Updated: Jan 13
I was recently chatting with two different brides and it struck me that they both made similar comments about wedding planner lingo and trying to figure out what the different titles in the industry really mean. You may have heard of a venue coordinator, a wedding planner, a wedding coordinator, day-of coordinator or month-of coordinator, and while they all sound similar, each typically encompasses a very different scope of responsibility. Keep reading to understand the various roles and responsibilities of each to determine the best professional for your needs.
Day-of Coordinator vs. Month-of Coordinator
Easily the biggest one to decode is the difference between a Day-of Coordinator versus a Month-of Coordinator. In the industry, there is such a variance in what a Day-of Coordinator means and the functions of this role, so it's important to ask a lot of questions when selecting this type of planner. If you're considering a Day-of Coordinator, you absolutely want to ensure that their services include the scope of things you are looking for on your wedding day, as there is such a significant difference from company to company. For ease of explaining, there are two types of Day-of Coordinators which I have outlined below, as well as a Month-of Coordinator comparison.
I've seen Day-of Coordinators that include simply the presence of a professional on the day of the wedding. In other words, the planner shows up and manages the logistics for the day. The issue with this is that the individual may not have had lengthy conversations with you about expectations for the day or had discussions with your vendors to ensure a smooth setup and run of show. The biggest pro with hiring this service level is that it's usually very affordable. You shouldn't pay more than a few hundred dollars for this level of planner. I generally would not advise this service if you can budget for the next category of planner.
Day-of (Plus) Coordinator
This terminology of Day-of (Plus) Coordinator is definitely something I just made up for the purpose of this explanation and not an industry term, but it easily explains what to expect from this planner. A Day-of (Plus) Coordinator, will be present on the day of the wedding and manage the logistics on the day, however they also typically provide more services. This type of planner is likely to help create your wedding day timeline and do final confirmations of your vendors. Many Day-of (Plus) Coordinators will work with you shortly before your wedding, which is why we've added on the plus. It includes the day-of the wedding, as well as some limited planning ahead of time too. On the day of your wedding, your coordinator may assist in things such as directing vendor setup, keeping the day on schedule, assisting in setup or cleanup and assisting in the wedding exit.
Month-of Coordination is the highest level of service and exclusively what we offer in this category at Happily Ever Houston Events. So what are some of the biggest differentiators in this package?
When Communication Begins:
When you work with our Month-of Coordinators, your planner begins communication with you about 4-6 weeks prior to the wedding to ensure plenty of dedicated time to
discuss the important details of your wedding.
Two virtual planning meetings are included with our Month-of Coordination package. During these meetings, discussion points include your vision, design, expectations, vendor selections, your thoughts on flow of the day for the timeline and any important details you may want to let us know about the wedding. Examples would include special cultural or religious elements of the day, sensitive family situations, or important venue details, just to name a few.
Final Confirmations of Vendors:
About a month before your wedding, we do an initial reach out with all of your vendors to introduce ourselves as the planner, day-of contact and to let them know a timeline will be sent to their email at least 1-2 weeks before the wedding. Not only are we ensuring that your vendors will be there on the day of the wedding, and there on time, but we're also introducing ourselves as the point of contact on the day. Introducing ourselves as the point of contact allows you to kick back and relax on the wedding day without having to get calls or texts from your vendors with questions.
Timeline Creation and Distribution:
During our planning meetings, we go through a questionnaire to talk about the important details for your wedding such as bridal party, first dances, cake cutting, religious or cultural elements. We get your input on the flow of the day, while also providing our expert guidance. After our meetings, we create a detailed timeline and send it to you for approval. Once the timeline has been finalized, we send it to all vendors as a second final confirmation and to ensure we are all on the same page. The distribution of the timeline to vendors typically occurs about 1-2 weeks in advance and we use it as one last opportunity to ensure the best communication with your vendor team.
Some venues are really helpful and will provide examples or templates of different layouts that work well in the space. Others really provide just a blank canvas and little guidance, leaving you scratching your head wondering how many tables are needed, whether to do 8 or 10 person tables, round tables or long rectangular tables, a sweetheart table or a table with your whole wedding party, and so on and so forth. If your venue falls into the latter category, we're here to help with the layout creation.
One of the best features of our Month-of Coordination package is that included in the
cost is a venue walkthrough prior to your wedding. If a planner has been in the business for a while, it is likely they are familiar with your venue or have worked there before. But the benefit of the venue walkthrough is that our planners are doing a final walkthrough with YOU. This benefit ensures that your design and vision are properly executed, plus it often sparks questions, discussion or creative ideas that may not have otherwise happened if not there together in person.
Your Dedicated Professional on the Wedding Day:
The wedding day is finally here! We help with so many things on the day of the wedding, it would be hard to list out every single thing. Some of the major things we assist with is assistance in ceremony or reception setup of items, welcoming vendors and managing their setup, providing final payments or gratuity to vendors, assistance in distributing items such as flowers or accessories, directing your entrance processional at the ceremony or grand entrance at the reception, management of the timeline to ensure everything stays on schedule (we come give you reminders about the next thing on the schedule throughout the day), providing an emergency kit, resolving unforeseen issues that pop up on the day so you stay stress free, facilitating the wedding exit and distributing items like sparklers or flower petals, gathering some basic décor items at the end of the wedding like a guest book or favors and finalizing the wedding.
Wedding Planner vs. Venue Coordinator
Wedding Planners and Venue Coordinators both fulfill important elements of your wedding and can work together to ensure a seamless ceremony and reception. However, each usually manage very different responsibilities for weddings. Wedding Planners focus on the elements of organizing a wedding, such as budget management, sourcing vendors, negotiating contracts, design, décor, scheduling, advising and many other responsibilities. Many Wedding Planners will also often be present on the day of your wedding or have a day-of coordinator from their team present on the day. At Happily Ever Houston Events, both our full-service planning and partial planning packages include a Month-of Coordinator. After helping to plan your wedding, having a member of our team present on the day of the wedding ensures a totally seamless day-of experience.
Venue Coordinators handle the aspects of the venue planning and again are typically present on the day of your wedding. During the planning process, I've seen Venue Coordinators assist in reserving specific spaces at a venue with multiple facilities, providing guidance on different layouts that work well in the venue, or communicating with venue supplied vendors such as security or valet. On the day of the wedding, Venue Coordinators are focused on management of the facilities. Examples of things the venue coordinator may assist with on the day of the wedding would be dimming the lights for your first dance, adjusting the temperature on a hot day, fulfilling cleaning needs (think if a guest spills their cocktail) or ensuring that the appropriate number of chairs are out for the ceremony or reception.
Wedding Planner vs. Wedding Coordinator
Wedding Planners are typically a more senior level position within a company and manage the overall wedding planning process. Wedding Coordinators generally work alongside planners and assist in the planning of a wedding. Often a Wedding Coordinator may also serve as a Day-of or Month-of Coordinator. If you are working with a Wedding Planner, you're likely working with a professional with several years of experience, while a Wedding Coordinator may be trying to work their way up in the wedding planning world.
At Happily Ever Houston Events we make your wedding dreams a reality while you keep your beauty sleep. We offer full and partial wedding planning services, event design and month-of coordination. Our specialty is helping to plan unforgettable experiences for all of life's happily ever after events. We can't wait to be part of your wedding planning journey and your big day!