Updated: Apr 6, 2019
By Majestic Event Planning
You might think a wedding planner is the same as a venue coordinator but they are different and we are here to show you all the differences to help you avoid unneeded frustrations.
This post is intended to educate couples on the differences so they can decide what they want for their wedding and by no means are we trying to offend any venue coordinators. We love and respect them and appreciate their hard work, as we work together to make the couple's wedding the best day of their lives!
Many couples think that their venue provides them with a free onsite wedding planner, mistaking the fact that the venue has a venue coordinator only. You might think "oh great this venue coordinator will do the same thing as a wedding planner, so I will save some money and just use the venue coordinator for all my needs." You then later find out that the services they provide are not the services you were expecting causing you to be stressed out and frustrated because the venue coordinator isn't helping as you were expecting them to.
What are the differences between a
wedding planner and a venue coordinator ?
A wedding planner is with you from the moment you hire them until you leave at the very end of your wedding. They will coordinate your rehearsal, coordinate the ceremony and give cues to all the vendors throughout the day of. They are there to guide you and make sure the timeline is being followed exactly as you have directed it. Your wedding planner will ensure proper decoration placement such as the guestbook, place cards, flowers, linens, cake setup, favors, programs and other ceremony and reception items. Sometimes, if the venue doesn't offer complete set up, the wedding planner will place linens, napkins, chargers, plates, silverware, glassware and other decorations for the tables. As a wedding planner we have had some weddings that the venue didn't provide this service and we went ahead and did a full set up on all of the tables for our client at no additional charge. A wedding planner will contact all of your vendors prior to your wedding and confirms all the final details with them such as any updates, any last minute changes, arrival time and much more. They give vendor cues throughout the course of the event, including assisting the DJ or MC with scheduling, supervision of meal service, and other activities. Your wedding planner will also assist the bride, groom, family and wedding party with preparation and photo schedules. They are a liaison for all guest questions and concerns. Your wedding planner provides a wedding day emergency kit for all the circumstances you didn't/couldn't plan for. You can have your wedding planner distribute gratuities to specific vendors and coordinate who will be receiving all returned personal decorations and gifts such as toasting glasses, cake topper, cake knife and server at the end of the event. Your wedding planner is hired by you, signs a contract with you and you will have the same person throughout the whole process. Wedding planners have a preferred vendor list and will recommend vendors that they have worked with in the past. A wedding planner will schedule appointments with you and vendors and often times attend appointments with you. A wedding planner will help you go over vendor contracts and contact vendors throughout the wedding planning process. In terms of the timeline, the wedding planner will have a more detailed wedding day timeline that begins when the bride wakes up and ends when the wedding reception ends. This timeline contains all aspects of the day, like when vendors arrive, when they set up, when the ceremony begins, when photos begin, when the first dance is happening and much more. Wedding planners are more flexible when it comes to responding to emails and phone calls during weekdays and weekends. As a wedding planner our company makes sure to answer any questions right away and we always tell our clients to feel free to reach out any time. Our clients seem to like being able to reach us or meet after they get out of work since they also have a very tight schedule. Our clients are well aware that we schedule one wedding per weekend so that we can give them our full attention. Your wedding planner will help you with the color choices and design aspects and will have all the answers to your questions such as "What time is the DJ announcing that the dance floor is open?" or "What time is my makeup artist arriving?". A wedding planner will literally be by your side throughout the whole planning process and on the day of your wedding.
A venue coordinator works for the venue and is there to make sure that the venue staff is doing their jobs correctly. They handle things such as servers, chefs, staff, food and certain setup details. These setup details may include items like tables, chairs, linens, silverware, glassware and plates depending on what the venue offers. They are also responsible for making sure clean up happens immediately after eating and making sure the bathrooms are presentable. The venue coordinator often leaves as soon as your meal has been served, but some might stay until the cake has been cut and served. The venue coordinator is in the venue but is not by your side throughout the entire day. The venue coordinator may contact the vendors that they work with regarding the set up for your ceremony and reception. Vendors such as photographers, makeup and hair will not be contacted by the venue coordinator. Venues are known for having venue coordinators who are there for a short period of time and are then replaced by a new one. Basically, the person that you booked with may or may not be there by the time your wedding comes around. The venue coordinator will provide you with a list of their preferred vendors and it is your responsibility to reach out to these vendors and go to your appointments on your own. In terms of the timeline for the day of, the venue centers the timeline based on when the food is served. When it comes to communicating with the venue coordinator, they will only respond during business hours and you will be sharing this coordinator with hundreds of couples who are getting married that same year. Venue coordinators usually don't provide their clients with a cell phone number in case of any emergency. A venue coordinator generally won't help you with the design aspects beyond possibly giving limited suggestions. Venue coordinators don't coordinate your ceremony, they manage the venue and make sure the kitchen is running on time. They might not be able to answer random questions such as "What time is the DJ announcing that the dance floor is open?" or "What time is my makeup artist arriving".
Venue coordinators are usually not at the rehearsal. One wedding we did last year, the coordinator went out of town on vacation for our clients rehearsal and wedding day and didn't bother telling our client or us, we found out when we arrived for the rehearsal and someone else was there "in case of anything". Your venue coordinator will assist with emergencies but is not responsible for running the whole day so it is very important to ask some questions if you do decide that you don't want a wedding planner.
Can we email/call/meet with you as much as we need in order to execute this wedding?
How long does it take you to get back to our calls and/or emails?
Do you create a timeline for the day of and can we go over it together?
Will you help us create a seating chart?
Will you be present for our rehearsal?
Will you be present all day on our wedding day?
Where will you be during the wedding?
As mentioned before, we are not here to bash venue coordinators! We know they work hard and do a tremendous job running a whole venue! We just want couples to understand the differences and be aware of what they might need so that their wedding can be exactly as they have imagined it to be.