• Raina

Venue Coordinator VS. Wedding Planner: Knowing the Difference

Updated: Oct 1

One question couples most often have when starting to plan their wedding is do they need a wedding planner if their venue is already providing them with a coordinator? There’s no doubt that both have value on your wedding day, and both a wedding planner and venue coordinator want to see your wedding run flawlessly. There can be some similarity and overlap in their responsibilities, however, there are also some rather big differences.

With there being so many similar titles in this industry, couples can end up confused about who handles what when and for whom. Very simply put, a wedding planner's client is you, the couple. A venue coordinator’s client is the venue first and foremost. A venue coordinator is there to coordinate anything that relates to the venue; where as a wedding planner is there to coordinate anything that relates to your wedding. Most importantly, a wedding planner represents you and all of your wishes on the day of your big event.

All of your carefully selected vendors want to do their part to make sure that our couples have a fun and relaxed wedding day. One of the best ways to ensure this is by hiring a wedding planner. A dedicated wedding planner will work hard to make certain their couples, families and friends are able to enjoy everything the wedding day has to offer while also saving them money during the overall planning process. They handle the set up, clean up and manage all the details of the day all the while saving you many stressful headaches all along the way.

As a general rule, both are great to have on wedding days. The coordinator provided by the venue’s primary role is to protect the interests of the venue. You can expect them to make sure rules are being followed, to confirm the layout provided by your wedding planner, to provide facilities in good working order and in some cases assist with the setup of the day. Opting to only go with the coordinator provided by the venue is best for couples who have a lot of people that want to assist with wedding day setup, clean up and vendor coordination.

A wedding planner’s primary role is to make sure that everything runs smoothly, not just on your big day, but relieving you of your anxiety and stress leading up to your wedding day as well. They are there to act as confidant, advocate and friend. There are day-of planners, month-of or partial planners and full planners based on your event needs. You can expect day-of coordinators to work put together detailed timelines and floor plans, direct the rehearsal, meet day-of deliveries and vendors, set up and break down your decor, line up and cue the ceremony processional, and attend to the couple on the day of the wedding as they need. It’s best for couples who are confident about doing all the planning themselves, but want assistance leading up to the wedding and have somebody on site that day so couples and their families do not need to deal with these responsibilities.

A full wedding planner takes on considerably more duties such as working with a couple to understand their preferences, style, budget, and personalities. They communicate throughout the planning process to keep tasks on track, make personalized vendor recommendations, negotiate contacts, conceptualize all of the design elements, answer logistical and etiquette questions, coordinate hotel blocks and transportation, and much more. This type of planning is best for couples that do not have time or interest in planning, want professional guidance through the process, or need assistance with the design of their day.

If that seems to be more than you need, then a partial, or month-of planner may be what is best for you...allowing you to handle most of the planning and booking of vendors yourselves at the beginning but just as things seem to be getting to be too much for you to handle, your wedding planner will then be able to step in and take that weight off your shoulders.

What is the role of a wedding planner vs. a venue coordinator? As a wedding planner, this is a question I get asked a lot.

The biggest difference comes down to the separate responsibilities. While the client’s needs are always the top priority for both vendors, a wedding planner’s responsibilities do differ from those of a venue coordinator’s. Your wedding planner will most likely have been working with you from day one; they will have created your timeline, worked with you to create your one-of-a-kind event design, and will know exactly what to expect from your venue and your vendors. Their job is to make sure all of those special, heartfelt details and all of your careful planning come together in a perfect fashion. Your venue coordinator’s focus will be slightly more geared towards the venue itself; making sure that the venue is prepped and ready to go, that your vendors are set up properly, and once again that things are running smoothly to ensure that the venue is meeting all of your wedding day needs.

Wedding planners and venue coordinators are both particularly important pieces of your wedding day puzzle. While they both have different duties, experienced professionals will work together as a team to make your day effortless and incredible; when it comes to weddings, two teams are always better than one!

What is the biggest difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator? The biggest difference is that the wedding coordinator, provided by the venue, is there to ensure things go smoothly with the venue. They are not going to take responsibility for your other vendors, event design, and logistics. If someone cancels at the last minute they will not be able to call in a new vendor to keep things seamless and stress free. In order to get “the best” out of your vendors, including your venue, you have to let your venue coordinator concentrate on their responsibilities. The venue needs to ensure everything is in working order and ready when you arrive, that things are clean and orderly, that their deliverables such as tables and chairs are all set to go. Your photographer needs to be sure they have working equipment and a shot list. Your band needs to know the songs you want and don’t want…. and so on and so forth. A planner comes in and connects all those dots. They make sure everyone is following through on their contracted obligations and communicate the timeline and details so that everyone is on the same page and, for example, that the photographer and band both know what time the first dance is.

