Indy wedding planners offer "stress-free" service for customers

If you're planning a big event, consider buying your flowers wholesale. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Cindy Sullivan)

If you're planning a big event, consider buying your flowers wholesale. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Cindy Sullivan)

If Angie's List member Martha Piercefield experienced any doubts about the $1,200 she spent on a wedding planner for her daughter's wedding, they disappeared when she attended one where the groom's mother handled the catering.

"I was watching her run around like a crazy person and I thought, 'Are you even going to enjoy your son's wedding day?' I don't think you will," she says.

Piercefield says highly rated Jaalexandra Coordination and Design in Fishers, Ind., ensured she enjoyed every minute of her daughter's big day. "I was completely stress-free," she says.

Marie Frey, owner of highly rated Fashions & Custom Creations in Indianapolis, says every wedding needs a planner.

"These days, a lot of the girls think they don't need a planner," Frey says. "But the day of the wedding, they cannot be the person in charge that day, and neither can their mother."

Her prices start at $375 for day-of pressing and delivery of the bridal party's dresses to $1,800 and up for full-service start-to-finish planning and coordination of the wedding and reception. She typically gives a 20 percent discount for weddings scheduled six months in advance, and another 10 to 20 percent for weddings scheduled in the slow season - November through March.

When hiring a planner, she recommends looking for someone with experience in providing services for numerous weddings and referrals from past clients. Frey also places high importance on finding the right personality and says clients need to interview several planners to ensure the best fit. "It's definitely a long friendship and a bond that we are going to have for a year," she says.

Sometimes, however, even the most careful consumer gets burned.

Angie's List members Kevin and Rose Ann Robbins of Indianapolis say they hired Lisa Gorman for "day of" coordination of their daughter's wedding in 2009. At the time, Gorman owned Memory Makers, a top-rated Indianapolis wedding planning service. After several months of miscommunication and billing issues, the Robbinses walked away from Gorman and their $750 deposit. "It got to the point that she stopped returning our calls or emails," Rose Ann says.

Gorman says she left the wedding planning business after experiencing some personal tragedies. A notice on the company's Angie's List profile alerts members that she is out of business.

Hiring a good wedding planner will result in an excellent return on your investment, says Michele Rogers, owner of Accolade of London in Indianapolis. "Wedding planners have access to discounts and better deals than brides can get themselves," says Rogers, whose prices start at $800 for starter packages and $3,500 and up for full-service packages.

She offers options for those who want to plan their own wedding, but with the vendor resources of a professional; a full-service package where she plans all; or one where clients receive creative advice and final touches, including the wedding rehearsal and wedding day.

Associate editor Joshua Palmer contributed to this report.

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