power of foresight. Even if you know that you’re excited about being highly involved in planning, you’ll want to be confident that your event experience will meet your expectations and limit the potential for disappointment or unpleasant surprises along the way.

To gain this kind of clarity on a one-of-a-kind occasion, you’ll need to lean on the expertise of someone who has taken the time to get to know you, your style, and your priorities. You won’t find this assurance through someone working through a process with templated budget advice or a limited vendor list; you’ll need to seek the opinion of someone who has a holistic understanding of your individual situation.

Personalized Process

While there is undoubtedly a place for structure in a planning process, a full-service planner will curate every couple’s journey in a way that makes sense for them. A planner should be equal parts project manager and concierge, both running the show in terms of when and how things get done and adapting to the needs of every couple and event. There’s no “one size fits all” in this type of planning, and while there is certainly quite a bit that needs to happen to result in a day that feels effortless, you should never feel like there is too much on your plate, that a ball is being dropped, or that you don’t know what’s happening next.

Experiential and holistic design

Every planner differs in how they handle the design of their events: even with full-service offerings, you’ll find a range from planners acting as “creative directors” who enlist a separate designer, to planners that execute design and production in-house, and everything in between. However, with a uniquely holistic view of your event, planners can dream up the little details and fine touches that elevate an event to something truly extraordinary.

Designing an event can be so much more than color palettes and flowers: when we design, we’re curating interactive musical moments, bridging the stationer and the caterer for a cohesive design on the food presentation, curating delightful welcome gifts, and of course collaborating with the photo and video teams to be sure they capture your memories to their best advantage. Instead of copying the latest trend or choosing from a menu of “creative” ideas, once we get to know you as well as we do, we can devise an event that feels innately personal and wholly unique.

The Bottom Line

Said most succinctly: full-service planning is the best fit for someone who wants to put their wedding in the hands of an expert. Whether that’s because of balancing a hectic schedule, navigating an out-of-town planning process, narrowing down your boundless creative ideas, or just wanting the reassurance that nothing will is left to chance, this type of planning experience is designed to leave you feeling confident in your decision-making and to give you back those weeknights together to savor every moment of this special time in your relationship.

To that end, couples should be prepared to invest 10-20% of their budget into a full-service wedding planner. There are many different structures to this pricing, but more often than not, a planner’s fee will scale with the scope of the event, hence the percentage estimate rather than a specific number. Where you may fall on the 10-20% scale depends on several factors: if the wedding is hosted at a venue or a private property, your overall guest count, or how many days of events are invovled, to name a few. Your planner should not shy away from having clear and candid conversations about your budget from day one, and should be responsible for tracking spending and updating the overall estimates during the process.

If full-service planning sounds like a fit for you, or if you need any more clarity about what you think you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. The first step of working together is always a discovery call where we make sure we are aligned on these exact questions and that the foundations of trust are there from the get-go, so we can ensure that you enjoy all of the exciting parts of planning while we create something extraordinary together.

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