Wedding planners make around $40k-$50k a year on average. On the higher end, wedding planners in our part of the world (Silicon Valley) rake in about $10k per wedding and may plan as many as 30 weddings in a year. So…a bit more than average. Because they typically work for themselves, wedding planners get to determine how much they charge for the planning. However, clients are generally given three different levels of service: Comprehensive, Partial, and Day-of.
Comprehensive service means that the planner organizes the majority of the event. In this service tier, the planner will do everything from ordering the engagement announcement stationary to organizing the morning-after-the-wedding brunch. Planners charge 10-30% of the overall budget of the wedding. The average cost of a full-blown wedding is about $26k (that visit to the City Clerk's Office is sounding more appealing right about now, eh?), which means wedding planners make at least $2,600 a wedding. Oftentimes, couples will choose this package because planners have deals with vendors that reduce the cost of the wedding, which means they may actually be spending less in the long run anyway. Also, a lot of couples do not have the time it takes to deal with all the details. It takes a wedding planner at least 100 hours to plan for and organize a single wedding. When you break it down like that, a wedding planner makes at least $26 dollars an hour.
The Partial service tier means that the client delegates certain responsibilities to the wedding planner while handling the rest. For example, a bride may not need to have her hand held when trying on gowns, but wants the planner to decorate the reception venue. While it requires less of their time and effort, planners still love to see a smile on the bride's face on the day of her wedding. Even if they are only responsible for roughly half of that toothy grin.
Did someone say "cheese?"
Day-of service can occur a couple of days before the wedding or on only the wedding day. Planners organize caterers, accept florist deliveries, place nametags on tables, and handle any problems that may arise. If a button falls off a tux, the wedding planner's job is to sew it back on, or at least find someone who can. This can be a higher-stress situation than it may seem, however—on a wedding day, everything is amplified. A groom who has lost a button is liable to react as if he just lost a kidney. Well, you're the one who has to perform the impromptu operation.
Not every wedding planner goes rogue (works for themselves). Some wedding planners work for larger event coordinating companies, hotels, resorts, venues, catering companies, or wedding planning agencies. If you work for yours truly, get ready to market the heck out of yourself. The wedding industry is a small world, but it is important to make the right connections in order to get recommended. In fact, many vendors and venues only work with certain wedding planners. It is an "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" type of a world. There is a whole lot of scratching going on. It's like someone poured flea powder down the backs of our collective shirts.