Choosing the Best Wedding Planner for Your Charlottesville Wedding

Savor the wedding planning journey with an expert on your team.

Hiring a professional Charlottesville wedding planner may be the wisest decision a couple can make during their engagement. Local wedding planning pros know the ins and outs of the industry — they know which venues have the best sunset ceremony positioning, how catering service should flow, and how to stretch your budget while maintaining design integrity and maximizing the guest experience.

Finding a wedding planner that fits your personality and speaks your love language is crucial. Here’s what to know before you say “we do” to your Charlottesville wedding planner.

Where to Start?

Typically it’s set the date, book the venue, secure a wedding planner. But in some cases, you’ll want to get an expert Charlottesville wedding planner on your side before booking that dream venue. These professional wedding curators know area venues and vendors — the average wedding calls on 18 different vendors! — inside and out. They have local connections and veteran knowledge that can help you find the right space to live out your Charlottesville wedding day vision.

Know the Lingo

What’s the difference between a wedding planner, a wedding designer, and a wedding coordinator? Turns out, a lot.

Wedding Planner

These logistics ninjas tackle everything from vendor referral and selection to negotiating contracts to day-of flow and guest experience. They keep track of your budget, handle all of the nitty-gritty paperwork and make sure everyone is where they need to be.

Wedding Designer

Creative details are the point of expertise here. Designers, or wedding stylists, will take your unique Charlottesville wedding day vision and help you make the decisions that will bring it to life. They will tackle things like flowers, furniture, linens, color palettes, and tablescapes with an artistic eye that will transform ceremony and reception spaces.

Note: Some wedding planners offer packages that include design services.

Wedding Coordinator

These focused organizers typically step in a month before the wedding and act as your day-of point person. Once you have timelines and budgets in place and all of your vendors booked, a wedding coordinator will confirm vendors, make sure everyone knows what to do and where to be, and will tie up any loose ends with payments and guest counts.

Is This the Right Planner For You?

Your first interaction or meeting with a wedding planner should feel a little like a first date. This is someone you’ll be spending a lot of time with over the next year. Go with your gut. You should be at ease around them and feel like they have your best interest in mind. If you leave feeling stressed or apprehensive, this might not be your planner. And that’s ok. You’ll know when you’ve found your person.

Ask the Right Questions

During your initial meeting, come prepared with a list of questions. Start with these:

  • How many weddings have you planned?
  • What made you want to be a wedding planner?
  • How many wedding clients do you take on in a year? How many do you expect to have during the month of our wedding?
  • Is wedding planning your full-time job? If it's part-time, what is your other job?
  • Describe the most challenging wedding you planned and how you handled struggles?
  • How are your problem-solving skills?
  • Will you be present at all of our vendor meetings?
  • What parts of the planning will we be responsible for?
  • What time will you arrive and depart on the day of our wedding?
  • What is the difference between the services or packages you offer?
  • How many meetings and phone calls are included in our package?
  • Can you provide a list of references?

How Much to Budget for a Charlottesville Wedding Planner

A wedding planner typically accounts for 10% of Charlottesville couples’ budgets.

The average cost for Charlottesville wedding planning services:

Partial planning starts around: $4,200
Full planning starts around: $6,300

Tip: Ask your planner “Does my current vision match what I’m willing to spend?”

Wedding Planners Mallory and Leigh of All The Dainty Details. Photo by Taylor Rose Photo

A Planner’s Top To-Do’s

  • Provides vendor referrals and negotiates contracts
  • Schedules vendor meetings
  • Tracks vendor payments
  • Creates detailed planning and day-of timelines
  • Manages your budget while tracking deposits and payments
  • Attends site tours
  • Coordinates design details to ensure your vision comes to life
  • Coordinates guest hotel room blocks and transportation
  • Manages your rehearsal event
  • Oversees wedding day timeline and vendors, executes your day-of vision

The Three Tiers of Planning

Different couples need different levels of planning help. Where do you land?

The Hands-Off Couple

You have zero time for or interest in taking on budgets, timelines, contracts, guest counts, and all the little, but oh-so-important, details. You just want to get married and enjoy your day to the fullest.
You need: A full-service wedding planner.

A Logistical Helping Hand

You know what you want when it comes to your venue, florals, rentals, photography, and catering. But you’d like some help wrangling it all and making sure everything comes to beautiful flowing fruition on your wedding day.
You need: A wedding coordinator or partial planner.

The DIY-ers

You love putting the pieces together, securing vendors, budgeting, and curating the wedding of your dreams. But on your special day, you want to be fully present and in the moment. You want a Charlottesville wedding planning expert to make sure everything runs smoothly.
You need: Day-of wedding assistance.

