The Differences Between Wedding Planners, Event Designers, and Coordinators

If you aren’t in the weddings and events industries, you probably don’t know all of the different roles that exist from this side of things. So one of the conversations I try to have with every single potential Bespoken Bride or Client is the differences between the many roles that exist in my field as a wedding and event planner. Being able to understand the differences and what role each person plays is super important when making sure you are receiving the services you want and need.

Some of the roles you might find are:

  • Wedding Planner (also broken down into two categories: Full-Service Planner and Partial Planner)

  • Wedding Coordinator (also broken down into two categories: Month-Of Coordinator and Day-Of Coordinator)

  • Event Designer

  • Venue Coordinator

I’m going to break each one down for you below.

The Difference Between Wedding Planners, Event Designers, and Coordinators
 

WEDDING PLANNER

There are a few types of wedding planners: full-service wedding planners and partial wedding planners. Some even consider themselves event planners because they focus on multiple types of events (weddings, social parties, corporate parties, fundraisers, galas, etc.). When an engaged couple needs help planning their entire wedding, they want to look for a wedding planner.

While full-service and partial wedding planners have a wide variety of services they will provide, some things they may do are:

  • Put in anywhere between 75-200 hours planning a wedding.

  • Provide vendor referrals and review contracts.

  • Create detailed timelines, weekend itineraries, and floor plans.

  • Create a projected budget. Possibly help you track and manage that budget.

  • Attend vendor meetings, site visits, and caterer tastings.

  • Create some design ideas.

  • Manage the rehearsal and oversee everything on the wedding day.

Full-Service Wedding Planner

A full-service wedding planner is typically hired immediately after the engagement and is responsible for assisting the couple throughout the entire wedding planning process. Each full-service wedding planner has his or her own style and method, but typical roles include keeping the planning progress on track, suggesting and connecting with vendors that fit the couple’s style and budget, overseeing communication between the hired vendors, reviewing contracts, tracking the budget, and handling logistics. Because full-service planners are involved in so much of the wedding planning, they are also going to work many more hours (usually 150+ hours), which means there’s going to be a higher price point for their services. A full-service wedding planner typically has his or her hands in every aspect of the wedding planning process, but each planner is different, so before you hire one, you want to make sure you really understand the scope of services.

Partial Wedding Planner

A partial wedding planner is sometimes hired early on in the planning process and sometimes hired a little closer to the wedding day. A partial planner doesn’t have his or her hands in the wedding planning process as much as a full-service planner does. And just like a full-service planner, each partial wedding planner works differently and will offer different services, so it’s important to fully understand what is included and what’s not included. Regardless, couples who hire a partial planner are typically willing to do most of the legwork of the planning. A couple who hires a partial planner may have a tighter budget, have the time to do most of the planning themselves, may be getting married at a venue that offers a lot of services, or is having a smaller wedding.

Bespoken’s Wedding Planning Services

At Bespoken, we see ourselves as the liaison between the Client and the Vendor Team. We are representatives of the couple throughout the wedding planning process as well as on the wedding day. We are there to answer questions the clients and vendors have throughout the process. On the day of the wedding, we greet vendors and are there to oversee setup and answer any questions they may have. We are there to ensure everyone is following the timeline we carefully created in the weeks and days leading up to the wedding. We are there to anticipate any problems before they arise as well as to handle things as best as possible.

When Should You Hire a Wedding Planner?

  1. You have the budget for it. You want to plan on 8-20% of your entire wedding budget to be set aside for your wedding planner. The percentage allocated depends on what type of planner you’re hiring.

  2. You have a demanding job or schedule and don’t have the time to plan your wedding.

  3. You have no clue on where to start or what to do.

  4. You want a low stress level.

  5. You are planning your wedding in a short time frame (5 months or less).

  6. You’re having a destination wedding.

  7. You’re having your wedding at a private estate.

 

WEDDING COORDINATOR

This is probably one of the most misunderstood roles. There’s a huge difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator, and it is crucial that a bride understands these differences before hiring someone to help her with her wedding.

Truthfully, around here, we do not like the term “Day Of Coordinator”. I don’t know a single person who can honestly do strictly “day of” coordination due to the amount of work that still needs to be accomplished. A wedding coordinator has to know every. single. thing about your wedding before the wedding day. For a coordinator to do the job well, he or she must come into the planning process AT LEAST a month before the wedding just to get acclimated to what’s been completed, as well as to touch base with all vendors, and create the timeline. I prefer the term “Month Of Coordinator” in this instance, but still, some wedding coordinators will begin working on a wedding 2-3 months before the wedding. Just like wedding planners, coordinators have different scopes of services, so it’s important to understand what a coordinator WILL or WON’T do prior to hiring them (notice a theme here?).

A wedding coordinator is focused on the logistics. They will confirm vendor contracts, create the wedding day timeline, and make sure guest counts are in order and updated. They basically make sure everything you have done up until they step in is ready to go.

Some things a Wedding Coordinator may do:

  • Put in about 25-30 hours of coordination

  • Meet with you anywhere between 4-12 weeks before the wedding to discuss everything you’ve done so far

  • Check in with your vendor team to review contracts and confirm all the teeny tiny logistics

  • Create timelines and floor plans

  • Manage the rehearsal and oversee everything on the wedding day

Bespoken’s Wedding Coordinating Services

We focus on full-service planning and coordination coupled with event design. If I am on the phone with a potential bride and notice that based on our conversation, she is looking for a coordinator and not a planner, I will explain the difference between the two, and then, if our schedule doesn’t allow for it, I will point her in the direction of someone who would fit her needs the best.

When Should You Hire a Wedding Coordinator?

