When planning a wedding, I always suggest that my clients make a list of things they must have, things they would like to have, and things they don’t want. I always insist that a wedding coordinator is on the must-have list! The first question I get when I tell them this is always the same, “what is the difference between a planner and a coordinator?”
In some instances they are the same. For example, if a client purchases a planning package with Any Way You Want It Weddings & Events, they automatically receive a coordination package. It is already built into every planning package. However, the role of the planner and the role of the coordinator are actually quite different.
A wedding coordinator is the person there the day of the wedding, and the rehearsal, to direct (coordinate) your wedding. They are there to do all of the hands-on work at the rehearsal, ceremony, and/or reception. The coordinator’s job is to make sure that everything you’ve planned goes smoothly. They will oversee every detail. Their duties will include, but are not limited to, vendor management and ensuring that contracts are being followed through (i.e. that all of your must see photos are being taken), keeping everyone on schedule, keeping the bridal party in all the right places, keeping the guests happy and making sure that you have everything you need.
A wedding planner is a little more self-explanatory. They plan weddings. They can be hired at any point in the planning process, but they are there from that point on. They will visit vendors with you, give you referrals, help you negotiate prices, help develop the theme and style of your wedding, help you stay within your budget, and be there to offer advice, tips, and answer questions. They are really there for everything.
I always use the same reference when explaining the difference between these two roles. The movie, “The Wedding Planner”. The movie starts with Jennifer Lopez, Mary, at a wedding. She has all of the proper “tools” and know-how to make the wedding run smoothly. She is there to solve and avert every problem. This is the role of the coordinator.
Throughout the rest of the movie she is helping Steve & Fran plan their wedding. From touring the venue to picking out flowers, she is there for everything. This is the role of the planner.
The biggest difference between the two is that a wedding planner is not a must. DIY brides are all the rage right now and I get that. I was a DIY bride. It’s the perfect way to put your own touch on your very special day. There are tons of planning books and resources that can help you plan for the big day, but when it comes to the day of your wedding you can’t expect to be able to do it all. You’re going to be a bit busy.
The next thing a lot of brides say is, “can’t my friend just coordinate the wedding for me?” They sure can, but is that really what you want them to do? However, unless your friend is a wedding coordinator they probably don’t know what all they need to stay on top of. They probably won’t talk with the vendors and make sure they are set up properly and sticking to their contracts, she won’t keep an eye on little things like spills or overflowing trash and making sure they’re taken care of right away. Most importantly, wouldn’t you rather that they were able to enjoy the day instead of running around and working hard all day? And trust me it is hard work.
If you’re still not sold, talk to a bride who didn’t think it was important to hire a coordinator. Any that I have spoken to have regretted it tremendously, me included. See our blog entry, “The Importance of a Wedding Planner,” for the whole story.
Trust me, you don’t want to be the bride running around making sure that the favors are set out just so and that all of the guests received the proper entrée. Even small things like finding toilet paper if the bathrooms run out take up time that you could be spending enjoying your wedding. You may say that you won’t worry about these little details, but when you think about how hard you’ve worked to make this day perfect do you really think you’ll just stop worrying about it on your wedding day if there’s no one there to take care of it all for you?
You want a perfect wedding, we all do, but perfection is hard work and hard work is the last thing a bride should be doing on her wedding day!!
So, my point, hire a coordinator…and a good one at that! I’d be even happier if there was a wedding planner to go along with that coordinator, but one is better than none!
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day and happy planning!!
Check back next week for the start of our décor series!