By Debbie Miller with Sunshine Events by Debbie

So, you’re engaged! Now comes the task of hiring a staff of professionals that can make all your dreams come true and most importantly, stay within your budget. With a seemingly endless amount of choices and vendors, the right decisions can make or break your big day. Have no fear! A professional planner can help you maneuver the wonderful world of wedding vendors and ensure that you are getting a staff of professionals that are licensed, insured, and experienced. When a wedding planner/ coordinator is hired, he or she works in your best interest and is able to weed out the hobbyists and professionals that have given up on perfection, leading you to the top vendors within your budget. The coordinator should also be able to provide you with a list of questions specifically tailored for each vendor to ensure you are getting what’s most important to you.

Virginia Ashley Photography

Now, how do you pick the perfect planner/ coordinator? Here are some questions to get you on the right track:

What services do you offer?
Day-Of Coordination, Full Planning, Partial Planning, A La Carte Planning, Theme and Style Assistance, Design Assistance, Decorating? This can be confusing and most couples already have an idea of how they want their day to go. Day-Of Coordination is the most common and can help those that just need assistance cultivating their vision on the wedding day. Be sure to ask what specific services are offered for Day-Of Coordination. Full planning can be helpful to those that have no idea where to start and need a helping hand every step of the way. Ask if budget assistance, vendor meetings, and contract reviews are included. Also find out what other services are offered such as favor assembly, putting together guest bags for out of town guests, save-the-date and invitation addressing, handling RSVP’s, and website management to name a few.

Sarah and Dave Photography

How many weddings have you planned and how many years have you been in business?
Are you on a preferred list at any venue or with any other vendors? Some vendors offer discounts to those on their preferred list. However, you will still want to interview them to make sure they are a nice fit for you.

What are your fees?
Package pricing varies widely among planners. It is suggested that planners should represent about 15% of your budget, but that does not mean a less expensive planner is sub-par or that a higher priced one won’t let you down. Find out what is covered in the fee, how it is calculated, and if there are any additional costs for things such as traveling, impromptu meetings/phone calls, etc. Also, be sure to ask if setup and breakdown of the ceremony and venue are included.


Are you licensed? Insured? Certified?
Obtain a copy of the vendor’s license and have the policyholder send you a copy of their insurance. Also, discover if they have any certifications and are a part of any industry organizations.

Could you provide references?
Get them from both recent brides and vendors! Contact them and ask questions.

How many people are on your staff?
It is important to know how many people will be assisting on the day of and if you will be dealing with more than one person throughout the planning process.


  • Will there be other weddings or events on your day?
  • What happens if you are sick on our wedding date? Is there a backup plan in case of an emergency?
  • How do you handle pressure, day-of mishaps, unfriendly or unprofessional guest/ vendor/family conflicts?
  • Will you create our Day-Of timeline and how do you keep vendors and VIPs on the same page throughout the day?

Managing vendors and the wedding party should be a part of any Day-Of package and communication is KEY. Ask about the communication process!

Debbie Miller is the owner of Sunshine Events by Debbie, a full-service wedding and event planning company. To learn more about how Debbie can help with your pre AND post-wedding tasks, please visit