  1. Your budget isn’t as large.

  2. You have the time, energy, and understanding to play an extremely active role in planning your wedding, but you also want to hand off the reigns to someone else closer to the wedding so you can enjoy yourself.

  3. You are an extremely organized and detailed person.

  4. Your venue is pretty hands-on.

 

VENUE COORDINATOR

This one is super important to understand. I have seen too many brides say they don’t need a wedding planner or wedding coordinator because their venue has a venue coordinator. Please note: A Venue Coordinator is NOT the same as a Full-Service or Partial-Service Wedding Planner. A Venue Coordinator is also very different from a Wedding Coordinator.

A Venue Coordinator is not bad, inexperienced, or unnecessary. In fact, we LOVE Venue Coordinators and are more than thrilled when we are working at a venue that has one. When a venue has a Venue Coordinator, there’s a better chance that your wedding will be executed more smoothly and perfectly because your Wedding Planner or Wedding Coordinator will partner with and work closely with your Venue Coordinator.

A Venue Coordinator focuses on the VENUE. He or she is responsible for making sure anything venue-related (tasks, staff, problems, etc.) are taken care of and handled responsibly. Venue Coordinators will give you the venue’s guidelines, policies, and restrictions. They will make sure the venue is ready for vendor load-in and setup and help keep the catering staff on-point. Really good venue coordinators will also check-in with your planner or coordinator throughout the wedding day to ensure everything is going well on his/her end and communicate anything that needs to be addressed.

A Venue Coordinator will not track and mange your budget, answer etiquette questions, help you pick out your invitations, help you decide on rental items and color palettes, or attend outside vendor meetings with you. If it pertains to the venue, they will be involved, but if it falls outside of the venue’s responsibilities, they don’t have a commitment to it.

Some things a venue coordinator does:

  • Opens and closes the venue

  • Makes sure all rentals are set in their spots according to the floor plan

  • Makes sure the venue is clean

  • Oversees parking and valet servies

  • Makes sure the bridal suite and groom room are cleaned up and ready for you

  • Oversees room lighting and temperature

  • Oversees food and beverage setup and service and working directly with the catering staff if it’s in-house catering

Sometimes a venue coordinator will assist with any room flip, help light candles and fold napkins, clean up trash, help light sparklers, make sure loading docks are open and ready, etc.

Bespoken’s Opinions of Venue Coordinators

Again, I cannot emphasize enough how much we love venue coordinators. Like REALLY LOVE THEM. They are crucial to us. Our favorite weddings are usually the least stressful because there’s an incredible venue coordinator working directly with us to make sure our clients have an event that far exceeds their expectations. Even if a venue has a coordinator, we still recommend a wedding planner or coordinator to help with everything else that’s not venue-related. In fact, most venues that have a venue coordinator will actually require you to hire an outside planner or coordinator!

 

EVENT DESIGNER

An Event Designer is different from a Wedding Planner, Wedding Coordinator, and Venue Coordinator. Wedding Planners and Coordinators focus on logistics. Event Designers focus on design, decor, and styling. They’re typically very creative and sometimes also serve as floral designers, set designers, and interior designers.

There are many professionals, like Bespoken, who are both Planners and Designers. The benefit for you as a client is that you are working with one person or one company to plan and execute your entire event.

Each Event Designer works differently and will complete a different scope of services; however, you will often find these commonalities:

  • Puts in up to 40 hours of event design work

  • Creates the overall event design concept

  • Provides guidance on a beautiful color palette

  • Oversees the design budget and design vendors (including floral designer, rental companies, lighting, draping, stationery)

  • Sources special rentals, decor items, props, details (i.e., escort cards, table numbers, cake toppers, etc.), and equipment

  • Attends a site visit with you to discuss and visualize the floor plans

  • Creates detailed floor plans

  • Ensures that all of the decor elements are in their exact position on the wedding or event day

Some Event Designers will do more, and some will do less. Many Event Designers will leave once your event set-up is complete and may return at the end of the night to pick up any of their own props, materials, or rentals. Most Event Designers will begin working with their clients at least 6 months prior to the event.

Bespoken’s Event Designing and Creative Direction Services

We LOVE Event Design. We offer Event Design and Creative Direction with all of our packages because we pride ourselves on creating beautiful, cohesive aesthetics for each of our clients. We will also offer Event Design only if someone doesn’t need planning or coordination services. While we do not create actual products, we develop and oversee all creative content with each of our events. That means that we work directly with the floral designer, rental companies, stationer, etc. to make sure everything is cohesive. We serve as supervisors to oversee the development of all creative content throughout the entire design process itself.

When Should You Hire an Event Designer?

  1. The design and decor details are super important to you

  2. You are an incredibly organized person who excels at logistics*, but you find it difficult to hone it in on a design

  3. You have a million different ideas for what you want your event to look like

*Of course, if you find yourself lacking the time to plan your wedding, you will want to hire a professional who serves as both a Planner and a Designer.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

For the most part, hiring a Full-Service Wedding Planner who will also serve as your Designer will cost you roughly 10-20% of your total wedding cost. This number will depend on the planner’s experience, the complexity of your wedding, the location of your wedding and/or wedding planner, and possibly other factors. A Coordinator will cost you approximately 8-10% of your total wedding budget.

If you are going to hire someone to assist with your design, be sure to look through their portfolios and social media to make sure their design aesthetic lines up with what you have in mind.

We believe that regardless of who you hire, if you hire the right person, he or she will feel more like a friend than someone you’ve hired to help with your wedding. We love each of our brides dearly, and find ourselves often texting things like, “We should hang out after the wedding and honeymoon!”

 
 
The Difference Between Wedding Planners, Wedding Coordinators, and Event Designers