Let’s set the scene. You just got engaged and experienced one of the most exciting moments of your life. And almost immediately, you started researching all things wedding and wedding planning.
You’ve likely already stumbled across new terms, new dress styles you didn’t know existed, and who knew there were so many different wedding bouquet styles, right?
If you haven’t already, you’ll likely hear the term “venue coordinator” when you start looking at venues to book for your wedding. Choosing a venue is one of the most important elements of planning a wedding.
The venue’s availability, catering options, location, and overall aesthetic all play an important role in your decision to book that space. Many venues also highlight the fact that they assign a venue coordinator to support you as a huge benefit and excellent selling point.
It’s easy to think, “Oh wow, my venue coordinator will handle everything. I’m going to have a lot of extra support planning and setting up my wedding.” But that’s not exactly the case and you should definitely not base your decision to book a specific venue on the fact that they have a designated venue coordinator.
Most brides are unaware that the venue coordinator is solely there for the VENUE and not for them. We love venue coordinators; they’re a wonderful liaison. But their role is not to plan, design, or assist you with the logistics of your entire wedding experience.
Some venues do offer day-of coordination at an additional fee, which is a different service and more logistical, but there are also some venues that sell their in-house coordinator as an actual planner. Unless you are in the wedding industry it may be hard to tell the difference so we want to help you understand the responsibilities of a wedding planner and venue coordinator so you’re not left with unmet expectations and more on your plate than you envisioned.
Let’s unpack it.
5 Key Differences Between a Wedding Planner and Venue Coordinator You Need to Be Aware Of
1. Responsibilities at the Venue
Venue Coordinators are responsible for everything that involves the venue directly. If the venue provides catering, the coordinator will make sure that the kitchen and wait staff are scheduled according to the needs of the day. If the venue provides tables and chairs, the coordinator will ensure everything is set up based on the numbers you need. Your venue coordinator will not be responsible for your personal wedding day preparations, design of your venue space, communicating with vendors during setup, etc.
Wedding Planners are responsible for communicating with the venue coordinator to assure that all of the wedding day venue preparations are made prior to the arrival of your vendors. This also includes providing the coordinator with a list of vendors and scheduling their drop-off and pick- up times according to the loading space. Your wedding planner also double-checks with the venue coordinator to make sure that the floor plans for your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception are correct based upon your personal desires.
2. Responsibilities with Vendors
Venue Coordinators usually provide a list of preferred vendors for you to choose from. They will not reach out to the vendors to introduce you to them or assist with any communication, questions, contract negotiations, or payment management. The venue coordinator works for the venue and will not be able to attend meetings with your vendors.
Wedding Planners schedule and attend meetings with your vendors upon request (additional fees may apply). After booking, the planner becomes the main point of contact between you and your vendors. If a vendor is lost, running late, or having an emergency, he or she will contact your wedding planner who will then formulate a plan to make things work. Your wedding planner will give you recommendations based on vendors that he or she has worked with and has a great rapport with. Wedding planners will also review your contracts and make recommendations for your protection. They will also often deliver final payments to the vendors if they’re managing your wedding budget.
3. Responsibilities Around the Timeline
Venue Coordinators who are handling in-house catering will provide a timeline solely for the catering staff. Their timeline will be centered on when the food will be prepared and served.
Wedding Planners create a timeline that details all aspects of the wedding day—from the time that the bride wakes up to the moment that the vendors are returning for break down. A wedding planner’s timeline also known as our “Wedding Day Bible” features scheduled arrival times for all vendors, when the photos will be taken, what songs will be played for each dance, when the cake will be cut, and even when the wedding favors will be made available to the guests. It’s elaborate, comprehensive, and it ensures that a wedding runs like the proper production it is.
4. Responsibilities Around Availablity
Venue Coordinators are often shared between a minimum of 50 other brides who are getting married at the venue. This means you will often experience delayed responses to phone calls, emails, and have difficulty scheduling face-to-face meetings outside of normal business hours. It is very unlikely that you will receive a personal cell phone number.
Wedding Planners (Especially B Astonished Events!) make themselves available almost 24/7. Of course, there are exceptions, but if you’re having an emergency, you can pick up the phone and send a quick text message or email to your planner. Many wedding planners (such as we do) utilize savvy online planning portals that give you real-time access to the planning checklists and where they’re at in the planning process. You also have regularly scheduled meetings to touch base and your emails are prioritized because they work with a select amount of clients each wedding season.
5. Responsibilities for Wedding Design
Venue Coordinators may provide their opinion if asked about décor outside of the options that they offer, but they will not assist you with designing your wedding, choosing a color palette, coming up with a theme, or installing the vision from your design plans.
Wedding Planners collaborate with you from the beginning to the end to help bring your dream vision to life. They present linen options, flowers, table and furniture styling, mood board proposals, and designs based upon the theme of your wedding and color pallets. They also help install the decor elements and style your wedding on the day of the event.
We love it when—as planners—we have a kind, competent, and organized venue coordinator to liaise with to ensure the venue is exactly how we need it to be when it’s time to set up the wedding. It is very important, however, to know the roles and responsibilities of wedding planners vs venue coordinators at the beginning of your planning process, because if you don’t, you’ll likely run into roadblocks and disappointments.
It would be very disappointing for a bride to assume that the venue coordinator is their right-hand support person to help plan and execute the wedding day to perfection. Hopefully, this eliminates confusion and provides greater clarity.
Which One Do You Need?
If you want comprehensive planning, logistics, and design support, then you need to hire a wedding planner for either full planning, partial planning, or day-of coordination. It’s really a bonus that a venue offers a venue coordinator but that’s not going to have a huge impact on the kind of hands-on support and advice you have access to for planning your wedding.
If you’re looking for a wedding planner to help you plan, design, and coordinate your wedding on the day of, check out our packages on our Experience Page.