The Difference Between Event Planners, Designers, & Coordinators: Michelle Leo Events

01 27 2016

…….  and what you need to know before hiring one

This post has been in the works for a while now and we are really excited to bring this post to you thanks to our guest blogger Michelle Cousins of Michelle Leo Events! There is a lot of confusion surrounding the services provided in this discipline of the wedding industry and we know you brides look to UBB for valuable information and a bridal education! So today we are dishing up one impressive article! Thanks Michelle!

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Planning a wedding can be such a wonderful and exciting time! It can also be an extremely stressful and confusing time. Many brides do not know where to start or even how to start. And many do not realize the wonderful resources available to them when it comes to putting the entire thing together.

It is no wonder brides get confused when evaluating where and how to start because there are so many mixed messages out there regarding who to hire when it comes to event planners, coordinators and designers (and what in the world is the difference?!) Many venues pitch access to event coordinators and the bride assumes “Great! I have a wedding coordinator who will take care of everything for me!) However, a coordinator does not oversee any of the big and important details outside of the venue space (and yet, many do not disclose that). Some brides end up hiring event stylists who pitch planning services when they actually only focus on event styling and are completely hands off when it comes to important logistics.
So what are the difference between event coordinators, planners and designers? The following Q &A will help you to establish these difference between these services so you can make an informed decision when determining which professional is right for you and your wedding:

Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EVENT PLANNER, EVENT DESIGNER AND EVENT COORDINATOR?
A: There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding these different titles. Here is a breakdown of those roles and services to help you better define the important differences between each:

Event Planners: Planners love logistics and have a complete roster of vendors and venues they’re able to recommend on the spot. Planners manage proper delegation of the event budget and negotiate competitive pricing with vendors in addition to reviewing contracts, looking for red flags, and answering important client questions. Planners serve as the liaison between client and vendor. Planners also obtain information regarding venue space to ensure all rules and regulations of the venue are respected by all involved parties utilizing the space. They familiarize themselves with the venue’s electrical capabilities and special logistics to develop layouts that accommodate the size of the event. Planners create timelines, orchestrate rehearsals, and make sure to communicate all expectations, important dates, times and other important information to the entire vendor team ensuring that load in, set up, execution and strike happen according to plan.

Event Designers & Stylists: Designers thrive on creative details and décor and have the ability to completely transform a space into an amazing atmosphere. They focus on colors, textures, lighting and ambiance, floral selection, table-top design, ceiling and wall treatments, paper details, cake design, furniture and more. Event designers focus on the big and small details that make events truly unique and personal while coordinating with design-related vendors to ensure all the visuals are cohesive and streamlined to produce amazing and memorable results.

One of the biggest benefits of working with MLE is that we offer BOTH planning and event design services. We feel strongly that in order to successfully orchestrate a custom event full of personal and unique details our clients will love, we need to have a hand in designing the stepping-stones that help us get you to the finish line.

We often hear this: “I don’t need a planner because my venue comes with a coordinator who is taking care of the details for me.” Really? Are you sure? While MLE is well aware of what your venue coordinator will and won’t do, the real question is, are you?

Event Coordinators: Event coordinators work at event venues. They don’t manage any details outside of their contracted services as a venue. Therefore, they are looking out for the best interest of the venue, not the event. A venue coordinator will only deal with aspects pertaining to the venue such as the set up of a room or space within the venue. They dictate set up and end times and communicate the rules and regulations covered in your contract pertaining to the use of space you’ve rented. They only manage details regarding the items the venue might provide such as tables and chairs. The venue coordinator is absent through the majority of the planning process. They aren’t necessarily there when set up begins and they often leave before the event has concluded. Their job isn’t to help you hire the right vendors (although they might provide you with a list of people they know). They don’t put out any fires when your cake doesn’t show up on time or your florist forgets half the centerpieces. They will look at you and shrug when the breakers blow because you didn’t account for the space’s power capabilities and your band brought in too many fancy lights and blew all the circuits.

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Q: WHY SHOULD I HIRE AN EVENT PLANNER (DO I REALLY NEED ONE)?
A: Planning an event is a full time job. It keeps the Michelle Leo Events team busy 24-7, six days a week (yes, that includes weekends and holidays), 12 months a year. With a busy career and personal life, planning an event can be difficult and most of our clients hire us because they don’t have the much-needed extra time in their daily lives to commit to the rigorous demands of planning an event. There’s no such thing as a “small event” because every event (no matter if the guest count is 30 or 3,000) requires management, coordination and execution.

We understand that your friends and family have most likely planned an event at some point in their lives, and you are probably tempted to enlist their assistance (perhaps they even offered to help). BUT- putting your friends and family to work on something they have very little experience with is a one-way ticket to DISASTER. (Remember, there are no do-overs on your wedding day). So what’s the difference between hiring a professional planner like MLE and your crafty friends and helpful family members?
Event planners and their teams offer an organized powerhouse of trained event planning professionals with years of experience working under pressure. We have been through the event planning process many times before and we’re your ticket to finding professional and trusted vendors. We know the right questions to ask and who to contact to get the job done. We know what high-stress situations to plan for and how to manage them. We oversee the big and little details that haven’t (and may not) even crossed your mind. Planners help clients avoid costly mistakes and hours of wasted time. In addition, they offer peace of mind and provide you, your family and friends the freedoms of enjoying a stress-free and memorable wedding.

Q: MY CATERER IS ALSO MY PLANNER, MY FLORIST IS DESIGNING MY EVENT, AND My BEST FRIEND JUST PLANNED HER OWN WEDDING SO SHE IS GOING TO BE MY COORDINATOR. THAT’S OKAY, RIGHT?
A: Plain and simple, anyone whose professional title isn’t Event Planner, Event Designer or Event Coordinator shouldn’t be offering you these types of services. We aren’t trying to be rude; we’re just being honest. MLE strongly believes that other industry professionals should focus on providing the service they specialize in. And no, planning her own wedding doesn’t make your best friend an expert, either. What do we mean by all of this?

Caterers aren’t wedding planners and shouldn’t offer to plan your event but they’re great at helping you develop a menu that will dazzle the taste buds of your guests. Florists put together amazing floral arrangements but they aren’t overall event designers with an eye for lighting and the perfect letterpress invitation suite. Your best friend is most likely not a paid, professional event planner and shouldn’t take on the management of your important event logistics. DJs, bands and photographers aren’t responsible for developing your day-of timeline and making sure everyone gets to the church on time. Venue coordinators aren’t responsible for helping you design your three-tier buttercream cake and help you make memorable musical selections. And the list goes on and on.

When you allow random vendors to handle the work and responsibility of other specialized professionals, things start to get messy very quickly and in the end, the client always pays the price.

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In the end, it is important to understand the differences between services in the event planning, coordination and design realm. And it is just as important to know which professionals should be offering and providing said services. Once you understand this, you will be able to make an intelligent, informed decision and determine which service best meets your needs and your budget.

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