Wedding Planner, Wedding Coordinator, Wedding Designer, Venue Coordinator. What is the difference?

November 18, 2017

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There are many overlapping career titles within the wedding industry. It’s no wonder couples aren’t sure which one will fit their needs.  Although there is some overlap with each description, there are some key differences. Wedding planning is time-consuming and time-sensitive work.  Make sure you know what you are getting when you hire your professional.  

Wedding Planner:  This person is hired by the couple. Their sole job is to make sure your wedding is exactly what you want it to be. The wedding planner is the most involved professional you can hire to help you plan your wedding. They will save the couple valuable time and money by helping them find vendors that best fit their personality and style both quickly and efficiently.  Depending on your time and budget constraints, you can hire them to be as involved as you want them to be. Wedding Planning is a full-time job.  Each wedding will average about 150-250 hours depending on the couple and scope of the event.  It is best to hire your wedding planner first, as they can only take on so many weddings a year.  The sooner you hire your wedding planner the sooner you can use them for etiquette advice, design, trends, religious traditions, laws, venues, vendor relationships, etc, etc, etc. While you can expect to pay several thousand dollars for a full-service planner, they will save you money.  Your planner can guide you on places to spend and recommend places to save. They know where it will make the most impact.  The wedding planner will be with you every step of the way. Some wedding planners will include design. They will however hire a vendor to execute the vision. They will not be the ones on wedding day hanging draping and setting up the lighting.  They will be far to busy running the event, to also set it up. Most wedding planners will plan the wedding and be on-site to manage it.  If they are seasoned professional or have multiple weddings that weekend, they may plan the wedding up until a certain point, and have someone on their team do the actual event management.  Don’t be nervous if this is how your planner operates. They will not just hand their plan over to anyone.  Most professional planners will have people on their team that have received extensive training and will handle the event just as if they were there themselves. 

Wedding Coordinator/Event Management:  This person is also hired by the couple. They offer services such as wedding management, event management, and month of coordination. Their job is to manage what you have done up until the point they take over.  Most coordinators aren’t involved in the planning process until a month or two out. This means that the couple is responsible for sourcing their vendors, reviewing the contracts, and coming up with their own design plan without much help from a professional.  The wedding coordinators’ sole purpose is to make sure everything the couple has done up until when they take over is correct, nothing was overlooked, and they will manage your wedding on the day. Hiring an event manager is a great option if you have the time to research and plan, or you don’t have the budget for a full-service wedding planner.  It is still a great idea to hire an event manager as soon as possible.  Like wedding planners, their dates often book up fast and they can only take on a certain number of weddings a year.  Something to consider if you are only hiring a coordinator is that you don’t get the benefit or safeguard of working with them until you are closer to your wedding date.  All of the vendors have been selected and the agreements have been signed before the event manager comes on board. 

Wedding Designer:  The wedding designer can be hired by the couple, but most often they are hired by the wedding planner.  The difference between a wedding planner and designer is those wedding planners excel with logistics, such as timelines and vendor selection. Wedding designers excel at visual presentation and creating the overall cohesive look of the event from start to finish.  They often have an interior design or fashion background.  Some wedding designers will hold inventory such as linens and decor.  They will have everything in house or they will have curated relationships with vendors for specific decor pieces.  They will work with a team that can design and execute the vision.  Please note, that not all wedding planners are designers and not all designers know how to plan a wedding.  There can be some overlap, however, it will be a conversation you’ll have to have with each.  Ideally, they will work together and create an aesthetically cohesive, logistically possible, event. 

Venue Coordinator: The biggest misconception in our industry is that a venue coordinator is a planner or even an event manager. Venue coordinators are responsible for everything that happens at the venue, and generally not anything outside of it.  They will not manage your vendors, check on hair and make up, organize your transportation, or do anything that doesn’t pertain to the venue.  They are focused on making sure everything at the venue runs smoothly, catering is on time, and that the rules of the venue are being honored. If the venue provides in house catering, the venue coordinator may write up a timeline.  This timeline does not have the entire days list of activities.  It will center around when things start and end so they can advise their team when the food is to be prepared and served.   Because the venue coordinator works for the venue, they might be managing several events on the same day.  If your venue has multiple event spaces, it is very possible your venue coordinator will be managing multiple events on the same day.  Venues are known to have a high turnover rate among the coordinator/sales positions. The person you book your wedding with may or may not still be there on your wedding day.  Details may have been lost in the shuffle, you may not click as well with the new venue coordinator, and you will have to triple check that everyone is still on the same page.  When you hire an event manager or a planner, they work for you.  They will be with you from start to finish and will work with any of the venue coordinators that you will interact with at your venue. Having both a venue coordinator and a wedding planner ensures that you and your guests will be taken care of. That the venue will be operated smoothly and any issues that arise will be delt of.  You need both.  There are some amazing venue coordinators out there, however, they are not wedding planners or coordinators. 

Each wedding professional fits into a different price bracket.  When selecting the level of service you need, really look at your time, your knowledge of the industry, and if it is something that you are going to enjoy.  Planning a wedding is at least equivalent to a part-time job, and that is if you know who to call, and what needs to be done.  If you don’t, you can easily spend much more time and money than necessary working through the learning curve.  As with any industry, wedding professionals are compensated based on their experience, talent, education, and performance.  This is an industry where you 100% get what you pay for. 


I am a Wedding Planner and Designer.  I was trained by the AACWP (American Associate of Certified Wedding Planners) and have the knowledge and experience to design and plan a wedding from start to finish.  I live in Richmond, Virginia but I plan weddings in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.  I am also available for travel. 

If you are interested in learning more about my services please check them out here

If you have any specific questions, or just want to chat, I would love to hear from you.





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