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 - $2200-$3000. If you are quoted less than $2000, 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 $3,500-$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.

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.