All of the Different Types of Wedding Planners You Need to Know About

Here’s what you need to know.
by Maddy Sims and Maggie Seaver

Weddings are all about making choices: between different venues, different photographers and different DJs—the list goes on. But did you know there are also different types of wedding planners? From day-of coordinators to destination event designers, you have a wide range of planning professionals and services to choose from to help bring your dream celebration to life. If you’re overwhelmed by the abundance of vendor options, services, price points and unfamiliar terminology, relax—you’re in the right place. The Knot taps Danielle Couick, owner and principal planner of full-service event planning and design firm Magnolia Bluebird Design & Events based in Rockville, Marylandto go over the different types of wedding planners.

It’s worth noting that a wedding professional can offer more than one type of service. “Planners can be designers, but not all designers are planners,” Couick says. “Planners and designers can be stylists, but not all stylists are planners or designers. Planners can be coordinators, but not all coordinators are planners. Planners can be a designer, stylist and coordinator, but the reverse is not true.” We know it starts to sound a bit like a riddle, but all of this is due to the fact that the role of a planner is by nature a more comprehensive one than say, a stylist, whose services are very specific. Here are all of the different types of wedding planners, explained below.

Full-Time Planner

“A full-service planner helps you plan everything from start to finish for the wedding day or for a weekend of events,” Couick says. They help you create (and stick to) your budget, manage your planning timeline, recommend and hire vendors, help with event design, and facilitate venue tours. And that’s just the beginning. Full-service planners will help you with your guest list, invitations, RSVPs, day-of timelines, floor plans and on-site management. Basically, they’re there to take the stress out of your wedding day so you can focus on what really matters: enjoying the celebration.

Why you’d want to hire a full-service planner: There are a million reasons why you’d want to tap a full-time planner for your wedding day. Maybe you don’t have the time to plan a wedding, or maybe your guest list is overwhelmingly large—or maybe planning a wedding just isn’t your strong suit. Whatever the case, hiring a full-time planner can help alleviate the pressure you may be feeling about the wedding day. 

Part-Time Planner

Partial wedding planners offer all of the expertise of a full-time planner—but only for the aspects of your choosing. There are two major ways part-time planners help to-be-weds. The first: Giving vendor recommendations. Since planners spend time cultivating relationships with vendors, they can give you a list of trusted pros to work with. You do the contacting, negotiating and managing, but your planner would be there to provide design support and on-site execution. “It feels like a win-win because you’ll get good referrals from a trusted source plus your planners creative eye,” Couick says.

Another way partial planners can help you? Coordinating the most important aspects of your wedding. “You get the professional support you need where you need it most, [but] it lacks a more cohesive bird's-eye view of your overall wedding.”

Why you’d hire a partial planner: If you’ve got most of the wedding planning under control but could use a helping hand for some things, a part-time planner is perfect for you. Part-time planners are also a more budget-friendly way to get professional help with your wedding. 

Destination Planner

A destination planner is similar to a full-time planner, but they have expertise in planning events at your wedding site (say, you want an over-the-top celebration in Europe or a luxurious wedding weekend in Hawaii). “In addition to the full-service scope of planning, this pro can help you scout the perfect location, venue and vendors; support your guests with travel and accommodations; design trip itineraries; and navigate cultural differences, laws and regulations,” Couick notes.

Why you’d hire a destination planner: “Because getting married on a pristine shoreline or at a centuries-old manor across the pond is the most beautiful vision you can think of—but travel itineraries, customs, language and cultural barriers, and logistics for a weekend of events for your entire guest list is not,” Couick says. If you want the entire experience to be as great as the wedding itself, tapping a destination planning pro might be the best choice for your nuptials. 

Coordinator or On-Site Event Manager

This wedding pro will step in much closer to your wedding day (anywhere from four to eight weeks out). “Don't let the name fool you,” the planner notes. “Coordinating your wedding effectively and professionally requires experience, skill, time and some advanced planning, so month-of coordination usually starts four to eight weeks from your date.” These pros will review final vendor contracts, finalize day-of needs (last minute details, payments, tipping), conduct the final walk-through, finalize your day-of timeline, organize your floor plans and guest count, work with your vendor team, and coordinate the wedding rehearsal and wedding day. 

Why you’d hire a month-of coordinator: If you want to soak up every last minute of your wedding day instead of worrying about the other vendors arriving on time, a month-of coordinator is the perfect fit for you. You’ve done all the heavy lifting for your wedding day (sent out invitations, found a venue, hired vendors), but maybe you could use some help tying up all the loose ends. A month-of coordinator will handle all of the details, troubleshoot any problems and keep your timeline flowing so you can enjoy your wedding day. 

Designer

Last, but certainly not least are event designers. This type of professional is very different from a planner, which may come as a surprise to many to-be-weds. While planners handle logistics, timelines and other vendors, an event designer handles your floor plan and the overall wedding aesthetic. They’ll listen to your ideas and assess the logistical parameters of your wedding by viewing the space and working within your budget. “They’ll develop a cohesive and stylish look, feel, mood and overall aesthetic of your wedding day in a realistic way,” Couick says.

Why you’d hire an event designer: You’ve got the planning and logistics of your wedding on lock, but you want help bringing your creative vision to life. A professional event designer will help you turn all of those Pinterest collections and mood boards into reality.

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