Hiring a full-service wedding planner is like getting a theatrical director to produce and run the show, and manage the details. Wedding planners say they can save clients money by sourcing the best and most reliable suppliers, often at insider prices.

But those skills and connections don’t come cheap. When we asked wedding planners in Boston; Lexington, Ky.; Salt Lake City; and Seattle to plan a reception for $20,000, their fees ranged from $700 for event coordination for one day to a full-service fee of $4,000.

A wedding planner’s value depends on your available time and money. Lyndsey Calico, co-owner of Planned to Perfection of the Bluegrass, in Lexington, Ky., once orchestrated a backyard wedding for a very busy bride whose budget was $6,000. Calico’s cut was $1,000. She acknowledges, though, that her services generally aren’t used for smaller weddings. “I’m a luxury item up there with videographer and favors,” she says.

Full planning services—including help choosing the venue, caterer, color scheme, and florist, among others—can cost thousands of dollars. A number of brides and grooms we interviewed recommended hiring a wedding planner for month-of or day-of coordination services.

Day-of coordination by a wedding planner can cost $500 to about $3,000 and involves, among other tasks, ensuring that all participants and vendors arrive and do their jobs on schedule. Gideon and Erin Emmanuel of New Haven, Conn., saved money by having friends from their church handle day-of coordination for their October 2013 wedding. They gave back by doing the same for another couple in their church. Gideon acknowledges the stresses of the day, a 14-hour marathon, but adds, “That was our gift to them; it was a joy. But it was the craziest day of our shared lives.”


Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the June 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.