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What Does a Wedding Planner Do?

The dictionary answers ‘what is a wedding planner?’ with the following definition:

wed.ding plan.ner n

1. a person hired to plan and organize a wedding, reception and possibly the honeymoon in consultation with the bride and groom.

wed.ding con.sul.tant n

1. someone who owns a wedding planning business. May plan the entire wedding or simply give advice to couples who want to plan their own wedding.

2. one who gives expert or professional advice to couples planning a wedding, reception and/or honeymoon.

Wedding Planning Professional Titles

In the world of wedding planning, several terms exist to describe the role of the individual hired to professionally plan a wedding.

I primarily refer to the term ‘wedding planner’ to describe this profession. You’ll also see other terms like bridal consultant, wedding consultant and, occasionally, wedding coordinator (although, not very often, since the term ‘coordinator’ is not a favorite of mine.)

For the purpose of this site, however, each term is interchangeable and refers to a person hired to plan and organize a wedding.

And although in different parts of the country, each of these terms may have a very specific meaning with regard to what tasks are performed, try not to get too hung up on your professional title. It’s totally up to you to decide which one works best for you in your wedding planning career.

Think of a wedding planner as a general contractor.

Let’s imagine you were building a brand new home. You’ve shared your vision of what you want your home to look like with your general contractor and you have a budget and a time-frame of when you want your home completed.

Once you and the general contractor agree, a contract is drawn up and signed by both parties and the work on building your home begins. It’s unlikely that the general contractor will actually perform the work, instead s/he is responsible for finding and then overseeing all of the different sub-contractors to construct your home. Plumbers, roofers, landscapers, painters, and so on.

Assuming that all goes as planned, you get the home you’ve been dreaming about and the general contractor is paid his/her fee.

The role of of a professional wedding planner is very similar.

After the bride and groom articulate their wedding day vision to you, and both parties feel comfortable with the working relationship, a contract or letter of agreement is signed and the planning process begins.

One of the first things on your to-do list is to create a budget followed by a timeline and then you start to pull together a ‘dream team’ of vendors–the florist, the photographer, a venue, the limo, the party bus rental, the caterer–to bring your client’s dream wedding to life.

You, the professional wedding planner, are the main point of contact and on the actual wedding day you and your staff are there to ensure that everything happens according to plan.

You’re paid for your time and professional services and your couple enjoys one of the best days of their lives…and then live happily ever after!

A Laundry List of Responsibilities

Take a look at the following list of professional duties that explain ‘what is a wedding planner?’:

  • find and rent ceremony and reception venues
  • create a wedding budget
  • create a wedding-day timeline
  • recommend wedding professionals that match a couple’s style and budget
  • review and negotiate vendor contracts
  • manage guest list and RSVP’s
  • secure accommodation for out-of-town wedding guests
  • plan pre-wedding parties (engagement party, bridal shower, bachelor party, etc.)
  • create seating chart for wedding reception
  • direct the wedding rehearsal
  • purchase bridal party gifts
  • accompany couple on wedding vendor appointments
  • design wedding look/theme
  • oversee all wedding day activities
  • coordinate newspaper engagement announcements
  • plan honeymoon

This is by no means the only tasks you will be expected to complete in your role as a professional bridal consultant.

Since your clients are hiring you to do all the things they’re unable or unwilling to do themselves, it’s likely you will come across requests that aren’t listed here. So be ready.

The good news is that most, if not all, of these listed tasks can be learned. But being a professional wedding consultant requires much more than wedding planning know-how.

Dig a little deeper and find out the ‘touchy-feely’ response to the question ‘What is a Wedding Planner?’ by checking out the article Wedding Planner Skills.

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Comments on What Does a Wedding Planner Do?

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. I’m 16 in a few months, and really want to do some work experience somewhere local. I am hard working, and will get stuck in to everything I turn my hand to. Do you think this is a possibility for someone of my age?

    1. Hey there,

      Thanks for writing. Where to begin, huh? Well, it depends.

      Do you have any experience with planning special events? Is it your goal to start your own business or to work for an established company?

      Being certified isn’t required to plan weddings, but there are several options to get your certification if you chose to.

      Let me know a bit more about what’s going on. (Feel free to leave a voice message anytime: 202-681-2126)


  2. Hi debbie ma name s mahiteh and I leave in the Gambia, ave always wanted to be a wedding planner bt presently m doing hairdressing which is a one year course, is it possible for me to start d course on line befor going to university?

  3. I want to become a certified planner can you tell me where I can get accurate information from that can help me in doing this.


    1. Ashaunta, there are tons of wedding planner certification courses out there. But, because there’s no governing body that determines what should be included as part of the wedding planner certification process, it’s totally subjective. Content and costs vary.

      My best suggestion is to Google the term ‘wedding planner certification’ and conduct your own research. Ask lots of questions and make sure you know what you’re paying for.

      Finally, remember that wedding planner certification is NOT a requirement to become a professional wedding planner.


  4. Hi Debbie,

    you posts are a fantastic resource as always.

    I was wondering what would you do if the venue or hotel already employs a ‘wedding coordinator’ as part of the event?

    My wedding coordinator (from the hotel) only coordinated things ‘on the day’ and only within the hotel. So, do you think there would be hostility, or trying to do each other’s jobs? Would the wedding planner (planning the entire event) be subordinate to the hotel event coordinator?

    Thank you!


  5. Then send the postcard to all of the addresses
    in your area, and try to draw customers in. With good habit and savings, you can be assured
    of having enough to start your own business. What you give away doesn’t
    have to be costly, but it must be valuable.

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