In my last post I talked about wedding design, and this week I want to provide some clarity around the role of a wedding planner, vs a wedding coordinator, vs a venue coordinator. With so many differing options and price points it can be pretty hard to figure out what you're actually looking for.
Granted, Wedding Planning services can vary between companies and locations. In Seattle alone there are hundreds of planners and no doubt, every service is slightly different. So, what you read here applies to Rock & Stone Weddings and may or may not apply to everyone else!
The best time to engage a full service wedding planner is really as soon as possible! As soon as that ring slips on your finger, in fact! Many people think they need to wait until they have their venue and date confirmed, but we really encourage people to get in touch as soon as possible. Unless you've had your dream venue picked out for years, it can be helpful to get a planner's advice. We will work with you to understand your budget, and the aesthetic and overall experience you're envisioning, and can provide recommendations accordingly. We can also provide insight into hidden costs and pitfalls with certain venues that might not be obvious on first look. For example, many couples get stung because they see a low venue rental but don't take into account the fact that having to use the venue's preferred catering and bar services may push them out of budget. If you don't have the time or inclination (or even just the experience) to run through all the scenarios, hiring a wedding planner early on can definitely help you to maximize your budget and achieve the wedding you're dreaming of.
Once you have you wedding planner engaged you should really be able to count on them to take all the stress away from you. From providing vendor recommendations to sourcing decor, to checking contracts and providing advice on any and every concern or query you might have along the way! While, for the majority of brides this is all brand new, its not a wedding planner's first rodeo! One of my brides said to me last week that people keep asking her how the planning is going and if she is stressed, and her reply is 'No! I just have fun doing crafty things, my wedding planner does everything else!' Music to my ears! Rightly or wrongly, wedding planners are available to their couples pretty much 24/7 from the time you book them right through to the wedding, and sometimes beyond... whether it's a second opinion on a dress, advice on a guest crisis or just morale support we always love hearing from our couples and pride ourselves on how many of them have become friends.
A common misconception is that Wedding Planners are only for brides who don't want to make decisions or don't have a vision for how they want their day to look. I often hear the phrase 'I'm too much of a control freak to hire a full service wedding planner!' Now, it's true that I do have some very hands off brides that trust me implicitly to pick the right vendors and just make the magic happen. Sometimes, location means that it's not just feasible for the couple to meet with vendors and having a Planner to rely on is critical. However, for other couples, being really involved in every step is not just important, but also fun for them, and we relish the opportunity to work with both. A good planner will understand what level of involvement you want, and check in with you as little, or as much, as you want and need, to feel comfortable.
Now, for coordination... While some companies call this 'Day of Coordination' and some call it 'Month of Coordination' the premise is really the same. If you look at the details, a Day Of Coordinator' will typically start engaging with you and your vendors a month before the wedding. I would be very wary of anyone who turns up blind on the day!
Unlike the planner, they have not been involved throughout your planning process. Although many couples like to have their coordinator booked early on along with other key vendors, it would be normal for the coordinator to start actively working on the project 3 to 4 weeks before the big day.
At this stage, we would visit your venue with you to get a feel for the layout and run of the day and go through an extensive questionnaire to gather vendor contact information, your plan for the day and all timings and logistics. At this stage we will provide advice and recommendations based on our experience to make sure the day flows smoothly, pull together a detailed timeline, and distribute it to all vendors and key members of the wedding party a week before the big day.
On the day itself we will be on site to greet all vendors, oversee the set up and decor, ensuring everything is as planned, managing the timeline, directing as needed and handling any issues that may arise before you even have time to notice!
While styling services are not included in most coordination packages, making things look gorgeous is our jam, and we would be more than happy to add in styling services if required.
A wedding coordinator is ideal for the couple who have planned their own wedding but want someone else to oversee things on the day so that they, and their friends and family, can relax and just enjoy themselves.
A venue coordinator is often confused with a day of coordinator but is actually a very different service. While a day of coordinator is focussed on every aspect of the wedding, a venue coordinator is primarily focussed on managing the venue staff and ensuring the catering is on track. They may also be managing multiple events so you cannot expect to have dedicated attention and support throughout the day. Nor are they responsible for dealing with other vendors. So if the worst happened and your DJ couldn't get there, you couldn't rely on them to get someone else in and save the day. A day of coordinator will be dedicated to ensuring every aspect of your day is flawless and anticipating issues before they occur. Even if your venue comes with coordinator I would strongly recommend looking into hiring your own day of coordinator.