What does a wedding planner do (and what’s the difference between them all?)

Hooray! You’re engaged, and oh my isn’t there a lot to think about. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, and don’t worry that’s quite normal. Some of you may be thinking about whether you need to hire a professional (but what does a wedding planner do?) to help you, someone who knows all the ins and outs of planning a wedding, or maybe you’re on it already with all the spreadsheets like these couples and you want an on the day coordinator just for the big day so that you can chill and enjoy the day with your new spouse, family and friends. 

In my role as your wedding photographer, I get asked a ton of questions about whether my couples need a wedding planner, or a stylist or an on the day coordinator, and what even is the difference between them all?

Wedding planning is such a personal experience but luckily there are so many options nowadays!

I decided that the best thing to do would be to rally round some of my industry favourite wedding planners and coordinators to ask them to share their pearls of wisdom.

what is a wedding planner fiona kelly photography

What does a wedding planner do? And what’s a wedding stylist?

Rebecca K Events defines a wedding planner as the “behind-the-scenes machine into organising and coordinating your wedding day.”

Rebecca shared a little more about the best kind of relationships with couples are where you hire a planner from start to finish so they can help you set a budget, find a venue and get the best suppliers. This is particularly useful if you have a demanding job and not enough time to organise your big day or if you have zero idea of where to start and want a stress-free experience.

A wedding stylist is different from a planner – they are there to beautify your day rather than the logistics. Some planners, like Rebecca, offer a design aspect for an additional fee, but many planners focus on just the logistics of making your day stress-free. Stylists  will advise the couple on suppliers that focus on creating a “cohesive and stylish look bringing it all together”. If an Instagrammable, Pinterest-, magazine-worthy design led wedding is what you are looking for, then a wedding stylist is often the one to hire. 

Emma Joy the Wedding Planner:

“ We spend hours getting to know you, your hopes and dreams and often we become friends in the process. We give you lots of great advice about timing and logistics, which is especially valuable if you’re getting married in a marquee. On the day itself, we’re responsible for making sure everything goes smoothly. Imagine how reassuring it would feel to wake up on your wedding day knowing that I’ve memorised the timings, communicated personally with all of your suppliers and that I understand exactly what’s important to you and your partner. If something goes wrong, it’s my job to make it right!”

Helaina Storey is a wedding designer:

“We personally refer to ourselves as ‘wedding designers’ as we offer a unique blend of both these services, either together or individually, and take a creative, style-led approach to both (planning and styling).

A wedding planner usually helps with everything organisation-related. Think venue searching, budgets, guest lists, sourcing, liaising with and managing suppliers and providing coordination on the day itself, allowing you to relax and enjoy every moment. All the tasks involving the logistics, planning and overall management of your event are taken care of.

A stylist’s focus will be on the décor and all the aesthetic elements of your day from thoughtful favours, pretty tableware and bespoke signage to the floral design and interesting installations such as a unique ceremony backdrop or creative table plan, for example. Their approach will generally be more stylistic than organisational; designing, developing and executing the visual concept for your event.”

orange wedding flowers what is a wedding coordinator

What does a wedding coordinator do?

Nina from Occasion Queens, specialises in on the day coordination:

“Having an extra pair of hands is never going to be a bad thing when it comes to wedding planning but you need to make sure it’s the right level of input for you, and that varies depending on what you need. A wedding planner will take care of every little detail for you, they will be your go to and best friend throughout the whole process, from the very beginning to the very end. They will bring together every single want in the easiest way for you. However, there are so many people these days that feel they don’t need or want that level of input, that is where partial planning or on the day coordinators come in! We are there to ensure that you have a stress free day. You have put your heart and soul into planning and now we can come in and ensure that all the hard work comes together, allowing you to really enjoy your day – making memories in all the right way.”

Not to be confused with a venue coordinator who works for the venue in which they are employed, and their main role is to liaise with you as the couple from showing you around the venue to arranging the booking.  Most venues host a large number of weddings and events so it’s rarely physically possible for them to give you a personalised service you through the process of planning a wedding as an independent professional would do.

natural wedding photography do I need a wedding planner

Do I need a wedding planner?

Katrina Otter Weddings

“Absolutely not! If you want to plan your own wedding then plan your own wedding! If, on the other hand, you don’t have the time, you live overseas or are planning a wedding overseas, the prospect of planning your wedding is overwhelming / daunting / stressful, you’re struggling to bring your vision to life, you’re worried about how the day will run or who will oversee the set-up of your wedding (and so the list goes on) then this is why you’d hire a planner!”

Caroline Sian Weddings:

“Let’s ignore the obvious of the time poor couples and look at some others who might need a planner, such as those with experience of running events themselves. Often, these couples best understand the huge amount of work involved in successfully designing and planning an event and they have experienced things going wrong in the past. They’re perfectionists but don’t want to be drawn into the detail of organisation, especially on the big day itself. After all, they want to enjoy their day special day as a bride, not an event manager!”

Revelry Events:

“I’m super biased so yes you need a wedding planner my livelihood depends on it! Next question…I’m joking, a planner isn’t for everyone. However if you don’t have much time to dedicate to planning, you care a great deal about the design and style of your wedding, you’ve got multiple venues or its a dry hire, you’ve got a big guest list, you want to be really creative with your day or you just want to feel like you can trust all the suppliers working for you then yes it’s a wise move to employ a planner. They will be helpful in all these scenarios (and more).  A good planner will be able to look at the big picture and the minutiae of your wedding with the experience of dozens of weddings before them.

The difference between a planner, stylist and coordinator is that a planner is working across the wedding as a whole and covering off all tasks including styling and co-ordination. A stylist is more focused on the aesthetic of the wedding, how it looks and the set up,  a co-ordinator is normally attached to a venue or it is planner who is only managing the day and they are involved in the scheduling and logistics of the wedding day itself.”

sparklers at wedding london wedding photographer

So what should you do as a couple?

Melanie from Cranberry Blue was happy to clarify: “Wedding planning is a complex task and it’s easy for couples to under-estimate the time it actually takes, especially with long working hours and hectic social lives.  With so many things to arrange it’s hard to know where to begin which can at times make you feel completely swamped. Whether a planner, stylist or co-ordinator would be most suitable for you will depend on the scale and complexities of your wedding but also how much time you have to dedicate to the planning yourself.”

Wow! That was amazing and so helpful. Thanks everyone! If you have any other questions, please do get in touch with these amazing professionals!

Thanks for poppin by

Fee x

Huge thanks goes to the professionals who contributed their advice (in alphabetical order)

Caroline Sian Weddings

Cranberry Blue

Emma Joy the Wedding Planner

Helaina Storey

Katrina Otter Weddings

Occasion Queens

Rebecca K. Events

Revelry Events

natural wedding photographer helpful tips

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