What’s the difference, and which one is right for you?

By: Deborah Walden Ossi

For many brides, the decision to hire a wedding planner can be a tough one. For those who feel as if they don’t have the budget for a planner or who have visions of pulling together the perfect event on their own, wedding coordinators can save the day.

Photo: Shelley Paulson Photography

Photo: Shelley Paulson Photography

A wedding planner is normally brought on very early in the process, while a wedding oordinator works with a couple in the month before the nuptials to make sure the day of the event goes smoothly.

“It comes down to the fact that a coordinator will be there to help you mostly the day of,” says Elise Seagren, owner of Revel + Bloom. “They are orchestrating all of those moving parts on the big day. They are trying to get all of your ducks in a row for vendors, timelines and logistics. A planner has a lot more footwork. The planner is there to present options and to guide the couple through those options.”

Wedding planners are far more involved than coordinators. They meet with couples to create a vision of their ideal wedding and then put all of those pieces together to create the perfect day. They gain an intimate knowledge of the couple as individuals and use that insight to realize their vision for the wedding.

“A coordinator coordinates what a couple has already planned on the day of their wedding whereas a planner is there by their side through the whole process,” says Angie Johnston of Sapphire Celebrations.

Naturally, the extra time and energy that planners put in comes at a cost, and some brides might not have the budget to accommodate that expense. However, couples that opt for a coordinator have to take responsibility for their own expert knowledge of their vendors and must rely more heavily on friends and families for a hands-on contribution to the wedding. If that will build resentment from family members or sap valuable time leading up to the big day, it may not be worth the emotional toll. “We think you can’t put a value on everyone being able to enjoy every minute as much as they possibly can,” Seagren says.

The choice between a planner and a coordinator, at its heart, is about making sure the couple and their families aren’t burdened with decisions and responsibilities during a time that should be magical for them. Ultimately, Johnston says, it’s about making sure that the bride and groom are able to enjoy their big day. “They shouldn’t have to worry about the logistics—like whether or not their overnight bag has been moved to the getaway car—so they can celebrate their day to the very last song,” she says.

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