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What does a wedding planner do?

Updated: May 10

Here's how I like to do business:

The wedding industry is made up of multiple smaller enterprises that are part of different industries like event planners, caterers, photographers, etc. Because of this, creative entrepreneurs can really write their own rules. It’s cool for the professionals, but sometimes confusing for potential clients.

The lines are a bit blurred, and sometimes this creative field isn’t clearly defined. What does a wedding planner/coordinator/consultant/designer/stylist actually do?!

Recently, my professional mentor, Manda of Mae & Co. shed some light on this topic. With her guidance, I was able to clearly identify the blueprint of my own wedding planning business. Of course I can’t speak for other planners in the industry, but this is what a wedding planner does (when you book Rosewood Weddings).

Wedding planner (back-end)

Planning is the process of making plans. Wedding planners outline, devise, and organize all of the wedding-related tasks. This portion of my job is predominantly done through emails and online project management tools - in conjunction with client meetings.

Working alongside my clients, we’re choosing vendors and I’m building a framework for their wedding journey. Much of the planning deals with identifying gaps and working through all the logistics. Specifically, I’m building a strategy for plans A, B and even C of the wedding day.

As the big day approaches, these plans get more and more technical. I’m outlining several room layouts, seating charts, furniture placement, rental quantities, transportation routes, guest communication + tons more.

The beefiest part of my wedding planning is the creation of my clients’ day-of timeline. That timeline is the key to a seamless transition of me as the wedding planner, to me as the wedding coordinator.

Wedding coordinator (front-end)

On your wedding day, I go from being your planner to being your coordinator. The twin sissy to your planner is your coordinator. She’s here, and she means business.

On the day, I’m there to execute all of the plans that we made together. The coordinator executes the plans, and ensures that they’re all being brought to life. Are the other vendors fulfilling their contractual obligations? I’m facilitating the entire event from start to finish - checking off all of our to-dos, and key points from the timeline.

A lot of my responsibilities as the coordinator involve facilitation + inter-vendor communication: The DJ arrives, and doesn’t know exactly where to set up. The ceremony musicians want to talk through the processional and song change cues. Wedding guests are looking for the bathrooms.

Outside of that, as a coordinator, I’m putting out fires (on the DL). No wedding day goes perfectly, no matter how proficient in planning. Perhaps on the day, we’re missing the correct microphone for your officiant, or we’re short 10 napkins for dinner. These are all instances where I, as the coordinator, step in and problem solve as quickly as possible.

*Which reminds me - having a seasoned + supportive vendor team in place is monumental. As the coordinator, I am teaming up with these professionals to problem solve as well. So, sourcing vendors who truly care about the production of your day (and not just their own agendas) is very important.

Wedding designer (back-end)

As a wedding designer, I am doing all of the same things that I’ve done with planning...just aesthetic-focused. With design, I am working with my clients on how they want their wedding to look, feel, smell, taste. What colors do they want to incorporate? What design elements are important to them?

From there, as the designer, I identify what’s needed to make these designs a reality. If the client wants a hygge-inspired lounge space, I am sourcing the specific pieces for them. Identifying delivery and retrieval days/times for those items, etc.

The design process happens on the back-end, just like planning does. All with a categorical emphasis on inspirational photos + gathering all materials required. Here’s a bit more into my design process (and debunking some myths).

Wedding stylist (front-end)

And finally, the twin sissy to the wedding designer is the wedding stylist. She is creative and decisive.

Just as the coordinator puts wedding plans into action, the stylist actively breathes life into all of the wedding designs.

As a wedding stylist, I place lounge furniture, arrange wedding decor, put out directives + wedding signage, layer the reception tablescape and so on. When I’m styling a wedding, I’m working very closely with the florist who is (also) bringing the clients’ vision to life.

A wedding stylist’s work starts the week of the big event as they prep candles, fold napkins, tie ribbons, box gifts, etc. You might think a stylist's work is done once the ceremony is set; however, it has really only just begun.

From the ceremony, I’m looking to repurpose florals and decor into the cocktail and reception spaces. Each vignette of the day is carefully styled with thoughtful details from the original design briefs. Flowers are moved, installations are adjusted, signage is updated, more candles are lit...the styling is always unfolding as the night goes on.

This sounds like a lot of responsibility. And it is! Which is why I hire assistants for support, and never underestimate the power of time management.

This works for me, though. These 4 roles could be divided up between 4 professionals, and in some cases they are. You’ll find a myriad of combinations out there, and multiple definitions of a ‘wedding planner.’ But this is what it looks like for me.

I truly love each player in this game! I couldn’t imagine planning but not coordinating - or (even more so) designing but not styling. For me, these are all interconnected, and it gives me great joy to see them all through!

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