Wedding planning notebook with a cup of coffee and flowers

Just because you CAN plan your own wedding, doesn’t mean you should.

Guest Blog Post by Kate McClellan, Wedding Planning Expert and Founder of Planning Collective, a division of Purple Clover Events

If you’ve ever seen JLo in The Wedding Planner or Franck in The Father of the Bride, you probably picture a wedding planner as the person that fluffs the dress and arranges the flowers on a wedding day. But the reality is that most of our day is spent buzzing away on our laptops, iPads, and phones making calls to vendors.

Though it’s true there are many gorgeous and exciting moments that come with the gig, wedding planners spend most of our time meticulously arranging and coordinating details, reviewing quotes, creating spreadsheets, and building timelines in order to pull off the perfect day.  If this, along with putting out figurative and sometimes literal fires, doesn’t sound appealing to you as a bride, it might be time to think about adding a wedding planner to your team.  

Many hesitate at what they believe will be the high cost of hiring a wedding planner. Others balk at the idea of giving up full control of their wedding planning to someone else. The reality is that there are many different types of wedding planners out there, offering a true range of both costs and services. Which means  you most certainly do not have to break the bank or give up control  to take advantage of our expertise.  

Let’s talk about the different types of planners, and how to determine what’s best for you and your fiancé(e).

What are the different types of wedding planners?

Most wedding planning services can be broken down into one of 3 categories: 

  1. Full Service
  2. Day/Month of Coordination
  3. Partial Planning Services

Categories one and two fall at opposite ends of the “wedding planning spectrum”, while category three, Partial Planning Services, falls in between. Let’s talk about what each is and how it compares to simply using the coordinator your venue supplies. 

Why hire a full service planner?

A full service wedding planner is going to be there with you on every step of your wedding planning journey. They are going to help you determine your priorities, break down a budget, and keep you on track throughout the planning process. Most couples have never planned a wedding or large event before, so having a planner on the team will make sure that nothing has been missed and that you’re able to enjoy the entire process without getting overwhelmed

Most of my Full Service clients come to me right after securing their venue, like Zingerman’s Cornman Farms. They find that suddenly they aren’t quite sure what comes next! If you think you are going to bring in a planner I HIGHLY recommend you do it as early as possible. This way they can review budget and design details with you and make sure the venue you’re looking at works for both.  

Some couples worry that having a full service planner involved will dilute their wedding planning experience. I’m a firm believer that as long as you hire the right planner for you, they will only enhance your experience. Their goal should be to remove the stress of coordinating all the logistical minutiae and allowing you to take part in the fun elements. 

Let’s look at a classic example: Choosing a florist.  A planner can take an extensive list of different floral companies, narrow it down to the ones that match your availability and budget, and set up consultations that fit your schedule. You can then attend the consultation and talk about the designs directly with the florist. Your planner will likely have saved you at least several hours of online research, emails, and phone calls with this one vendor alone, and you are still participating in the major decision-making process.  

Additionally, a full service wedding planner can help you: 

  • Save money with potential discounts 
  • Save money by avoiding costly mistakes 
  • Save time/sanity by keeping you on track with checklists 
  • Manage vendor communications 
  • Create room layouts 
  • Create wedding timelines 
  • Make hotel and transportation arrangements 
  • Manage stationery and RSVPs
  • Plan auxiliary events like showers, rehearsal dinners, and brunches

And of course, the full service planner will be there on the wedding day itself to make sure all is running smoothly.  

Why hire a day/month of wedding coordinator?

Now let’s talk about the other end of the spectrum with Day or Month of Coordination. First, let’s talk about the title. This is a big debate in the world of wedding planners because there really is no such thing as “Day Of Coordination”  (At least not of a quality that would be much help – if a planner tells you that they just show up on the day of the wedding and take care of everything, take that as a huge red flag…).