The other major difference between a planner and a venue coordinator is the ability to be proactive and also react to solve problems, should they arise. A venue coordinator isn’t going to be at the hotel where you’re getting ready to sew a button on or have extra hair spray. A venue coordinator isn’t going to make sure grandma is where she needs to be for the processional or that your wedding party hasn’t had too much to drink before the ceremony even starts. A venue coordinator isn’t going to make sure bouquets don’t get left behind and that your dancing shoes are left under the sweetheart table. They don’t make sure the menu is spelled correctly or pack your gifts up at the end of the night. A planner will do all these things and so much more.

Not only is a wedding planner there on the day of your wedding to make sure all the little details are seen to, but they are there for you before the wedding day. A planner will provide professional advice on how to be sure all the special moments you’ve been dreaming of actually happen. Because that’s our job! To advocate and support our couples. And to advise each step in order for their engagement and wedding day to be stress free and fun. Besides, if you call your venue coordinator at midnight because you're freaking out will they answer? Likely not...but we will.

To put it simply, a venue coordinator is there to assist all our couples as part of every rental. Some of their responsibilities that relate to the venue are obvious, and others are similar to a day-of wedding planner. Making sure the space clean, functioning, and presentable. Setting up tables and chairs provided in your rental package. Managing the arrival and parking of guests. Directing the unloading of vendors as they set up. In some cases they can also advise on an appropriate timeline for your wedding day and make recommendations for exceptional vendors. We do not, however, manage the services of other vendors on the wedding day.

A wedding planner, on the other hand, will have copies of all your vendor contracts and know their expectations. They can track down a late-arriving cake delivery or deal with an officiant who runs late from a previous ceremony. They know that tables and linens need to be set before the cake and florist arrive. A wedding planner can help bustle a complicated dress or treat a stain from spilled wine. They make sure the photographer is ready before the DJ announces your cake cutting. A wedding planner helps pack up things at the end of the night so your family members aren’t stuck with the task. Asking a family member to handle these responsibilities is asking them to work in a role they have not typically done before, which is stressful and not guaranteed to have the same outcome that a skilled professional planner could achieve. Wedding planners just make your lives easier!

One last important thing to note about our venue coordinators is that they aren't always available on site throughout your wedding day. Some venue coordinators leave once the reception begins and others simply provide a phone number to call if there is any issue.

Either way, both a venue coordinator and a wedding planner are crucial elements of your celebration. We work together as part of the larger team to ensure you have a happy and stress-free wedding! Our jobs are not to compete with one another. In fact, we welcome venue coordinators as part of any wedding day and look forward to assembling the best team possible for every event we’re fortunate to plan for our couples.

Both the wedding coordinator and the venue coordinator are very important, but they play very different roles. The roles may overlap slightly, depending on the venue and the wedding coordinator. Our biggest tip is to make sure you discuss specifics with your venue coordinator to guarantee that  everyone is on the same page and to avoid any surprises the day of your wedding.

A VENUE COORDINATOR WILL:

  • Give you a tour of the space

  • Book your date

  • Answer questions/explain rules of the space such as “no candles”, or “music off by 10”

  • Assist with the creation of a floor plan

  • Set up table and chairs (this varies greatly depending on the venue and what is included)

  • Organize a tasting, if there is an on-site catering company

  • Provide you a list of vendor partners the venue prefers

  • Unlock the doors

  • In some cases, be present during set up, ceremony and/or reception to make sure that all venue regulations are followed

  • Take care of any emergency issues with the venue such as overflowing toilets or blown fuses

  • Ensure that the event ends at the time indicated on the contract

  • Lock up the venue at the end of the evening

A WEDDING COORDINATOR WILL:

  • Provide trusted vendor recommendations tailored to your style and budget

  • Partner with you to make sure you stay within your budget

  • Assist with your décor vision, tailoring it to your venue and your budget.

  • Assemble a master timeline and make certain that it is understood and followed by all vendors

  • Review contracts, identify any potential, and ensure all vendors follow through with contractual obligations

  • Answer etiquette questions

  • Keep you on track with your to-do list throughout the planning process

  • Order your rentals

  • Organize and run your ceremony rehearsal

  • Decorate your ceremony and reception area to your specifications

  • Line up and cue the bridal party and musicians/DJ for your processional

  • Direct and assist guests through ceremony and reception

  • Attend to the needs of the bride and bridal party

  • Distribute final payments and tips to vendors

  • Set out personal items (guestbook, escort cards, etc.)

  • Coordinate your grand entrance and exit

  • Ensure your photographer knows when all of your special moments will take place

  • Adjust the timeline as necessary and communicate with all of the vendors

  • Coordinate all of the special announcements with the DJ/Band

  • Create a seamless wedding by being your liaison between your family, friends and vendors

  • Clean up your décor and pack up your personal items

  • And most importantly, a professional wedding planer will take care of any last minute changes and emergencies that come up on your wedding day

We hope that this break down of responsibilities helps you understand the differences between a venue coordinator and a wedding coordinator and most importantly we hope it helps you prepare for a smooth and picture perfect wedding. And of course, if you find that you would like the benefits and peace of mind that comes with knowing you have a team of professionals there to ensure your plans are executed perfectly, reach out to us. We would love to help you say YES to less stress!