Event Planner vs. Event Designer – What is the Difference?

As the wedding and event industries have grown markedly over the last ten years, what was once an over-arching profession of “event planner” or “wedding planner” has been slowly divided into a number of factions – planner, designer, and stylist – each title referring to a different niche within the industry. As wedding and event professionals, it is crucial to understand the difference so that we can educate our clients as well as the other creative teams working alongside us and so that we can better define our own work in the planning and design fields.

Wedding & Event Planner

An event or wedding planner is a logistical strategist and organizational mastermind. He or she is charged with setting the timeline and budget for the event as a whole, forging partnerships with the creative team (vendors) who will service the event, managing this team, assisting the client with organizational tasks to keep the planning flowing smoothly throughout the process and then streamlining the activities that take place on the wedding or event day. Generally speaking, a planner is not tasked with generating the design or creative elements of the wedding or event; however, he or she is often in charge of finding the creative thinker who will best help the client in these capacities as well as assisting in the execution of various creative tasks.

Wedding & Event Designer

An event designer is the artist, idea-maker and aesthetic visionary behind the event. He or she will work with the client on everything from selecting a color palette to creating a floor plan, choosing linens, furniture and other rentals, imagining the floral designs and even developing branding for the event or wedding. A great designer is bringing new and innovative ideas to the table and not just harvesting décor from existing media sources. Most often, the designer will not assist the client in choosing other creative partners (vendors) unrelated to design or aesthetics and will not manage the logistics or flow of the event.It is important to know that while many designers also offer production services – meaning the actual manpower that brings the designs to life such as building centerpieces or manufacturing backdrops – it is not uncommon for designers to be the creative force developing the concepts and ideas for an event that they will then outsource to another team for production.   Sometimes you will hear the term event/wedding stylist – this can refer to a designer who does not offer production.

What I find most interesting about the growth of the designer field in recent years is the extremely varied paths of those who have formed the event designer niche.

Some of those who once were called florists added services to their businesses and broadened them to respond to the more global design needs of today’s client. Others were planners who entered the field in search of a place to channel their creativity, but found themselves ill-suited for the extensive organizational work. Interior designers and set designers have also found commonalities with event design work and are making a major impact in the field.

Want to make it even more complicated? There are many companies that offer a combo of planning, design and production services… some do all, some do two out of three! But, knowing what the terminology means will help you to better distinguish which services you or your client needs or which services you may want to provide within the wedding and event industry.

Want to learn the ins-and-outs of the Wedding and Event Design aspect of the industry? 

Learn more about ELI’s 8-week Special Event Design online course.

Lindsay Landman (@LindsayLandman) is the founder of Lindsay Landman Events.


  1. Would love to learn the ins-and-outs of the Wedding and Event Design Industry!

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