Wedding Planner vs. Wedding Coordinator vs. Wedding Stylists – What are the differences?

Planning a wedding for most is not something you would normally have much experience if any at doing which is why I have put together some honest, helpful tips and guidance about what they all do and which one could work best for you or perhaps after reading this article you should have more of an idea what fits best for you or you even may discover that you can do it alone without any additional support. Read on for a breakdown of what each different wedding professional does.

Wedding Planners

Wedding planners are with you either from the start or very early on in your wedding planning journey. They are all about the logistics, supplier recommendations and negotiations right through to managing and on the day execution of bringing your visions and designs together. A wedding planner will keep track of your budget and handle all the logistics in the lead up and on the actual day.

This is a skill that many can learn, but only the best wedding planners have the years of experience and credentials that sets them above the rest.

You will find some planners also provide a design or styling element, helping you with the creative aspects of the day and will work more in-depth with your design elements.

Duties of a wedding planner include but not limited to the following….

  1. They will be working anything up to 300 hours in to planning your day
  2. Provides supplier recommendations, negotiates contracts and will attend supplier appointments with you.
  3. Manages your budget
  4. Creates detailed timelines and floorplans
  5. Manages and overseas all supplier contacts
  6. Works with you style ideas and coordinates design ideas and concepts
  7. Manages any transportation and accommodation requirements
  8. Will be onsite on your wedding day right until the very end to execute the day as planned

I would recommend you hire a wedding planner if….

  1. You have the budget for it – this normally sits between 10 – 15% of the overall budget
  2. You have no or limited free time due to work schedules or perhaps working or living abroad
  3. You want the least possible worries or stress in the lead up to your wedding day
  4. You have no idea where to start and perhaps a little disorganised!
  5. You may have a very short time frame to plan the wedding
  6. You’re currently residing in another country to where you plan on getting married (destination wedding)
  7. Your wedding plans involve multiple locations and/or events to manage
  8. Your wedding venue is not a typical hotel or wedding venue but perhaps a marquee, DIY venue or an exclusive use space.

Wedding Stylists

There is often a grey area between a ‘Wedding Designer’ and a ‘Wedding Stylist’. To me, if I am honest they are fairly similar although a designer will be more specialised.  I would say the wedding designer sits very well with the well-established wedding planners that focus strongly on the design element of the day. However, a wedding stylist role is purely aesthetic and doesn’t include things such as managing the suppliers or attending the day to coordinate, run and oversea everything. A wedding stylist will specialise in the design elements from colours, flowers and lighting. They will have an artistic eye and create your vision and the ability to transform a space. Some wedding stylists will offer additional services like on-the-day management which is great from the design aspect as they can ensure your visions are executed throughout the day and often know the venue well if they have worked there before.

Duties of a wedding stylist includes but not limited to the following….

  1. They will be working around 2 – 25 hours on your design depending on how complex it is.
  2. Creates the wedding design concept
  3. Often sources the special props and any additional equipment needed
  4. Ensures all of the décor elements are in place on the day and coordinates collections etc
  5. Installs all the design elements of the day such as lighting, ceiling décor and any other aspects working with a florist.
  6. Often creates the vision boards

The thing to understand, due to so many variations of these roles is to establish exactly what your wedding designer or stylist can do. Some designers will go that step further and create detailed floor plans, provide colour palettes, overseas the design budget and manages every aspect including linen, furniture and stationery.

I would recommend you hire a wedding stylist if….

  1. The design element is the most important aspect of your wedding day
  2. You have a very specific theme in mind or quite the opposite, you may be overloaded with wedding style ideas but struggling to bring it altogether or create a clear design concept
  3. You are confident in your organisational skills and bringing the day together but perhaps your creative skills are lacking
  4. You want someone to oversee and manage the design concepts on the day


Wedding Coordinator

A wedding coordinator is often linked to a venue or perhaps specialises in on-the-day management. They are more logistically focused but on a shorter timeline than a wedding planner. You would normally meet with a wedding coordinator 4-6 weeks before the wedding and be the point of contact on the day. They would confirm your suppliers with you and create a detailed on-the-day timeline for you and liaise with all the suppliers in the lead up to your wedding. Aspects such as final payments, guests numbers etc will be looked at but they will not be involved in earlier planning elements such as managing your budget.

You can think of a wedding coordinator as someone that ensures that everything will run smoothly on the day and all the last details are all in place so you are free to enjoy your day.

Duties of a wedding coordinator includes but not limited to the following….

  1. Works up to 25 hours on your wedding
  2. Meets with you 4 – 6 weeks before your wedding day to run through all your plans and bring it all together.
  3. Liaises with all your suppliers and confirms the logistics with them all
  4. Creates a detailed timeline of your day
  5. Will run through the final walk-through of the day including the ceremony and reception.
  6. Addresses any areas overlooked
  7. Attends on the day of the wedding – typically around 8 hours.

I would recommend you hire a wedding coordinator if….

  1. You want to have complete control and an active role in planning your wedding but would like someone to take care of last minute details but attend on the day to oversee.
  2. You’re extremely organised and detail oriented that you want the added assurance that someone if managing this for you on the day
  3. You don’t have the budget for a wedding planner offering their full wedding planning service
  4. Ideal for venues that are dry hire, where often nobody is onsite to assist.

No matter whether you decide to hire a wedding planner, stylist of co-ordinator, it is best to secure them early on as soon as you know your wedding day as they will be key to ensuring you secure the best suppliers available to you.

I have touched on this in a previous blog article but the key factor in choosing a wedding planner, stylist of coordinator should not be down to price. Try and meet them in person or if you are not local or perhaps live abroad then have a Skype call. Most wedding planners offer a free consultation.

There is no official qualification or certificate you have to pass to become a wedding planner. Although I have completed a diploma in wedding and event planning, I know and have worked with many wedding professionals who are amazing but never completed any official training. Likewise belonging to an organisation such as the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners is an indicator of experience, it is not the only one. I am a member of this alliance and for me if gives my clients the confidence that I abide by the code of conduct and have provided references and my business model reviewed. Talent speaks for itself via photos on the planner’s website. As with all the professionals you hire for your wedding day, always read reviews and you are free to ask for any references from other suppliers and couples. Is the work you see on their Instagram or Facebook their own? Or is it simply stock images or reposts from other businesses?

Over the years, I think it is worth me mentioning that I have often seen the role of the caterer almost taken advantage of. As ultimately they are the team that are on site for most if not all the day, they will be asked or even expected to help with setting up tables, putting the table names out and so on. Whilst many will accommodate I would recommend you let them concentrate on the catering for your day and if you don’t have a professional wedding planner in place for the day, then ask a few friends or family members to help with those last minute touches.

If you are still a little unsure of what wedding planner professional would work best for you, please do drop me an email and I will be more than happy to chat through your ideas and see what best works for you.

As a wedding planner in Surrey and Sussex, I would love to hear your plans and remember if I am not right for you, it’s ok..I won’t take it personally!

Image credits – Emma Lucy PhotographyHigh Definition Media

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