I have been asked a lot lately about the difference between wedding styling/design and wedding planning/coordination. We are primarily stylists but there are some services that you would expect to be performed by a planner that we actually provide as well and this is where you may be a bit confused!
Wedding planners/coordinators are concerned with the logistics of your wedding. It’s their job (depending on how comprehensive a package you choose) to ensure that everything is organised, budgets are managed, vendors are booked, logistics are taken care of, and everything runs smoothly on the day of the wedding. These are the people portrayed in movies like The Wedding Planner and Father of the Bride – although the wedding planners I know definitely won’t fall in love with your fiancé, don’t wear headsets, and aren’t quite as dramatic as the movies would have you believe! But they are all over the details of your day, there to assist you in any way you need them to, to answer any questions you may have and be involved in every aspect of your wedding in order to make the whole process absolutely stress-free for you.
Wedding stylists/designers (which is what we are) are primarily concerned with the aesthetics of the wedding – how it looks and the overall “feel” of the event. We can help you find the perfect venue for the type of wedding you are imagining. We can work with you to design a general theme for your wedding which will include putting together a comprehensive styling brief and inspiration board which is what will guide us and your other vendors to ensure a common understanding of what we are aiming to achieve. We can recommend vendors (including furniture and decor hire businesses, photographers, stationery designers, caterers, celebrants, musicians, transportation providers, dress designers and DJs) whose style will be in tune with yours and can work with these vendors to ensure consistency and uniqueness in your styling. We can help you with selecting your outfit and accessories, as well as those of your bridal party. We can plan and either make or source all the little details like props, signage, stationery, favours, lolly/cake bags and so on. We can design and set up your lolly buffet, dessert buffet, drink station, gift table and photo table. On the day of the wedding we will be there to ensure everything looks perfect and we can also be there at the end of the reception or the following day to help pack everything away and ensure that all hired items are returned to their owners (something a lot of people don’t think about and not necessarily something your venue will be willing to do). Of course, as part of the process of designing and styling your wedding we will get to know you as a couple so that we can add those personal touches that are going to make your day special and unique, and we will get to know your style so that as well as being cohesive your wedding styling is a true reflection of you as a couple.
As you can see, our role overlaps with the role of a wedding planner in some areas. However, on the day of the wedding the role we play is quite different to the role of a wedding planner. We will be concerned with the logistics of set up (meeting vendors, directing them in setting up anything they are required to, taking care of the set up of all the details and ensuring everything is set up on time) but we won’t be providing overall management of the event which is what your wedding planner and/or venue coordinator will be doing. Styling a wedding is a labour intensive job which normally takes a lot longer than you would think, particularly when there are lots of details. In addition some venues only allow a restricted timeframe for set up which makes our job even more intense. Therefore it isn’t feasible for us to perform this role as well as generally overseeing the running of the event. We normally leave once set up is complete and we don’t stay and manage the running of your reception – that is left to your planner, on the day coordinator or venue coordinator. And, trust me, after a day of running around setting up we do end up quite sweaty and you probably don’t want us anywhere near your guests!
So, in summary, if you want someone to:
- help plan every detail of your day;
- manage your budget;
- manage your guest list;
- provide recommendations for vendors;
- liaise with all your vendors and manage bookings and payments and assist with contracts;
- provide advice on timelines and etiquette;
- plan the timeline/schedule for your wedding day and ensure all vendors are aware of it;
- attend and direct your ceremony rehearsal; and
- be there on the day of your wedding from start to finish to manage all of your vendors,
then you are after a wedding planner/coordinator.
But if you want someone to:
- ensure your wedding has that “wow” factor;
- help narrow down all your ideas to one cohesive theme;
- help with selection of colours, outfits, furniture and decor;
- recommend vendors whose styles are in tune with your own and work with them to ensure consistency and cohesiveness in your styling;
- help pull all your DIY and ideas together and/or see them come to life on the day of the wedding;
- plan and source or make the little details such as decorations, signage, stationery and favours;
- be there on the day of the wedding to ensure set up runs smoothly and everything looks perfect; and
- be there to ensure everything is packed up at the end of the night and all hired items are returned to their owners,
then you are after a wedding stylist/designer and should contact us!
It is also possible you may be after both a planner and a stylist and we are more than happy to collaborate with your planner to bring your dream wedding to life and ensure that we are not doubling up on any work. Although some planners do provide styling services, many people suggest that these services should be contracted separately in order to obtain the best results (for example, see this article from Utah Bride Blog) and I would tend to agree with that approach, given the workload of each role. What many brides do is hire a stylist and then just have an on the day coordinator who will take care of the management of the wedding day itself.
If you are still confused about the roles played by stylists and planners, here are some more great articles on the topic:
All images used in this post by Nectarine Photography.