Once you really dive into wedding planning, you may find yourself confused by all of the lingo floating around. From the differences between escort cards and place settings to different veil types (cathedral, fingertip, blusher, fascinator, etc.) to the fact that a charger is not something you plug your phone into, getting it all down pat can be difficult. One struggle we see right away is that couples don’t always know the differences between a wedding planner, a wedding coordinator, a venue coordinator and a DIY wedding. These all mean different things and, in turn, come with different responsibilities. Make sure you know which of these professionals (or combo of them) you are choosing for your DC wedding day! Once you’ve got that figured out, you can move on to picking the perfect wedding planner. We’ve got some pretty fabulous DC area wedding planners hanging around – hint hint, nudge nudge! Until you’re ready to choose, however, let us educate you on who does what and when!
A wedding planner is typically someone who has the expertise to support you in every aspect of creating and implementing your big day! From finding your venue to hiring your vendors to creative design and flawless implementation, a planner does it all. Their job also often encompasses the job of a coordinator; they are there are your big day to make sure everything runs smoothly. The analogy that you might find helpful is that of the wedding planner as the coach. Your planner is the central figure with the vision to select the best team of players, the leadership to organize and inspire them, and the depth of experience to help them succeed against all odds. A planner is working for you from the moment they are hired throughout your wedding day. They are responsible for making your creative and logistical dreams come to life! Want to pick a planner but not sure how? We’ve got a Q&A with local wedding professionals on the process behind hiring a wedding planner!
Alternatively, you can choose to hire a coordinator instead of a planner. The use of the word coordinator implies that the planning has already been done and what’s left is the organizing, confirming and implementation of those already laid plans. A coordinator pulls everything together to tie it up in a neat little bow. A great coordinator sets the event up for success with walk-throughs and meetings prior to the date of the wedding. They will also be on site the day of to make sure that you are running on time and every detail is perfectly in place! They are also all around “fixers” on the day, should any issues arise. The best man can’t find the ring, the buses carrying all of your guests haven’t arrived, your zipper is broken (yes, all of these things have happened to us…), these things are handled by the coordinator.
A venue coordinator can make helpful recommendations in advance of your wedding, especially when it comes to suggestions for other vendors. They can help you out with rental selections and may even have access to items like chairs or tables. They can give you logistical ideas for things that work well at their venue like where to put the cake. But, on the day of your wedding, their priority is their venue. Venue coordinators know a lot of about weddings because they are involved in them all the time but they aren’t wedding planners. They don’t necessarily know about things like wedding invitation wording, ceremony seating, etc. It isn’t their job to know these things for you. If you want or need a wedding planner, hire a wedding planner.
Maybe none of these options sound right for you. Maybe you’re working with a budget that might not support hiring a professional to plan your day. Or maybe you are super creative, organized, and crafty and just don’t need help! We do have to warn you though, DIYing a wedding can be a lot of work. And we’re not talking about just DIYing centerpieces and invitations; we’re talking about DIYing everything from start to finish including creating a wedding day timeline, making sure your vendors know where to go and when, organizing the bridal party, making sure your ceremony and reception spaces are set up, etc. There are a lot of things you might not think about having to do all by yourself when you decide to DIY your wedding. Just make sure you are prepared, organized, and have some great friends and family backing you up!
Now that you know the differences between your wedding day planning options, we hope you have fun choosing! Just in case you need a little more help, make sure you check out our wedding tips and advice section. Oh, and don’t forget to see what other couples have done for their DC area weddings!