Wedding Planner vs. Coordinator: Key Differences Explained

Planning for a wedding is crucial, and most couples put much effort into the preparation to make their dream wedding come true. However exciting it may seem time constraints, unmanageable vendors and unexpected issues may come along the way. This is why more couples now opt to hire the services of a wedding planner and/or a coordinator to free themselves of such burdens. These two terms are oftentimes interchangeably used, but they are actually two different professions in the wedding industry.

The key differences between a wedding planner and coordinator fall into the following characteristics: their duties, duration of work, and cost of services.

  • A wedding planner walks you through the entire planning process, which includes concept development, budget and timeline management, vendor communication, and so on.
  • A wedding coordinator comes in a few weeks before the event and is mainly responsible for the proper execution of all the carefully planned details.

In this article, we examine the roles of a wedding planner and a coordinator to provide a comparison between these two professions.

Wedding Planner

wedding checklist

Almost all wedding planners offer full-service packages. These will cover all activities from planning to designing, and managing your wedding day. A wedding planner, together with his or her team, is someone you usually hire at the beginning of your planning process. They provide you professional assistance to handle all of the essential details of your celebration.

For couples wanting to forego the stresses and costs of having big and traditional celebrations, some wedding planners specialize in handling intimate ceremonies such as pop-up weddings and micro weddings. Elopement planners also offer all-inclusive packages for those who prefer to elope.

Upon employing a planner, you present to them the ideas of your wedding vision, how you would want your wedding to be, your timeline, the estimated number of guests, and an overall budget. If you get overwhelmed with too many ideas, your planner can help you streamline them to define a clear vision.

From there they can help you break down your vision into details. Because of their expertise and experience in the industry, they will know which to prioritize and when to schedule activities like booking a wedding photographer, securing a venue for the ceremony and reception, sending out invitations, and so forth.

wedding planner bride

A great wedding planner will have good relationships with top-rated and trusted vendors. They will be more effective at communicating your vision to your chosen suppliers and everyone else involved.

The planner can also assist you in finalizing wedding elements, such as the foliage for floral arrangements, invitation design and printing, music playlist, wedding shoe game questions, and much more.

Wedding Planner Duties

Common wedding planner duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assists in conceptualizing your wedding vision, overall theme, and design details
  • Helps in establishing and managing your budget
  • Develops and manages the timeline for the wedding preparation activities, and program for the wedding day and other festivities
  • Recommends or sources wedding venue, florist, caterer, photographers, and other vendors
  • Negotiates with vendors on your behalf and reviews contracts with you
  • Controls vendor communication, bookings, payments, and schedule
  • Attends venue walk-throughs, vendor meetings, and menu tasting
  • Manages the guest list and RSVP, creates a floor plan and seating arrangement
  • Creates contingency plans

When to Hire a Wedding Planner?

Choosing to employ a wedding planner will depend on your time and budget constraints. You can opt to be directly involved in planning, sourcing, and communicating with all parties. Or, you may decide to let the planner handle it all for you.

Ideally, hiring a planner is done at the early stages of wedding preparations. On average, they put in more than 10 hours per week, or over 150 hours in total, for an all-inclusive service package.

How Much Does a Wedding Planner Cost?

Different wedding planners may vary in their pricing strategy. Some charge a flat fee while others charge a percentage of the total wedding costs. This will also depend upon the experience and demand of the wedding planner. Typically, they will offer you different packages according to your budget and the level of service you would want from them.

A full-service package may range from $5,000 to over $10,000 and may vary according to the number of guests, location, time of year, and chosen venue. This is estimated at 10 to 20 percent of the total wedding cost.

Wedding Coordinator

wedding day setup

Often called a day-of coordinator, a wedding coordinator is a person responsible for implementing all the details you have carefully planned, and making sure that they are well executed during the wedding day.

The coordinator manages all the logistics during the event and oversees the venue setup, including furniture and details arrangement. They supervise all of the vendors and communicate with them directly, so you do not have to deal with them during the affair. They do not handle budget adjustments; however, they verify whether all of the suppliers’ goods and services are provided according to their contracts.

The coordinator runs wedding rehearsals, ceremony, reception, and the transitions that happen in between. They ensure that the wedding day timeline is followed and all activities start and end on time.

Wedding Coordinator Duties

Common wedding coordinator duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Supervises all day-of logistics
  • Acts as a liaison between vendors and the couple to minimize communication among them
  • Implements detail arrangements such as escort cards, programs, guest book, favors, etc.
  • Manages the flow of guests, families, entourage, and assists the couple throughout the festivities
  • Handles any issue that arises and carries out contingency plans

When to Hire a Wedding Coordinator?

A wedding coordinator is not there for the long-term process of wedding preparation. This person is usually hired a few months before the wedding, but the bulk of their work starts from 4-8 weeks before the day of the event. The coordinator comes in on the last few weeks leading to the wedding day to help put together all the elements that have been planned. The hours put in by a wedding coordinator is typically less than that of a planner, usually 15-30 hours’ worth of work.

Oftentimes the wedding planner can also serve as the day-of coordinator. This may be included in a full-service package or charged as an extra service.
Some couples, especially those with a knack for DIY, prefer to do the wedding preparations themselves. Even if they will opt not to get a wedding planner, it is still recommended to hire a day-of coordinator to handle all wedding day logistics and tasks.

How Much Does a Wedding Coordinator Cost?

money roll cost

A wedding coordinator, on average, costs $1,000 to $1,500 depending on their experience and demand. Pricing may also vary according to the number of vendors, size of the wedding, venue setup, and location. Most coordinators will also customize their fees to suit their couple’s budget and the level of service they need.

Essential Tips When Selecting Your Pro

Consider Your Budget and Resources

Before setting out to hire a wedding professional, it is essential to consider how much time you are willing to invest in planning, your available budget, expected headcount, and preferred location. These factors will help you decide whether a wedding planner or a coordinator best suits your needs.

Research and Evaluate

Do your research first before booking your team. Seek recommendations from families and friends. Reach out and interview several wedding planners and coordinators to figure out what works best for you. Read reviews from social media pages, and ask for references or testimonials from past clients. Since you will be dealing with them for a while, it is essential to evaluate and see if you can work with them effectively.

Review the Proposals

Wedding planners and coordinators offer various service packages to match the needs and budget of the couple. Before selecting, always check the proposals and ask for an itemized list or a breakdown of services being offered. With this, you will know what to expect from them.

Book Ahead of Time

It is best to source and book your wedding planner or coordinator once you have selected your wedding date. In this way, you will have ample time to discuss the preparations with them. Some sought-after wedding professionals may even be fully booked for several months. Thus, once you have selected your preferred planner or coordinator, book them in advance.