When you’re looking at wedding venues you might notice that almost all of them come with a venue coordinator to help assist with things like timelines, rentals, and vendor recommendations. You might be wondering, “Then what’s the difference between a wedding planner vs. venue coordinator?”
Most couples don’t realize that the venue coordinator and wedding planner may provide some similar services but they’re there for very different reasons and both are equally important to your wedding day.
Photo by The Hendricks
Why the two vendors are easily mixed up
These two members of your wedding day dream team can be mixed up but you might be wondering why it’s so easy for couples to end up confused with the services of a wedding planner vs venue coordinator.
Donnamarie Williamson of CoraMarie Events helps shine some light on the reason behind it: “Couples are often confused between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator because up until wedding day, venue coordinators are answering many of their planning questions. Think about it, after booking a venue, the venue coordinator provides couples with a list of preferred vendors, times of their wedding day events (especially if catering is in-house) and they assist them in setting the reception with venue items included in their packages.”
If that doesn’t make it confusing enough, it adds to it when couples notice wedding planners also offer coordination services but then they note they already have coordination services of some sort with their venue coordinator.
“I think the term “coordinator” can be confusing when it’s used so many times in so many different titles! There are so many moving parts to a wedding that it takes a few different types of coordinators to keep all of the wheels turning appropriately.” says Mandy Billings of Heathrow Legacy Club
Karen Gingerich of Just Marry points out “So when couples hear they have a venue coordinator included in their site fee, many make the assumption they’re working with a wedding planner when that’s often not the case.”
Photo by Rudy & Marta Photography
Wedding planners are there for YOU
One of the biggest differences between a wedding planner vs venue coordinator is who that vendor is really there to serve and take care of that day.
Monica Cullen of As You Wish, Weddings & Events explains “The venue coordinator works for the venue, which is why they are called “venue coordinator”. They manage the venue and will discuss the menu, floor plans, rental agreement, rules, etc… They do not replace a wedding planner.
In fact, their responsibilities differ greatly from that of a wedding planner, as a hired wedding planner is responsible for advocating for the client and guiding them through the aspects of the planning process that are not dealt with by the venue coordinator. A wedding planner also acts as a liaison between the venue coordinator, the vendors, the client, and other parties involved in the wedding planning process.”
Photo by KT Crabb Photography
Your wedding planner is there to make sure that anything you need is communicated effectively and timely with both vendors and guests all while making sure you have everything you need to make the day go as smoothly as possible.
“The top reason being that venue coordinators are primarily there to ensure that the venue is taken care of. Unlike a wedding planner, whose sole purpose for being there is to take care of you and your guests,” says Corrine Valentine of CV Event Planning
Photo by Melissa Spillman
Venue coordinators are there for the VENUE
Of course, all of the vendors there for your wedding day will work as hard as they can to make everything incredible but they each have their own parts of the event to keep their focus on.
Mandy explains “We love weddings and our couples, but our number one priority as the venue and caterer is to ensure we are providing the world-class service that has come to be expected of us. I can coordinate all of the moving parts within the venue but a wedding planner really provides that one-on-one attention and service I think you deserve on your wedding day! Hiring a planner also makes our job significantly easier because we can really create a show-stopping event when we don’t have to worry about coordinating all of the other moving parts of your event as well.”
Photo by Blue Anchor Love Photography
However, handling the day of tasks for the venue and possibly catering if the venue has an in-house catering staff, is certainly not where the definition of a venue coordinator ends.
“A venue coordinator is focused on handling venue-related tasks such as sales and contract management, site tours and event schedule, and overseeing on-site events. Depending on the venue, it’s even possible the venue coordinator will be overseeing multiple events at the same time. Their role prohibits them from being able to dedicate themselves to an individual couple’s wedding planning.” says Karen.
A venue coordinator can help provide some of the same or similar services to couples before and during their wedding day but at the end of the day, they just aren’t able to keep their sole focus on the couple.
“As a venue owner and a certified wedding planner, I clearly see both sides of the coin and they look very different. A venue coordinator is there to serve the couple and the venue. The wedding planner is there to serve the couple. Because the wedding planner/wedding coordinator’s first concern is the couple, they may want someone at their wedding whose first concern is them.” says Brandy Douglas of Dragonfly Farms
Photo by Steven Miller Photography
Do you need a wedding planner?
