The Difference Between a Wedding Planner, Event Designer, and Other Professionals

One of the most common misconceptions among brides and grooms is a wedding professional's job title, and the responsibilities and talents associated with it.  While working toward the common goal of making your wedding day fabuloso, the job responsibilities of each of these professionals is actually very different.

You've heard the job titles and are now in a state of confusion; so to help you learn the roles of each wedding professional, it's time to break it on down.

Styling: Joy Thigpen. Photography: Tec Petaja

Wedding Planner
A wedding planner is well-versed in wedding coordination, budget allocation, and the best wedding professionals for your budget.  Handling the details of your wedding, this pro has great relationships with area professionals and can also often get you discounts or add-ons.  From day-of coordination to guidance every step of the way, a wedding planner will usually customize his or her services to best meet your needs.  Here at Bella Bridal Consultants, wedding planning is the core of what we do.  As a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants, we're part of the largest and oldest group of wedding professionals worldwide, with the most comprehensive training in the industry.  A wedding planner is often your best advocate, and as someone impartial to a venue or church, we have nobody's interest in mind but your own.

Event Designer
While a wedding planner is strongest in the logistics and planning of your wedding, an event designer shines when designing the aesthetics of your wedding.  This is where the 'wow' factor comes in.  An event designer doesn't just refer you to stationery or favor companies, but has the ability to create things from scratch.  If you're envisioning a die-cut wooden cursive sign hanging above your custom wedding altar made of vintage doors and wrought iron gates, an event designer is the one who can make this a reality.  A great event designer has all of the tools to create the details to make your wedding unique, from a workshop to electronic cutting machines and the inside scoop on where to find the right props for the job.  In addition to wedding planning, Bella Bridal Consultants specializes in wedding design, ensuring your wedding has that 'wow' factor that is otherwise hard to achieve.

Ceremony Site Coordinator
Employed or contracted by the ceremony site or church, the ceremony site coordinator is there to make sure the ceremony site rules are implemented.  When getting married in a church, the church coordinator is usually essential to your wedding day.  The duties of the ceremony site coordinator might include, among other things, directing you and your bridal party to the right room to wait for the ceremony to start, making sure no candles are lit and that no birdseed is thrown.  Your wedding planner, as your advocate, will work with the ceremony site coordinator with your best interest in mind while ensuring ceremony site rules are met.

Reception Site Coordinator
Employed by the reception site, a reception site coordinator is often a salesperson working on behalf of the venue.  In addition to booking weddings for the venue, a site coordinator works with you to receive all necessary paperwork before the big day.  Often the reception site coordinator is on-site on your wedding day, making sure the linens on the tables and covers on the chairs match your order.  Although most reception site coordinators are not trained and accredited wedding coordinators, some actually are.  Though they typically won't help you secure your other wedding professionals, they will often hand you a list of wedding professionals who have done weddings there in the past.  Sometimes the venue gets a referral fee for these vendors, and sometimes they don't.

A florist's bread and butter is to provide floral arrangements to the general public for life events such as holidays, birthdays, and weddings.  Most florists operate out of a storefront.  Some florists have taken professional floral design classes, and some are self-trained.

Floral Designer
A bit different than a florist, a floral designer specializes in designing floral arrangements for events on a larger scale, such as weddings.  Floral arrangements for smaller life events, such as birthdays and holidays, take a back seat (if these services are even offered at all).  Floral designers are usually professionally trained in floral design and many have participated in design competitions.  Floral designers specialize in 'wow' factor floral arrangements that are cohesive with the overall design of the event.

Caterers play a very important role in your wedding, and have a lot on their plate (no pun intended).  They work with you to create an ideal (often customized) menu that flows nicely throughout the event.  With focus on the food, the catering team consists of many individuals, each with a specific job.  The catering team, though amazing at what they do, does not specialize in setting up the design elements of your event or securing discounts for you with other wedding professionals.  They can, however, suggest a list of professionals they have worked with in the past.  Except for providing a pre-ceremony beverage bar or similar food station, the caterer is not involved in the ceremony details of your event.

Have any tips to share?  Stories from your own experiences?  Comment below!

Kristin @ Bella Bridal Consultants
for Bona Fide Bride


jacin {lovely little details} said...

great post!!!

Hindsight Bride said...

You have some of the best information and advice on the internet. I was just talking about how confusing it can be to brides the difference between a planner and a hotel's "planner" (i.e. site coordinator.) A site coordinator won;t round up grandma for portraits, or run out to the super market to get flowers if your florist is stuck in traffic!

Kristen {Savvy Deets Bridal} said...

Such great advice, and so true!

bridechic said...

Wish I'd known you back when I tied the knot. You couldn't believe the site coodinator we had. She brought her kids to the wedding in a little red wagon because she couldn't find a sitter. Times have sure changed. The site now has a real professional . . .

Annie Byrne said...

Amen! Thank you and spread the word! It is worse here in Ireland. I get calls to ask how much my chair covers cost. First of all, ick, second a wedding planner is not the person who puts on chair covers.
I can't completely blame them though. Wedding planning websites group Wedding Planners and Wedding decorators {not even Wedding Designers or Stylists just the ones that hire chair covers} in the same category. I have a job on my hands to change that so thanks so much for the post!

bonafidebride said...

So glad this information was helpful!

Naomi Goodman said...

Awesome post...I'm bookmarking this post...that's how awesome this is!

postcards and pretties said...

awesome post Kristin!! great information.

bonafidebride said...

Thanks ladies! That means a lot, coming from all of you. :)

Sandra downie said...

This post says it all! A great resource for brides and wedding pros

Layla Mayville said...

Thank you for this great post! It was very helpful.

nicole said...

Thanks for this ! I've been wanting to write a similar post on this forever since brides and grooms seem to often think the roles get jumbled up into one.. I will be reposting parts of this on our blog I hope you don't mind - its really such great info! and oh so helpful to couples who are in the middle of the planning process! Great post!!