Jul 17, 2020

Wedding Coordinator vs. Planner vs. Designer

The services of a wedding coordinator, designer, and planner are not the same. These are 3 separate roles. 

Planning a Wedding is like Building a House

To build a new home, you need an architect to design your plans, a general contractor to hire subcontractors (framing, plumbing, electricity, etc.) to put those house plans together and keep the project on budget and on time.  You’ll also have a foreman on-site to coordinate all your skilled professionals into one team.

Together these 3 separate rolls work to deliver the finished product. Some people draw their own house plans.  Some people contract their subcontractors themselves.  Some people stay on-site at the house build to make sure everything is coming along as planned. Other people hire professionals for one or all these tasks.

It’s the Same for Weddings

The wedding designer creates a look and vibe for the wedding. They will provide sketches, floor plans, and suggestions for colors, lighting, and other aesthetic elements. A great wedding designer can create a unique atmosphere that intimately matches the clients’ desires, personalities, and even their relationship. The design process begins with developing initial ideas with the client. She finds out exactly what the client wants and the specifics of the wedding. Then she creates the actual design.

Once you have a wedding design, concept, or vision, a planner develops the plans for that concept.  Like a general contractor would for a new house build, the planner is responsible for selecting all materials, equipment, and professional services necessary for the execution of the wedding design. Additionally, she will manage a budget and timeline for the project.

Once the design and plans are covered, the final piece is the coordination of the wedding. A wedding coordinator is your boots on the ground.  Her job is to coordinate all the moving pieces required to execute the wedding plan. You can book your coordinator as soon as you get engaged but the work she does really begins around the 6 weeks or 1 month prior to your wedding mark.  The coordinator does not plan the wedding but instead works with the client or planner to execute the wedding plan. She gathers wedding details, reviews contracts, confirms details with the pros, develops a day-of timeline, and reviews the setup and flow of the wedding with the bride or the planner. In the week of the wedding, she’ll collect items for setup, walk through the venue with the client, run the rehearsal and implement the wedding day timeline. She is the point person for the wedding pro team.

For a full explanation of a what a wedding coordinator does, click here.

Hire the Right Pro

Some firms have all these specialists within their staff. In this case, you could feasibly use the same firm or even the same person for all three roles.  Other companies will specialize in just one of these roles.

Don’t Hire a Planner when You Want a Coordinator

Just as you wouldn’t hire the best general contractor in town to be your foreman, you don’t want to hire the best planner to be your coordinator. If you have a general contractor, he selects the foreman for your project. A planner may also hire your coordinator. If you are contracting your own home, you’ve got to find a foreman yourself.  And if you are planning your own wedding, you’ll also need to select your own coordinator. You want the best foreman, and you want the best coordinator. 

An Architect is Different from a General Contractor

The same goes for design; if it’s a priority to you, then you won’t want a planner or coordinator to draw up your design. I know general contractors that have model home plans that they can build at a lower cost than the personalized housed plans that an architect draws up for a specific client. And when those model plans are chosen, the client is saying “ok these plans work for me, I am choosing to forgo the design expertise of the architect.”

A Wedding Designer is Different from a Planner or Coordinator

The same goes for weddings.  You can do a more typical design for a lower cost by forgoing the designer. So it all boils down what’s the most important thing? Is it design, is it cost, is it time, stress relief? Once you know what you want to prioritize, you know whether you need a coordinator, planner, designer, or some combo of the three.

Thank you so much for reading and happy wedding planning.




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