Even before you got engaged and started the wedding planning process, you might have heard the term “wedding planner” or “wedding coordinator” and thought they were pretty much the same person. While a full-service wedding planner that is with you throughout the majority of your wedding planning process will take on the role of a wedding coordinator on the day of your wedding, a wedding coordinator is generally considered a separate person for those brides doing the majority of planning themselves. Sound confusing? It is! But here’s what you need to know:
Think of a wedding planner as your new best friend. This person has no other job but to make sure your wedding is exactly what you want it to be (so pretty much the most amazing best friend ever). When you choose to hire a wedding planner might vary, but theoretically they are the person you call shortly after you get engaged and after you figure out a general budget (and whether or not you can afford a wedding planner, which we’ll get to in another post). Once you hire a wedding planner, you give them a very broad (or very detailed) vision of your wedding and they can then help you pick out everything from a wedding venue to wedding florists, caterer, furniture rentals, invitations, and more. Depending on your time and budget constraints, you can then be as involved as you want to be. If you’re super busy at work or in life and don’t have 150 hours to dedicate to wedding planning, they can take it over for you. Or if you have time for certain aspects of it but not others, they can work with you as much or as little as you want. Wedding planners can help you not only create a detailed timeline and budget but hopefully help you stick to it. And if they’re worth their salt they will be able to offer a vast amount of knowledge and insight into the best vendors in your area to bring your wedding vision to life.
The wedding coordinator is pretty much a gift from the gods on your wedding day. They are the woman or man behind the curtain, making sure that your wedding day goes as smoothly as possible so you (hopefully) don’t have to worry about ANYTHING. They are not the person you call after you get engaged to help you pick out the perfect wedding venue, caterer, florist, or other design details, but they will take all the hard work and research you’ve done and turn those plans into reality. You typically meet with a wedding coordinator several months or several weeks (depending on the service level you opt to get from them) before your wedding to go over your wedding timeline, guest count, venue details, and more. My wedding coordinator was great in that she not only recommended and booked things like chair and linen rentals for us but went to our tasting and helped us devise a seating chart and day-of timeline (such as when the speeches would take places as well as the first dance and toast)…all for $1,500 (which included tip and extra pre-wedding hours) . They make sure the tables are set on time, the guests are seated in the right spot, the ceremony starts and ends on time, things are packed up and sent back to the vendors and that everything is running as smoothly as possible.
One thing to keep in mind is that your wedding venue might offer varying levels of wedding planning and coordination, so it’s good to check with them to make sure you’re not doubling up. Also, a lot of times even if a wedding venue has a coordinator their services might differ from that of a traditional wedding coordinator, so you’ll want to make sure what they offer and what you need before you decide whether or not to hire additional help.
Depending on your budget and the time you have to dedicate to planning a wedding, I highly recommend using either a wedding coordinator or a wedding planner. I used a wedding coordinator and NOT a planner, and while I’m sure a wedding planner would have made my life 1,000 times easier, my budget didn’t allow for it and I was OK dedicating time to researching wedding venues, florists, invitations, and pretty much every other tiny detail along with a ton of help from my mom. In the end, the services I got from my wedding coordinator were more than amazing and ended up being all that we needed.
Before you decide whether to go with a wedding planner or wedding coordinator, be sure to ask yourself these questions:
- What is your general budget? Are you willing to spend at least 10-15% of that budget on a wedding planner? If not, a wedding coordinator could be more friendly on your wallet.
- How much time do you have to dedicate to planning a wedding? If it’s less than 3-5 hours a week, a wedding planner might be the way to go.
- Do you have a lot of people in your family or circle of friends weighing in with conflicting opinions on all things wedding? If so, a wedding planner could help deflect all those little things that might come directed towards you or your fiancé.
- Do you feel like you have the vision but don’t know the formalities of a wedding (like how to plan a seating chart or how long the ceremony should last?). A wedding coordinator could be a good option for you.