The phrases “Month of Coordination” or “Event Management” typically mean the same thing, but are a bit more realistic in their descriptions. Whatever they call their services, a professional wedding planner will typically start to get involved about a month before the wedding to begin working on the details.  

For my “Day Of” services, I meet with the clients about 6-8 weeks before the wedding to go over the details of the day. We chat about each of the vendors, all of the design details, the timeline, and the layout. The goal is for me to step in and handle the logistical details in the weeks leading up to the wedding so that the couple can enjoy every moment leading up to the big day without overly stressing about the details.

Having a Day/Month of Coordinator is perfect for the couples that have the time to do the logistical work involved in planning a wedding but don’t want to be stressed out on the wedding weekend itself. I also like to say that it’s like having a professional “review your work”: if there’s something you’ve missed in the planning process, we can address and correct it before the big day. Almost every couple can benefit from having an independent coordinator on their team so they can avoid assigning  jobs to their wedding party or family.  

Why hire a partial service wedding planner?

In between Full Service Wedding Planning and Day Of Coordination falls the very flexible option of Partial Planning Services. It’s important to know that every planner does this differently, but for the most part  the “baseline service” is going to be Day Of Coordination. From there, the planner can add in additional hours or help in the areas you’re struggling with the most.  

For example, I’ve had clients book a partial service because they knew they needed Day Of Coordination but they were also struggling with rentals and finding appropriate vendors for their budget. We put together a custom package that included the help that was specific to their needs, and they felt comfortable handling the rest. They didn’t need someone to help with EVERYTHING, but they knew they needed a bit of help in addition to what the Day Of option covered. 

Some planners have set packages for Partial Planning and others customize it based on the help that is needed. This is a great option for couples that don’t have the budget for a full service planner, or maybe just need a bit of extra support but not necessarily the full service option. Partial Planning is definitely growing in popularity, so make sure to ask about it if it’s not listed as an option on a planner’s site.  

What’s the difference between a Cornman Farms event producer and an independent wedding planner?

A question I get asked all the time is “What is the difference between an onsite event planner at a venue and an independent wedding planner that you hire separately?”  For that answer, I’m including Tabitha Mason, Managing Partner at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms.

“While our Elopement and Intimate wedding packages are inclusive enough that outside support isn’t suggested, we do encourage our Bespoke wedding couples to engage a wedding planner.  Our role here at the farm is to ensure that your ceremony and reception are executed smoothly in terms of what we provide, meaning we will:

  • Explain the rental items and options that Cornman Farms offers
  • Discuss layout options with you and create a floor plan for your event
  • Act as liaison between Zingerman’s Bakehouse and our catering partners in Michigan
  • Provide a written cost estimate based on the decisions you make and help you with your invoicing

As Kate explained, a professional wedding planner is your personal consultant who can be at your side during the entire process as well as your wedding day. They’re skilled at making sure the timeline of the day goes as planned and that your entire event is executed as you wish.  We see planners take stress off of our couples by doing the following:

  • Assisting with all details including invitations, transportation, music, favors, etc…
  • Creating an itinerary, organizing your rehearsal and confirming details with all contracted vendors (and then sharing all of that great information with us!)
  • Overseeing the time management of the entire event, including handling your ceremony,
    processional and recessional, cocktail hour transition, grand entrance, speeches, cake cutting, toasts and dancing
  • Helping setup and teardown decor, including the lighting candles, moving floral arrangements from ceremony to reception, etc…
  • Prompting the MC and vendors when needed
  • Troubleshooting and ensuring quality control of set up including personalized details and decor

It’s very helpful to have one person, one experienced person, as a “big picture” person that can help with those details and so many other things that pop up during wedding planning. We think the independent planner serves as a captain to your vendor team. They are there to make sure that everyone on the team is prepped and ready for the big game and to provide them with all of the resources and support they need for a win!  An ideal scenario would be that you have an independent planner who helps you with the big picture details and also works in close coordination with your venue.”