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Many gals describe planning a wedding as a full-time job. In my experience, it certainly seemed that way at times! No surprise, then, that planning weddings actually is a full-time job for some people (a.k.a. wedding planners!). They’re there to worry about the details of your wedding so that you can focus on preparing for your marriage – the good stuff. One size does not necessarily fit all, though, so today we’re breaking down the differences between wedding planners, wedding coordinators, and wedding stylists, and which one might be most appropriate for y’all!

Full-Service Planning
A full-service planner handles it all, from start to finish. Their duties can include everything from hiring and meeting with vendors to mailing invitations to setting a wedding day timeline. If they also offer design services, they’ll help you develop and execute the look, feel, and style of your celebration. This type of planner is perfect for couples having a logistically complex event, who both work long hours, or who simply want a professional to guide them every step of the way.

Partial Planning
Many planners offer à la carte services for couples who have a firm handle on the details but want some assistance–either at the beginning, with selecting vendors, or in the thick of things, with specific projects. Most charge either an hourly rate or a flat fee.

Day-Of Coordination
Technically, we think this category should be called “month-of coordination,” because no planner worth her salt is going to step in on the actual day of your wedding. Most will charge a flat fee to work with you from about a month out, handling vendors, set-up at your locations, timeline execution, and the myriad other tasks that go into a wedding day. Coordination is great for those who love being knee-deep in the details but want to hand everything off for a stress-free experience on their big day.

Wedding Styling
A wedding stylist can join you at different parts of your wedding planning process. At the beginning, she might help you develop a mood or inspiration board. If she steps in just on the wedding day, she’ll take all of your decor items and everything you’ve planned and set it up (and, well, style it!) just as you imagined. She’ll likely work with your photographer, too, to style images of details you want to remember, like your invitation suite.

We’re sure you’ve heard it before but it’s worth repeating: you want to be able to enjoy your wedding day instead of stressing over how everything is being set up and whether details are being taken care of. So whether you want to collaborate on every aspect of your celebration or hand things over just for the big day, there’s a planning service out there for you! Though it can be hard to justify the expense at the outset, for what it’s worth, countless couples have told us in their wedding interviews that hiring a planner or coordinator was the best money they spent on their wedding.

I’d love to hear: are you hiring a wedding planner of any sort? Which type?

We’ll be sharing a quick and simple piece of wedding planning advice based on our most frequently asked questions once a week! Feel free to email us with your own question, or pick up a copy of the Southern Weddings Planner (now available for pre-order!) for all of our best resources in one place!

Written with love by Southern Weddings
1 Comment
  1. avatar Erin reply

    Nope! We had a four-month engagement where we chose everything from afar, sight unseen. I am pretty organized, and our short engagement forced me to be decisive, so I never felt like I needed on. Secretly, I thought wedding planning was lots of fun and pretty easy :)

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In our wedding planner, one of the first tips we recommend is making an inspiration board. At the beginning of your engagement, an inspiration board is the perfect way to represent the look and feel of your wedding in a neat, tidy, and beautiful package. Inspiration boards are also a useful tool for working with your wedding vendors – they’ll help you clearly articulate your vision and get everyone on the same page. Finally, a great inspiration board will also serve as a touchstone you can refer back to again and again throughout wedding planning to see whether new ideas or options match up against your overall vision. Today, we’re going to teach you how to make one!

Actually, there are two types of inspiration boards – true story-based inspiration boards, and what we like to call mood boards or color boards. 100 Layer Cake creates some of our favorite color boards, including the bright spring example above. Mood boards are much more conceptual and streamlined than inspiration boards. They convey the major colors involved in the project, and a general feeling – light and happy, pale and dreamy, dark and romantic. Mood boards usually only consist of 2-5 images.

Inspiration boards, on the other hand, are unified by more than just a color and a feel. They usually contain 8-12 images and have a storyline that is cohesive and logical, than can easily be brought to life in an actual event. In fact, inspiration boards will often include specific elements that will show up in the event they’re inspiring! Snippet & Ink creates some of our all-time favorite inspiration boards, and she has an incredible backlog of 500+ boards to browse! You can see some of SW’s past color and inspiration boards here.

You know why you need one, so now it’s time to create one! I’m going to use the inspiration board I made for my wedding as our example. The first step is pulling a collection of inspiring images. Don’t feel limited by using only wedding images — pull from interior design, food photography, etc! Pinterest is perfect for this collecting phase. Above you can see some of the 200+ images I saved as inspiration.

Once you have a few images you love, it’s time to start piecing them together. There are many, many ways to do this (Photoshop, InDesign, Polyvore, even Microsoft Word or Powerpoint), but the program I think is best is called Adobe Illustrator. Happily, you can download a free 30-day trial of Illustrator right here – plenty of time to make and save a board! :) To start, I open a Web document and choose 600 pixels by 900 pixels wide, because our blog is 600 pixels wide. If you’re mostly planning to print out your board, you can make your Illustrator board 8.5 by 11 inches wide.

