A planner friend of mine recently had a great, very promising consultation with a couple for month-of planning and wedding management. Everything went great and she really hit it off with the couple, but when she followed up, they said, “Thanks so much, but we decided we don’t need a planner after all. Our venue has one!” Instead of taking the time to educate the couple right then and there about the differences between wedding and venue coordinators, my friend simply wished them well and went on her way.
“I bet I’ll hear from them again,” she told me, and about three months later, an email appeared in her inbox from the same couple asking if she still had their date free.
Here’s why: a venue coordinator and an event coordinator are not the same thing. Couples may hear the word “coordinator” from their venue and think, Perfect! One-stop shop! But it’s not that easy. If it was, independent planners would be out of their jobs! There’s been a major push lately in the wedding and event industry to educate our clients on exactly what we do, and a huge part of that is based around the venue coordinator/wedding coordinator issue.
The truth is that, if you’re not actually a part of the industry, you really wouldn’t know the difference. A coordinator is a coordinator, right? Well, not really. For couples who are trying to navigate this confusion, here are some key details that set venue and event coordinators apart:
1. The basics. The venue coordinator is there to handle – you guessed it – the venue. If you need a table moved, a fan turned on, or a door unlocked, he or she is most likely the one to go to. On the other hand, your wedding coordinator is there for you. If you need your dress bustled, your DJ cued for the grand entrance, or a quick crash course on how to cut your cake, your wedding coordinator is ready and willing to help. You wouldn’t ask a florist to make sure the bartenders know where your personalized koozies are, so why would you ask a venue coordinator to tell the photographer when you want to start photos? While the venue coordinator manages the venue, the wedding coordinator – by definition – manages the wedding as a whole.
2. Vendor connections. A venue coordinator might be able to provide a preferred vendor list, but only a wedding coordinator will schedule and attend consultations and review contracts with those vendors to help find the right ones for you.
3. Vendor outreach. A venue coordinator may be in touch with the vendors that are vital to setup – the rentals, the florist, maybe the security officer- but that’s about it. Meanwhile, the wedding coordinator will be the one to check in with each vendor during the planning process to go over details, arrival times, and responsibilities.
4. The preparation. A venue coordinator isn’t going to make your timeline or run your rehearsal. For a wedding coordinator, those are very basic package inclusions that you won’t even have to ask for.
5. The accessibility. Popular venues may have three weddings in a single weekend, so the focus on you may be fairly limited leading up to your big day. On the other hand, a wedding coordinator – even if they’re working with multiple clients – will be able to work closely with you over the course of several months so that you feel like a priority throughout the entire process rather than just the day of your booking and the day or your wedding.
6. The design. A venue coordinator will have beautiful photos to show from past weddings and great ideas for how to decorate, but he or she won’t be the one to help put your design plans into motion. That’s what your wedding coordinator is for.
7. The relationship. The venue employee you sign a contract with may not be the same one you meet with for your walkthrough or even the same one who’s there on your wedding day. It’s not at all uncommon to have two different venue coordinators there in a single day – one for the morning and to oversee setup and another for the evening to oversee the ceremony, reception, and teardown. Meanwhile, the wedding coordinator you have your consultation with will stay with you through the entire planning process and be there for you on your wedding day (and maybe model your ceremony programs for you!).
In the end, it’s clear what the differences are – and why it’s great to have both! While the venue coordinator won’t help plan your wedding, set up your decor, or coordinate your vendors, he or she will be an asset when it comes to important details like getting measurements, creating a floorplan, and managing the setup of the ceremony and reception. There are several weddings I’ve done where I’ve thanked my lucky stars for the amazing venue coordinators who helped me with venue-related issues. That said, if a potential client says they don’t need a wedding coordinator because their venue has one, I’ll jump at the chance to share this info – because, in the end, the wedding coordinator’s job is to make sure that you get exactly what you need to make your big day a success.