What does a Wedding Planner do?

Wedding Ideas and Planning Tips from Industry Professionals here at Ybarra Events

Wedding planners are more than just event planners. We're designers, problem-solvers, coordinators, budgeteers, part-time therapists, and friends to the couples and families who are entrusting us to help them with their events. Since we're on friendly terms now, here are some tips and tricks to the trade of navigating wedding planning! 

Courtney Stockton Photography captured this bride's wedding veil and wedding shoes perfectly in this Wine Country Wedding at Viansa Sonoma. Placing them in front of the baby blue backdrop was inspired!

What does a

Wedding Planner do?


It's hard to know if you should hire a wedding planner if you are unsure of the tasks they are in charge of on the wedding day. In short, they orchestrate and oversee the production of the day. Event Planners are problem-solvers, referral sources, organizational experts, mediators, and designers. We are budgeteers, trend-setters, and idea generators. But what would the Wedding Planner be doing over the days leading up to your wedding?

updated: 02/23/2019

It should be noted that each Event Planning company has their own packages and styles of planning. Depending on the package you have booked, and the services you need, the planner tasks will fluctuate. This is a generic example list of tasks that are commonly handled by the wedding planner.  Sometimes not all of the tasks listed arise, but if they do, the Planner can swoop in to save the day! 

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One-Three Months before the Wedding Day:

(this timeframe varies depending on availability of the couple, planner, and venue) 

  • Walk-through of Wedding Venue(s) to go over the flow of the day and the placement of tables, activities, and wedding vendors
  • Identify where vendor related needs are, such as: outlets with adequate power (for the DJ, hair dryers, market lighting, etc.), AED and CPR kits, fire extinguiser, etc. 
  • Confirm final guest count with affected vendors and adjust orders

Two Weeks Prior to Wedding Day:

(if you have booked your planner for a larger package, this may happen 1-2 months prior to the event)

  • Email the wedding couple to present wedding day itinerary and schematics
  • Go over any arrangements the couple have previously made with vendors
  • Confirm details with vendors, such as: arrival times, number of hours hired, caterer has allergies/foor preference list, DJ has selected songs, Photographer has "must shoot list", etc.
  • Update itinerary & schematics accordingly and share with wedding vendors

One Week Prior to Wedding Day:

  • Make sure that all vendors have my contact information
  • Confirm vendors received a copy of the final timeline and schematics and make sure they have the address or directions to the ceremony and reception locations and their arrival time as well as their set up location
Gorgeous accent flowers to frame the ceremony location at the Harvest Inn in Napa County. Pops of orange, coral, yellow, and a hint of blue flowers, with olive leaves as greenery. Love the vineyards fading into the distance! Thanks to Maria Villano Photography and Beijaflor Botanicals for their creativity!
Bride and Groom giggling under the redwood trees at The Harvest Inn in Napa County. Photo credit: Maria Villano, Floral: Beijaflor Botanicals, hair and makeup: Contour Bridal

Ceremony Rehearsal:

  • Work with wedding officiant (if in attendance at ceremony rehearsal) to choreograph wedding ceremony, processional, and recessional
  • Practice timing, spacing, and hand placement
  • Go over tips on safety, such as: hydration, importance of eating, and not locking your knees
  • Go over tips for photo optimization, such as: how low to carry your bouquet, and not chewing gum
  • Alert wedding party as to where they need to be the following day, and at what time


  • Facilitate on-time arrival of hair and make-up stylists and instruct them as to where to set up hair dryers, brushes, and any other equipment they have with them
  • Coordinate hair and make-up schedule (should be in the timeline already sent out) with wedding party and stylists and ensure that hair and make-up is completed in a timely fashion
  • Coordinate any food deliveries and set up
  • Make sure personal flowers i.e. bridal bouquet(s), bridesmaids' flowers, and boutonnières arrive on time
  • Blot personal flowers with paper towels and distribute to wedding party as needed
  • Make sure photographer arrives on time and has a “must shoot list"
  • Provide Photographer with detail items for photos
  • Assist with 1st Look as needed
  • Gather couple, wedding party, and immediate family for photos
  • Call out names on “must shoot list" for photographer as needed
  • Ensure that transportation arrives on time and instruct wedding party as to when to depart for ceremony
  • Assist bride(s) with putting on wedding gown
  • Maintain The Wedding Day Emergency Kit (just in case!)
    • Kit varies planner to planner but typically includes such items as: stain sticks/sprays, hairspray, safety pins, a sewing kit, scissors, Static Guard, deodorant, straws, Band-Aids, snacks, extension cords, zip ties, ribbon, and so many other things you may need on the wedding day
  • Communicate with designated person to make sure wedding couple is getting dressed and on-time
  • Make wedding party aware of any last-minute details/changes
  • Communicate with transportation driver and maid-of-honor/best man while wedding party is on the way to the ceremony location
  • Ensure setup of Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, and Reception tables, chairs, décor, etc.


