You will either be paid by the hour or paid a flat rate by project. I have helped out many wedding planners and these are the two methods I’ve seen in action. When paying by the hour, most wedding planners will pay a little more than your local minimum wage or right at minimum wage, depending on experience.
How Assistants Get Paid
All the cool kids nowadays are using Venmo. From what I’ve heard, there are no fees to use this program. PayPal is another option, but there are fees attached to it. I make it a habit to pay my help the day after a wedding. The wedding planner might specify something different, though—like, they might have up to a week to make payment. Make sure to agree upon a price for your services in advance.
Proof of Record
I will send my assistants an email statement for their records once their payment is made. Technically, if you are an IC (working as an independent contractor), you should send them an invoice for services rendered.
Employee vs. Independent Contractor
It’s important to understand the difference between an employee and an independent contractor. It’s also important to be aware of your own state’s laws. For example, California has its own definition of what an independent contractor is, and they don’t follow the federally mandated one. An employee is someone who is told what do, how to do it, and when to do it. Wedding planners have to pay taxes for you as well as workers’ comp.
An independent contractor (also known as an IC) comes in already knowing what to do and doesn’t need any help from you. There’s a lot of gray area when it comes to hiring help as a wedding planner.
If you have your own wedding planner company and hire a fellow wedding planner who owns their own business and already knows the ins and outs of wedding planning, they could be defined as an IC in most states since they already have the skills to do the job independently.
If you are classified as an IC, then you will need to fill out a W-9. In January you get a 1099-S. However, if the total amount you were paid by one wedding planner was less than $600, you don’t receive anything. As an IC you are responsible for taking out your own taxes. Take about 20% of your paycheck and put it into a savings account for taxes.
Whether you are an employee or an IC, you’ll need to sign a contract. This contract will spell out all the cans and can’ts. If you are classified as an employee, you might have to sign a noncompete form, meaning you will not be able to do your own weddings until after a certain amount of time. Wedding planners cannot enforce a noncompete clause with an IC because it places an unreasonable restraint on the independent contractor’s ability to work. If you are an IC, you might get an Independent Contractor Confidentiality agreement instead. Make sure you read your contracts thoroughly and don’t sign with haste. If your goal is to become a wedding planner in the near future, these contracts can bind you.