Wedding Vendors

"I need a wedding planner, er, coordinator, um, designer. Wait... what?!"

We investigate your options so you know exactly what type of wedding planner you're shopping for.

You know it's smart to hire a planner—but should you hire a wedding planner, coordinator, consultant, architect, producer, designer, or stylist? Sure, it's confusing, but we investigated the different designations so that you'll know exactly what you're shopping for.

Job Titles Explained

Since there's no license or certification required to practice wedding planning for a living, planners essentially can call themselves whatever they want. And while belonging to an organization like the Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC), the Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants (ACPWC), or the Wedding Industry Professionals Association (WIPA) is an indicator of experience, it's not the only one. Talent speaks for itself via photos on the planner's company website or blog. And, of course, as with all pros you might hire, always read reviews on sites like (natch), and politely ask for references from other vendors and couples. Now that we're clear on these points, let's look at what these pros can do for you.

Full-Service Planner

a.k.a. wedding planner, wedding coordinator, wedding producer

Does what?
-Provides vendor referrals and negotiates contracts; schedules and attends all vendor meetings
-Creates detailed timelines and floor plans
-Helps determine and manage your budget
-Attends site tours and menu tastings
-Brainstorms style ideas and coordinates design details
-Coordinates hotel room blocks and transportation
-Manages the rehearsal
-Oversees everything on the wedding day (makes sure everyone adheres to the timeline, handles snafus, manages vendors, and executes your vision on-site)

Right for you?
-You have no free time because of a demanding job
-You have no clue where to start when it comes to planning, and your organizational skills aren't the greatest
-You have a very short time frame for planning
-You're throwing a destination wedding and/or a wedding weekend involving multiple events
-You're hosting your wedding in an unusual space (read: not a hotel, restaurant, or banquet hall)

Wedding Designer

a.k.a. wedding stylist, wedding architect

Does what?
-Creates the wedding's design concept
-Provides color palette guidance
-Oversees the décor budget and vendors (florist, rentals, lighting, stationer)
-Sources special props and equipment
-Attends a site visit to visualize where you want everything to go, devise a layout, and identify potential problems
-Creates detailed floor plans
-Ensures all of the décor elements are in place on-site at the wedding

Right for you?
-The décor is the most important element of the wedding for you
-You're confident in your organizational and logistical skills, but your creative skills are lacking
-You're trying to pull off a very specific theme or you have a million wedding style ideas that you can't narrow down

"Day Of" Planner

a.k.a. wedding consultant, wedding director

Does what?
-Puts in at least 25 hours of pre-wedding work (versus 80 to 250 hours for full-service planners; up to 40 for designers)
-Meets with you four to eight weeks before the wedding to get a handle on what you've planned thus far
-Checks in with your vendors to review the signed contracts and confirm logistics
-Creates detailed timelines and floor plans
-Completes a final walk-through of the ceremony and reception sites
-Addresses any overlooked details (such as forgetting to hire a coat check attendant)
-Manages the rehearsal
-Oversees everything on the wedding day

Right for you?
-You want to play an active role in planning your wedding but would like someone to take care of the last-minute details and make sure you haven't missed anything
-You're extremely organized and detail-oriented
-You don't have the budget for a full-service planner

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