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Wedding Planner vs. Day-Of Coordinator

What's the difference?

Beautiful wedding in Magnolia, TX (The Meekermark) coordinated by Lillie Jane Designs; photographed by Korina Marie Photography

As a professional in the wedding industry, I sometimes forget that engaged couples, and basically everyone that does not work in this industry, is not super familiar with all of the wedding vocabulary. One of two terms that fall into the most confused category just so happen to be my specialty. Clients and other vendors mix up Wedding Planner and Day-of Coordinator. So, if you’re raising your hand as a member of the “I’m confused” category, don’t fret! Allow me to clear some things up.

Wedding Planner

If you look up the definition of a Wedding Planner, the general response in a nutshell is:

A person employed by a bride and groom to assist them in planning, designing and coordinating their wedding day (www.yourdictionary.com)

A Wedding Planner takes the reins at the very beginning (or close to the beginning) of the planning journey. You can think of s/he as the leader of all wedding details working on behalf of the engaged couple. Service packages for a Wedding Planner may be titled Full Wedding Coordination or Partial Coordination

Wedding Planners DO:

  • Understand vision & wedding goals of couple
  • Advise couple on wedding traditions, standards, & expectations
  • Review wedding checklist/’to-do’s and keep couple on track
  • Maintain wedding budget
  • Select and coordinate venue and vendors
    • *usually already have info & pricing on other vendors, and possibly discounts with some
  • Design planning
  • Assist in invitation and RSVP tracking
  • Develop floor plan and wedding itinerary
  • Host ceremony rehearsal
  • Provide day-of wedding coordination
    • Greet and direct vendors/deliveries
    • Manage itinerary
    • Conflict management
    • Distribute vendor final payments and/or tips
  • Post-wedding follow-ups (i.e., vendor pick-ups/returns)
  • May also assist with: payment tracking, coordinating engagement or bridal parties or rehearsal dinner, honeymoon planning, or other duties specified by service contract

Wedding Planners DO NOT:

  • Run personal errands (i.e., delivering bridal party attire, steam your clothes, babysit etc.)
  • Sign other vendor contracts for couple
  • Pay outstanding balances to other vendors
  • Interfere in personal family or friend matters or discussions
  • Act as an MC (or server, or other vendor) for the wedding

Day-Of Coordinator

A Day-Of Coordinator is an alternative to hiring a full-service Wedding Planner. If a couple is planning their wedding all on their own, a Day-of Coordinator is hired to make sure the actual wedding day doesn’t require the couple, or their friends, family, or guests to manage the event and put out fires rather than enjoying the event. Many venues are also beginning to require an insurance Day-Of Coordinator for each wedding to ensure there is a professional managing the entire event.

The definition for a Day-Of Coordinator is pretty much in the name: someone who coordinates, and mostly hosts, the wedding day. However, the name is also slightly misleading. Although the name states day-of, this coordinator will begin working with you at a minimum of two weeks prior to your wedding day—most begin even sooner than that. The main purpose of a Day-Of Coordinator is to gather all of the wedding details you’ve been planning for months (or years) and putting them altogether to run a smooth, pleasant day. Service packages, or professional titles, for a Day-Of Coordinator may be: Day-Of Coordination, Month-Of Coordination, or Day-Of Planner.

Day-Of Coordinators DO:

  • Schedule vendor delivery and pick-up times
  • Finalize venue floor plan
  • Host ceremony rehearsal
  • Develop and manage day-of itinerary
  • Conflict management on wedding day
  • Distribute vendor final payments and/or tips (if due day-of)
  • May also assist with: rehearsal dinner coordination, décor setup and/or cleanup, or other duties specified by service contract. May also provide items to assist couple in their own planning such as helpful information, checklists, and/or timelines.

Day-Of Coordinators DO NOT:

  • Maintain wedding budget
  • Select venue or vendors (may provide vendors list for reference at couple’s request)
  • Wedding design
  • Invitation and RSVP coordination and tracking
  • Run personal errands (i.e., delivering bridal party attire, steam your clothes, babysit, etc.)
  • Sign other vendor contracts for couple
  • Pay outstanding balances to other vendors
  • Interfere in personal family or friend matters or discussions
  • Act as an MC (or server, or other vendor) for the wedding

Every professional’s services, whether hiring a full-service Wedding Planner or a Day-Of Coordinator, will differ slightly. Always read contracts completely before signing or agreeing to anything, and ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable... then ask some more. No matter your budget, a professional Wedding Planner is always a smart hire to ensure you have the wedding you want and avoid nuances in this industry that you are not familiar with. If you cannot afford a Wedding Planner, you should absolutely hire the next best choice, a Day-Of Coordinator. You don’t want to spend an arm and a leg (and sometimes, a foot and a toe) on what should be one of the most special days of your life, only to have it filled with chaos on your wedding day because you did not consult a professional.

As always, do your research! You’re taking the first step in reading this article—check out more planning tips and details of my wedding planning services at www.lilliejanedesigns.com.

Happy Planning, friends!

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