I am so pleased to kick off the post holiday week with a guest post from wedding planners Jessica and Erin of Two Wedding Belles. I first met Erin and Jessica through Twitter, and then I was uber excited and honored when Jessica booked me for her May wedding. This team is split between Philadelphia where Jessica resides with her fiance and Washington DC where newlywed Erin calls home. They have planned many fabulous events along the East coast and are standing contributors to The Fab Bride. They share the same passion as I do about all things wedding related which is why I adore them so much.

I have asked them to shed light on some basic questions about the role of a wedding planner/coordinator and how brides can benefit from engaging the services of a coordinator/planner to assist them on their big day.

What is the difference between a wedding coordinator and a wedding planner? Are they two distinctly different things? Which one do you recommend brides to hire?

A planner will start with an initial inspiration from the bride and groom and take on most of the planning responsibilities, including researching and meeting with various vendors, choosing ceremony and reception locations, and in some cases making design decisions. Think Frank from “Father of the Bride” or any of the planners from “Whose Wedding is it Anyway.” A coordinator will be there for the ceremony and reception (sometimes also the rehearsal) and will make sure the actual wedding day goes smoothly. They will confirm vendor arrivals, keep tabs on the timeline, assist with set-up, discreetly usher guests from cocktail to reception, etc. etc.

The choice to hire a coordinator vs. a planner depends on how much time and money the couple has available. A coordinator will typically cost between $500 and $1500 for the day. A planner will most often charge a flat percentage of the wedding cost, somewhere in the thousands. However, if a couple is too busy or not interested in the details of planning an elaborate affair, a full wedding planner is a great solution.

What are the benefits to hiring a coordinator/planner?

We strongly feel that any couple planning a wedding of more than 100 or so people and hiring multiple vendors should have a coordinator. A wedding of that size, no matter how organized the bride was during the planning process, will have issues someone will need to handle. It’s difficult to relax and enjoy the wedding day when scrambling to get the DJ to the reception site from an unexpected traffic jam, or setting up handmade decor items in the hour the venue has alotted for setup, or redistributing centerpieces when the florists have come and gone and the reception space still doesn’t look just so.

A planner is the way to go if the couple is uninterested in the details of planning a large wedding or simply doesn’t have the time do so. The planner will take on the same day-of duties as a coordinator in addition to making the initial arrangements. This is a hands-off, low stress way to plan a large wedding. The couple just has to be prepared for the additional cost.

Most brides are hesitant to hire a wedding coordinator/planner since they have a site coordinator for their venue. What is the difference in the two roles?

While the site coordinator is often times helpful in answering site-specific questions when figuring out logistical plans for the wedding, this person’s main responsibility is ultimately the venue.  He or she is there to ensure that the venue holds up its end of the wedding day services, and that the space isn’t damaged. Then you have a coordinator or planner, whose sole responsibility is the needs of the couple, their family, and their guests.  Another thing to consider: the site coordinator isn’t hired by the couple; he or she comes as a package deal with the chosen venue. By having the ability to interview and select a coordinator or planner, a couple can ensure that they are a good fit with this person.

A lot of brides have DIY’d their whole wedding from invites, decor, favors, etc,  how Is a wedding coordinator beneficial to the DIY bride?

We both were semi-DIY brides ourselves, and both hired day-of coordinators for our own weddings. Why? Well, because you have to put the glue gun down at some point and focus on one thing: getting down that aisle. There are only so many hours in a wedding day, and a bride should be spending time with family or friends getting prepped and pampered before the ceremony. The set-up and placement of all the bride’s DIYs are then handled by the coordinator. We’ll typically take a bride’s DIY items, from centerpieces to escort cards to favors, and place them per our discussions with the bride. Then we’ll rearrange, fix, straighten, and re-straighten multiple times throughout the event so every area of the venue is looking its best at all times.

How far in advance should a couple look to hire a wedding coordinator? A wedding planner?

This really comes down to the level of involvement the couple is looking to obtain. If the couple wants a full-on wedding planner, one that will help to create a theme and select vendors, then this should be the first phone call you make once you are ready to narrow down a wedding date. If the couple wants a wedding coordinator, then they should hire one about 8 – 10 months in advance of the wedding date. But, even at the very last minute (we’re talking with a month or less to go!), a coordinator will still be able to step in and help. The biggest challenge there will be finding a coordinator with availability.

A HUGE  thank you to Jessica and Erin for sharing their expertise 🙂

You can find out more wedding advice, yummy eye candy, and information about their services over at their website Two Wedding Belles.

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February 22, 2011
Thanks for having us Nicole :)
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February 22, 2011
Great info- the difference between the site coordinator and YOUR wedding planner is so important to know (also love the the glue gun down and get down the aisle :)!
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