You’re planning for the biggest day of your life, your wedding. Imagine all the details it will take to execute the event that you have always dreamed of. You may be considering engaging someone to help with all planning, coordination and execution. Will the venue coordinator at your reception site be suitable for this role? Maybe. Let’s consider the differences between a wedding planner and venue coordinator to help make the decision easier.
Venue Coordinators (VC) can certainly be a valuable connection when scheduling items related to your reception, such as selecting the tables, chairs and linens kept on-site, as well as, meal selections and food counts. Their job, after all, is to act on behalf of the venue to make your affair run seamlessly while on premise. Note – if special colors or styles for linens or décor items are needed, the couple may need to order them separately through a party rental company and arrange for delivery to venue.
A Wedding Planner (WP) will be by your side long before the wedding day and stays tuned-in to your needs throughout the ceremony and reception. They are with you until the last guest has departed and all of your décor, personal belongings and gifts have been packed. Count on your wedding planner to be your right-hand for everything important in the flawless execution of your entire day. Not only will a WP collaborate with a VC to ensure correct placement of guests, gifts, entertainers and receiving lines, she is also available to help out if anything unexpected happens during the day.
As you might expect, VCs handle items having to do with the venue. Tables, chairs, linens, food. If the venue is handling the catering, the VC will manage the staff, servers and timing of meal, as well as the set-up and breakdown of the tables & chairs. A VC will typically stay on-site until the event has kicked off, or sometimes through the meal, leaving for the day early into the event.
In addition to handling all the items at the venue (either with support of the VC or without), the WP will also handle all coordination of pre-wedding tasks, event flow and scheduling. Managing each element ensures that all details are accounted for and scheduled. Additionally, reviewing needed items periodically to be sure they are correct in number, and in line with event style and theme is also part of the service. Most importantly for day-of flow, WPs will also direct vendors on where and when to arrive, keep them informed of event time-frame and advise on logistical changes, as well as performance execution.
A VC will likely provide a list of preferred vendors but typically do not manage any of the coordination with them. Meeting with, selecting and managing the vendors, in addition to coordinating their performance throughout the wedding will fall on the shoulders of the couple and/or the other vendors.
With a WP, the couple can rest assured that every aspect of the entire day will be accounted for and managed providing them with peace of mind. WPs also help select vendors, attend planning meetings leading up to the wedding, assist in reviewing the contracts and become the point of contact for the entire day of the wedding until the last guest departs. Best of all, they move your plan forward assuring that every detail falls into place perfectly the day of the wedding. If the DJ or any other vendor is running late, the WP will devise a plan to cover the gap. If your caterer falls ill and is short staffed for delivery and service, the WP will call in a team to assist.
A VC will provide time-frames for doors opening, food service, clean-up and breakdown of tables and chairs. They have been hired by the venue to manage all the logistics required to move events through the site, and they are great at managing these items. They are not, however, fully responsible for your other wedding day plans and special elements or timelines outside of food service. It is not a VCs job to coordinate with outside vendors, inform of any logistical changes (outside of food and beverage) or manage your wedding party. If you are unsure about what your venue will assist with – just ask for an itemized list of services.
When you hire a WP, they work for you – not the venue. So, they will work with the couple prior to the event to map out the happenings of the day creating a smooth event. During the wedding day the WP will coordinate vendor arrivals and drop-offs, devise a detailed plan for and with the photographer, all formal dances, cake cutting, etc.
While you may have worked with one specific VC throughout your pre-wedding preparations, it is possible that you may have someone completely different running the day of events. It’s true the venue will have staff to assist in items included in the contracted agreement, but it might be someone unfamiliar with you and your wedding details.
Reversely, WPs get to know your desires, preferences and expectations prior to the wedding day, and will take control of the details to manage a flawless experience for you and your guests. This includes handing out their cell phone numbers to vendors and the wedding party and answering calls and texts on the fly and executing the detailed timeline they created with your vendor team. They are knowledgeable of the wedding plans and can put out any last-minute fires.
VCs are not equipped for, nor are they compensated by the venue to, help design your perfect wedding. The VCs are overseers of the reception location and may be limited in their knowledge of outside suppliers and opportunities for the couple.
In contrast, WPs assist with the planning and design of your entire wedding. From invitations and floral design, to color schemes and music selections, they act as trusted advisors and hands-on assistants so that the happy couple can enjoy their big day. Beyond the planning, WPs also assist in decorating the ceremony and reception area, cueing the DJ and coordinating all the vendors including any make-up touch-ups for the bridal party prior to the ceremony.
Both a venue coordinator and a wedding planner can be valuable assets to a couple on their wedding day. When they are working together, and fulfilling all their responsibilities as outlined, it produces a smooth and effortless event.
The most important factor influencing your decision to hire an outside wedding planner should be your expectations. If it is important to you that your wedding and the planning process be stress-free and the wedding day is professionally managed by someone who has your best interest in mind, then you may favor a WP, as they will act on your behalf, providing an extra set of eyes, ears and hands throughout the entire process. Essentially, their job includes anything the couple needs, and does not end until the event is over.
As professional wedding planners, we love to work with great venue coordinators. With both a strong VC and a professional WP, it ensures the best experience for our clients.