WPW: What’s the Difference Between Planners and Designers Anyway?

Posted by on Apr 30, 2014 in Business Advice, Strategy & Advice | 2 Comments

Anyone in this industry – in any capacity- knows that there are wedding planners  (or “party planners” as they are sometimes called) and there are event designers… but there are so few people (including those who provide both of those services) who truly understand the difference between the two and, even more rare, properly make the distinction.

For the last couple of years, as we’ve been transitioning away from being a “planning firm” to being a “design firm”, we’ve been wrestling with this ourselves- nothing really changed between thank we had been doing and what we are doing now except that we decided to CALL OURSELVES something different… but does that mean all planners are designers or does it just mean we weren’t properly identifying ourselves before.

So, we’re having a first time experience right now that has been interesting and enlightening and really not only helped crystalize what the difference between designing and planning is but also how we need to manage those services differently.

For the first time ever we were hired to design but the client had already hired another planner (who is very good at her job).  Here is what I’ve deciphered (and it might not make some of you happy).

To liken this to housing (a great analogy)- a great planner is like an architect.  They understand the client’s needs and desires and they translate that into something that has all the structure (and infrastructure ) to maximize the living experience for the client.

The event designer is more like the interior decorator… They take the base structure that was there and they infuse it with personality and warmth to make the structure more personal and pleasing.

Both jobs are valid, both involve logistics and production, both jobs are important, but they are simply… Different jobs. Some architects and designers make magic together- just as some planners and designers do. Others prefer to perform all the roles- also a valid choice- but as the lines get blurred and we need to clarify our validity to clients more and more, it’s important to know the distinction.


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