Whether you've just started your wedding planning process or your just weeks away from saying "I Do", you should always seek the advice of a wedding planning expert. These experts can go by a multitude of titles: Wedding Planner, Wedding Consultant, Wedding Coordinator, etc. Knowing the difference between each one can help you decide which person can better fit your needs and possibly even your budget. Let's get started!
A wedding planner is by your side throughout the planning process. When you hire a wedding planner, they will most likely offer you a couple of packages to choose from. You can choose from a range of partial planning (you still want to be involved in the planning process) to full planning (omg you are so busy and just want to have all of the decisions made for you).
The major differences between these packages should be the services that are offered before your Big Day. Meaning that the day-of duties should remain the same, regardless of the package you choose. Some planners also limit the communication you have with one another, based on the package chosen. A good planner should always offer unlimited contact via email. If you have any questions throughout the process, you should be able to shoot a quick email over to your wedding planner and receive a response within 24-48 hours. Phone calls will typically need to be scheduled - just so that you are their center of attention and scheduled into their busy day. In-person meetings will likely be limited and will differ by the package you choose. It should clearly state in both the package you choose and your contract that X-amount of planner consultations will take place and your planner will attend X-amount of vendor meetings.
Once the contract is signed, your wedding planner should provide to you a plethora of awesome planning resources such as a preferred vendors list, a detailed planning checklist, wedding invitation/stationary information, and more. Make sure you look at all of these resources thoroughly and actually use them.
The Day-Of duties of a wedding planner are similar to those of a wedding coordinator. Let's explain further.
A wedding-coordinator should only offer one package. It will either be titled Day-Of or Month-Of. Regardless of the title, they both should mean the same thing. Your coordinator will reach out to you approximately a month before your Big Day and ask for a bunch of information, including all of your vendor contracts and design details. Your wedding coordinator should look through all of your contracts to make sure there isn't any "holes" or details missed, timing is appropriate, and that all payments have been squared away.
Your coordinator will also create a very detailed wedding day timeline or itinerary. They will reach out to all of your vendors and confirm arrival times, times of service (i.e. hair and make-up scheduling) and departure times. All of this will be laid out on a multi-page timeline that will be sent out 1-week prior to the wedding date. Your coordinator should also provide hard copies of the timeline to the wedding party on the rehearsal day. During your 1-hour rehearsal, the coordinator will line up the wedding party and rehearse through the processional and recessional a few times to make sure everyone is comfortable with how to walk and stand during the ceremony.
The biggest job of a Day-Of coordinator is *GASP* the Wedding Day! Your coordinator should be one of the first to arrive to make sure everything is prepped and ready for the vendors to arrive and start setting up. They will typically set out your personal decor (signing item, pictures, guest book, etc.) and assist the wedding professionals with anything they need as they arrive. They should be keeping a close eye on the timeline, ensuring everyone is where they are supposed to be at the correct time. They will line up and cue the bridal party for the ceremony, and again for the grand entrance into the reception. Typically your coordinator will only stay until all of the major formalities are over, and then they will head out and leave the rest of the party in the hands of your very-capable DJ or band. Clean-up/break-down assistance or extra hours should be able to be contracted for an additional cost.
A good wedding coordinator will check-in on the couple throughout the day, but will keep any minor issues to themselves to not worry you or add extra stress. The couple should only be approached with major issues (i.e. an inclimate weather call) Your coordinator should also have their emergency-kit on hand for any small disasters that will probably happen on your day. No wedding day goes by perfectly!
These professionals are often wedding planners who offer a consulting package at an hourly rate. If you can't afford a wedding planner or coordinator, a consultant should be a great way to ensure you are on the right track. They will be able to look over any contracts and answer any and all questions you have. Once the meeting is over, that will be all of the contact you'll have with your consultant, unless you choose to move forward with a greater package or ask them for a few more hours of their time.
The wedding decorator simply does that - decorates. There's no timeline creation or rehearsal assistance. They will come in, decorate your ceremony and reception spaces, and leave. Simple as that! This could be great for the DIY bride that doesn't have a florist doing the centerpieces and needs help setting up the space. The decorator either charges a flat-package rate or charges by the hour.
Hopefully this blog post has cleared up any confusion about who is who and who does what. No matter which direction you choose to go, it is incredibly important that you are choosing someone that is licensed and insured and is a professional in their field. I always stress the importance of reading recent reviews and making sure that the vendor is an actual professional, not someone that just does this as a hobby on the side. When hiring a wedding planner or coordinator, I highly recommend searching for a Certified Wedding Planner through The Bridal Society. (Not someone that got a $20 Groupon certification, please!)
You Said Yes! Weddings & Events is a Florida-based certified wedding planning company serving the Tallahassee and Tampa Bay regions, surrounding areas, and destination weddings (please take us with you!)