Wedding Planners, Stylists and Coordinators… what’s the difference?

(for video version, skip straight to bottom)

It wasn’t until someone blatantly asked me the question that I even realised I was talking using jargon, industry language that’s complicated to understand even for the professionals. Particularly in an industry full of creatives who all offer something unique and varied, often using self-proclaimed job titles to describe their niche. Wedding Planner, Wedding Stylist, Wedding Coordinator… “Aren’t these all just different names for the same person?!” It’s no wonder you’re all out there getting confused about who to hire!

Never fear! In this blog post I’ll be giving a bit of a run down on wedding planners, stylists and coordinators; what they do, how they differ, and when you might want to consider hiring them. I thought I’d keep it to the three job titles listed above, chances are though, you’ll hear many more throughout the planning of your wedding. If you’d like help understanding any others, don’t be too shy to flick me a message! I’d love to have a chat about it. And if you’re wondering about the difference between a privately hired wedding planner and a venue supplied wedding planner… well, I’ve written about that one here – head on over and check it out.

As always, please take my words with a grain of salt. These definitions are rough approximations. Every single creative out there will do their job differently and cover a slightly different variation of things. Read the fine print in your contract, talk to your vendors about what they provide and what you require and keep that line of communication open, always! Different services suit different people and if you do your research you’re bound to find the perfect combination of perfect vendors to pull off your perfect wedding day.

An old picnic table is draped with a yellow tartan wool blanket. On it sit a table, coffee, diary and reading glasses.

The role of a…
Wedding Planner

When you think about a wedding planner, I want you to think logistics. The person behind the scenes with spreadsheets coming out their ears. The person who holds your hand from day one, becomes your new best friend, answers all your questions, keeps you totally sane, and does all the research and planning so that you can worry about the important things like whether you’ve added any chocolate cake options to your Pinterest board yet.

Why would I hire a wedding planner?

A wedding planner will be there for you to lean on the entire way through your wedding planning process. They can help you with as much or as little as you require from budgeting to research, sourcing vendors to communicating with vendors, asking all the right questions to answering all of your questions, scheduling, attending meetings, and keeping everything on track.

Wedding planners have done this all before, they know how it works, they know what comes next, and there’s nothing like having a professional to lean on to help ease your fears and keep you loving every minute. Planning weddings takes time (over 200 hours to be precise!) and with a professional planner by your side you’ll be able to enjoy doing all the fun stuff while they manage the hard yards and logistics of pulling it all together seamlessly.

Can I afford a wedding planner on any budget?

Sure you can, but it might just take a little more research to find the right planner for you. Many wedding planners have different specialties and if your budget is a little tight then you’re probably not going to be suited to a planner who specialises in opulent and luxury weddings. Many wedding planners (myself included) quote every wedding as a totally bespoke package meaning that the price can vary greatly depending on what it is you need help with – all you have to do is ask! The advantage here is that you’ll be paying for exactly what you need and not for all those little extras that you’re happy to take care of yourselves.

How should I choose my wedding planner?

I am a big believer that the main thing you should base your wedding planner search on is whether you actually like the planner as a person. Follow them on social media for a while and make sure you resonate with their style. If they’re someone who’s likely to annoy you, or you simply just don’t really vibe with them, then they are not the planner for you. This person will be by your side for possibly over a year as you plan your wedding day! If you don’t like them as a person, you will not enjoy their help – it’s as simple as that.

Other things to look for are their specialty, their price range and their location. My specialty for example is eco-friendly and nature-inspired weddings. If you’re after a ballroom style indoor wedding with glitter, disco balls and crazy stage lighting then I’m probably not your gal (though even I’ll admit that sounds kind of amazing). If you’re after a marquee wedding deep in the bush and you care about your carbon footprint then what are you even waiting for?! Get that enquiry coming my way asap! (Extreme example – but you get the point…).

When should I hire my wedding planner?

For a planner, the sooner you can hire them the better – they’ll be able to add value right from the get go, so it’s worth reaching out to them before anyone else, even if you then decide that you don’t need their assistance until later. Locking in your planner and confirming what it is that you’ll be needing their service for right at the start will help the whole process to run much more smoothly and keep you calm, knowing that there’s a professional there that you can ask advice of should you need it.

Jodie Munro sits at a picnic table laughing, keep cup in hand.
That’s Me! Wedding Planner, Coordinator and Founder of Emerald and Ebony

The role of a…
Wedding Stylist

When you think about a wedding stylist, I want to you think style; aesthetics; look. The person that makes the whole event appear cohesive, even between the different venues. They’ll make the space feel and look just right and your guests feel like they’ve been transported to another world – the kind of world that makes their jaws drop in awe. Stylists work a special kind of magic that makes every event feel exactly the way it should – they’re lovers of details, are experts at pulling them all together and they know exactly where to put that last set of fairy lights to ensure the whole room glows in their radiance.

Why would I hire a wedding stylist?

You’ll be looking to hire a wedding stylist if you just want a little more of a wow factor out of your wedding. You want your guests to walk into the space and instantly feel transported, amazed and know that this wedding is you and your partner to a tee. You’ve probably got a few ideas about your wedding style (most people do) and a stylist will be able to pull all of those ideas together to make everything look even better than you’ve been imagining. With a stylist on your team you’ll guarantee yourself a beautifully Instagramable wedding that you can look back on with pride.