Just a Little Ditty planned Charlotte & Tommy's boho chic wedding at Mount Fair Vineyard. Photos by Kylie Martin

Tips From the Pros

Novela’s Preferred Charlottesville Wedding Planners

Mallory Rood of All the Dainty Details:

Q. How can couples balance their planning weaknesses with a wedding planner’s strengths?
A. Be open and honest about what you are looking for in a planner. One of the first questions I ask is what has them most nervous or stressed about the planning process. Get full transparency on both ends and find the best way to communicate from the beginning. Find someone that specializes in your dream wedding. For example, if you are looking to have a tented reception, you will want to find a planner that has expertise in building a wedding from the ground up.

Q. How can couples balance their planning weaknesses with a wedding planner’s strengths?
A. Be open and honest about what you are looking for in a planner. One of the first questions I ask is what has them most nervous or stressed about the planning process. Get full transparency on both ends and find the best way to communicate from the beginning. Find someone that specializes in your dream wedding. For example, if you are looking to have a tented reception, you will want to find a planner that has expertise in building a wedding from the ground up.

"Mallory is a dream! I am a super detail oriented client of hers and always trying to think ahead and she took everything to the next level. Not only is she someone you want to be friends with, but she knows her business and is on top of everything. Her attention to detail allowed me and my husband to just focus on having fun knowing that everything was under control. I cannot say enough about how happy we were/are with Mallory and can say with 100% certainty that she will make sure your day goes smoothly."

— Brian + James

Mia Crump of Little Acorn Events:

Q. How do you know if you’re a good match when you first meet a couple?
A. Some of my favorite clients have said that our first call felt like catching up with an old friend. You can just feel if the vibe is right, and I truly believe there are so many insanely talented wedding planners in Charlottesville, you can't go wrong. Of course, we all have different personalities and styles, so it comes down to who you think you'd have the most fun planning with. This relationship is long-term, so you should really enjoy each other's personalities.

Q. Though hiring a planner is an added cost, it can end up saving couples money in the long run. Can you elaborate on this?
A. Absolutely true! There are so many things that we think about as planners that will save couples money in the long run, such as venue logistics (for example, a venue that seems less expensive but actually requires a catering tent and catering equipment, or paying additional for early access time, etc). Remember that as clients you've likely never planned a wedding before, and this is what we do for a living, so trust is key.

Q. What personality traits make for a great Charlottesville wedding planner?
A. Someone who is thoughtful and intentional, knowledgeable and decisive, and ready to guide clients toward the decisions that are the best for them. I think a fun and outgoing personality really helps to nurture client relationships and vendor partnerships. Kindness goes a very long way as well.

Mia was a delight to work with to plan our big day. Her experience and organization made the process easier while her attitude alleviated stress. Her genuine passion and excitement for wedding planning translate into all of the aspects of planning a wedding and are truly infectious. I highly recommend working with her to plan your wedding.

— Natasha + Adam

Hannah Dubit of Hannah Rose Events

Q. Describe the attention to detail that couples can expect from Charlottesville wedding planners.
A. A great wedding planner takes initiative to craft a truly personal and flawless event experience. I assist with budgets, timelines, guest-list creation, décor, design, and RSVP tracking. I also coordinate engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, farewell brunches, and other wedding events. On the big day, it’s all about designing the perfect tablescape from the decor, plates, flatware, glassware, and just the right amount of candlelight, ensuring your grand lawn ceremony altar is set at the precise angle for optimal photography lighting, making sure the dessert table is accessible and abundant, the champagne glasses are ready for the toast and the mics are in the right spot.

Q. What’s something couples might not think about, but should?
A. ​​With off-site catering you have to be a step ahead of the problem. You might be in the middle of a field somewhere away from a fully functioning kitchen. It’s important to me to have all of that tied up into a nice little bow before the wedding day so that everyone can do their jobs without any hiccups.

"Hannah is the definition of a dream wedding planner. We went into wedding planning with A LOT of ideas and little know how on how to execute them. Hannah expertly helped us focus our vision and make it come to life—her guidance was the key secret to making our wedding day perfect. She is organized, communicative, patient and reliable. She will keep you sane during your entire planning process and in the end, your wedding will be better than you could have even imagined. Her care for her craft is so clear in her attention to detail and professionalism."

— Rebecca E.
Julia & Mechelle's wedding at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards planned by Just a Little Ditty. Photo by Jen Fariello Photography

A Friend in the Industry

Working with Novela is like having a trusted friend — one with copious insider knowledge and Charlottesville wedding industry connections — by your side every step of the way. We’ll match you with an expert wedding concierge to customize your wedding day plan, including venue and vendor recommendations, detailed pricing options, a high-level budget framework, and a customized checklist just for you.

Find your perfect Charlottesville wedding planner and finance your wedding at 0% interest — all in one place. Novela is the first transactional one-and-done wedding planning company.

So, are you ready to start planning your dream wedding?

Our concierge team is here to help you every step of the way.