Everything you need to ask before planning your dream wedding in New Jersey

Planning the perfect New Jersey wedding is like orchestrating a grand symphony, but instead of violins and cellos, you’ve got flowers, dresses, and the occasional relative who thinks they’re the conductor. It’s exciting, but it’s also overwhelming because it can make you feel like you’re juggling flaming torches while spinning fine china plates at the same time. Phew! 

Enter the wedding planner, your personal fairy godmother (or godfather) who will help turn your dream into reality without you losing your sanity. But to make the most of their magical powers, you need to ask exactly the right questions. Take a look at some of the key things to ask your wedding planner so you can be sure your wedding is as amazing as you’ve always imagined.

Key questions for your wedding planner

Wedding invitations on gold notebook.
Photo by micheile henderson on Unsplash

1. What services do you offer?

When choosing a wedding planner, make sure you know the full scope of services that different individuals provide. Are they handling everything from venue selection to the final toast or just certain aspects of your big day? Knowing this will help you determine if they meet your needs.

2. How many New Jersey weddings have you planned?

Experience matters. A seasoned planner has seen it all and can handle any hiccup that comes up. Knowing a planner’s experience level can give you confidence in their ability to manage your event—and it’s also important to choose a planner who’s an insider in the NJ wedding world.

3. Can you work within my budget?

Ensure that they can help you plan a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank. Discussing budget constraints upfront prevents misunderstandings and ensures that your planner can deliver your vision cost-effectively (our guide to the Average Cost of a Wedding in New Jersey is a good starting point).

4. What is your fee structure?

Understand if your planner charges a flat fee, a percentage of your budget, or an hourly rate. Knowing this helps you plan your expenses and avoid any hair-raising surprise charges later on.

5. Have you worked at my New Jersey venue before?

Knowledge is power in the nuptials game—and familiarity with NJ wedding venues like Il Tulipano is a big plus. An experienced planner will know the ins and outs of your venue, and how to make the most of the space. This can lead to a smoother planning process and better use of your chosen celebration destination.

6. Can you provide references or reviews?

Hearing from past brides can give you peace of mind about a planner’s skills and reliability. References and reviews offer insights into important components like work ethic and client satisfaction.

7. Can you assist with getting a marriage license in New Jersey?

It’s crucial to get your paperwork in place before you start planning which canapes you’ll be serving during cocktail hour, or choosing your dream gown to glide down the aisle in. So ask your wedding planner if they can help you with filing your New Jersey marriage license application correctly so that it all goes smoothly with zero hiccups.

8. How do you handle vendor payments?

Some wedding planners handle this for you (whoop!), which can simplify things significantly. Knowing this helps you understand if you’ll need to manage payments or if they’ll take care of it.

9. Do you have a preferred New Jersey vendor list?

You want a wedding planner who has the best New Jersey connections. That’s because preferred wedding vendors, such as photographers and florists, can often provide discounts and are usually reliable, as they’ve been vetted by your planner. This can save you time and potentially reduce costs (check out our guide to How Much Does A Wedding Photographer Cost?).

10. How do you handle unexpected changes in ‌guest count?

Guest counts can fluctuate leading up to the wedding day. Your planner should have strategies in place to accommodate both increases and decreases in guest numbers, ensuring that all arrangements remain seamless and within budget.

11. Will you be there on the wedding day?

Ensure that your planner, not an assistant, will be there to coordinate everything on the big day. Their presence is crucial for smooth execution and handling any issues that arise. Knowing that your magical superhero wedding planner is busy monitoring things in the background will help you to breathe easy during your celebration.

12. How do you handle last-minute changes or emergencies?

Understandably, you want your wedding planner to tell you that they can keep calm and carry on no matter what happens. But hold up there—that in itself is not enough. Get down to the nitty-gritty with your questions—so don’t just ask them if they can handle emergencies, ask them specifically how they handle emergencies. What’s their contingency when plan A suddenly goes awry? 

13. What is your planning style?

Make sure their wedding planning style matches your needs. Are they super organized and detail-oriented, or more laidback? Do they like to go with the flow and adapt, or do they prefer to nail everything down early? Their approach should fit with your expectations and preferences.