There can be so many things on the checklist before the big day that you might have questions about, need help with, or just don’t have the time to do. This is how a wedding planner helps, whatever aspect you’re struggling with or are unsure about they’re there for you!
Rebecca Lang of Live Love Laugh Events says “Who will help you with the floral designers or final dress fitting? How about finding the perfect and cohesive table settings? Go with you to your cake tastings? Your venue coordinator can’t go with you to those meetings, nor sit down-hours on end going over all these details. Wedding planners also have access to tools, recommendations, and even partnership discounts to help you save money, time, and stress.”
Photo by Just Peachy Photography
Not only can the vendors help you find all the perfect details and vendors for your wedding day, but they’re also there to help communicate with vendors to make sure everyone is working towards the same vision with the proper timeline in place.
“An experienced independent wedding planner will help you find the right vendor for your needs and budget as they often have a roster of great vendors they’ve previously worked with. And a planner can work with the vendor to create just the right custom service, or offer artistic ideas based on the individual’s personality. As a photographer, I’ll get many more personal details and suggestions from a planner that lead to some unique photo ideas.” Brain Bazala of SugarPop Productions.
Brian continues “You’ll rarely get the level of personal, tailored service that you’ll get with a planner. A planner has YOUR best interests in mind — not the venue’s.”
Photo by Jillian Margaret
What your venue coordinator will handle
Your wedding planner will always be focused on you, the couple, but what exactly does the wedding planner vs venue coordinator handle differently?
Monica says “Your venue coordinator will not be personally calling all of your vendors to ensure the contracted services and times. In order to prepare your timeline, we communicate with your entire vendor team in advance and make sure that vendors adhere to it throughout the wedding day.
As your wedding planner, we arrive on-site to greet your vendors as they arrive and make sure everything is set up according to plan. We stay until the end making sure everything is taken care of and send you off knowing that your personal items have been packed up and sent with the designated family member.
That includes cards and gifts, which are not the responsibility of the venue coordinator. Quite often they are getting ready for the event happening the very next day!”
Photo by Blue Anchor Love Photography
Venue coordinators can help assist with things from the floor plan of your event space to making sure your vendor team has everything they need such as enough power, where to park and details like that.
Michael Thomas of Weddings Inc. says “Venue coordinators often have several events to deal with in a given week whereas most planners work on only 1 event in a given week. Most venue coordinators are focused on their venue and not experienced with other vendors, decor options, rehearsal dinner advice and so much more.”
“But looking for a venue that has so much to offer included in the venue rental price could help avoid the cost of hiring a planner from start to finish and allow for the budget to hire a coordinator to finalize the perfect details.” says Caley Hayes of the Grand Ol’ Barn
You should hire a wedding planner if…
…you’re feeling overwhelmed, unorganized, or confused. These are all things wedding planners help to reduce or prevent during the planning process to help keep you organized and better communicate with your vendors.
Karen says you should hire a wedding planner “if you don’t have time to handle all of the tasks that go into planning a wedding, you want your family and friends to enjoy themselves rather than managing things on the wedding day, you’re unfamiliar with the locale where your wedding is taking place, you’re on a short timeline, and/or you’re hosting a wedding involving multiple events in different locations or that have a lot of moving parts.”
Other times, you just need someone else in your corner to help talk through your ideas as a couple, which can be especially helpful when it comes to compromising!
Cathie Catasus of C Squared Events says “Sometimes couples need someone to bounce ideas off of or to ask questions about different parts of the wedding planning process – this person is their wedding planner, not the venue coordinator. Wedding planners can help keep the couple’s stress level down too!”
Photo by Mari Sabra Photography
Nevertheless, your wedding planner is not only there for you during the planning process but also on the wedding day to be your problem solver. If the day after your wedding you wake up thinking how perfect everything went, it’s probably because your planner noticed the problems before anyone else and had it fixed before anyone, including you, knew.