  • Set up programs and other ceremony items i.e. sand ceremony, unity candles, decorations, kiddush cup, wine, fans, parasols, welcome beverages, etc.
  • Ensure that ushers arrive on time and are ready to pass out programs
  • Ensure that personal flowers i.e. flower girl bouquet and groomsmen boutonnières have arrived at ceremony location
  • Alert ushers as to when to begin escorting guests to their seats
  • Ensure that ceremony musicians have arrived, have needed items such as power/chairs, and direct them as to where to set up
  • Confirm the music that ceremony musicians will play during the ceremony, as well as start times for each piece of music
  • Determine what hand signals will be used to cue musicians/DJ
  • Act as a liaison with the ceremony officiant and decide what cue will be used to signal the start of the ceremony
  • Communicate with wedding couple and wedding party so that they know how much time remains before the start of the ceremony
  • Handle any emergencies that may arise
  • Invite wedding guests to sit and enjoy the ceremony
  • Line up the wedding party for their entrances down the aisle
  • Cue ceremony musicians/DJ when wedding party is ready to begin processional
  • Gather family and friends for after ceremony photos

Prior to Reception:

(if in the same location as the ceremony, this would take place before the guest arrival)

  • Greet vendors and instruct them as to where to set up i.e. wedding band, florist, and caterer
  • Arrange escort cards
  • Make sure reception flowers/décor is set up according to flower order
  • Ensure that tent and lighting are set up properly and troubleshoot as needed
  • Meet with catering staff to confirm food timeline and details
  • Set up guest book and pen, champagne flutes, cake cutting utensils, signage, etc.
  • Set up table numbers/names and menu cards
  • Double check number of seats at each table and placement of details
  • Set up amenities baskets, hand towels, candles etc. in bathrooms
Classic, Romantic, Lovely sweetheart photos of the bride and groom in the Vineyards of Geyserville, CA. Trudy's Bridal for the dress, Ramblin' Rose for the flowers, Waves by Marla for beauty, and photo credit goes to Maria Villano Photography!


  • Ensure proper flow of cocktail hour food
  • Look over dining tables and make sure they are set up properly
  • Along with catering staff, encourage guests to join wedding couple for dinner at the end of cocktail hour
  • Organize Receiving line as needed
  • Help guests locate their escort cards and dining tables
  • Locate wedding couple and instruct them to stay to the side of main dining room until they receive cue for their grand entrance/introduction (and possibly go right into first dance)
  • Cue band/DJ when the majority of guests have found their tables and wedding party are ready to be introduced
  • Cue band/DJ, photographer, and videographer when important events take place at reception i.e. grand entrance, first dance, cake cutting, toasts, and parent dances, etc.
  • Cue best man/maid of honor, father of the bride(s)/groom(s), etc. when they are about to be announced for toasts
  • Alert catering staff to pour champagne just before the toasts
  • Be aware of timing of catering service and make sure people are served promptly
  • Distribute final payments/gratuities to vendors at the end of the evening (no negotiation in the terms of vendor contracts will be handled at this time)
  • Prevent & fix any problems that may arise during your event
  • Remain easily accessible through the entire event in case there are any details you would like attended to
  • Set up favor table
  • Pack up gifts/cards, miscellaneous ceremony and reception items and have them ready to be taken to a family members car at the end of the night
  • Coordinate reception departure transportation
  • Ensure cleanup of Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, and Reception Areas

Whether you choose to hire a professional wedding planner or not, keep in mind, these tasks will fall to someone on your wedding day. Our advice, just try to make sure the people you want to enjoy your wedding get to. Commonly, without a planner, the planning tasks will fall upon the mother of the bride, the maid of honor, or even the wedding couple themselves. Some of the tasks may be handled by the other event professionals, like the caterer, photographer, or deejay, but remember they are there for a hired job. Their quality of work may be lessened if they are handling a wedding related emergency, instead of capturing photos for example. If it is simply not in the budget, we understand! Just make sure you have a plan. The more pre-planning and prepartations you have done, the more likely things will run smoothly. 

As previously stated, these are just examples. It is best to discuss the package you have booked with your planner to see what they include with their planning packages. If you have any questions as to what might be included in each of our Planning Packages feel free to contact us today!

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About the Author: 

Tara Ybarra, Co-Owner and Event Planner for Ybarra Events, has been in the Wedding Industry for over 20 years. From Photographer, to Wedding Cake Artist, to Florist, to Officiant, and now Wedding Planner, her accumilated experience, paired with her College Courses in Event Planning, have given her the experience she has today. Blogging gives her an opportunity to share that knowledge with her readers. 

Ybarra Events is located in California’s spectacular Napa Valley. Ybarra Events are the pièce de résistance of wedding planners. Run by the dynamic duo of Tara and James Ybarra, they help couples organize, design, and plan their nuptials at some of the most fabulous and luxurious wedding venues in Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco, and Beyond. Chat with them today to start planning the wine-country wedding of your dreams.

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