Guest post from Jessica Upton, Founder/Senior Planner from Uptown Events

The #1 tip every professional Wedding Planner will recommend is HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER! Why do so many venues and professional vendors require you to hire a Wedding Planner? Because they’ve seen how quickly a wedding without a professional planner can go sideways and how it can truly ruin the sweetest and even some of the most detail oriented couple’s special day.

I’m Jessica Upton, the Founder and Senior Planner at Uptown Events. I’ve been an Austin Wedding Planner for over a decade, so I can go on and on about how important it is to hire a professional, but I think it’s easiest to explain what a Wedding Planner and a Full Service Caterer each do simultaneously that allows them to work in partnership to ensure your event runs smoothly. I’m going to break it down based on the planning process leading up to your wedding and then each stage of your wedding day.

The Planning Process

Wedding Planner

Provide design guidance and attend design meetings to aid in making selections

Connect with ALL of your vendors prior to the event to confirm contracted event arrangements 

Build out a detailed day-of timeline which includes each vendor’s arrival & departure times, a photography schedule, and flow of events

Create your floor plan diagram

Full Service Caterer

Provide a food tasting and help you with menu customization

Create a timeline that specifically pertains to anything related to catering, bartending and your set up/break down needs

Take your rental order and make suggestions on quantities for table top items (glassware, flatware, china)

Make suggestions on how much alcohol to order for your bar

Your Wedding Day

Upon Arrival

Wedding Planner

One of the first vendors to arrive onsite. They will connect with all vendors upon their arrival to go over any questions on where to set up, what tables are available to them, power source location, where their staff can put their things, etc.

Full Service Caterer

Arrive a couple of hours prior to your ceremony. Their team will provide any necessary set up of tables, chairs, and linens per your planner’s floor plan diagram.

During Set-Up

Wedding Planner

Connect with each vendor to review the event schedule and discuss any logistical hurdles. They will troubleshoot as needed. This typically includes things like making sure your band or DJ has the correct songs for your ceremony & special dances, double checking the alcohol delivered matches the order, and all around ensuring your vendors provide the services contracted.

Make sure all the little things get done, like pinning boutonnieres & corsages, putting your place cards out, setting up your welcome table with your guest book and engagement photos.

Full Service Caterer

Begin preparation of food, set up your bar (alcohol, glassware, mixers, etc.), set your place settings which can include folding napkins, placing glassware, flatware & china at each table.

Continue food prep, premix any batched cocktails, and have a team meeting to collectively review all catering & bartending details, event flow and any special requests.


Wedding Planner

Line everyone up, cue your musicians and send each member of your wedding party down the aisle. And during the ceremony they will make sure every place setting is perfect, touch base with the bartenders to ensure they’re set to go.

Full Service Caterer

Review which tables get special entrees, pre-fill water goblets, make sure appetizers are ready & the bar is set for cocktail hour.

Cocktail Hour

Wedding Planner

Repurpose any ceremony decor at your reception, stay in communication with your photographer to ensure you get the photos you want, while the event stays on schedule.

Full Service Caterer

Serve your guests appetizers, bartending and breaking down any ceremony chairs that need to be removed. They will also provide the wedding party & family taking photos with drinks and appetizers.


Wedding Planner

As your guests move over to the reception, help guests to find their assigned tables, line up your wedding party for the grand entrance, make sure the person giving a welcome/blessing is ready & in the room.

During dinner, release tables to the buffet and make sure your vendors get fed their meals. As guests are finishing their meals, your planner will touch base with anyone giving a toast to prep them and make sure they have a toasting beverage.

Stay in close communication with all of your vendors to ensure that the event runs as planned. This includes cueing your band or DJ for your special dances, making sure photographers are ready for cake cutting & bouquet/garter tosses, connecting with your get-away car driver to ensure they are staged in the correct location, etc.

Full Service Caterer

Serve salads or put the finishing touches on the set up of the buffet, offering beverages and bartending.

Serve entrees, offering beverage refills, bartending, busing plates/flatware. A full service caterer also provides VIP service for the B&G, which entails making sure they always have their preferred beverage in hand, serving their entrees first, etc. To prepare for toasting, your caterer will pour champagne for your guests.

During this time your caterer will be busing tables, bartending, slicing and serving cake.

End of Event

Wedding Planner

Orchestrate the grand exit by lining up all of your guests and pass out any special items. Afterward they will oversee breakdown and assist with gathering your personal items like photos, guest book, signage, etc.

Full Service Caterer

Gather all trash and dispose of per venue requirements, remove linens from tables & bag them up, break down all tables and chairs, sweep, and clean up the kitchen.

I hope this helps to break down the differences between what a Wedding Planner and Full Service Caterer each does to make sure your wedding runs smoothly, the food & drinks taste great, and most importantly, you and your guests have an amazing time.

Now that you’re convinced Hiring a Wedding Planner is a must even with a Full Service Caterer, we’d love to hear from you here at Uptown Events. Our team of professional planners are ready to work with you and the fantastic team at Royal Fig to make your dream wedding a reality. 


-Jessica Upton

Founder & Senior Planner

Uptown Events