What is the difference between wedding planner, wedding coordinator and wedding designer?

Hiring your wedding professionals can be confusing. Wedding designers usually focus on the décor of the event, with all other details being secondary to them. Very often, these professionals have a floral or decorating background. A wedding coordinator is usually a professional who coordinates the logistics of the wedding day. Those using this title are typically “day of” coordinators, with the extent of their role limited to implementing what the bride has specified. They usually do not help plan the wedding day, although they can be very valuable in problem solving on the wedding day. A wedding planner is a professional who plans the wedding alongside the bride, coordinates the vendor team, helps select a floral designer and often partners with them in the wedding design, maps out the budget and timeline and coordinates the entire wedding day and very often the weekend events surrounding the wedding.

My banquet/catering manager says she will help me and that an outside person is not necessary.

The difference between a wedding planner and a banquet manager is like the difference between your real estate broker and your interior designer. Both professional work with housing, but their roles are very different. Both the banquet manager and a planner work in weddings, but fill two very different needs.

The banquet manager’s responsibility is to make sure the correct food is being served, ensure the banquet staff are performing their duties and guarantee that the facility is set to the agreed-upon floor plan and that all the other specifications on the banquet event order are fulfilled. The wedding planner is responsible for checking that all the vendors have delivered what was specified in the contracts, overseeing all the décor, managing the timetable for wedding traditions (as well as the full wedding day schedule), taking care of family emergencies, ensuring that the parents do not miss important events such as cutting the cake and making sure that the mom and the bride are not working, but rather enjoying their guests and the celebration.

Does the staff stay at my wedding until the end or does the staff leave after dinner?

All of the StarDust packages include one or two staff members who stay until the end of the reception.

What should I expect to pay for wedding planning services?

The reason most wedding experts want to visit with a bride before quoting a package price is to determine the size and complexity of the wedding celebration. The wedding professional must also determine how much support the bride will need throughout the planning process. For example, a bride who is not working may require less support than a bride who is working full-time or attending school. Another example when a bride may need more planning support is if she lives out of town.

However, there are a few guidelines that may be helpful. The estimates below are based on professional wedding planner price ranges in the Dallas/Fort Worth market:

Day of/ Month of Coordinator Packages - $1900-$2500. If you are quoted less than $1,900, run! Someone quoting you so low a price probably does not have the experience that you need. If you intend to hire a day of coordinator, you need a MORE experienced individual who knows how to handle all of the possible situations that can arise. It is not helpful to have an inexperienced individual with very little training who hasn’t been involved in your planning process if a problem occurs.

Partial Planning Packages - from $3,000-$5,000

Full Planning Packages - $7,000-$10, 000

Destination - Full service fees plus travel

Remember, like many other things in life, you get what you pay for, and hiring a wedding planner is no different.

What makes you different from other planners?

The Dallas/Fort Worth market is rich with wonderful wedding vendors, but there are a few things that we believe set us apart.
• First, it’s our philosophy – one that we have held from Day One – that wedding planning should be fun, really fun! We work hard to make the process as enjoyable and stress-free as possible for our clients, their families and their entire wedding community.
• Second, we partner with our couples to personalize their wedding into something meaningful, special and reflective of the two of them. Shunning the cookie-cutter event, we find imaginative ways to bring in personal touches and creative surprises to make their wedding unique to them.

• Third, we have a team approach to our wedding planning. Each bride has a lead planner, but we are all available to any client if needed. If a lead planner is temporarily unavailable, usually another planner can help with any issue.
• Fourth, we are creative. We recognize that everyone says they are creative. We welcome you to come in and hear about some of the creative receptions that we have directed, see our inspiration boards from previous clients and talk with us about your vision. We love to explore ideas that will make the bride’s wedding different and exactly what she wants.
• Finally, with our multi-faceted business structure, we are able to offer so much more than just our creative design and planning expertise. Our turnkey approach to wedding planning offers our clients streamlined resources through which they can find apparel for their entire wedding party, accessories, wedding stationery, wedding day essentials, gifts and more.

How long have you been in business?

Marsha Ballard French, our Certified Master Wedding Planner, has been working her wedding planning magic since 1999. Our team is rounded out by Certified Wedding Planners, lead planners, and our wonderful assistants who make sure every detail is taken care of. Each of our CWPs have 5+ years’ experience and continually grow their knowledge and expertise through their active membership in the AACWP, the state’s most revered professional wedding planner organization.

How can I get my (mother-in-law, sister, mother, etc.) to stop trying to plan my wedding?

When a bride announces the engagement, everyone wants to plan the wedding. This is a common occurrence and our best advice to a bride in this situation is to thank everyone for all of their ideas, and say that all ideas are great and will be considered for the final decision. Part of our role is to be the bride’s advocate and help deal with overreaching individuals and we often find ourselves stepping in to assist the bride in navigating tricky family dynamics.

How many weddings do you do a month?

We focus on quality over quantity and spend hundreds of hours on our clients’ weddings making sure no detail is left unattended. Each Planner usually serves as a lead planner in two weddings each month.

