Wedding Coordinator vs. Planner – What’s the difference?

Filed Under: Planning Resources | Posted October 5, 2021

“What’s the difference between a wedding coordinator and a wedding planner?”

We’re so glad you asked!

This is a question we get all of the time from potential clients, vendors, and even family and friends! So, let’s clear up the confusion, shall we?

First, let’s start with a wedding coordinator:

A wedding coordinator is there to coordinate your wedding – plain and simple (although our jobs aren’t plain and simple). All wedding coordinators are different, but we start working with our CJM couples 2-3 months out from their wedding.

Here are the basics of what we do for our CJM couples when they hire us as their wedding coordinator:

  • Confirm all vendors and arrangements
  • Review vendor contracts
  • Check delivery dates, arrival times, quantities of rentals, etc. with all vendors
  • Produce a detailed, color-coordinated wedding day timeline
  • Send timeline to all vendors one week before wedding
  • Show up with our handy-dandy Bridal Emergency Kit
  • Coordinate ceremony rehearsal
  • Distribute wedding day timeline to wedding party, family, and attendants
  • Set-up all ceremony and reception decor not handled by a specific vendor (guest signing item, unity candles, programs, pictures, favors, menus, candles, cake knife, toasting flutes, escort cards, gifts, charger plates, etc.)
  • Collect & distribute final payments and gratuities to vendors as needed
  • Manage flow and timing of ceremony & reception

What about a “Day-of Coordinator”?

When you read the list above, it’s easy to see why fellow wedding coordinators slightly cringe when we hear the term “day-of coordinator”, which is what most people refer to a wedding coordinator as. Yes, we ARE there to coordinate the day of your wedding, but we do SO much more than just show up on your wedding and say, “Okay, let’s do this thing.” If we only showed up on your wedding day, there’s no way everything would run smoothly and all vendors, bridal party members, and family knowing what to do, when to do it, and where to do it (hence why just having a friend or family member coordinate your wedding isn’t a good idea). There are a LOT of details that play into coordinating your big day, and you deserve to have a Certified Wedding Planner there who knows what she’s doing!

Yes, we DO coordinate the day of your wedding, but in order to do that successfully, we must start working on your wedding 2-3 months out from your big day.

“But my venue has a Venue Coordinator – do I still need a Wedding Coordinator?”

Short answer: yes. Here’s why:

Just like how all wedding coordinators are different, all venue coordinators are different. You will find, if you haven’t already, that some venues are super hands-on when it comes to helping you through the planning process, whereas other venues, although super beautiful, basically just collect their site rental fees and say, “Good luck!” and provide zero set-up the day-of.

The easiest way to remember the difference between a venue coordinator and a wedding coordinator is in the names. A venue coordinator is typically only concerned about anything pertaining to the venue. A wedding coordinator is concerned about everything pertaining to the wedding. We LOVE when venues have venue coordinators because that is another person being added to your dream team of vendors. However, because venue coordinators are only concerned about the venue, they typically don’t spend as much time sorting through the logistics of your day as a wedding coordinator or wedding planner would. Depending on where you are at with the planning process, you should definitely think through what needs you have when it comes to set-up, details, timelines, and various other logistics, and if your venue does have a coordinator, make sure you know what services they will be providing you on your wedding day.

A wedding coordinator is for you if:

  • You want to be a guest at your own wedding (seriously – I cannot stress enough how important it is that couples hire at LEAST a coordinator for their wedding. As a former bride myself, it. was. worth. it!)
  • You want your family and friends to be guests, too
  • You don’t want your family, friends, or guests coming up to you asking questions throughout the day
  • You are personally worried about the day flowing smoothly

Think you need more support than a wedding coordinator? We’ve got you, girl! Keep reading to learn how a wedding planner provides much more support throughout the planning process!

“So, what is a wedding planner?” Great question.

A wedding planner is there to help plan your wedding, as well as run your wedding rehearsal and wedding day. From constructing, analyzing, and managing your wedding budget to providing full event design, theme, and concept development, we’re there for it ALL!

When hiring a full-service planner, you can expect to begin working with the planning team around 12-15 months out from your wedding, whereas a partial-service planner usually begins around 6-9 months out.

Here are the basics of what we do for our CJM couples when they hire us as their wedding planner:

  • Full event design, theme, and concept development – everything from the invitations and guest favors to the floral arrangements and speciality rentals
  • Venue research and selection
  • Rehearsal dinner location research, selection, set-up, & management
  • Budget construction, analysis, and management (tracking all payments & due dates)
  • Help with selecting vendors (caterer, florist, photographer, videographer, entertainment, etc.)
  • Transportation management
  • Hotel & room block management
  • Favor assembly
  • Welcome bag assembly
  • Invitation assembly & mailing
  • PLUS everything we do as a wedding coordinator!

Now let’s compare the two:

Comparing what a wedding coordinator does to what a wedding planner does, it is clear that there are many differences! In short, a wedding coordinator is there to coordinate what you’ve already planned, and a wedding planner is there to help you plan the wedding of your dreams.

A wedding planner is for you if:

  • You need assistance getting started on the planning
  • You don’t know which vendors in the area are great and will provide you with exceptional service
  • You cannot commit enough time to the planning required, either due to working, schooling, or you’re not receiving assistance from family
  • You need someone who can turn your dream wedding into a reality

So what will work best for YOUR wedding?

I always tell my couples we can be as involved as you want us to be, and that goes with both wedding planning and coordination. If you’re a Type A bride like me and spreadsheets are your love language, great! Or, if you work full-time and don’t have the time to take on as much of the planning and need more support, that’s great, too! Either way, your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life, and you and your soon-to-be spouse deserve to enjoy your big day without having to worry about anything.

If you think a wedding coordinator sounds like what you’re looking for, check out our CJM Adoring Package, which we often refer to as “wedding management” since we are there to manage your wedding!

Are you looking for someone to be there throughout the wedding planning process to help bring your dream wedding to life? You have options! Between our CJM Everlasting Package and our CJM Promising Package, we’ll be there for you (cue the “Friends” theme song). And because every couple is different, we also offer various add-ons, such as additional consultations, wedding website creation, and bridal showers/luncheons/engagement parties, which you can explore from our A La Carte Menu.

So what IS the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator? Well, you, my friend, have the answers now, and I hope this has not only cleared up the confusion but also showed you how beneficial either option can be for your big day!

Want more information? Check out our FAQ page or feel free to email us directly at if you have more questions or want to chat about your big day!




All photos by Jenifer K Photo

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I'm so excited to have you here! Have fun browsing through recent CJM weddings, reading advice for fellow couples getting married, and taking a peek into my personal life!

Owner & Lead Coordinator of CJM, Indy-based wedding planning and design team

Hi, I’m Chloe.