If you’ve made appointments to talk with 14 weddings planners, you’re doing it wrong.

chicago wedding planner

Kelley Kohler of Haviland Events & Jen Henderson of A Fresh Event drinking wine and laughing hysterically because that’s how we do. Photo by Metts Photo

Jen: When Kelley Kohler, owner of Haviland Events, and I got together a few weeks ago for drinks, we started talking about our jobs (because that’s pretty much all we talk about). One of the topics that came up was how we could make it easier for couples to find their dream planners.

chicago wedding planner

Jen Henderson of A Fresh Event Photo by Metts Photo

Kelley: You see, though Jen and I are event planners and friends, we couldn’t be more different when it comes to whom we love working with—my clients love the traditions that come with getting married and tabletop design (bonus points if they want both), while Jen’s couples tend to show off their great taste while still giving everyone a sneak peek into their quirky side. Knowing that not all planners are the same and that you can’t compare them like apples to apples is important.

chicago wedding planner

Kelley Kohler of Haviland Events Photo by Metts Photo

So, how do you find a planner? Below are some steps we suggest you take when you’re on your journey to finding the planner/coordinator of your dreams. We hope this will help make the process easy breezy. Because, even before you start working with us, we want every step of your planning process to be enjoyable. Also, enjoy a bunch of hilarious photos of Kelley and Jen being, well, themselves.

chicago wedding planners

Photo by Metts Photo

1. Ask for Recommendations

Chances are, if you freaking love your photographer, and your photographer has mad love for a certain planner, you’ll probably love that planner too. Or, contact your venue and see who they work with most often. Just starting the planning process and don’t have your venue booked? Check in with friends who have recently gotten married and see if they worked with someone they really enjoyed. Getting recommendations from people you already trust and have invested in is a great place to get started.

2. Stalk the Heck Out of Them

Oh, don’t act like you don’t Facebook stalk—now put those sleuthing skills to the test. Go to their website (and read their bios!), visit their Facebook, peruse their Instagram. Get a feel for them, their styles and the weddings they’ve worked on. We spend a lot of time working on all this stuff, so please poke around a bit.

3. Do You Feel Connected?

Even after spending just a few minutes on the planner’s website and social media (Instagram is our favorite!), your interest should be piqued. Of course you’ll want to talk with them or meet them in person before making a decision, but you should be able to narrow it down to two or three you feel you have the most in common with and are excited to learn more about.

4. Get a Date in the Books

Most planners will have a form on their website for you to fill out to get in touch with them. It’s really helpful if you fill out this form, so that we can best prepare for our phone meeting with you. You should receive a response within 48 hours to get an appointment on the calendar.

chicago wedding planners

Photo by Metts Photo

5. Let’s Chat

Yay, we have a phone date. Believe me, we are as excited about this as you are! We’ll probably be asking the majority of the questions, so you get to sit back and simply talk about your big day. It’s important for us to learn more about the two of you and what part of the planning process you’re in so that we can get a general idea of your planning needs. Tell us why you want to hire a planner and what you’re most concerned about—don’t be afraid to let it all out! This phone call should be enjoyable for you! You should like talking to the planner and feel comfortable. If you don’t, this might be a sign that you haven’t found “the one.”

What You Don’t Need to Ask:

  • If we’ve worked in your venue. I mean, you can ask this, of course, but it doesn’t really matter if we’ve worked in the venue before. It doesn’t have an impact on the level of service you’ll receive or how well we execute your wedding day.
  • If we know who your photographer/florist/band is. Chicago is FULL of amazing talent, and it would be impossible to know everyone. We’re comfortable working with new professionals. In fact, it can be really fun!
  • If we’ll come down in pricing or meet the pricing of some other planners you’ve spoken with. Customization is definitely an option, but asking for a flat-out discount is not cool. We spend a lot of time putting together our planning packages, and the investment is a reflection of our expertise and the level of service you will receive.

6. Let’s Talk $$$…

Chicago is the fourth most expensive U.S. city in which to host your wedding, and it is filled with many amazing, extremely talented wedding professionals. For coordination you should expect to invest $2,200–$3,000+; for partial planning $3,700–$5,000+; and for full planning $7,000–$10,000 or more. We don’t mean to brag, but many of our couples have said that hiring us was the best investment they made into their day—just some food for thought!

7. Decision Time

This is best done by just the two of you, but we also know that a lot of amazing moms and dads are helping in the planning process too. So, talk through it with all of your major planning players, and make sure you feel a strong connection with whomever it is you’re looking to add to your team. If the phone meeting went well but you’re still not sure, meeting in person can be helpful, so let’s set up a time for coffee.

8. It’s OK to Say No

We get it. We might not be the best for you, and that’s OK. At the end of the day, we just want every couple to be happy with all the decisions they make about their wedding. But, could you help us and just let us know? We get excited about the opportunity of working together and put a lot of time into crafting your proposals, so if you ain’t feeling it, just shoot us an email to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

9. But We Hope You Say Yes

We believe there is a planner out there for every couple, and we hope you’ll choose us for your day! Our advice is to take a little more time on the researching end (asking for recommendations and exploring websites/social media) so that the rest of the process is a little more streamlined. And, please, please, please be sure to hire someone you like! We promise you, it will make the planner/couple relationship so much more awesome if you actually like each other.

chicago engagement photos

And, last but not least, our engagement photo! Photo by Metts Photo

To learn more about working with A Fresh Event, head here!

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