Next, I’ll begin adding in any photos I’m considering using. It might look like a little like this at this point:

When narrowing down images, I tried to stick to elements that I knew were realistic for our day and that evoked the setting we would be in, while still being true to the colors and feel we were going for. As you refine your board, play around with your layout and move things on and off until the overall composition looks pleasing. I like to add thin white lines between images to keep everything looking clean and crisp!

To finish, I export the board by “saving for web and devices.” And that’s that!

Tablescape photo by Jonathan Canlas via Snippet & Ink; cake via Martha Stewart Weddings; Sperry tent flags photo by Cramer Photo via Snippet & Ink; wine bottle photo by Jonathan Canlas; bouquet photo by Stephanie Williams; navy wedding invitation poster by I am Always Hungry via 100 Layer Cake; flowering boxwood bush photo by Katie Stoops from Southern Weddings; dapper groomsmen photo by A Bryan Photo; bow tie escort cards from Martha Stewart Weddings; arrangement photo by Lisa Lefkowitz via Snippet & Ink; black and white dance floor photo by Abby Jiu; dock portrait by Tanja Lippert via Style Me Pretty; tablescape photo by Jonathan Canlas via Snippet & Ink

I also wanted to let y’all know about a new service I just heard of – Violet. If you’re not comfortable with design software, they make the process of creating an inspiration board much easier! You can start with one of their curated boards, and then tweak by uploading your own photos. We love the look of this tool!

If you have any questions at all, I’d be happy to answer them! In the meantime, here is your easy to pin graphic to save for later:

We’ll be sharing a quick and simple piece of wedding planning advice based on our most frequently asked questions once a week! Feel free to email us with your own question, or pick up a copy of the Southern Weddings Planner for all of our best resources in one place!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    Making inspiration boards has become one of my favorite ways to refine my style and piece together ideas that I love, especially for my blog. Thank you for sharing your process Emily!

  2. avatar Laura reply

    This is great! Although I’m not planning my wedding anymore, I know I can definitely use this to create inspiration boards for room makeovers, party planning, etc. Thanks!

    • avatar Emily reply

      So true! I now have one for each room in my house, and use them for planning parties, too!

  3. avatar Ashlie Muller reply

    I just LOVE inspiration boards! They are so pretty to look at, but so very helpful too!!

  4. avatar Shannon reply

    This is a great resource! In my new online course I go into depth on how I create them by video – it’s a similar process – I think mood boards are SO important when it’s time to design your wedding!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Well, belles, here we are! Two days away from my wedding. John and I are both in Connecticut with our parents, and the weather looks beautiful for this weekend (praise the Lord!). Our siblings are set to arrive tomorrow, and the rest of our guests will follow on Friday. I am ready — we are ready. The projects are done, the vows are written, the welcome bags are ready to be delivered, our amazing vendors all have their instructions, and the tent is going up soon. Would you like to take a walk through the past year of planning with me, for old time’s sake?

On June 25, 2011, on a little beach on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, John and I were engaged! A fun staff meeting followed when I whipped my newly-bedazzled hand out from under the table midway through updates :)

Once I was ready to chat all things wedding, I thought it best to introduce you to the main characters first! Later, you got an up close and personal look when we shared our engagement photos by Gina Zeidler.

We started with the most basic building blocks: where and when we were getting married.

Personal photo

Next, I reported on my first two dress shopping experiences: in South Carolina and Connecticut. Hint: I didn’t buy any of the dresses I tried on in either of these trips, but my wedding gown DOES make an appearance in that post! :)

Personal photos

Later, I talked about my accessories and hair and makeup inspiration. We also can’t forget about the gents! John got a post all to himself, chatting about classic tuxedos.

A Bryan Photo

We also discussed bridesmaid dresses — one of the most challenging parts of wedding planning for me! We eventually decided on long and charcoal gray. I know my gals will look lovely!

One of the most important decisions to me was our photographer, and I was so excited to introduce you to Tanja Lippert. I can’t wait to meet her in just a few days!

Not long after securing Tanja we booked Inkspot Crow Films, a duo I am equally as excited about working with!

My love for mini food is well-documented, and it will, of course, make an appearance at our wedding. We discussed cake and sweets, too!

Mini chicken and waffles by Cru Catering via Southern Weddings (photo by A Bryan Photo)

We talked tents (SO excited to see those Sperry flags waving!). Y’all don’t even KNOW how thrilled I am to see the weather forecast for this weekend!! (Okay, maybe those of you also planning outdoor weddings do!) We also talked about different music options, and I introduced you to our band.

Photo by Cramer Photo

I adore our florist, and loved telling you about our bouquets and reception florals almost as much as I loved picking out the perfect shade of ribbon for my bouquet wrap.

Photos by Stephanie Williams and Thayer Gowdy

I told you about a few of the DIY projects I’ve been working on, and we discussed nitty-gritty details like timelines and day-of coordinators and our registry.

