Planner vs. Coordinator: A Discussion of Definitions

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wedding planner wedding coordinator | by E Delgardio (c) 2012

Today I’m sharing an article by  Amanda Peterson, PBC, a fellow member of the  Association of Bridal Consultants and owner of Ocean Breeze Weddings and Events, LLC  based in Destin, FL.  (Hi Amanda!)

This article appeared in our ABC Florida newsletter and I was motivated to share it here on my blog for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it centers on an important question that often comes up for discussion and debate: What is the difference between a Wedding Planner and a Wedding Coordinator?   Years ago – which could be defined as subsequent to the invention of TV but prior to the release of the movie “The Wedding Planner“, these terms were seen by most as interchangeable.  (And while you’re at it, you may as well throw into the mix: Wedding Consultant, Bridal Consultant and Wedding Specialist plus any other variations that may be familiar to you.)  So, while the topic is not new, it remains a hot-button issue among industry pros.   However, the good news is that as a result of all this talk, we – the event professionals – realize the true benefits of clarifying our roles so that we can align ourselves correctly with the duties and responsibilities of our chosen title.

The wedding industry has grown substantially over the past few years which says great things about the industry. However, with so many people entering this field, education and standardized verbiage becomes more of a necessity. This is especially true when it comes to titles to describe your duties or what services you provide. Several years ago, the Convention Industry Council started to ask the entire event industry to standardize many of their activities and verbiage so customers could more easily tell the difference in services. Most areas of the event industry have done so, but many in the wedding industry have no knowledge of this and confusion has arisen between services actually being provided. When titles are standardized, it helps stop the confusion of the brides wishing to purchase services. They can better ascertain the differences between wedding planning companies as well as venues with all inclusive packages. I have also noticed this confusion roll over when vendors in the industry do not understand the duties pertaining to particular titles. For instance, there was a DJ who insisted that a planner was to only coordinate the ceremony and not actually have anything to do with the reception. This DJ refused to discuss the reception timeline with the planner and insisted in only speaking with the bride since a DJ is the only one to coordinate a reception. This confusion about titles and duties of vendors could have easily been avoided if standardized titles were better known. Many people in the industry believe that the titles “planner” and “coordinator” mean the same thing and they use them interchangeably.

To help in this area, the below definitions are based on the same recognized standard titles and duties in the corporate world. The only difference is the added term “wedding” in front of the title and the definition tweaked to describe the duties for a wedding.

Wedding Planner: This is someone who helps the bride and groom with all aspects of planning their wedding and the exact duties will differ from company to company and package to package. However, in essence, a planner is someone who will oversee all aspects of the wedding as required including finding needed vendors such as a photographer or DJ, set up site visits for ceremony and reception sites, set up tastings for cake and catering, negotiate vendor contracts, organize and manage room blocks, works with the bride to formulate the wedding day timeline, coordinate the actual wedding ceremony, reception and the farewell of the bride and groom. The planners are there to oversee all vendors, set up, break down and essentially make sure everything the bride and groom have ordered is provided and they take care of any unforeseen tasks on the wedding day. The planner does the actual coordinating of all aspects of the wedding day – not only the ceremony. (In the corporate world a planner is the person whose job it is to arrange every aspect of planning and conducting a meeting or event. – The Convention Industry Manual – 7th Edition)

Wedding Coordinator: This is actually what many venue and smaller wedding companies with preplanned packages provide and call it a “wedding planner”. A wedding coordinator runs the rehearsal and makes sure everyone knows where to go and what to do for the ceremony. On the wedding day, they will line up the processional and get the wedding party down the aisle then make sure the recessional is organized. They sometimes also line up the wedding party for the reception entrance. That is usually it because a coordinator works only on the ceremony. Church representatives will also fit into this category of coordinator instead of actual planner. (In the corporate event world, a coordinator is the assistant to the planner.)

I hope this gets everyone in the wedding industry discussing different titles and their duties so we can join the other organizations with standardization. Once we can agree on duties of provider’s titles, maybe we can discuss how wedding companies and venues can show how their services differ. This way we can help each other with business instead of having brides think that a hotel wedding planner provides the same service as a wedding planning company.

~Amanda Peterson, PBC

wedding-planner-wedding-coordinator

“Did you say chosen title ?”  Yes.  The wedding and special events industry is somewhat unique in this respect:  People are free to call themselves whatever they choose.   This is certainly a contributing factor to the overall confusion, and it’s quite unfortunate that most consumers are unaware of this.   I give tremendous credit to professional associations such as ABC for creating and trademarking terminology to designate levels of achievement (i.e., Professional Bridal Consultant, Master Bridal Consultant).  Advancements of this type are very important, as they set the bar.   Personally, I hope to see more of this type of credentialing in the future.  How about you?

(c) 2012 E. Delgardio

About The Author

Elisa

Planner | Designer | Speaker I've been planning for as long as I can remember! When I was younger, I planned birthday parties for my siblings and surprise anniversary parties for my parents. I spent many years in the Hospitality industry and also studied Interior Design. I couldn’t have guessed that my creative and organizational talents would lead me to a career in event planning...seriously! "To love what you do and feel that it matters - how could anything be more fun?" - Katherine Graham

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06 2012

2 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Really great breakdown of the difference in definition of the two terms.

  2. 2

    Thanks! So glad you found it helpful!


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