One question we get a lot is “What is the difference between each wedding planning package option and which one is right for me?”  We recently featured some great advice from local DC area wedding pros on why hiring a wedding planner is a great idea and we wanted to follow that up with some information on next steps – picking your wedding planning package! First of all, we want to start off this conversion with some wedding professional titles so you know the difference between an Event Planner, an Event Designer, and an Event Coordinator. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, it’s good to know the similarities and differences. Once you have a hang of these titles, reading the general package descriptions can help you to make an informed decision on which wedding professional and package is the best fit for your wedding day!

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Carly Fuller Photography via our Boho Chic Rustic Beach Wedding Inspiration

Event Planner – An event planner is typically someone who has the expertise to support you in every aspect of creating and implementing your event – from finding your venue to hiring your vendors to creative design and flawless implementation. The analogy that many of my clients find helpful is that of the Event Planner as the Coach – the central figure with the vision to select the best team of players, the leadership to organize and inspire them, and the depth of experience to help them succeed against all odds.

Event Designer –This title is starting to be used interchangeably with Event Planner, but it best describes someone who is an expert in developing the creative vision of an event. This person might be compared to an Interior Designer – someone who creates an overall vision, from color palette to personal details, and then contracts others to implement the vision. I’ve seen florists, décor rental companies and event planners all refer to themselves as Event Designers. While there can be a lot of overlap, most couples looking for professional support in planning their wedding will benefit more from someone who offers event design as part of their planning expertise.

Event Coordinator – The use of the word Coordinator or Coordination implies that the planning has already been done and this person will simply be organizing, confirming and implementing the plans you make. This term fits best with those who are hired for Month-of planning packages. A great coordinator sets the event up for success with walk-throughs and meetings prior to the date of the wedding.

Virginia Wedding misa me photography Top of the Town (1)

MISA ME Photography via our Simple and Colorful Wedding Reception in Arlington

Now that you are well versed in the titles of DC area wedding professionals, we have compiled some explanations of what is commonly included in local wedding planning packages. Of course, there can be variations from company to company, but generally the below are some guidelines that can help fine which one is best for you leading up to and on your special day! We also have some pro advice from Margo of Bright Occasions, one of our amazing UWL vendors! She is giving some great advice on the benefits and limitations of each package.

Full Service Planning – Typically, this level of service includes everything from finding the venue to hiring the right vendor team to creating the vision and managing all of the logistics. A Full Service Planner will be able to advocate for you two throughout the entire process and will be able to steer you in the right direction. If you think you will need assistance choosing vendors, balancing your budget, coming up with the perfect design plan, and putting together all of the details, a full service planner is probably the best option for you. With this package you can be a little more hands off (if you’d like) and can leave all of the technical details such as invitations, RSVP cards, vendor discussions, etc. to your planner.

“A full wedding planner is there for every step of the process from helping with the budget and selecting the venue, to hiring all vendors, event design, event management and coordination of vendors during the engagement process and on the wedding day. A full wedding planner is instrumental in shaping the event and recommending the best vendors for their clients, while still allowing their clients to make the big decisions and create a wedding that is reflective of their style and personality. There are so many benefits that a planner can provide from saving a client time and money to reducing their stress and streamlining the process. One drawback is that this service may not fit as well into a tight budget, so couples that have limited funds should discuss both full and partial planning options with their wedding planner.

Partial Planning – A partial plan will allow you to be more hands on than a full plan and can be very customizable. Your planner will help with vendor decisions and will give give tips and advice throughout the entire process but will not be involved in each and every aspect of the wedding planning process. A great deal of the responsibilities will still fall to the couple while the planning points them in the right directions. The planner will still be highly involved the month of, organizing vendors, typing up loose ends, and making sure everything goes smoothly.

Partial planning has the most variables, in terms of the areas of help your wedding planner will provide. But generally this is help with hiring some of your vendors and may also include event design and consultations regarding other wedding planning areas. Partial planning typically also includes event management and coordination of vendors during the final month and wedding day. The benefit of this type of planning is that typically the client can pick the areas they most need wedding planning help with. One drawback is that clients may not know what areas they need help with when they are first starting to plan their wedding.”

Wedding Coordination – This can vary widely from simple wedding day supervision to actual planning or coordinating prior to the event. For many, this is synonymous with Month-of and Day-of Coordination, below.

Month-of Coordination/Planning – This is generally synonymous with Day-of Coordination as well because it is extremely difficult for a coordinator/planner to jump in ONLY in the day of the wedding. This package includes one month of support immediately prior to the wedding, including full support on the wedding day. This time frame allows for the Professional to be involved in the final walk-through, timeline development and vendor confirmation, as well as the standard ceremony rehearsal supervision and wedding day supervision. A Month-of Coordinator/Planner generally pulls everything together to give you a stress free wedding while allowing you to feel like you

“Most professional wedding planners and coordinators in the DC area provide coordination for the final month and/or around 4-6 weeks from the wedding day + the wedding day. So it’s not typically a “day-of” service. In that final month, the planner will meet with the client and caterer to do a final walk-through and discuss the layout and flow of the vent. They will contact vendors and confirm arrival/set-up and breakdown. And they will help their client create a timeline of events for the wedding day. The benefit of this is huge; a wedding planner or coordinator will allow a couple to celebrate worry free and be in the moment throughout their wedding day, rather than dealing with set-up or any issues that may arise. The drawback is that most of the planning is set, so it may be too late to make changes that could better the event. You also won’t develop as close of a relationship, since you are only working together for the final month. And you typically won’t be able to go to your planner or coordinator for planning help that you may want and need before those last 4-6 weeks.”

We hope that this has helped to clear up many of our reader’s questions on DC area wedding planning and a big thank you to Margo of Bright Occasions for her awesomely detailed explanation of each type of planning package and her thoughts on the pros and cons of each!


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