Our goal is to make sure each one of our brides builds a close and trusting relationship with her planner. After all, this is the professional who is going to help you design, plan and manage one of the most important days of your life, ensuring that your dream becomes a reality!

Do you help me choose vendors and attend meetings?

Yes. We consistently work with the best wedding vendors in the industry. Networking with vendors is an important part of our job, and we have a growing list of photographers, caterers, bakeries, makeup artists and more to fit your personality, budget and style. With our full-service wedding packages, we attend unlimited vendor meetings and assist with the negotiation of all contracts. A significant benefit of hiring a Certified Wedding Planner is their understanding of what should be included in vendors' services and contracts, as well as what extras it might be good to ask for before signing on the dotted line.

We don’t live in Texas and will be planning from out of town – is that okay?

Absolutely! As an out-of-town bride with Texas-based planners, you will benefit from our local experience, knowledge and relationships, as we have planned hundreds of weddings in the area. We often work with out-of-town clients traveling from both across the country and abroad. We have successfully planned events all over Texas – as well as out-of-state – via email, phone and Skype with limited in-person meetings.

My ceremony facility coordinator says she will help me and that an outside person is not necessary.

Usually, the assigned ceremony coordinator is there to make sure that the facility is unlocked for the various engaged vendors, that lights are turned on, that the building temperature is comfortable and most importantly, that the clergy have the support needed to officiate the ceremony. There is little time to tend to the needs of the bride, her attendants and the families. If the bride desires personal attention and someone to help above and beyond the basics, she really should consider hiring a wedding planner.

Also, the wedding planner assists the photographer to quickly get the necessary photographs completed and ensures that transportation is ready for a quick departure to the reception. Being kept waiting is the most frequent complaint we hear from guests.

How important is it for my wedding planner to be “certified”?

How important is it for a C.P.A. or a nurse to be certified or licensed? We think it’s important. As well, wedding planning is a professional career, and those in this profession should adhere to the rules and regulations of the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners (AACWP), including required ongoing training.

We are fortunate that AACWP has it's corporate offices in Dallas. Each StarDust certified or master wedding planner has received extensive training, completed required mentorships and annually completes required continuing education to maintain certification status through AACWP. AACWP certified planners commit themselves to the organization’s code of ethics and welcome the accountability to ensure the highest level of service to their clients.

Will a “day of” wedding coordinator be enough?

For some weddings, a “day of” coordinator is exactly what is needed. Day of coordinators arrive on the day of your wedding to implement your plans. In our experience, this type of package works only when the bride is extremely organized and has an eye for detail and time for planning. At StarDust, our “day of” package starts the last month before the wedding. We do not believe that your wedding can be properly coordinated without laying some final groundwork prior your wedding day, and we would never suggest a situation where a coordinator just shows up on your wedding day not having done some finalization with you and your vendors.

Will StarDust Wedding Planners negotiate prices for me?

Yes, especially if the prices are not within industry standards. Also, we look for sales of rental items or online products. We also very often suggest less expensive options to accomplish the bride’s vision.

How much will you be involved in the planning process?

This depends on how involved you want our planners to be in the process and the level of service you choose. Our most popular service, 4 Carat package, is our full-service package, in which we are on hand to help you every step of the way, with unlimited meetings and phone calls. Ideally, we work with our brides from start to finish bringing their dream wedding day to life. Sometimes a bride will hire us after she has started planning on her own, but then realized she was in over her head and needed help. Again, StarDust planners know all of the in’s and out’s and have the expertise to guide you through every aspect of planning. We love partnering with brides throughout the process to ensure a flawless wedding that is exactly what they envisioned.

How involved will you be on the day of my wedding?

We are deeply involved in the wedding weekend from the start of the rehearsal until after the last guests leave the reception. We coordinate the rehearsal so that everyone (especially the wedding party) is on the same page come wedding day; on the big day, we ensure that vendors arrive and set up on time, oversee the execution and choreography of the ceremony, manage the timeline of events and vendors during the reception and supervise the cleanup afterwards.

As a wedding planner, how can I be sure that you will listen to my ideas?

This is your wedding! Our first goal is to “get your vision.” Then over time, we help to create a comprehensive plan to fully implement your vision. Our primary objective is to be an advisor full of ideas and options; we prefer to not make decisions for the bride, unless directed.

What destinations have you been involved as wedding planners?

We have planned weddings in any areas throughout Texas, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Sherman, Amarillo and Heath as well as on several private ranches. Also, nationally, we have planned weddings in Miami; New York City; Oklahoma City; Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Las Vegas. We have been privileged to plan international destination weddings in Dublin, Ireland; Cancun, Mexico and the Bahamas.

What makes weddings so special to you?

A wedding is a magical season of life when a couple has chosen to take their love for one another to the next level in a celebration with family and friends. We cannot think of anything more fun than working with families during one of the happiest times of their lives and feel honored to be a part of it. Our focus is always on the couple and their families, doing everything in our power to give them the experience of a lifetime.