Shortly after starting my business as a wedding planner and coordinator, I started hearing about how some venues have on-site coordinators. At first, I thought that simply meant I would never work a wedding at one of those venues, because I wouldn’t be necessary for the bride. Shortly after, I assisted a wedding coordinator on a wedding, and there was also a venue coordinator on site. It left me wondering: What was the difference between the wedding coordinator and the venue coordinator? Was it beneficial for a couple to have both during their wedding day?
With these questions in mind, I jumped at the opportunity to assist a venue coordinator on two weddings so I could see the differences firsthand. During those weddings, one had a wedding coordinator on site, and the other did not, so I also had the opportunity to experience the difference when both were hired, versus when only the venue coordinator was on site.
The Role of a Venue Coordinator
The main difference between a wedding coordinator and venue coordinator is their priorities. Even if you pay for the services of a venue coordinator, they ultimately work for the venue and prioritize the venue’s best interest, while a wedding coordinator works for you and prioritizes your best interest.
A venue coordinator is responsible for the venue and its role in your wedding day - this may mean setting up chairs and tables that the venue owns, ensuring that the facilities are properly functioning, and working with in-house staff. All tasks, even when they benefit the couple, are directly related to the property and staff of the venue, and their direct role in your wedding. They are the go-to person for making sure the power, plumbing and air conditioning are working, and they are there to ensure that they hold up their end of the contract, and the other vendors you hire don’t break the venue’s rules. They may clean up messes throughout the night, like if a guest spills a drink or breaks a glass, and they will do their best to ensure everyone stays safe while on site.
The venue coordinator may provide a simple timeline for your wedding, but this typically only happens if the venue is providing food service. A timeline created by the venue will be as simple as possible, often containing little more than the start time of the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and food service. It won’t include your first dance, cake cutting, or getting ready photos, and they also won’t keep you on track with the timeline you've developed.
When it comes to vendor interactions, the venue may provide you with a list of preferred vendors, but they won’t help contact those vendors or give you recommendations that match your style or budget. On the day of, the venue coordinator will let the vendors in to set up and then leave them to do their work. There will likely be little communication between the venue coordinator and the other vendors through the planning process or the wedding, even if something goes off schedule.
The Role of a Wedding Coordinator
A wedding coordinator, on the other hand, is responsible for making sure that all of your vendors, including the venue, are working for the client’s best interest. Even if you don’t hire a planner to help you choose and communicate with your vendors before the big day, the wedding coordinator will be in contact with all vendors during the final weeks leading up to your wedding. On the day of, the wedding coordinator will check in with all of your vendors to ensure they know where to set up, how to meet the client’s expectations, and when things need to happen according to the detailed day-of timeline.
If any of the vendors are running late or have an emergency the day of the wedding, the wedding coordinator is the main point of contact so that the couple doesn’t have to worry. The wedding coordinator will work with the schedule to make sure everything still goes off without a hitch, even if it includes finding a backup vendor to step in that day if the originally hired vendor is unable to make it. The wedding coordinator will review all vendor contracts to know exactly what services are expected, and will ensure that the vendors will complete all work that the client pays for.
One of the major roles of the wedding coordinator is to work with you to develop a detailed day-of timeline that covers all events of the day, as well as vendor responsibilities for set-up and tear-down. We work with your photographer to schedule when photos will be taken, with your DJ to schedule the first dance and cake cutting, and with the venue to schedule the send off so that everyone is out when the venue requires it. And then, when things don’t go quite according to the plan, the wedding coordinator works with all of your vendors to make changes happen so smoothly that you and your guests don’t even notice.
Wedding coordinators know the intimate details of your wedding day and are there to set up your personal decor, ensure that you and your families are able to relax and enjoy the day, and take care of the unforeseen issues that are sure to arise.
A Few Final Details to Consider
Your venue coordinator isn’t required to stay on site through your entire event. Many leave after dinner is served, or they may oversee from a distance to ensure nothing happens to the venue. A wedding coordinator, on the other hand, is with you through the entire night, and is often the last person to leave at the end of the night.
The venue coordinator on wedding day isn’t guaranteed to be someone you’ve talked to before. Some venues have multiple venue coordinators, and they may not assign someone to your event until the week of. Even if you’ve worked with a venue coordinator since you booked the venue, they may choose to leave the venue and someone new will step in. If you hire a wedding coordinator, they work for you and will be with you throughout the planning process and on wedding day. If they assign another coordinator on their team to your wedding day, they will notify you of this beforehand and give you the opportunity to get to know your day of coordinator.
The wedding coordinator is solely focused on you and ensuring that you have the time of your lives. They’re flexible, focused and willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that you’re happy with how the day goes.
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