Day Of vs Partial Planning

I get this question a lot when couples are first looking to hire a planner. What is the difference in rate and services for Day Of vs. Partial Planning? The truth is, it’s a big difference!

If you find a planner who is just starting out, they’ll often offer really inexpensive Day Of Coordination packages. They get a lot of bargain hunting brides on a budget and they just need a portfolio, so they’re willing to do this service for less.

It’s a win + win. You’ll have less to do on your wedding day and they’ll get much needed experience. It’s like hiring an intern. If you hire a good one, your workload will go down, you’ll appreciate having them there, but you will still need to take on the heavy lifting. That is what you are paying for, and you will be thankful not to have to do all the work yourself on your wedding day. It’s not a good idea to hire a new planner for very large detailed weddings or for partial planning services unless they have a portfolio of work and reviews for similar weddings.

Many more seasoned planners, like us, will tell you the differences between Day Of and Partial Planning, and charge accordingly. For starters, a Day Of Coordinator is just that. Many couples will expect this to include a rehearsal and creating your ceremony plans, and confirming all of the details with your vendors. We could do that for you, believe me it’s better for the disorganized and confused couples if we do – but that is not Day Of, you are looking for a partial planner, and you will need to pay accordingly.

If you hire a photographer for their smallest wedding coverage package it’s usually either 4 or 6 hours. If you hire a Day Of Coordinator it’s usually for two preceding meetings and 8 hours on your wedding day. That’s it. If somebody is offering more, it’s usually because they are either charging you Partial Planning prices and misnaming the service to attract more business, OR they are newer, and only getting Day Of Requests from bargain hunters and trying to offer more for less to get business.

Who should hire a Day Of Coordinator? Very organized people! This service is super valuable and needs to be available because many couples have at least one partner who loves to plan! They are usually very organized and love every second of planning their wedding. They hire us to double check they haven’t forgotten anything. We also give them detailed vendor set up plans based on the details they’ve already organized, and create a timeline for them to distribute. We discuss the options for their ceremony and write up the wedding timeline to include these details so one could run their own rehearsal or have their officiant do it. But our big task is to manage the set up process, help with the decor details on the Day Of, and be there throughout the day to keep everything on schedule, put out figurative fires, and make sure you never need to know the cake was droopy and needed to be repaired, or there weren’t enough tables.

Some planners will charge a lot more for partial planning vs. Day Of. Usually because it adds value in the mind of the shopper – to the lesser service. For example if Day Of is $1200 and Partial Planning is $2800, and newer planners will book it for $600 for Day Of, you might think this more seasoned planner is really a bargain at $1200, because their next level up is so expensive! It’s not usually a bargain, it’s just a fair price for a seasoned planner to do the work you’re asking for. Booking a busy peak day months in advance is a risk for a small company. For a company that hires interns or other coordinators, they are building in money to pay the labor costs for whomever will be assigned to your wedding.

Partial Planning is always more expensive because it’s a lot like full service planning minus all the detailed help getting started and venue and vendor visits up front, in short. With Partial Planning, you’ve already booked your venue and some of your vendors and you have a budget, now you need help designing the decor, reviewing your contracted services to see if you’ve got everything covered, booking the last few vendors, helping you with your rental orders, help figuring out what to order from a florist vs. a rental company vs. sourcing wholesale through us, figuring out how the set up should look, organizing all of the details, and really most importantly that last month or two you need to be busy with your life and work – not scheduling vendors and on the phone or emailing twenty people every day.

You may need somebody to help your officiant, who’s also a best friend and never done a wedding, to figure out how to do the ceremony. I’m actually an ordained minister, and every planner should be, for two reasons 1) it takes five minutes online and 2) I have an emergency kit and back up plan for everything else – no way I’m letting a wedding not happen because your officiant gets sick or missed their flight, or whatever. As such, I’ve studied, attended, planned and learned all there is to know about most types of ceremonies – religious or non-religious. I’m planning an upcoming blog post on the subject of friends and loved ones as officiant very soon if you know somebody who needs this specific help stay tuned.

Speaking of officiants this brings me to the next difference, the ceremony rehearsal. You need to have a rehearsal. It is important! If you have clergy or a professional officiant, great! You still need to have somebody there to organize your bridal party and direct the rehearsal. That said your rehearsal does not need to be at your venue.

So many people stress about getting a time The Friday before, many of your bridal party just got off a plane, they rush to your venue and do a rushed rehearsal so they can hurry off to a dinner you planned nearby so were forced in to a restaurant you didn’t want and you have to get there on time for your reservation.

Man, a planner could have helped you with this. A partial planner would have helped you. There are so many better ways to plan your rehearsal.

In the end, hire a planner. If you can only afford a new planner that’s ok, hire one with a lot of skills. If you are super excited to plan your own wedding and good at it, but want an excellent planner to carry out all of the details of your plan, hire a good Day Of planner, make sure you know who your coordinator will be, will they assign somebody else if they book another partial or full service wedding on your day. If you have the budget and are a busy couple hire a partial planner. If you are seriously deciding between Day Of and Partial, find a planner with less cost difference between the two services. Hire them for partial services.

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