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Event Planner vs. Event Coordinator

Let’s cut to the chase.

Designing, planning, and executing an event is a big deal. It takes a metric shit ton of time, effort, and patience, and if you think you can do it alone, then you’re either bonkers or you’re a literal superhero.

If you want to bring your dream event to life, you need to prepare for one of two options. Option one: a lot of work on your end. Option two: hiring out help. By hiring an event professional, you automatically remove the majority of stress and responsibility from your plate. If you have the budget for it (and honestly, if you ask anyone who’s hired an event professional before, they’ll probably recommend rearranging your budget to make it work), then we highly, highly suggest hiring either an Event Planner or an Event Coordinator.

Those are the two primary options — Event Planner or Event Coordinator — and it’s important to note the differences in order to choose the best option for your personality, event, and budget. We’ve created this blog for the sole purpose of explaining the two, their differences, and providing you with a general guide on the subject. Ready to get into it?

What’s an Event Planner?

An event planner is someone who’s with you throughout the entire event process. Depending on the size of the event, they’re typically hired anywhere from one year to a couple of months prior. Planners are responsible for assisting you in creating and communicating your vision for the event. They cover event design, decorations, vendor vetting and booking, logistics, and just about everything in-between. They work alongside you to the extent you’re comfortable with — for some, they want their event planner to be a coworker in planning their day. For others, they’d prefer a hands-off experience, so their planner creates their day for them entirely.

In a nutshell, event planners plan, and make sure everything goes to plan. Seems pretty straightforward, right?

If any issues arise throughout the planning process or during the event, the planner is responsible for fixing it. They can do it all. They’re like human duct tape. And when it comes to their relationships with their clients, they tend to be close and long-term. Planners are there to understand their client's needs and desires and help them to bring it all to life with their event-planning magic.

What’s an Event Coordinator?

Think “Event Planner’s equally cool little sibling,” and you’ve got an Event Coordinator. Hiring a Coordinator is the perfect option for those who are comfortable taking on the majority of planning themselves, but want an extra set of eyes to look over their plans, tie up any loose ends, and help with the logistics and oversight of the event itself.

Typically, you will want to hire a Coordinator between 4 and 12 months before your event takes place. If you have a favorite Coordinator you’re hoping to book with, inquire with them ASAP (even if your event is a ways away) to ensure you reserve your date. This will give them time to look over your plans, make changes if necessary, and assist you with anything you have left. If you missed something or made any planning errors, your Coordinator will have your back.

When your event rolls around, your Coordinator will be there to ensure everything runs like a well-oiled machine. Like an Event Planner, they’ll be responsible for bringing your plans to fruition and keeping everything together beautifully. Why? So you can relax, soak up all your hard work, and drink a lot. The last part is optional, but we have to admit, it normally ups the “fun” factor of an event by at least two degrees.

Which option is best for my event?

Whether you should hire an Event Planner, an Event Coordinator, or neither one of the two depends on a number of factors. The biggest determiner, however, is the magnitude of your event. If your event is going to be big (big in size, budget, or just a plain ‘ol big deal) then an Event Planner is a necessity. Here are some rules of thumb we recommend using to determine which option is best for you!

Hire an Event Planner if …

  • Your event will last more than 4 hours

  • You plan to have two or more vendors participating in your event

  • You want to have an entirely stress-free planning experience

  • You don’t want to be responsible for logistics and oversight on the day of your event

  • Your event will include over 100 people

  • Your event takes place in multiple locations

  • The decor of your event requires more than one individual to set up

  • Your event has different focus areas for location and timing (ceremony, cocktail hour, reception)

  • You aren’t sure what’s needed to plan your event (permits, what’s allowed by the city, venue, county etc., how much of something to order or plan for, how to get guests from one location to another)

  • The decor for your event requires more than 30 minutes for one individual to set up

  • You don’t want to handle the million moving parts the day of your event

  • You don’t want to put out fires or even know about the mini fires the day of your event

  • You want professional help looking at your event, offering guidance on where to spend money and where you can cut costs

  • You like the possibility of insider hookups (planners work with other vendors and can occasionally get discounts for you on other vendor services

Hire an Event Coordinator if …

  • You don’t mind the planning, but you don’t want to be responsible for logistics and oversight on the day of your event

  • You’re new to event planning and need a second opinion before finalizing the deets

  • You have all your vendors booked, but need help managing them on the day of your event

  • The decor of your event requires more than one individual to set up

  • You don’t want to handle the million moving parts the day of your event

  • You don’t want to put out fires or even know about mini fires the day of your event

Don’t hire either if …

  • Your event is going to be very low-key (no decor, no vendors, you’re making and providing the food, etc.)

  • You’re a rockstar who loves planning, coordinating, and is comfortable and confident being in charge of day-of oversight PLUS being an active part in your event

  • You hate Event Planners and Coordinators and want nothing to do with them ever

How do I find an event professional that’s right for me?

It’s important that you work with a Planner or Coordinator who understands you and your vision. When you feel comfortable with and confident in your event professional, odds are, you’ll work wonderfully together. You’ll feel more at ease letting go of the reigns and allowing them to take charge of bringing your dream event to life. Finding your perfect fit for an Event Planner or Coordinator can be tricky, however, so here are a few guiding questions we recommend using as you’re going through the hiring process …

  • Do they have packages that fit my budget?

  • Do they seem to understand the vision I have for my event?

  • Are they running a legitimate business? i.e. They have contracts, a website, examples of past work, testimonials from previous clients

  • Do they respond promptly?

  • Am I comfortable with their degree of professionalism and communication style?

  • Do I like their past events/previous work they’ve posted?

  • Can I allow them to take control of my vision, wants, and needs?

  • Do I vibe with them on our first call?

  • Could we be friends?

  • Would I feel confident and at ease telling them my concerns, worries, dislikes, and fears?

  • Do they listen to my needs and wants or do they push their own agendas?

  • If they push their own agendas, was it because I asked or because they were pushy? Did I like this?

A quick review …

Whew! That was a lot of information. Let’s review it all! Here are some brief job descriptions for both Event Planners and Coordinators so you can quickly see the differences.

Event Planner

  • Long-term client relationship (typically beginning 10 months to one year+ before the event)

  • Helps plan the event from conception (envisioning) to the day-of

  • Assists in booking vendors, choosing decorations & design, contract negotiation, organizing logistics, budgeting

  • Oversees the event on the day-of

  • Larger investment and less stress for the client

Event Coordinator

  • Shorter-term client relationship (typically beginning a couple of months before the event)

  • Reviews plans already made by the client to catch anything that was missed, make updates and tie up loose ends

  • Oversees the event on the day-of

  • Smaller investment and more responsibility for the client

If you’re currently in the process of planning or conceptualizing the event of your dreams and you’re ready to start looking for a Planner or Coordinator, we’re psyched for you and we’d love to help you make it happen! If you’re interested in working together, you can submit an inquiry with us here. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!


Team BG Events & Designs

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