Wedding Planner VS Venue Coordinator: The biggest misconception of all time.

Recently, I overheard a newly engaged bride discussing how thrilled she is to have gone with a venue that handles “everything” for her. Being the Curious George I am, I asked if she is looking to hire a wedding planner as well. However, much to my dismay, she scoffed “no” and explained that she didn’t need one since that’s the reason they have a venue coordinator.

Wedding Planning Tip of the Day: Don’t Assume!

I get it, the two terms are so interchangeable and versatile that most brides get confused. They are under the impression that they will save costs on a wedding planner since their wedding venue offers a free onsite coordinator. Unfortunately, that is usually not the case, and they end up frustrated and upset on their wedding day when their venue coordinator is nowhere to be found.

Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t MIA because they are slacking off; it’s, in fact, the complete opposite! The venue coordinator might be MIA from your wedding because they could be too busy tending to another wedding in that same venue! With that, let me explain and outline the role of a venue coordinator and how they differentiate from a wedding planner.

Wedding Planner VS Venue Coordinator

A venue coordinator is primarily employed by the venue, meaning their priority will be managing the expectations, guidelines, and staff of the venue. They will act a salesperson, an ambassador for the venue, and a liaison between the couple and the venue’s operations team to deliver what was stated in the contract.

A wedding planner works for YOU to make every single detail of your wedding vision come true. They work to ensure everything from the initial stage of planning to your wedding day is being orchestrated flawlessly. This can include: shopping for your wedding dress, booking your DJ, creating your wedding timeline, coordinating the dress rehearsal, getting a lipstick stain off your dress, or tracking down your flower girl, etc. They will be by your side day and night to answer any questions you think of and to calm any nerves you have before the big day.

In a nutshell, a venue coordinator’s job description has its boundaries, whereas a wedding planner’s duties and responsibilities are next to unlimited.

Your Venue Coordinators will…

  • Handle the basic set-up & tear-down of your wedding reception and/or ceremony (usually tables + chairs)
  • Coordinate site visits
  • Organize venue parking logistics[/li]
  • Create your invoices for the venue and ensuring payments are paid on time
  • Manage the staff provided by the venue (i.e. banquet captain, bartenders, servers)
  • Oversee the food and beverage provided by the venue
  • Organize menu tastings[/li]
  • Apply for an SOP (Special Occasion Permit) if necessary
  • Ensure other vendors and suppliers adhere to the venue’s rules and regulations
  • Protect the interests of the venue
  • Help with the creation of the wedding day timeline in regards to the venue’s roles and responsibilities

Your Venue Coordinators will mostly not

  • Create or map out with your budget with you
  • Develop the event design of your wedding in regards to color palettes, inspiration boards, and mood boards
  • Liaise with any third-party vendors or suppliers for you (i.e. DJ, Bands, Décor, Officiant, Florist, Stationery Designers, etc)
  • Look out for your best interests in all your contracts (i.e. negotiation, contract reviews, follow-ups, and confirmations)
  • Attend any of your appointments with you in regards to dress fitting, cake tasting, makeup, hair, etc
  • Facilitate your wedding rehearsal from start to finish
  • Create your wedding day timeline for all vendors, suppliers, and parties involved
  • Ensure your wedding timeline is being adhered to
  • Set up your wedding decor for you
  • Help with any unforeseen issues that arise on your wedding day
  • Stay till the end of your wedding, and may be overseeing multiple weddings
  • Arrange travel arrangements or bookings for your group (for Destination Weddings

One thing to also keep in mind is that there can be a turnover with venue coordinators throughout the year, so the coordinator you may have had meetings with or signed your papers with may or may not still be working for the venue by the time your wedding day arrives! Subsequently, there is also a high possibility that some venue coordinators will recommend their in-house suppliers as opposed to researching those that align with your wedding theme, budget, or personality.

At the end of the day, the wedding planner is more than an employee that you have signed a contract with. They become an investment. They become your confidante, your lifesaver, your cheerleader, and your miracle worker. They will essentially be “yours” until you head off to your honeymoon, whereas your venue coordinator will most likely be available during office hours and a limited time on your wedding day. Although there are a lot of venue coordinators that go above and beyond their call of duty to ensure their clients have the perfect day, it’s important to note the difference beforehand. My word of advice? Interview and identify the duties of your venue coordinator early on, hire a wedding planner to fill in the blanks, and establish an open line of communication amongst the three of you. That way, not only will there be no miscommunication leading up to your big day, but you will also have two professionals from two spectrums working tirelessly to ensure you have the wedding of your dreams!

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Jess P