I am an acknowledged paperaholic, so it was with great pride and excitement that I unveiled our save the dates and wedding invitations. Minted, Magpie Paper Works, and MM Ink all did me proud!

Personal photo

Last but certainly not least, I loved sharing my thoughts on our ceremony (in two posts – here + here). Of all the things I am excited about for our wedding day, saying our vows has got to be at the top!

Personal photo

After today, I will be signing off SW duties for the remainder of the week and our minimoon next week (more about that soon!). You’ll see a (non-wedding-related) post from me on Friday, but rest assured it was written earlier this week! :)

Before I sign off as a Miss, however, there are a few thank yous I need to hand out.

First, to the darling vendors I get to work with every day: Y’all, I can’t tell you how many photographers, planners, florists, stationers, and cake bakers have taken time of out their busy days to offer a tip, to answer one of my questions, to volunteer their expertise, or to just be excited with me! It’s amazing how many people even remember I’m getting married, let alone take the time to offer a sweet note of encouragement. I love y’all!

Second, to you lovely readers: It has been one of the greatest joys of my engagement to plan alongside y’all, to see your excitement over our choices, to get your feedback on decisions we were weighing, and to learn alongside you. Sharing this experience has made it that much sweeter!

Finally, to my beyond-fabulous Southern Weddings ladies: You guys are the best. Seriously. For being overjoyed and excited from the first news of my ring, and through the end, oh-so-understanding. For letting me work from New England for three weeks this summer (which made long-distance wedding planning much easier!). For throwing me the fanciest bridal shower known to (wo)man. I can’t thank you enough! Lara, Marissa, Nicole, Kristin, Whitney, Sierra, and interns Melissa, Caitlin, Anna, Emily Alice, and Alexia (because all of them worked at SW at some point during my engagement!), I will be carrying your best wishes with me on my wedding day! Love y’all!!

Y’all know I’ll be back after the big day to recap and share! In the meantime, feel free to offer your best last-minute pieces of wedding day advice in the comments!!

Inkspot Crow Films, Cru Catering, and MM Ink are all fabulous members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Jessica Thornton reply

    Since I’ve now been married for one month and one day, I’m practically an expert! Enjoy your day. So much has gone into it. It will FLY by. (People told me that, but I didn’t realize how true it was!) Soak up every detail. Again, the time passes so quickly. Just remember to breathe and smile.

  2. avatar Emily reply

    Simple + excellent advice, Jessica! I’ll do my best to follow it :)

  3. avatar wtg reply

    Typo on the engagement date! I believe it was 2011, unless you planned a spectacular wedding in 3 months (which I’m sure you could do!)

    • avatar Emily reply

      Haaaa!! You are so right! Yes, definitely did not plan this wedding in three months :) Fixed!

  4. avatar Lara reply

    We love you and are so happy for you! I’m pretty sure I’ve cried more than a few sappy tears already this week just thinking about you walking down the aisle! Enjoy every moment : )

  5. avatar Madi Reid reply

    Sending you my best, Emily! Know that I will be sending prayers to you and John on Saturday. This wedding is bound to be the epitome of beautiful and I am so excited for you!

  6. avatar Emily Alice reply

    Emily I’m so excited for you in the next few days! I can’t wait to hear and read all about this weekend! Congrats on finally making it here! I will be eating mini foods in your honor down here in South Carolina!

    Emily Alice

  7. avatar amanda reply

    I CANNOT wait to see the wedding pictures! It’s going to be THE event of the fall! ;) Loved going through the process with you since I got engaged July 6, 2011 and am getting married November 10th so it’s been fun to enjoy the process with someone even if it’s on the internet.

    PLUS I think I know what designer you choose for your gown because I got my dress at Nitsa’s in Winston too! :) CONGRATULATIONS and we can’t wait to read more from your as a MRS!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Thank you so much, Amanda! It has been great fun planning alongside you, and I can’t wait to see how YOUR big day turns out!

  8. avatar Lily Tatum reply

    I’m planning a southern theme wedding in Oakland California. It’s outdoors and it’s a rustic elegant decor. My colors are guava and celedon green and ivory. Can you give me some suggestions for flowers and should I add another color? My wedding is in October. Thank you.

  9. avatar Kat reply

    Emily I have LOVED reading about the wedding planning process with you. I am so SO excited for you! I feel as if I KNOW you from the blog haha! Sending you blessings and wishes of beautiful weather (as another outdoor reception bride I know the fear!!). Enjoy your beauitful day :) I cannot WAIT for the follow-up post!!

  10. avatar Laura reply

    Gracious, I’m almost as excited for your wedding as I am for my own! Congratulations! And many blessings for you and John as you begin your new life together!

  11. avatar Kate reply

    Emily, thank you for sharing your heart and your special journey. The best piece of advice I received was to “pause” at the beginning and the end of the aisle. Take a moment for yourself before you walk toward John and then a moment for both you and John to share as you walk back down it together. Best wishes for a beautiful day!

  12. avatar Shaniqua reply

    I love the cones, they look so good. Would bamboo cones work with the fruit?

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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