Wedding PlanningWhen couples begin planning for their wedding, they have a number of different options from which to choose. They may decide to hire a professional wedding planner or wedding designer to help them stage the big day, or may choose to rely on their wedding venue’s on site coordinator to pull everything together in time for the nuptials.

What couples often don’t realize, however, is that these are three distinctly different professional occupations, and each offers a unique service. While there may be some overlap in the services provided, they do not provide the same services. In the world of professional wedding planning, these titles can sometimes become conflated, leading to confusion on the part of the newlyweds, and disappointment or frustration throughout the wedding planning process.

In order for couples to make the right choice for their wedding, it is important that they understand just what each of these professionals has to offer.

The Professional Wedding Planner

The professional wedding planner typically offers a full range of services, covering every aspect of the wedding from the service itself to the reception. They rely on their extensive knowledge and expertise to guide couples through the planning process to ensure that their wedding goes off without a hitch. Their industry contacts, including caterers, florists and other wedding applicable vendors, means that they can often offer their clients a wider range of choices and amenities than they might otherwise have had access to.

Typically, a professional wedding planner is responsible for:

  • Managing the wedding budget
  • Selecting the venue and coordinating with it’s staff
  • Hiring and coordinating the various vendors (florists, caterers, entertainers)
  • Design assistance for the wedding and reception (color schemes, themes, decorations)
  • Creating a realistic day-of-the-wedding time line

The professional wedding planner is the crème de la crème of wedding professionals, and their job is to oversee every aspect of your wedding. While their services do not come cheap, the results can be seen in the production of a wedding and reception that the happy couple and their guests will remember for a lifetime.

The Wedding Designer

Wedding designers often get confused with wedding planners. While the two professions do have some creative overlap, the wedding designer rarely handles any administrative duties. Their concern is with the look and feel of your wedding, and their job is to realize your vision on the big day. Wedding designers work with couples to create a theme for their wedding, choose a color palette and decide on the decorations and floral arrangements. They may have relationships with certain vendors, but it will be up to the wedding couple themselves to coordinate with those vendors and to make the necessary contractual arrangements.

Venue Coordinators

Also known as on-site coordinators or facility managers, the venue coordinator is your designated liaison with the wedding venue you have booked, it’s management and staff. The venue coordinator is an invaluable asset to the couple who have decided to plan their wedding themselves. However, they should not be mistaken for a professional wedding planner. Many venue coordinators may offer vendor referrals, and will help with some aspects of the planning process, but they can only assist couples with decisions that apply to the venue itself. They are not a hands-on wedding planner, and should not be mistaken for one.

Venue coordinators typically assist couple in the following areas:

  • Providing a list of vendor referrals (typically vendors with which the venue has a working relationship)
  • Establishing the time line for the wedding and reception as regards the venue and its staff
  • Managing the catering service, IF the venue offers on-site catering and the couple chooses the in house option

Couples choosing to plan their wedding themselves should rely on their venue coordinator for help and advice concerning the venue itself, but should understand that they typically do not concern themselves with any aspect of the wedding or reception that does not directly impact the venue or its staff.

Wedding planners, wedding designers and venue coordinators all offer a valuable service for couples preparing for their wedding day. But they are not interchangeable. There is a natural hierarchy of wedding professionals, with the wedding planner firmly established at the top. Understanding what each professional offers will help couples avoid any potential frustration or disappointments during the wedding planning process. Deciding which is right for you will depend on your budget, and how hands-on you want to be in the planning process.

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