What Is The Difference Between A Wedding Planner And A Wedding Designer?

At Brianne McMullan Events, we offer 3 different services: Planning, Design, and Event Management. While Event Management (often called “month-of coordination” in the wedding world) can be booked alone, our Planning and Design services can, and often are, added to our Event Management service to create a custom package.

I often get asked during consultations, “What is the difference between wedding planning and wedding design?” In our industry, I think the two words get confused with one another on a regular basis. You might hear planners calling themselves designers, and vice versa. You can offer both, but - in my opinion - they are fundamentally different services.

I have made an intentional choice to separate the two services so that my clients get only the services they need in their custom service collections. You can add Planning, Design, or both to your Event Management package to create a service that is best suited for you and your wedding.

But… what is the difference between Planning and Design?

I get asked this question so often in consultations that it deserved a blog post!  Please note that these answers are specific to my services, and other planners may have different offerings in their collections or packages.

Wedding Planning

logistics, organization, budget & time management

Our Planning service includes the management required to plan a wedding that is within a certain budget, for a certain guest count, and that has appropriate vendor coverage. Here are some of the different offerings in our planning service:


From helping map out a weekend of events in a comprehensive timeline, to ensuring our clients have proper coverage, permits, insurance, and staff to execute the wedding, we set the pace for planning a smooth and entertaining celebration.


We keep our clients on top of their planning benchmarks so that no stone is left unturned and they have the best selection of vendors.

Contracts + Proposal + Booking

We assess venue and vendor availability on our client’s behalf, gather proposals and pricing for comparison, negotiate and review contracts, and ensure that our couples have booked a perfect team of vendors that will compliment their unique personality, style, and budget.

Budget Management

Never planned a wedding before? Don’t sweat it! We will create and manage a custom wedding budget based on how much our clients have to spend, their tastes, their guest count, and their expectations for the big day. We know industry norms and can assist our clients in creating a realistic budget they will be able to stick to. Trust me - if you Google "How much does a wedding cost," or refer to The Knot or other platforms to tell you the national average, you will probably not get a realistic estimate for your specific wedding. Honestly, your budget is so dependent on your location, guest count, etc., that a good planner is the only way you will get a realistic estimate from the get-go. 

Pro Tip: Book your wedding planner before you book anything else, and you will have a better chance of staying on budget! I know, I know - she would say that because she IS a wedding planner, but hear me out! If you book your venue first, it may disproportionately shift funds to the venue category and cause you to spend more money than you had originally budgeted. Not only that, but some venues also have beverage minimums, required caterers, etc., and because you aren't able to bring in a more affordable vendor of your choice in those categories, you may end up spending so much on your venue and required vendors that you don’t have room in your budget for the photographer you love or the floral designer you have been dreaming about! Also, we know all of the vendors in your area, so we can point you in the direction of awesome vendors that are within your desired price point that you may have not found otherwise. 


Need help with invitation wording or advice on how to handle that college friend that sent in an RSVP for a plus one that you didn’t account for? We walk our clients through even the most sensitive situations so that their guests will see them as gracious and thoughtful hosts.


We keep track of our clients schedule and set appointments so they can avoid the back and forth emails and instead focus on the decisions being made. They just get to show up and enjoy their experience meeting with each vendor (without the stress of emailing for appointments on their lunch breaks). That way, you can make decisions with ease, clarity, and excitement!


Wedding Design:

artistic concepts & cohesive aesthetics - a visual representation of our clients & their stories

Our Design Service includes concept creation, sourcing, management, and production of the elements that make a visual impact on your day.


This might surprise you, but at BME our design meetings do not begin with us viewing and discussing the bride’s Pinterest board. In fact, I don’t really want to see it until after the first meeting! Our design process starts with a “get to know you” experience where we meet our couple in their element. We learn about their personality, style, and gather some context and inspiration for their wedding design.

Concept Creation: Design Plan, Sketches, Renderings, Inspiration

We take everything we have learned about the couple, combined with photos that inspire them, and create a comprehensive design plan. This design plan will cover everything that will define the overall aesthetic, including mood boards, floral elements, lighting, linen samples, sketches, renderings, floor plans, fashion inspiration, stationery, and more. This will serve as a guide for all vendors that are involved in the design of the day. Our couples give us feedback and we make edits until it is perfect! This Design Plan also includes the cost associated with the various decisions we present you with, so you can make an informed decision while seeing the big picture. When you book design elements at different times and in a disjointed way, you may splurge on something that isn't that important to you in the grand scheme of things. This can be a budget buster! Booking everything when you see the cohesive design plan all at once will allow you to set your priorities carefully, and splurge/save where it matters most. 

Vendor Curation

Based on our comprehensive Design Plan, we hand select those vendors that can accomplish the elements our couple desires most the best. Our goal is custom, so we only work with the most talented artists in the industry to design a wedding that is one-of-a-kind.


We work with our client’s contracted design vendors throughout the process to refine and update everything until it is time for production! If they are having custom elements created, we begin working to ensure all of those elements are in production and will be ready for the day.


On the day of the wedding, we oversee the setup of the wedding design and style each table and piece of the decor so that our clients’ visions are expertly executed. We are there ensuring the linens are steamed, chairs are aligned, napkins are folded perfectly, signage is displayed with care, candles are lit, etc.

Those are the key differences between wedding planners and wedding designers. Like I said before, many companies (including BME) offer both! Some tie it all into the same package, and others separate it. We prefer to allow our clients to choose which service(s) best suit their specific needs.

If you would like to learn more about these services and chat with us about which one (or both) would be best to add on to your Event Management package, let me know by clicking the button below and filling out a contact form! 

wedding planner designer brianne mcmullan events