Chicago Engagement Photos

Wedding Planner, Designer, & Coordinator: What’s the Difference?

After getting engaged, you’re probably excited to put your wedding vision into motion. Knowing the difference between a wedding planner, designer, and coordinator can help you hire the best wedding professional for your needs, budget, and vision.

What is a wedding planner?

If the thought of finding vendors, picking out décor, and organizing your wedding day overwhelms you, a full-service wedding planner may be the best option for you. Wedding planners are well connected with industry vendors and wedding professionals in your area or wedding destination. Therefore, they can provide insight as to which vendors will work best with your wedding style, aesthetic, budget, and needs. 

Sometimes, a wedding planner can help you save money with insider tips. For instance, your planner will know what to splurge on and where to save. They can provide the most cost-effective options for design and services. Plus, they may be able to get you better pricing than if you go at it alone by negotiating for you. A wedding planner does all of the legwork for you.

difference between wedding planner, wedding designer, wedding coordinator; Nathan Phillips Weddings
Chicago Engagement

A wedding planner:

  • Provides budget & pricing guidance
  • Books & coordinates vendors (and attends planning meetings and tastings)
  • Negotiates pricing & packages
  • Coordinates wedding design, décor & details
  • Fine-tunes wedding logistics & day-of coordination
  • Books hotel blocks & transportation 
  • Manages the rehearsal & wedding day
  • And more…

Ultimately, a wedding planner brings your full wedding vision to life and carries it out flawlessly. They take care of all the details so you can sit back and enjoy your day.

A full-service wedding planner does cost more. However, hiring a wedding planner is ideal for those who:

  • are planning a destination wedding.
  • don’t have time to plan.
  • are working with a short timeline.
  • want a completely customized wedding.

What is a wedding designer?

Maybe you love planning, lists, and logistics, but you feel you don’t have the eye for design. Many couples find themselves in this boat and prefer to hire someone to carry out their vision for them (or narrow down their style preferences). A wedding designer will work with you to determine your wedding aesthetic and work that into your venue. Wedding designers have a knack for reading your personality and incorporating that into a customized wedding design. 

difference between wedding planner, wedding designer, wedding coordinator; Nathan Phillips Weddings

A wedding designer:

  • Brainstorms wedding color, design & theme options
  • Designs seating charts & floor plans
  • Books linen, table, chair & dining rentals
  • Coordinates all design & décor vendors (florals, lighting, décor, invitations, etc.)
  • Ensures all details work together seamlessly
  • Coordinates all the design components & vendors on wedding day

A wedding designer is ideal for couples who want a gorgeous wedding but don’t know how to make it happen. However, a designer is only responsible for design components and does not typically provide services for other logistical or organizational aspects of wedding planning.

difference between wedding planner, wedding designer, wedding coordinator; Nathan Phillips Weddings

What is a wedding coordinator?

In contrast, a wedding coordinator covers the other end of the spectrum. Maybe you’re a creative at heart and already designed your wedding months ago—with mood boards and textile samples in hand! You’d much rather coordinate color palettes and tablescapes than timelines and booking contracts. A wedding coordinator is probably in your future! Plus, a wedding coordinator is often the most cost-effective option of the three if you need a little help carrying out your big day. Typically, you won’t meet with your wedding coordinator until about 1-2 months before your wedding date. Most of a coordinator’s work happens in the weeks leading up to the big day. 

A wedding coordinator:

  • Manages the rehearsal
  • Organizes the wedding-day timeline
  • Keeps the wedding party on track
  • Checks in & coordinates with vendors
  • Ties up any loose ends with vendors, payments, & details
  • Oversees & guides the wedding
  • Oversees seating charts
  • Acts as the liaison between the vendors or wedding party & the couple 
  • Fills in any gaps
difference between wedding planner, wedding designer, wedding coordinator; Nathan Phillips Weddings

In short, a wedding coordinator is your wedding manager and detail-oriented “proofreader.” Instead of the bride and groom worrying over loose ends or missed details on their wedding day, they can trust that their wedding coordinator will have everything under control. 

*Alternatively, you could also book a day-of wedding coordinator to help with wedding day logistics only. A day-of coordinator is there to give you peace of mind that nothing is missed. They also serve as the go-to person for questions or snags (instead of stressing out the wedding couple). 

Working as a Team with Your Wedding Planner, Designer, or Coordinator

As wedding photographers, we know that the magic is in the details. So, we’re here to do our part in making your wedding day extraordinary. We love working alongside wedding professionals like planners, designers, and coordinators to ensure you can enjoy every moment to the fullest. 

Learn more about our proposal, engagement, and wedding packages here.

PS—We photograph and video destination weddings, too! Get in touch with us here for booking information. You can find us on Instagram @nathanphillipsweddings for examples, ideas, and inspiration.