“Having a planner helps to prepare for the “what if’s” while also focusing on the main goal of having your perfect day. Sparkler exits when the bride is so busy in the morning she forgets lighters? The planner was prepared. Where will the get-away vehicle take you and what time? All set, the planner figured it out. Forgot the gifts and cards at the venue!? Nope! The planner packed it already in your suitcase and it’s waiting for you in the honeymoon suite. The list could go on and on!” says Caley.
Corrine says you should have a wedding planner because “They will spend time getting to know every single detail of the day. From you not wanting your Uncle Bob to sit next to Aunt Pearl, to the way to want the napkins folded. No stone will be left unturned with a great wedding planner by your side.”
Photo by SugarPop Productions
Wedding planners save the day!
Making a couples dream wedding day happen takes an entire team of experienced vendors that can help problem solve and fix things on the fly. However, the one vendor who specializes in fixing the problems before anyone knew they were a problem, is the wedding planner!
Some of our vendors have experienced a planner saving the day when things went wrong but it’s good to understand just how important having one in your corner on the wedding day is.
Brandy explains “Because planners have contacts in all areas, it is especially helpful if a vendor fails to show or a cake is missing. A good planner can often call in a favor to make things happen.”
“Recently I had a client’s florist bail on them last minute – I immediately knew who to call to save their day,” says Michael.
Photo by SugarPop Productions
Stressful wedding day? Not with a wedding planner around! They know all of your wedding details to make sure they can spot anything out of place or solve any error without always having to stress you out.
Brian says “I was preparing for the ceremony at a large resort and Priscilla Rose of PR Events noticed that the on-site coordinator had set up the chairs in the wrong location — in a much less attractive spot than was planned. She immediately notified the venue and even helped get the chairs set up in the proper location just in time for the guests to arrive and be seated. If she wasn’t there, I’m sure the bride would have been devastated and the images would not have been as the bride had envisioned.”
Ultimately, they’re there to do whatever it takes to correct a mistake, solve a problem, reduce stress, and coordinate all those important details you’ve worked so hard to incorporate into your special day.
Donnamarie says “When a couple’s catering manager the night of their wedding had a sudden emergency, I suddenly found myself fulfilling the role of both wedding planner and catering manager. My team and I were able to direct servers, bartenders, and chefs to make sure dinner service went off smoothly, on time, and most importantly no hangry guests!”
Photo by Strictly Bella Photography
Karen shares “At another wedding, the florist delivered the wedding flowers the night before the wedding for an early event the following day. The venue’s bell staff unknowingly left the floral in a freezer that killed everything! When we arrived and realized what happened, our team ran up to the local grocery store, bought as much floral as we needed, and created all new bouquets and personal floral to replace what was destroyed.”
“One of our couples had a very special pair of chopsticks that were given to them as a gift. They used them at their sweetheart table on their wedding day. At the end of the night, a few of their guests started to help us clean up and threw away paper goods from the tables. We discovered that someone threw away the chopsticks when we went to break down the sweetheart table. We went through all the trash until we found them since we knew how important they were to the couple. The couple didn’t even know what had happened until a few days later. Without a wedding planner the chopsticks would have been gone forever. “ says Cathie.
Wedding planners are there to save the day and typically come equipped, at every event, with emergency supplies to make sure they can tackle any problem you throw their way. Most of the time, if they find they don’t have something to fix it, they’ll find someone who does or if it’s big enough, they’ll go get it themselves.
Corrine tells us exactly when emergency kits come in handy “I once had a groom who right before the wedding was having a conversation with his mother. In the heat of the moment as she is overcome with emotion she hugs her son. That would not have been a big deal if she didn’t just smear her makeup all over the front of his ivory tux. We are just minutes from starting and there am I (your handy dandy wedding planner), stain remover in one hand and hairdryer in the other.”
Photo by Jillian Margaret Photography
As simple as it may sound, the biggest difference between a wedding planner vs venue coordinator is the word venue. The venue coordinator is focused on the venue and making sure it’s taken care of for you, but the wedding planner is focused on you and anything you need to help make the day go by smoothly with lots of love and happiness.
Linda Helm of The Celeste Hotel sums up the difference between a wedding planner vs venue coordinator nicely, “Here is a perfect example: Maid of Honor remembers that forgot her shoes at her house as she is getting her makeup done. The venue coordinator is busy getting things ready at the Venue, wedding planner arranges to have the shoes brought over.”