wedding designer, wedding planner, wedding coordinator

Wedding Planning Success Lounge: Clearly specify your role as Designer, Planner, Coordinator

sabrina cadini wedding business coach discussing the differences between a wedding designer, planner, coordinator in the wedding planning success lounge

Every day I hear different terms to describe what I do and sometimes they’re totally inappropriate, they don’t give me enough credit or they don’t represent correctly what I provide to my clients. I’m talking about wedding designer, wedding planner, wedding director or coordinator.
Do you know the differences but, most of all, do your clients or vendors know the difference? Do they know who they should hire for their wedding? Do your vendors know who to refer to their couples? Let’s take a closer look at each specialty.

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Wedding Designer

A wedding designer is specialized in creating a vision and putting together all the elements of a wedding (color palette, textiles, decor, lighting, furniture, etc.), they create the mood and the perfect atmosphere for the couple and their guests by involving one or more senses.

Most wedding designers (or stylists, as they sometimes call themselves) have a background in arts, floral design, interior design, or fashion design. They are the ones who think about every single detail from the ceremony aisle décor to the napkin fold to the late night snacks presentation. Some of them have a team of vendors who provide flowers, lighting, rentals, and so on. Their team has great experience working together and great chemistry which is a big plus when it comes to creating memorable events. They are not usually involved with the planning process, though: they don’t create a timeline and they don’t run the show on the wedding day so they work together with wedding planners.

Many celebrity wedding planners are wedding designers in the first place: they create fantabulous weddings based on their clients’ vision (and very often on healthy budgets). They are always a huge inspiration for wedding couples: their work is constantly pinned on Pinterest or reposted on Instagram, and our couples often come with pictures of their work when they meet with us.

Have you ever watched reality TV shows with David Tutera or Diann Valentine? They create the vision and they have a team that executes it. They are the designers and they have a team of skilled professionals who can plan for them, who contact the vendors, who put together all the details, and so on. The designer supervises the entire process and makes sure that the vision is translated into a fabulous wedding.

Wedding Planner

A wedding planner takes care of the logistics of the entire wedding. They are the ones assisting with venue and vendor selections, reviewing all the agreements before they are signed, creating and keeping track of the budget, acting as the point of contact between client and venue and vendors, creating a detailed timeline, directing the rehearsal and managing the entire wedding day. They are very organized, they always have everything in control including payments, deadlines, things to do, they are always ready to solve emergencies, and they are always there to assist during stressful moments, meltdowns, family issues, and so on. Some planners are not very creative so they specialize in efficiency and organization, and they work with wedding designers on the vision.
Some planners are also designers like me, and I love being able to provide both aspects of a couple’s planning. I can create a vision for them and suggest the right venue and the most appropriate vendors, I can review their vision along the wedding process (and make some changes along the way) and at the same time keep their tasks on track. I can also provide additional services such as candy stations and dessert tables: I used to hire a company to take care of this but I was never happy with the results so I decided to design the display myself. I already know the couple and what they want, I already know the style or theme of their wedding, I might just keep the look consistent, right? So, if you feel you have great sense of style and a great eye for colors, décor and arranging things in a nice way by all means promote yourself as a wedding planner and designer!

Wedding Coordinator (or Director)

Usually this title is for people working at a venue or a church and they specialize on the wedding day management only. However, very often I hear the term “coordinator” being used to describe wedding planners (or even wedding designers), and there are a couple of publications in California that use that term to identify that category of advertisers. Personally, I think it’s diminishing the role of a wedding planner: think about the incredible amount of work that planners do! Coordinators are usually the ones who work at wedding venues or professionals who are not involved with the planning process and they only assist the couple on their wedding day. They don’t assist with vision, venue, vendors, budgeting, seating chart, family issues, etc. They just meet with the couple, get all the information they need, prepare a timeline (or maybe not even that, the couple does), and they perform their duties on the wedding day. And that’s why I find it misleading: if you are a planner you do much more than that! You take your couples by the hand during the entire planning process, they become your friends, and they rely on you completely.

You should educate your client about the differences between designer, planner, and coordinator. That’s one of the reasons why couples contact you and they expect to spend less than what you charge. Most of the times they don’t know the difference so they don’t know what to expect, they don’t know what they really need therefore, they don’t know why you are so expensive. Even your vendors, your biggest fans who always refer you sometimes don’t know! They use either term to describe you and maybe that’s not the appropriate term. Take the time to explain the differences to your clients and find out what they need. If a couple is looking to spend $500 and have someone for a few hours on the wedding day they’re not your client. Your time and effort should be compensated with MUCH MORE than $500. You are not an executive assistant, you are a professional, experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy wedding professional and you have a value.

Make sure that your role or specialty is clearly specified in your website, in your marketing materials, on your social media platforms. And if you offer multiple services (design and planning, for instance) then make that very clear! Wedding couples tend to hire people who can provide multiple services, couples love the “one stop shop” concept because that means less work and fewer worries for them. That’s a great selling point for you!

When I receive the first e-mail or phone call from a potential client I always respond asking what they need as far as services: assistance on the wedding day, planning assistance, or assistance with the design (or all). Very often they don’t know so I explain the difference between the three roles. If the couple doesn’t want to spend much and they feel pretty confident with their plans then I refer them to my junior coordinators (these are young, aspiring wedding planners who assist me at weddings and they are really good). If you have a member in your team who can take on this role and you completely trust her then let her be their event coordinator. Just make sure that she will represent your company in the best way possible because ultimately, it will be your signature on that wedding and if things go wrong your reputation will be affected.

What do you specialize in and how do you promote your services to your clients? ~~~ LEAVE A COMMENT ~~~ below, I would love to know!

~~~ TAKE ACTION ~~~ Review all of your marketing materials and your website copy, and add the differences between designer, planner and coordinator. Couples will know what they want before contacting you and they will know what to expect when it comes to services and fees.

Have you scheduled a complimentary call with me yet? LET’S CONNECT HERE TODAY!


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