So what’s the Difference between Wedding Planners & Venue Coordinators anyway?

Here’s a question I frequently get asked.. “So what’s the difference between a Wedding Planner and Venue Coordinator/Catering Manager anyway?” I absolutely love when clients and other industry professionals ask me this question. I love when I get the opportunity to explain our roles, the differences between them and how we compliment each other. Although our responsibilities may seem similar, and even overlapping at times, they are actually very different, but both have very important tasks. “Is a venue coordinator not the same as a wedding planner?” The answer is simply, no. Picture the best day of your life, picture a beautiful, clear, blue sky, cool, breezy weather, the birds are singing in the background and you are surrounded by all your favorite friends, family members and loved ones; you couldn’t be happier.. That light, carefree, feeling of the perfect day is exactly how it feels to have a Certified Wedding Planner and a seasoned Venue Coordinator coming together to create a situation where you get the best of both worlds to make sure you have the most perfect day imaginable..
PG_PostLayout2_1So many times Wedding Planners and other industry professionals battle with relinquishing control to Venue Coordinators and Catering Managers alike. Sometimes we even get a bad rap for being pushy and wanting things done “our way” for our brides and grooms and not the way the venue is used to. I am ALWAYS shocked when I hear these stories of Wedding Planners not getting along with Venue Coordinators. For us, this is the DREAM TEAM! The crème de la crème! The Rolls Royce of wedding day coverage! Okay, okay, you get the point.. What I’m trying to say is that having an experienced Certified Wedding Planner AND an equally experienced Venue Coordinator is truly the best of both worlds. I guarantee you that your Venue Coordinator isn’t going to accompany you to the restroom and help you lift your dress when all of your bridesmaids are M.I.A. or have maybe had one too many drinks and are not willing to part with the dance floor as their “favorite song” has come on for the last 5 songs in a row; your Wedding Planner, will. On the contrary, your Venue Coordinator would be much more proficient in finding the Maitre’ D if the silverware needs to be re-polished because the staff setting the table left finger prints all over it. Going back to what I said before, although it may seem like we have very similar responsibilities, there are just some things that a Wedding Planner will be more inclined to do for you that a Venue Coordinator wouldn’t and vice versa. This is where that beautiful, perfect, easy going day I described above comes into play. We both have our roles and an experienced, professional, confident Wedding Planner will run to a Venue Coordinator with open arms! I love when I have a colleague who’s job is specifically working the back of the house, making sure the food is going out on time, the bar is stocked, the a/c is kept nice and comfortable, the appetizer is cooked perfectly and that the vegan friend your little sister invited gets her veggie pasta, hold the parm, instead of a steak and mixed greens. This allows us to focus completely on you, your family, your bridal party and all of your guests. This gives us the opportunity to make sure you always have a full glass of champagne at your table and that your Best Man makes it back in time for his toast. When a Venue Coordinator is involved, the Wedding Planner gets to spend more time focusing on what truly matters, you and your needs as newlyweds on the most important day of your lives.

So to sum it all up, here are the biggest differences between a Wedding Planner and a Venue Coordinator:

Venue Coordinators

Venue Coordinators do not actually coordinate weddings

What they do fabulously is manage the venue and keep the kitchen operating at full capacity. And, if you’re lucky, they might also help with overall setup and decor which is always welcomed. What they generally don’t do is answer all the miscellaneous questions that pop up throughout the day.

  • What time will the makeup artist arrive?
  • When and where will the flowers be delivered?
  • Who will arrange the table settings?
  • Who will hit “play” on the slideshow of pictures of my dad and I while we have our first dance?
  • Where should the families go for formal pictures? And what time should they arrive?
  • What time should the DJ announce dinner after the cocktail party?
  • Who’s going to release tables for dinner?
  • Who should sit where?
  • When and where will the other wedding vendors eat?
  • Who’s going to cut the cake after the bride and groom take the first slice?
  • When should the DJ open the dance floor?
  • Who will gather our guests for our sparkler send off?
  • Who will make sure all our vendors balances are paid at the end of the night?

