You’re engaged and you’re about to start planning your wedding. Where do you start?
Among the many things you’re probably considering — like venues, dates, saying ‘yes to the dress’ — is how to go about planning your wedding, and maybe even who you should hire.
No matter who you are, you need to hire someone. That is, if you want to actually enjoy your day. Now the level of involvement of this “someone” is fully dependent on your personality, preferences, and the involvement you want to have in your planning process. Below, I’m going to break down the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator, and make the case for them both.
Wedding Planners: My mind instantly jumps to Mary in The Wedding Planner, and who wouldn’t want Mary leading their vendor team? It would be “exquisite.” Wedding planners are instrumental in, you guessed it, the planning process for a number of reasons. A wedding planner can recommend vendors and determine their services based on your design vision, your priorities, your estimated guest count, and your budget. Speaking of budget, they are skilled in helping you create and maintain a budget, and can provide you with invaluable expertise on industry standards of pricing and contracts. They will create the structure for your planning process, helping you to keep on track with what needs to be done X months out from your wedding day, and give guidance when you feel stuck on a decision or not sure what needs to be done next. They’re your biggest cheerleaders and a true wedding vendor MVP.
When it comes to wedding planners, you often have the option between full service planning and partial planning. Typically, partial planning would include all that I previously mentioned. Where it differs from full service, is that there is more responsibility placed on the couple (or whoever is helping them to plan) to book their vendors, develop their design, and to schedule and attend tastings, mock-ups, and other vendor meetings. They would do more of the legwork in communicating with their vendor team, but would still be provided with the guidance and expertise from a planner who has done this multiple times over. I don’t mean to make this sound like a hands-off approach for the planner, it by all means is not. You just haven’t hired them to serve as your primary contact and doer-of-everything. (*For my HME couples, I’ve structured Partial Planning in more of a pick-your-own-adventure sort of approach. Meaning you start with the wedding management base and tack on up to twenty planning hours to be used however you like! This can be for contract review, vendor communication, accompaniment on your catering tasting — you name it. Couples love this because it offers more flexibility and allows them to tailor the package to their individual needs. I love it too!)
Full service planning then, would be a much more involved process on the part of the planner. Oftentimes, this package would also include design (*see my Full Service Planning & Design Package) The planner would take on being the primary point of contact for all vendors, helping to coordinate and schedule mockups, tastings, and other vendor meetings — and would attend many (if not all) of them too. The planner also takes on the legwork of inquiring, vetting, and gathering quotes from prospective vendors (this becomes a lot of back and forth, and leads to a full inbox.) They create and maintain your budget throughout your planning process, keeping your vision, guest count, and desired investment amount all in alignment (and believe me, these things shift during the process!) They develop a comprehensive design plan and provide you with recommended selections to fit your design vision. They educate you, support you, and structure your process. And we haven’t even scratched the surface of wedding management (or what some call — coordination.)
So, now let’s shift gears and talk about wedding coordinators. I like to compare a wedding coordinator to a Thanksgiving dinner. Everything has to be prepared and timed ‘just so,’ in order for everything to come out perfectly cooked (and on time) for your family gathering. Similarly, as you’re closing in on your wedding day, it feels like there is much that needs to happen in a small amount of time — which is the honest to goodness truth of it. You’ve been planning for a while, it’s been this allusive day in the future, and then all of a sudden you are thirty days out, and it feels like everything is about to happen all at once. A coordinator is essential to taking this inevitable stress off your plate and ensuring that you actually enjoy your wedding day.
A wedding coordinator is responsible for coordinating with your vendors the month of the wedding: finalizing services, confirming timelines, and addressing anything that raises concern (*if you’re an HME couple, active coordination begins 60 days out — so it’s like month-of coordination, but better!) Your coordinator will also be your timeline wizard, not only helping to create your timeline based on the flow of your event, along with your photo and video shot list, but to create a timeline for the order of arrival and set-up of all vendors, along with teardown at the end of the night. Your coordinator may also accompany you on your final walkthrough at your wedding venue, and will likely create any mockups for ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception layouts. Their presence at this meeting can be extremely helpful as they will have answers for many of the questions that you wouldn’t think you’d be asked.
Day of the wedding is when your coordinator is your MVP. While you relax and focus on being a bride, they will make sure that everything goes off without a hitch. Anything that comes up, any change of plans, keeping to timelines, and leading your vendors with confidence — they will do all of that and then some. It frees you to focus on what your day is about, and not be distracted by anything it isn’t.
Bottom Line: you need a wedding coordinator at the very least. With all that goes into this day (the money, yes, but all of the time, excitement, energy, etc.), you need things to run smoothly for you and your guests, and allow yourself the ability to be in the moment for the moments that truly matter. Even for the most organized and involved bride, there’s tremendous value in the expertise you will receive from a wedding planner. Again, for the money you put into it and the fact that it’s a huge life milestone, it is worth the extra investment. Heck, a planner protects all your other wedding investments (because they’re managing them!) You may even find that you can save in other areas, because of the expertise your planner will bring to the table in your process.
And vendors need leadership too. Everything runs smoothly when timing is properly accounted for and circumstances are thoughtfully considered, because a planner or coordinator is well-versed in leading this kind of team and accounting for this kind of work.
Have questions about wedding planning or coordination, or which is the right fit for you and your event? Let’s get in touch! Either leave your info here or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'd love to hear more about your wedding day vision, and I would be honored to serve you in this season of engagement!