The difference between an on-the-day co-ordinator and a wedding planner

If people ask me what I do for a living, I say that I am a wedding planner.  If they’re interested in hearing more, then I explain that I specialise in weddings in Central Park, New York.  Usually that yields a *lot* more questions!  I find that I sometimes have to explain, in particular to some of my clients, is the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding co-ordinator, and why I don’t really do on-the-day co-ordination.  So, this blog post will serve as a long answer to a frequently asked question.

Here’s the short version: my job is to make the plans.  I plan.  I’m a planner.  I love planning, in my work and in my personal life.  I’m one of life’s organisers. 

I have a process, when it comes to planning weddings in Central Park.  I discuss many aspects of the wedding with the couple – from the grand vision to the tiny details – I start with the big stuff and work through to the details.  I guide the couple through the process of making all the decisions needed to get a good idea of the wedding that they want.  I might advise what other couples generally do, brainstorm various options with the couple and discuss pros and cons of certain locations and so on, but ultimately the choice is theirs.  Then I make it all happen.  I hire the people needed, I sort out the paperwork with the Central Park Conservancy and I make a cohesive plan for the day.  Then I communicate it clearly to everyone who needs to know.

My goal is to give couples the wedding day that they want, and also to make the planning process as easy and as clear as possible, then for the day to run smoothly.  I will help you to make the decisions to get to the plan and I organise the whole thing.  I will make a timeline of your day and draw up a route map for the couple and the guests.

Lots of people from out of town or from another country have planned their own wedding in Central Park, and will tell you that you can easily plan your own wedding and that you don’t need a wedding planner.  I do agree that you can, and of course I’m biased, but I wrote another blog post on why you might need a wedding planner for your Central Park wedding.  The main points are that I’ll save you time and effort doing research, and you can absolutely rely on my people.  Also, after planning well over three hundred weddings to date, it’s difficult to ask me a question that I haven’t already been asked.

A wedding co-ordinator tends to be the person on the ground on the day.  In venues, they check the florals, the furniture and so on, and make sure that everyone is where they should be at the time they’re supposed to be there.  I have been working with the officiants, photographers, florists, videographers, musicians and other service providers for some time and we all know what we’re supposed to be doing.  They are reliable people, they are great communicators, and they know how important promptness is.  I’ve done this role a few times in the park.  I often don’t attend the weddings, but I occasionally do, and I find that I’m not needed.

Sometimes, I think couples feel that having an on-the-day co-ordinator will make them feel more relaxed about the whole thing.  But usually, I find that as we go through the planning process and it becomes evident to them that they have a very clear plan of everything, then they realise that this is an expense that they don’t really need.  Weddings in Central Park tend to be small in terms of guest numbers and short in terms of the ceremony.  We’re not organising a huge society event with hundreds of people watching, as if it were a Broadway show – weddings in a park are supposed to be an informal, relaxed affair.  Also, decorations, chairs and suchlike are not permitted in Central Park, so nobody needs to organise all of that.  So, there’s not a great deal to sort out on the day, if you do the planning part in a thorough way and communicate it clearly.

Although every wedding that we plan is unique, they tend to follow a similar path.  The people that I book for the weddings are regularly contracted by me and they tend to know how I work, and also they know each other, so they know where to be and when. 

I suspect that the main reason why people think that they may need a on-the-day co-ordinator is to avoid feeling stressed as they go in to their wedding day.  My planning process is designed to do exactly that.  So, all of my couples should feel relaxed and confident about what their special day will look like, and that all will go to plan when the day comes around.  Hopefully, that means that they also agree with me that an on-the-day co-ordinator is just not necessary for their type of wedding.  If you have good planning, you shouldn’t need someone there on the day for your wedding in Central Park.

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