14. How do you communicate with your clients?

Find out if they prefer emails, texts, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. Effective communication is key to ensuring a smooth planning process and addressing concerns promptly. After all, you don’t want your planner to go AWOL when you’re having a last-minute jittery meltdown.

15. How often will we meet during the planning process?

Regular meetings are essential to ensure everything is on track and to address any questions or concerns. So establish a meeting schedule that works for everyone.

16. Can you assist with wedding insurance?

Wedding insurance can cover various unforeseen issues, from vendor no-shows to severe weather. Ask your planner if they can guide you through the process of selecting and purchasing the appropriate insurance coverage for your event.

17. Can you help with design and decor?

Some planners are also visual whizz kids and can help bring your ideal wedding vision to life. If you need assistance with aesthetics, ensure they have the creativity and resources to deliver (check out our Tried-And-Tested Wedding Decor Checklist).

18. What’s the backup plan for outdoor events?

Even if you’re getting married in the New Jersey summer, always have a Plan B in case lightning strikes (literally) at exactly the wrong moment. Ensure your planner has a solid contingency plan to handle unexpected weather changes seamlessly (check out our 13 Best Outdoor Wedding Venues in New Jersey).

19. How do you handle family dynamics?

Let’s be real here—weddings can bring out the best and worst in people. A good planner knows how to manage tricky family situations diplomatically, whether it’s your future-mom-in-law being a control freak, or your sister throwing a last-minute hissy fit over her lipstick shade.

20. What’s your cancellation policy?

Understand the terms in case you need to change or (heaven forbid!) cancel your plans. Knowing this upfront helps you avoid unexpected financial penalties and logistical issues.

21. How will you manage the timeline of my wedding day?

A good planner creates a detailed timeline to ensure everything happens when it’s supposed to. Make sure that they have a comprehensive schedule in place to cover all key events and transitions.

22. How will you handle accessibility needs for guests?

A good wedding should be inclusive, so ensuring your venue accommodates guests with disabilities is crucial. Your planner should have experience in managing accessibility needs, from seating arrangements to transportation, to ensure all guests can comfortably enjoy your celebration.

23. Can you help with travel arrangements for guests?

This can be super helpful if you have lots of out-of-town guests. Your planner can assist with coordinating transportation and accommodations for a seamless experience.

24. Can you also plan the rehearsal dinner?

Some planners will coordinate this as well, taking another task off your plate. They can ensure a stylish rehearsal dinner that runs smoothly and sets the tone for your wedding.

25. How do you manage vendor contracts?

Your planner should review and negotiate contracts to make sure everything is in your best interest. So make sure you pick out an eagle-eye planner who’ll protect your rights.

26. What’s your approach to wedding etiquette?

Understanding up-to-date wedding etiquette can save you from some embarrassing moments. A smart wedding planner should help you to navigate both traditional rituals and modern practices gracefully.

27. How do you incorporate personal touches?

Personal touches make your wedding unique and memorable. A good planner will have bright ideas for infusing your personality into the celebration, for instance, helping you to choose decor that reflects your unique love story.

28. Can you help with my wedding website and invitations?

A planner with tech skills can assist with creating a beautiful and functional wedding website. They can also guide you on invitation etiquette and design.

29. What’s your experience with cultural or religious ceremonies?

If your wedding includes specific cultural or religious elements, make sure your planner is experienced in these areas. You want someone who gets your heritage and knows how to center it.

30. Do you stay updated with wedding trends?

From this year’s coolest cocktails to cutting-edge canapes, a well-informed planner has their finger on the pulse of fashionable nuptials. This way, they can help you to stay ahead of the curve. 

31. Can you assist with bridal party attire?

Coordinating outfits for your bridal party can be bamboozling, but a good planner can take the load off. They can manage fittings, style choices, and ensure a cohesive look so that everything is in harmony.

32. Do you offer budgeting tools or software?

The right tools and software can help keep your planning organized and on track. See if your planner can recommend resources to simplify budgeting and track expenses for a clear financial overview.

33. How do you ensure everything stays on schedule?

Tick tock! Timeliness is crucial for a smooth wedding day. Meaning it’s not enough for your planner to have a timeline in place, as delays can still happen—they also need to have smart strategies for keeping everything on track, regardless.

