Posted By Darlene on April 2, 2014
Wedding Planner or Wedding Coordinator? Are they different or the same? That seems to be a big mystery in the wedding industry. Some brides, as well as my fellow colleagues in the wedding industry define wedding coordinators as something different than wedding planners. Some say they’re the same. Even wedding planners aren’t sure which title to give themselves. It gets even more confusing when you add in terms like “wedding consultant.” Sheesh! But one thing that most everyone agrees on is that someone who does what I do wears MANY hats. Ain’t that the truth!!
My purpose for writing is to help solve this mystery for couples and my fellow wedding professionals. This is something that has perplexed me for a few years. I find that couples who are looking for help in their planning are not sure who to turn to or what to ask for. It seems that everybody wants to be a planner. Or a coordinator. Everybody wants a slice of the pie. Many venues now have an on-site coordinator for weddings which is misleading to couples. I discussed this in another blog post. Wedding coordinators and venue coordinators are different. DJs are offering “wedding planning” packets or “coordinating” services to help couples “plan their weddings.” This is also misleading. Planning the reception with a DJ or venue coordinator is not planning the wedding. It’s only planning a part of it. I mean no offense when I say that DJs are NOT wedding planners. They are entertainers. And unless they have a dedicated wedding planner on their staff, how can they help a couple plan, coordinate and manage the entire wedding day when they are supposed to be entertaining the crowd? I know that all wedding professionals really want to help couples, however this “cherry picking” from the wedding planning tree of services is really causing more harm than good for couples.
What does a wedding planner do? In the beginning stages of wedding planning, I do lots of consulting working with newly engaged couples in building the foundation of their wedding which includes guidance in budgeting, developing the vision, and giving advice on where and how to begin. During the planning stage, I help couples draw out how everything is going to work, which vendors to bring in and when it will all happen. This planning stage also involves more consulting as I help couples select their vendors. And there is the coordinating of their schedules and timelines for tastings, ordering wedding attire, designing invitations and working on projects. All of this must be planned and coordinated around the couple’s life. On wedding day, the coordinating and managing of the guests, vendors and events takes place. This is what I do – what wedding planners do – in a nutshell.
I consider myself, and conduct myself as all of the above. I am a consultant, a planner, and a coordinator. All one job. Not separate. They are different roles I fill during the different stages of the wedding planning process but still one person offering all of these things all the time. There isn’t any wedding planning without consulting and/or coordinating. There isn’t any coordinating without planning and/or consulting. All of these roles work together. This is the essence of a wedding planner.
So what about the wedding coordinator? What does a wedding coordinator do? Wedding coordinators are really planners. Planners don’t coordinate an event without SOME planning. We have to plan how we’re going to coordinate everything. When a couple hires a coordinator, they are getting a planner. It’s just planning on a different level. Not a different job title. There is still some consulting, there is still some planning and there is still coordinating. That’s why couples are asked lots of questions when they contact a wedding planner. We want to get to know them and all about their wedding, where we need to pick up the ball and if we need to start running with it.
There is no such thing as a day-of coordinator. Although many planners use that title when describing this service, we are usually month-of planners. ~Fallon Carter
To confuse couples even more, there’s the day-of coordinator title. I came across the quote above from Fallon Carter in an interview she did with Huffington Post, “The Truth About Day-Of Wedding Planners.” Her quote is spot on and, I feel, describes a trend in our industry of pressuring planners into only offering a portion of their service. Another misleading term applied to wedding planners, the day-of wedding coordinator is still a wedding planner. It seems that this title has been allowed to evolve into popularity and is misleading couples into thinking they can just throw a coordinator in at the 11th hour for a small fee, you know, because it’s only a month out. This is so far from the truth. A wedding planner working on the wedding day will put in 8-10-12 hours no matter what title you want to give us. Our time on site is pretty much the same regardless if we’re called wedding planner, wedding coordinator or day-of coordinator.
But I get it. Most couples and guests only see the end result of what we do. The seamless, beautiful wedding day with everyone having fun. And that’s what couples want – everything running smoothly and their dream wedding to come true. So they call a wedding planner up and say that they only want him/her for the wedding day and nothing else. They don’t understand. They tell us they don’t “need” a planner because they can do it themselves or because they have an on-site wedding coordinator at their venue. It’s what the industry and reality TV has taught them…that a planner can come in a month before and create magic…that our service can just be filled by the bride’s Aunt or an add-on service at a venue or with a DJ. Couples don’t realize what they’re NOT getting. How is it that a wedding is beautiful and everything is running like a well oiled machine? The wedding planner behind it all. The wedding planner who has been with the couple from the beginning…guiding, consulting and coordinating WAY before the wedding day…building a team of designers and vendors to make their day beautiful. I’m not saying a planner can’t come in a month before the wedding and pull everything together…but I guarantee you…ask any planner how they feel after doing that and they feel downright frustrated. Why? Because most of the time we are putting out fires that could have been prevented months ago had the couple gotten proper guidance or had an experienced planner on board to call and run ideas by throughout their planning. It frustrates us planners a LOT because we want to help couples avoid planning pitfalls (and they DO happen) and be there for them every step of the way but couples are not allowing us to do so by restricting our planning part to just a month.
Even when you’ve done “everything” and only have a need for the elusive creature mistakenly classified as a “Day of Coordinator,” in order for them to be a sound investment for your wedding, at minimum, they need to provide key services. Come wedding day, you, your parents, nor bridal party should be doing a single thing or worrying about the “what ifs” -when your planner is well prepared to execute the event and KNOWS you as a couple. Fires wont need to be put out because they will never start, and the start to your happily ever after will start off flawlessly! ~Brenda Swann
Dear engaged couple, What I see is this: You DO need a wedding planner. You want us. You are looking for help. You call us in the last 2 months because you wisely realize that you need someone to pull it all together. I’m here to encourage you not to wait to hire us to help you with your wedding day. Don’t miss out on all the advice, the planning help, the coordinating you get all along the way by waiting to hire a planner at the last minute. And yes, 2 months out is last minute in the wedding timeline. We’re not here to take over and plan your wedding for you or take away your voice. But we ARE planners. Period. Don’t assume that wedding planners are expensive because our title is planner rather than coordinator or day-of coordinator. Reach out to us anyway. Be honest about your budget. You might be surprised by our response.
Dear fellow Wedding Planners, Please stop confusing couples with all these different titles for wedding planning packages. Don’t devalue yourselves and your awesome service by calling yourselves “day-of coordinators” or even “wedding coordinators.” We are wedding planners. Period. No matter what title someone else wants to give us. We offer different planning packages, yes, and one planning package is not necessarily better then the other. Just a different level of planning. Adjust your packages to reflect your planning skills at different levels rather than calling them mysterious names. Start seeing and selling yourselves as the planners you are.
Dear Wedding Industry Colleagues, We are the couple’s spokesperson from beginning to end. Please refer brides to us instead of trying to fill our roles for us. We do not want to do your job. We are team players and desire work with you as the professionals you are. Please work with us. We want you to do the job you are great at.
Have you contacted a wedding planner yet? Don’t wait! It’s the BEST investment you’ll ever make for your wedding.