From day-of coordination to full-service event design, pros can provide your ideal level of assistance.

From day-of coordination to full-service event design, pros can provide your ideal level of assistance.

The wedding planner is the architect of the big day, the schedule sage, style savant, a superhero of sorts. Or, for the matrimony maven who loves to host events, the wedding planner could be someone who will track down a missing bouquet an hour before the ceremony. Deciding whether you want a wedding wizard or just want a little assistance is one of the first steps to planning a wedding. With the vast array of options available, there's a planning style for every personality.


This is the style most people think of when they hear the words "wedding planner." A full-service planner is exactly that-he or she will be by your side from your first vendor meeting to your sparkler send-off.

If you are planning an out-of-town wedding, know you won't have much time or help because of work, school or other responsibilities, or if you just want to outsource most of the heavy lifting of planning, a full-service wedding planner is the one for you. Your planner can help you select the perfect vendors, manage budgets, set the timeline and answer any questions you have along the way. In addition, he or she will provide the same weekend and day-of support services mentioned below.

Some venues offer full-service planners as part of their packages, allowing for even more convenience. Bryan Wright, senior director of catering at The Grand Event Center, refers to this option as "a full-service resort experience, with one point of contact."

Partial Planning

If your schedule doesn't allow you to devote much time to planning but your budget doesn't accommodate a full-service planner, you could hire someone to assist you earlier in the planning process. Many planners offer beginning and ending services that get you started in the right direction, with follow-up support on the big day. These services usually involve a discussion early on about what's most important to you, your budget and your vision. The planner can then provide a list of vendors to choose from that best fit your specific needs.

It may seem counterintuitive, but hiring a planner could be a smart move if your wedding budget is tight. This is especially true when it comes to selecting vendors.

"We know the majority of the prices offered by vendors. So if they are looking for a very inexpensive cake person, we probably know who to refer," says Jamie Rapavy, wedding specialist for Columbus Bride & Groom. "Many inexpensive vendors don't advertise much, so brides might not find them on their own."

Rapavy also notes that planners often receive vendor discounts, and experienced planners can help brides and grooms avoid costly mistakes and oversights.

If you have specific ideas and tastes but don't know where to find what you need to make it happen, getting assistance with choosing vendors is exceptionally helpful.

"The planner is always there for [vendor] suggestions," says Wright. "If they want a florist that does a great job with succulents, or something like that, it's always nice to have people who are experts."

Wedding Weekend

Prefer to do the planning yourself? Totally understandable. But even the savviest of couples often can use a little extra help when the big weekend finally rolls around. Many planners offer packages that range from 20 to 30 hours of service, including an initial meeting a couple months before your wedding.

During this meeting, the planner should review all your vendor contracts to help you build your weekend and day-of timeline, which Rapavy refers to as the "wedding planner's bible." Timelines keep things running smoothly throughout the weekend and help everyone stay on the same page.

Day-Of Coordination

In recent years, trends have favored do-it-yourself approaches to weddings, says Rapavy. Brides and grooms are taking bigger roles in coordinating their weddings and hiring less help for the planning portion of the work. So it's no surprise that some of the most popular options are day-of packages that provide by-the-hour assistance.

This is a great choice if you enjoy planning and have family or friends to help, but want to let someone else take the reins-and the stress-on your wedding day. This task-oriented support ranges from helping keep things on schedule to more extravagant feats, such as avoiding a wedding day disaster like a missing veil.

"Unexpected things happen at weddings, and it is great to have someone there to manage them," Rapavy explains. "Like when the limo breaks down, the dog poops on the altar, the cake slides off the table. These are just a few actual things that have happened over the years. All resolved and some of the brides never even knew!"

Regardless of the level of planning you choose, be sure to look for a coordinator you have good chemistry with and can communicate with easily.

When it comes to choosing a planner, Rapavy advises interviewing at least two or three. "Experience is going to speak volumes," she says. "Make sure they are listening to what you want."