34. What happens if you’re sick or unavailable on the big day?

Ensure there’s a contingency plan in place with a trusted backup. Knowing there’s a reliable fairy godmother / godfather substitute waiting in the wings will give you peace of mind.

35. Can you assist with obtaining permits?

Some venues require permits for events but a knowledgeable planner can handle this for you. Make sure they’re a bonafide pro at handling paperwork and ensuring all legal requirements are met.

36. Do you manage the RSVP process?

Yawn… as much as you love your guests, managing RSVPs can be a total snooze. The good news is, that some planners offer services to help track these and follow them up. This can save you time and ensure accurate guest counts.

37. Can you help with sourcing wedding favors?

Creative and thoughtful wedding favors will wow your guests. Your planner should be the well-connected type who can help you ‌source memorable favors that reflect your personality.

38. Can you help with seating arrangements?

Creating a seating chart can feel like trying to complete one of those bewildering 2000-piece jigsaw puzzles—who the heck needs it? Luckily a good planner can help you to make sense of it all. For instance, they’ll consider guest relationships (like never seating cousins Bella and Luna together) to ensure smooth sailing.

39. Do you take care of the return of rental items?

Returning rentals can be a massive hassle and the last thing you need before jetting off on your honeymoon. Pick a planner who can handle those logistics for you. 

40. How do you handle vendor tips?

Wedding gratuities—they can be a minefield. So pick a savvy planner who’s a total pro at knowing who to tip and how much (our guide on All You Need To Know About Tipping Wedding Vendors is also super helpful).

41. Can you assist with the honeymoon planning?

A wedding planning service doesn’t have to stop at the last dance. Some planners offer help with planning a swoony honeymoon too. So why not let them pick the perfect paradise beach for you both to smooch on while sipping mai tais?

42. What’s your approach to sustainability and eco-friendly weddings?

Want a more sustainable wedding that honors Mother Earth? If eco-friendliness is important to you, ask about your planner’s experience with coordinating clean, green, planet-loving celebrations. They should have smart ideas for reducing waste and sourcing eco-friendly products.

43. How do you handle vendor meal arrangements?

Hungry vendors are grumpy vendors—so making sure that they’re well-fed is crucial for a smooth big day. Your planner should manage this detail, coordinating meal times and dietary needs with your caterer.

44. Can you assist with creating a photo shot list?

A planner can make sure your photographer captures all the must-have shots. This includes creating a list that includes all the key moments and special requests, ensuring nothing is missed.

45. How do you ensure guest comfort throughout the day?

You want your loved ones to be happy and at ease during your big day. So your planner should have a plan for everything, from outdoor heaters for winter weddings to hydration stations for summer soirees.

46. How do you handle conflicts or disagreements with vendors?

The truth is that conflicts can come up during wedding planning—and you don’t want to be left to deal with this alone. Your planner should have experience in resolving disputes diplomatically so that everyone is happy.

47. Can you help with transportation logistics?

Coordinating transportation for you and your guests is essential for a smooth day. Your planner should have experience managing shuttles and limos, as well as staying on top of transportation schedules. 

48. What’s your approach to managing children at a wedding?

If kids are invited, a planner can help with activities or childcare options to keep them entertained. They should have smart ideas for engaging kids and making sure they’re safely supervised.

49. Do you offer post-wedding services?

Post-wedding services—including sending thank-you notes and ensuring gifts are transported to you—are super helpful. Find a vendor that can take the load off of you while you’re in your post-honeymoon glow.

50. Can you provide examples of unique or creative weddings you’ve planned?

Planning a themed wedding or one that’s a little bit quirky? Then you need a vendor with a creative flair who can help make your vision happen. So find out about their past experience of shaping unique celebrations.

Remember, the right person will be brimming with wedding planning tips and insider knowledge of the New Jersey wedding scene. By asking the right questions before hiring your planner, you’ll find someone who’s a perfect fit for you.

Ready for your incredible New Jersey wedding?

Il Tulipano in Cedar Grove is perfect for a wedding celebration surrounded by our Italian gardens and piazza. Our venue has just had a makeover and has been praised by New Jersey Bride, The Knot, and Wedding Wire. The Il Tulipano team will treat you like family, so get in touch with us today and let’s plan your dream wedding.

Want more wedding tips? Head over to our blog.