Thank you Stephanie Mosher (Owner & Principal Planner) at Glass Slipper Event Planning for writing this amazing blog post and help us get a better understanding the key differences between a wedding planner and venue coordinator.
rI get asked this question often by couples, “Is there a difference between a venue coordinator and what you do as a wedding planner?” The simple answer, YES! However, I thought I would highlight some key differences below and what you can expect from each type of service.
A venue coordinator is the person who is your primary contact at your venue. Their main role is assist in finalizing the wedding day details as they relate to the venue. For example, what are your menu choices, how many guests will you have, sometimes assisting with a floor plan and making suggestions of where certain key areas like the head table, guestbook table etc. should go. Their relationship with the couple typically begins upon booking the venue although sometimes they are the second point of contact after the sales manager who might only handle the bookings. Many venue coordinators will provide a preferred vendor list, however that is typically the extent of their involvement with selecting vendors.
On the wedding day, the venue coordinator’s primary focus is delivering on what the venue has promised, ensuring tables and chairs are set up accurately, the food service begins on time and the food & beverage is as the client expected. The venue coordinator might assist in helping with the wedding processional in some cases but not always. If the ceremony is at their venue, the venue coordinator also typically will leave once the dinner service is complete. This is a key factor to consider if you are hoping to have someone assist with any tear down or packing up of personal items and other décor.
Lastly, the venue coordinators responsibility is to showcase the venue and I find that on a wedding day, many venue coordinators will have other couples who are interested in booking the space come through for site visits, so if your vendors are on-site and have questions, they might not always be in the same room or fully accessible to answer their questions.
A wedding planner, is an outside professional, separate from the wedding venue who’s main responsibility is looking after ALL the wedding logistics not just at the venue as well as ensuring the bride and groom are taken care of throughout the planning process and on the wedding day. The wedding planner typically begins working with the clients 12-18 months in advance of the wedding day and depending on the package with the wedding planner, might even play a role in helping to select the venue. The wedding planner works to keep the bride and groom on budget, helps to source and refer wedding vendors, creates the wedding itinerary and works in collaboration with the client and all the vendors throughout the planning process as well as on the day of.
Another key difference is a wedding planner reaches out to your vendors before your wedding to make sure everyone is confirmed and knows what time they will be arriving. A venue coordinator may contact vendors that have to do with setup of the reception, but it’s not common. Other vendors, like your photographer or hair and makeup, would not be contacted by your venue coordinator.
One service we like to pride ourselves on as wedding planners, are the valuable tools & templates we create for you, such as our wedding planning checklist, budget template, vendor contact forms, floor plans, set up outlines and MC scripts.
The last key difference in my opinion is one of the biggest and most important and that is that wedding planners will “take over” 4-6 weeks out from the wedding day to allow the clients to be fully focused on being a bride/groom, enjoying a stress-free last few weeks together or time with family and friends who might be coming into town for the big day.
On the wedding day, your wedding planner is by your side from the morning until the end of the night. Your wedding planner will be there to over see the entire day from arrival of vendors, to the ceremony, cocktail hour, grand entrance, speeches and dancing. If the ceremony happens to be off-site at another location, the venue coordinator will not be there to assist you however your wedding planner will be. For the reception, they will work with the emcee and vendors and troubleshoot should anything come up. Wedding planners also over the set up of your personal décor such
as guestbook, place cards, candy bar etc.
When we say wedding planner, this also goes for “Day of Coordinators” hired by the client. Although some of the before mentioned services such as selecting the venue may not be included in the package.
Venues are known to have a high turnover rate among the coordinator/sales positions. The person that you book your wedding with may no longer be working on the day of your wedding a year later. Your wedding planner is hired by YOU, hand selected by YOU, and you know on the wedding day, that is who will be there for you.
This is not meant to down play the importance of a venue coordinator. They are a valuable asset in helping with your wedding day and I thoroughly enjoy working & collaborating with them. The post is just to highlight what the differences are to avoid frustration and disappointment! Take time to consider your needs and concerns and weigh your options accordingly.
If you have already booked your venue and are ready to book a planner, check with your venue to see what companies they enjoy working with. This avenue will ensure that both wedding planner & coordinator enjoy working together. This will really provide complimentary services to you on your wedding day ensuring all aspects are well looked after.