Can I afford a wedding stylist on any budget?

Many people think of planners and stylists alike as being luxury items. Rather than worrying about the budget I encourage you to think about what it is you want out of your day. If the look and feel of the wedding and the overall vibe is super important to you then investing in a stylist is a no brainer. Much like a wedding planner, there are different types of stylist and different levels of help you can receive, if you aren’t sure what you’d be able to get due to a tight budget then there’s no harm in asking!

I might just add too – if you’re thinking about entering all those incredible wedding magazine competitions, wanting your wedding featured somewhere, or simply just want to wow all those followers on Instagram, then I absolutely recommend a spending a few extra dollars on a wedding stylist – you will not be disappointed.

How should I choose my wedding stylist?

Their style. Find a stylist who predominantly works with weddings that suit the vibe you’re going for. Browse their social media, their website, talk to them if you want to! – Anything to ensure that their favoured style matches yours. If it does and you love their examples of previous events they’ve created then they could very well be the stylist for you!

Of course, liking the person is always a bonus too – you want to know that you can trust them to produce what you’re after and that you’re comfortable approaching them with questions, concerns and let’s not forget jumping for joy with them when you see the finished product.

When should I hire my wedding stylist?

For a stylist, you’ll want them as soon as you start to think about the style of your wedding. This will depend on your preferences and be different for everyone but once again, the sooner the better – and if you’re hiring both a stylist and a planner then they’ll be keen to work together and share ideas so that the planning and the styling all come together smoothly. The styling is often considered the ‘fun part’ of wedding planning, so you’ll probably be surprised just how early it starts playing on your mind. As I mentioned with the planner – having a professional locked in and ready to answer your questions will give you a peace of mind that you may not otherwise have.

A cluster of succulents surround a terracotta pot with a candle, forming the table centre at a wedding.
Photo Credit: Abi Hackling Photography

The role of a…
Wedding Coordinator

When you think about a coordinator I want you to think of the day itself. The person that runs around with clipboard in one hand and duct tape in the other ensuring everything is exactly where it needs to be. They’ll have your wedding set up on time and packed down before you know it – and the best part? You won’t have to worry about a thing. Coordinators can be trusted to handle absolutely any situation (no matter how surprising) with ease and all with a professional quality that keeps you cool, calm and collected – actually – you’ll probably never even know there was a problem to begin with – they’re just that smooth.

Why would I hire a wedding coordinator?

A wedding coordinator takes care of all the set-up, pack-down, and general drama that occurs in the lead up to the wedding day. You’ll be looking to hire a coordinator if you value your sanity in the days before and after your wedding and if you’d rather spend that time with your friends and family than spend it setting everything up and doing all the manual labour yourself. Can you tell that I recommend this to absolutely everyone???

Can I afford a wedding coordinator on any budget?

Yes, yes and yes. I cannot stress it enough. A wedding coordinator is 100% worth your money regardless of your financial situation. It is incredibly difficult to coordinate your own wedding while actually enjoying the day – if you only splash out on one of the vendors I’ve talked about in this post – let it be a coordinator – you can DIY the planning for the year in advance, and you can DIY the style and aesthetic of your wedding on the cheap but I do not recommend running the day yourself. It’s stressful, it’s time that you could otherwise spend enjoying the event you’ve just spent months and many dollars creating and it’s really hard to be present in the day when you’ve got all the logistics and run sheets running around in your head instead. Did I mention that there’s always something unexpected that pops up? A coordinator will manage that surprise for you and keep everything running perfectly to plan.

How should I choose my wedding coordinator?

Once again, you’ll be looking to choose a coordinator (or coordination team) who specialise in your kind of wedding. Marquees are totally different to set up and pack down than ballrooms – make sure that the coordinator you’ve hired is suited to the exact job you’re hiring them for. If there’s quite a lot going on in the décor and layout of your wedding then you may need to choose a coordination team that consists of more than one person. If your layout and décor on the other hand are super simple and straight forward, then just hiring one person may be enough – these are all questions you can ask your coordinator though.

And as with anything make sure you get along at least well enough that you trust them. Your coordinator may have to make some split second decisions on the day so you want to be sure that you trust you’ll agree with what they come up with. If you have any doubt in your coordinator then they probably won’t leave you stress free and enjoying your day at all – rather, you’ll be constantly worrying about whether they’ve got things under control.

When should I hire my wedding coordinator?

Your coordinator won’t be starting work until about a month before your wedding day, so it’s safe to say you can leave hiring this one until a little closer to the time. Careful though – you’ll still want to reach out early enough that your chosen favourite isn’t already booked out for your day. I’d recommend getting them booked in as soon as you know this is a service you’ll be wanting – it also helps you to manage your budget a bit better if you know roughly how much you’ll be spending on this service.

A old outdoor picnic table set up with laptop and coffee.

Many of these roles can overlap and be managed by the same person or team. Some stylists are also planners, some planners are also coordinators and some teams will offer all three services. Have a think about what’s most important to you and then get searching accordingly – and don’t forget – if you’re hiring a planner, they can help you to search for and lock in the stylist and coordinator as well. That’s exactly what they’re here for.

Still got some questions about planners, stylists and coordinators?
Drop them in the comments below!

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Emerald and Ebony – Planning Eco-friendly weddings in Taranaki and beyond.

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