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Wedding Coordinator Vs. Wedding Planner: What’s The Difference?

We broke down what you can expect from a wedding planner vs a wedding coordinator so you’ll know exactly who you’re booking for your big day.

Like other industries such as tech or fashion, the wedding industry has its very own language, and the terminology can often be unclear to anyone not in the business. For example, what is the difference between tulle and taffeta? Or black tie and semi-formal? More importantly, what do you get from a wedding coordinator versus a wedding planner?

The distinction between these is significant, but the last example greatly affects your wedding day and budget. To help you figure out how to choose a wedding coordinator, here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from a wedding planner, a wedding coordinator, and all of the options in between (yes, there are even more options!). 

Most wedding coordinators will assist you in the final weeks leading up to your wedding, but some only play a role on the wedding day itself. Ultimately, they ensure the day runs smoothly from start to finish. This includes coordinating and communicating with you and your SO, the wedding party, and the vendors, directing set-up and tear-down, managing the timeline, and handling any issues that may arise.

Suppose a wedding coordinator’s contract extends beyond the day of the wedding. In that case, they will also take on duties such as creating your timeline, managing your guest list and RSVPs, attending final venue walkthroughs, communicating with your vendors, and running your ceremony rehearsal.

What a Wedding Planner Does

The big difference between a wedding coordinator and a wedding planner is the time they work with you—ultimately affecting how much control they have over everything related to your wedding. 

A wedding planner will often work with you in the early stages of wedding planning. This can be extremely helpful for recommending and procuring vendors, keeping you under budget and on schedule, and answering any questions you may have. They can also help curate design ideas, make catering decisions, and handle travel arrangements. 

Wedding Designer

Unlike a wedding planner and coordinator, a wedding designer doesn’t handle any of the logistics of your wedding. From a bird’s eye view, a designer’s role is to determine what your wedding will look like. They are in charge of any design-related details. They will create floor plans of both your ceremony and reception, detailing where floral arrangements should be placed, how lighting should be hung, etc. 

In addition to making your wedding look beautiful, a designer can also be extremely helpful in making it feel personal. They can dream up elements that tribute you and your fiancé’s relationship, like punny signage or thoughtful favours. Above all, a designer will wield their creativity to help make your wedding signature to your style in ways you couldn’t have dreamt of.

Here’s the twist: A wedding planner can also be a wedding coordinator and/or a wedding designer. Further, the terms planner and coordinator are often interchangeable, so it’s essential to sit down with the professionals you are considering and go over everything that is—and isn’t—included with their services. 

Do they offer design services as part of their package? How many consultations are included? Will they attend in-person vendor meetings and venue walkthroughs? How long will they work with you? Will they be there on the wedding day, or will an assistant be present in their place? These are all critical questions to ask in your initial meeting with wedding planners, coordinators, and designers. 

To gain more clarity, research each professional’s website to see the different tiers of service they offer and look for buzzwords like “full-service,” “partial-planning,” or “creative direction.” Many planners and coordinators list precisely what you will get with each service, so you can get a better idea of whether or not they meet your needs before booking a wedding consultant. 

Other (Smaller) Wedding Planning Roles

Bridal Attendants

You can think of a bridal attendant as your assistant on your wedding day. They will be at your beck and call from when you wake up (or whenever you ask them to arrive) to when you leave the reception—and even afterwards to wrap up any final details. Their tasks can range from bringing you coffee to packing your overnight bag. 

Bridal Stylists

This person’s role is to help you design and execute your style for your wedding day. This can include helping you choose your dress, picking out accessories to go with it, selecting bridesmaid styles, and creating a vision for your day-of hair and makeup. A bridal stylist is excellent if you want to look your best on your big day but need help making it all come together. 

Wedding Coordinator vs Wedding Planner: Which One Is Right for You?

Your Budget

Think about how much money you can afford to spend on a coordinator. The bigger your wedding budget, the more involved planner you can afford. Coordinators are generally less expensive than planners because they put in fewer hours in the months leading up to the wedding. Designer fees can vary based on experience, location, and what you ask of them. However, they are typically more expensive than coordinators and can easily be as expensive as a planner. 

Where You Need the Most Help

Are you worried about forgetting something on your wedding day or nervous you will screw up the timing? A month-of or day-of coordinator will put you at ease. Does managing your budget and navigating vendor contracts make you cringe? A wedding planner could be the way to go. Is Pinterest your worst nightmare? A wedding designer is a good option for you. 

The Big Details of Your Wedding

When we say “big details,” think of location, size, and how far out your wedding is. 

Do you have a long or short engagement? The less time you have, the more help you will need. Are you having a big celebration or an intimate ceremony? The more guests you invite, the more help you will need. Are you having a destination wedding, or is it local? The less familiar you are and the more removed you are from your wedding venue, the more help you need. For destination weddings, in particular, it is essential to have a planner on the ground who can recommend local vendors and make decisions for you when you aren’t around. 

If you’re on the fence about whether a wedding planner is worth it, consider how each can help you achieve your dream wedding and go from there.

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