Venue Coordinators are employees of the venue. They act as a liaison between the bride and groom and the venue’s operations team. Their responsibilities are those pertaining to your experience with them, directly: showcasing the venue, consulting with you on your food and beverage choices, formalizing your catering needs, arranging menu tastings and processing the final invoice. On the wedding day, their focus is delivering their contracted services, exclusively: ensuring the venue set up is accurate {tables, chairs and place setting only}, the food is out on time and that tear down happens seamlessly.

In addition, a Venue Coordinator often departs once the meal is served. This may be an important consideration if you’re looking for support for the remainder of the evening or need any assistance with the tear down of items that the venue is not responsible for {DIY items, pictures, candles, anything provided to the venue for the wedding etc}.

Also, keep in mind that while you may have worked with one individual throughout the planning process, there is no guarantee that you will be provided with that same individual on your big day! They typically have a large team, and although they are all able to help you on the day of, if you are looking to have the same person you chose your salad with be the same person that will be there to make sure your coffee stays hot for your guests, you may want to get clarification on this and have them guarantee that they, themselves, will be there on your big day.

Certified Wedding Planners

Planners & Day of Coordinators work for YOU, not for the venue

Their obligation is to you and no one else. A professional, Planner/Coordinator is your personal consultant, with a wide stemmed focus on every detail in curating your dream wedding. They are there for every decision, from the early stages of scouting venue options, looking over vendor contracts, advising on invitation wording, to rehearsal coordination and run through the night before the wedding, your Wedding Planner is there with you each and every step of the way. From the initial planning stages {providing venue options, reviewing contracts, researching and recommending suppliers} to wedding day preparation, {creating an itinerary/timeline, organizing your ceremony rehearsal, confirming details with all contracted vendors} your Wedding Planner is right by your side for every decision. Come wedding day, they will be there to ensure quality and correctness of set up, including favors and any personalized details and decor you may be providing yourself etc. They will manage the timeline for all important events {ceremony, processional, recessional, cocktail hour transition, grand entrance, speeches, toasts, dancing, etc.}, prompt the MC and other vendors and be there to help you pack it all up at the end of the night. In addition, a Wedding Planner will prepare valuable tools for you, such as vendor contact forms, floor plans, set up outlines and MC scripts {if needed}.

Day of Wedding Coordinators, or as we call them, “Month of Coordinators” {because who can really ensure your day goes off without a hitch without some level of involvement in your final weeks?}, will begin working for you about a month out to familiarize themselves with your venue and all your vendors, allowing you to be fully focused on being a bride {or groom} and enjoy your last few weeks of stress-free life together!

Weddings are unpredictable, fast-paced, chaotic events, and like all my couples, each one is unique and comes with special quirks. So if you can hire someone who knows exactly what you want and isn’t afraid to take on an array of uniquely chosen tasks, isn’t that person exactly who you want to coordinate your day?

The Nitty Gritty
The main difference lies in this: A Venue Coordinator works for the needs of the venue, acting out the requirements of your contract in a smooth and timely manner. A Wedding Planner works for you, ensuring every detail of your day is flawless, orchestrated exactly as you’ve envisioned and making sure you don’t want for anything.

Now, don’t be fooled. This is not meant to demean the role of on-site Venue Coordinators. They are a seriously valuable asset to the wedding planning process and I thoroughly enjoy liasing with them myself, but it’s important that couples understand what they are getting into, avoiding hardship, frustration and disappointment come crunch time! Take time to consider your needs and concerns and weigh your options accordingly.

The primary difference is that a Venue Coordinator focuses on the venue’s need and acts out the requirements laid out in your contract. A Wedding Planner works for you, directly, making sure each piece of the day is perfect and just as you wanted.

In the end, throwing a wedding requires teamwork

So build your team — one that is truly enthusiastic about every part of who you are and what you’re hoping to experience at your wedding. Begin your marriage journey by surrounding yourself with all those who love and affirm this incredible decision you’re making, including all the people you’ve hired to be there. Because they could turn out to be good friends, too.
planner vs venue coordinator

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