Whew! We have just completed our Fall Wedding Season for 2023. We had some of the most wonderful experiences sharing the joy of matrimonial bliss with our clients, their families, and friends. With these celebrations, we also learned a lot about how professionals impact the success of an event. With this in mind, we began to question is there a difference between a Wedding Coordinator and an Event Planner? We went beyond our own years of catering and event planning experience in the hospitality industry and asked this question of a seasoned professional and our dear friend, Regina Roberts, of Events by Saving Grace, who focuses on weddings to get their perspective.
Our discussion led us to understand the difference between a Wedding Coordinator and an Event Planner and the scope of work that each provides, however there is some overlap in tasks or responsibilities. We also discussed that those titles can be confusing as they are frequently used interchangeably, depending on who you are talking to.
We broke down the focus and specialization of each…the coordinator vs. the planner and came up with these descriptions.
Wedding Coordinator: A wedding coordinator specializes in planning and organizing weddings. They are experts in all aspects of wedding ceremonies and receptions, from selecting venues, coordinating with vendors, managing timelines, and ensuring everything runs smoothly on the wedding day. They tend to primarily focus on the wedding day itself, ensuring that all the details and logistics of the wedding go according to plan. This includes managing vendors, assisting with the ceremony, and overseeing the reception. Services offered by a wedding coordinator typically include day-of coordination services, which focus on executing plans for the wedding day.
Event Planner: An event planner is a broader term that encompasses planning various types of events, including weddings, corporate events, parties, conferences, and more. Event planners have a more diverse skill set and can handle a wide range of events beyond weddings. They tend to handle all aspects of planning an event, including budgeting, venue selection, vendor coordination, design and décor, marketing, and more. They are involved in the entire event planning process from start to finish.
The event planner offers full-service event planning, which involves coordinating all aspects of the event, from conception to execution. An event planner holds pre-planning meetings with clients and vendors to ensure that all aspects of the event come together to meet the clients’ expectations. It is customary for an event planner to review vendor contracts and review the timeline for the event with each vendor to confirm arrival and departure times and agree to specific tasks contracted by the client.
As a catering company, we find that these roles are frequently not clearly defined by the client when they hire wedding professionals to oversee their very special day. Too often, clients hire wedding coordinators whose focus is only coordinating the ceremonial part of a multi-process event. Because of this, there is little to no communication and coordination between all the vendors who are responsible for rendering services. After the wedding ceremony comes the reception that involves not only the caterer, but also the designer of the venue, the florist, the DJ, the photographer, etc. However, due to the poor planning, there are many (false) expectations that the reception is the sole responsibility of the caterer.
We are there to make sure that the guests are fed, and that the reception area is maintained and cleaned after the guests have eaten. Because of these (false) expectations, it is believed that the caterer is responsible for monitoring time and managing the rest of the event, providing ice and glassware for a contracted bartending company, lighting candles for the decorating company, placing and removing floral centerpieces for the florist, and providing cake cutting services without understanding how the cake was put together. Yes, these services can be provided by the caterer, however, at cost vs. false expectations. Lack of time management costs the caterer additional money due to staff remaining on site for a longer period than contracted for. An event planner will oversee the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception and all other parts of the event by managing the agreed upon timeline and activities of each vendor to avoid costly false expectations.
For those who are planning a wedding, understand the level of service that you require from your vendor to make sure that your wedding day dreams come true. I will leave you with these following thoughts.
A wedding coordinator works primarily with engaged couples and their families to plan and execute the wedding and typically offer day-of coordination services, which focus on ceremonial aspects, and not vendor coordination. Event planners offer full-service event planning, which involves coordinating all aspects of the event, from conception to execution, which includes consultation meetings with all vendors.
We hope that you find this information helpful when it comes to planning your own wedding, and of course Occasional Occasions by Carlton will be there to assist you. Happy planning!