Wedding Planner, Wedding Designer, Wedding Coordinator...What's the Difference?

Back by popular request, Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito walks you through the different titles in the wedding industry, what they mean, and how they impact your planning experience.

Wedding Planner, Wedding Designer, Wedding Coordinator...What's The Difference?    Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito (right) and two of her coordinators, Daniela Salvador and Kaitlin Collini before a wedding at Ghostbar.

Wedding Planner, Wedding Designer, Wedding Coordinator...What's The Difference?  Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito (right) and two of her coordinators, Daniela Salvador and Kaitlin Collini before a wedding at Ghostbar.

Head over to any social media site and you'll find 101 different titles for people in the wedding industry.  Some people refer to themselves as Wedding Planners.  Others use the term Coordinators.  Still others like to consider themselves Wedding Designers, and some create their own fancy titles to set themselves apart from the crowd.  

So....What's the difference?  Who should you hire, and why?  What are the services and skill set that each professional possesses, and is there a "one size fits all" title that you should look for to give you everything you need?

Let's explore....

1.  What is a Wedding Designer?

You walk into a room it takes your breath away.  Each and every little thing, from the temperature of the room to the lighting, the way it hits the linens, the china and chairs, the flowers...It all just comes together. Everything is in it's place, and it brings about a sensory experience, and everything you come in contact with just feels like it's meant to be there.  That's wedding design.  

Wedding & Event DesignersIt's been said that "designers" can charge anywhere from 25% - 125% more than coordinators or planners, as the aesthetics of a room are often what matters most to a bride.  And designers deserve it.  They come to the table with an understanding of both art and science, of color, flowers, fabric, and lighting.  Think of them as interior decorators to the most photographed day of your life.   

Some wedding planners do offer event design as a part of their services. As a luxury wedding planner and event designer who offers all-inclusive services,  it is my job to envision the overall look and feel of my couple's weddings.  This is one of the most fun things that I get to do.  It's the "pretty" - the glamorous stuff that everyone loves to see on Instagram and talk about and play with.  From the initial narrative that describes the day to the inspiration board, meetings, linen selection, and demo, the designing of a wedding is what most people think of when it comes to the planning.  But, as you will see, the planning is much, much more.

2.  What does a Wedding Planner do?

A wedding planner is the person who oversees everything that takes place throughout the planning process and execution of your wedding day.  If there were a hierarchy or organizational chart that explains the wedding world, your planner would be at the tip of it.  Wedding planners come with a "jack of all trades" set of tools, and assist with everything from the overall scheme and design to the handling of budget creation, vendor selection, contract negotiations, managing the details, and then on-site execution.  A good wedding planner will review each and every aspect of your wedding, to ensure that each and every detail is attended to, and that there are no "OMG!" moments.  

As a wedding planner, I have been known to tackle every emergency imaginable, and a few you probably haven't thought of.  Broken shoe?  Got it.  Torn dress?  I can sew that.  Missing parent?  I'm on it.  From the very big (one bride ended up with a soiled wedding dress that needed to be cleaned by hand...that took two hours and a lot of trickery!) to the very small (where did I put my hair tie?) there is literally nothing I have not done and nothing I won't do to make certain that the day is a complete and utter success.

Just a Thought...

There is this idea in some circles that a Wedding Planner and a Wedding Designer cannot and should not be the same person.  In fact, while it is an industry standard in some markets to separate the two rolls, I whole heartedly disagree.  As your wedding planner, I am the person who spends the most time getting to know you, and therefore when it comes to the details and the design, there is no one else more in your head than your wedding planner.  Wedding planners begin to think like you, we know who you are and what you want, and so working on the design and putting together the elements of your day is not only a natural thing, but it's vital to making sure that your day is your day, and not the vision of someone else.  

Now, that's not to say that I don't work with other designers.  As a wedding planner and event designer, I work with my couples to design the overall look and feel of the day.  Then, I tap into the relationships I have with floral and decor house.  Together, we collaborate on every element, matching the flowers with the linens, discussing napkins folds, accenting various parts of the room with lighting, and so on.

Most importantly, your wedding planner will be able to work with the design team to ensure that the installation is actually and legitimately possible.  Some weddings can be set up in a day; others require a full weekend.  While a wedding designer will be able to tell you how long it will take to accomplish a look, it's your wedding planner that actually handles the logistics of making this happen.

My final thoughts...Find a planner with a distinct style and vision that you trust to help bring your wedding to life, and allow them to head the design team.  Work with one person that is the hub of all information; sartorial and logistical.  Having one person at the head of the team will always be in your best interest.

3.  What does a Wedding Coordinator do?

Exactly as the title implies, a Wedding Coordinators is there to handle the nuts and bolts, to coordinate the details and make sure that you and your fiancé can enjoy the day while all of the little things are taken care of.

At each wedding I plan, I bring a team of coordinators that serve a number of purposes.  Some are assigned to the bride, others are assigned to the groom, and at times they may be tasked with walking the ceremony or reception room, placing down programs or menus, setting out  favors, or delivering messages to our creative partners on my behalf.

Some couples who wish to handle the planning of their wedding on their own, or with a family member, will then hire Day Of Wedding coordinators to take over a week or so out; trouble shooting problems and being the contact for the venue and the vendors.  While this is not a service that my team offers, I do believe that every couple should hire or identify a person that is authorized to act on their behalf, allowing them to enjoy their day and their guests without distraction.

4.  When a venue offers a wedding coordinator, what does that mean?

Let me be very, very clear about this:  A venue coordinator is hired, trained, and retained by the venue to ensure that the basic requirements of the contract are fulfilled and the venue is taken care of, often times by taking care of you in some small way.  As employees of the church, banquet hall, or resort location, the venue coordinator will help take care of the most basic needs; scheduling the space, ensuring that it is cleaned and cleared and ready to be set as needed, processing your menu order, etc.  This is the person that your wedding planner will communicate with to ensure that your wishes are carried out.  

Think of it this way; Your wedding planner is your advocate, the only thing your wedding planner cares about is ensuring that you have the wedding of your dreams. The venue coordinator is the site's advocate, and will ensure that they provide the things you need in a timely and precise manner while maintaining the needs and rights of the venue.

So, who do you hire?

Your wedding is unlike any other.  What you need and want from your wedding team will vary based on how hands on you plan to be, how over the top and elaborate your wedding will be, and the amount of assistance you will want.  


Luxury Las Vegas Wedding Planner and Event Designer Andrea Eppolito explains the different roles wedding professionals play in the planning of your day.

PS....From time to time....My Wedding Coordinators & I get in on the fun...