The 4 Different Types of Wedding Planners (and Which One Is Right for You)

what does a wedding planner do

Chances are, you know what a wedding planner is—someone who helps a couple plan their wedding! But what you might not realize is that there are a myriad of different types of wedding planners out there, each offering unique services and levels of involvement for their clientele. 

For example, some planners are only responsible for helping couples in the weeks leading up to their wedding. These are called day-of or month-of wedding planners. Other wedding planners, however, work with a couple throughout the entire planning process. They will be there from the initial, post-engagement consultation and hiring vendors to creating guest lists and organizing day-of events.  

No matter their level of involvement, hiring a wedding planner is always a smart investment. In addition to helping alleviate the stress and confusion of planning a complex, expensive event, wedding planners save you time—and often money—by tapping into their network of vetted vendors and resources. From there they will be able to find the best options for your budget and vision, notes Russell Pinto Jr., founder of Brooklyn-based boutique wedding & event firm, Little Red Bean Productions. “The importance of a wedding planner is simple. They work for you and keep your best interests at the forefront of everything that they do,” he says. “All of the other vendors—the venue, caterer, florist, etc.—will have their own interests at stake in addition to yours. But a wedding planner is an advocate for you; a keen negotiator and someone who has your back (and your budget) throughout the process.”

Generally there are four types of service levels that wedding planners offer. Full Service Planning (*and Design), Partial Planning, Month-of, and Day-of wedding coordination are the most common options.

Full-service wedding planner

Services typically start approximately 1-2+ years prior to the wedding. Investment ranges between $10,000-$25,000

Full-service planning is just how it sounds. The planner works with you from the time they are hired through the completion of the wedding. They are there providing the highest level of support throughout, explains Elizabeth Restauri, Denver-based wedding planner and owner of Total Imagination Events. “A full-service planner brings a ton of trusted wedding vendors to your team and handles all of the details of planning while helping to weave unique ideas into your wedding vision that bring your love story to life,” she says. “This can sometimes include design services. However, you should be aware that some planners charge additional for wedding design.”

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Partial-service wedding planner

Services typically start approximately 6-12 months prior to the wedding. Investment ranges between $5,000-$12,000 

Partial planning is usually booked in an hourly package. (IE: 20-50 hours total.) “A partial wedding planning service will keep track of the hours they invest in the pre-planning, vendor recommendation, contract management and general consulting” explains Restauri. “The partial planning package almost always includes the day-of wedding management, but you should verify this with any planner before you contract them.” A couple who is looking to have a more hands-on approach with their wedding planning may find a partial planner to be more convenient. 

Month-of wedding planner

Services typically start approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding. Investment ranges between $2,000 – $4,500 depending on your location 

The third type of service is known as a month-of wedding planner. This usually means the clients are responsible for researching and booking all of their vendors. They also typically finalize details of design and decor with those providers before the planner takes over. “A month-of planner will review all of your vendor contracts and confirm the services they will provide. [They also] create a timeline for the wedding day based on the vendors you’ve secured and make suggestions to fill any potential gaps you may have missed,” says Restauri. “The coordinator will communicate and confirm all of your final details to the appropriate vendors and manage the flow and execution of the wedding day timeline on the day of.”  

Day-of wedding planner/coordinator

Services typically start approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the wedding. Investment ranges between $1,000 – $2,500 depending on your location 

The last type of wedding planning service is commonly known as a day-of wedding coordinator, or planner. As the name suggests, this type of wedding planner works on the day of the wedding to execute already-made plans. They are ideal for the couple who wants to plan the details of the wedding themselves, but need a pro to step in to seamlessly manage the day on their behalf, explains Pinto Jr. 

Ready to hire a planner? Here are a few tips from the experts to streamline the process. 

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Have a strong sense of what you want 

Pinto Jr. notes that couples don’t need to have every nitty-gritty detail figured out by the time they first meet with a prospective planner. After all, that’s part of the reason why you are hiring them. However, he points out having a general idea of your wedding vision will help you determine the best planner to achieve your dream.

The kind of wedding you want can also point you in the right direction in terms of the type of planner. “If it’s a niche wedding, like a destination wedding or a Southeast Asian wedding, then you want to be looking for planners that specialize in that type of wedding,” says Jamie Chang, owner and destination wedding planner at Mango Muse Events in Los Altos, California. “They’ll have the necessary skills to help you and it will be much easier than trying to get a planner who doesn’t do that type of wedding to learn how.”

Know that this is their full-time job

Even though experience is important, so is the fact that your planner is fully invested. “While part-time wedding planners can still be good, juggling multiple jobs means they’re not as dedicated to the business nor will they have as much time for you,” says Chang. ” It also means that they are likely very busy. As with anything, the more you’re doing, the more distracted you can be. Thus, more can slip through the cracks.” 

Ask for references

Oftentimes couples go with a wedding planner they have heard of before—whether it’s from a friend or family member or incredible reviews online. If you don’t personally know someone who has worked with them, Pinto Jr. recommends asking your potential wedding planner if you can speak with a few former couples to hear about their first-hand experience. 

Make sure you connect on a personal level

There are so many planners out there and most of them are incredibly talented, but each one has their own unique personality. When you’re in the process of searching for a wedding planner, it’s important to make sure that you get along with them. Can you see yourself working with them for the long haul? Pinto Jr. suggests meeting up with them for coffee or drinks before going to contract so you can be sure you actually like spending time with them. “Wedding planning should be as fun and stress-free as possible, and having a good planning partner will ensure that,” he adds.

Don’t nickel and dime

While wedding vendors can be pretty pricey, a wedding planner is not the best place to cut corners. “A full-service wedding planner will be working for a year or more with you and will be available every single day during the process,” explains Danielle Rothweiler, a wedding planner and owner of Rothweiler Event Design in Verona, New Jersey. A less expensive planner may not give you the service you need.

Your wedding planner is one of the most important vendors you can hire! Make sure to start your search early on in the process. If you do want a full-service planner, make them first on your list! A great planner will be able to refer you to other amazing vendors and venues. And as our experts mentioned earlier, they can often help you save.

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