Wedding Planner vs. Venue Coordinator: Differences You Need to Know

After what feels like ages searching, you’ve finally found the ONE! The location that will host your nuptial celebration! The all important wedding venue.  Booking your venue is a monumental decision when you’re planning a wedding.  So many other decisions like the music, style and decor tend to be location-dependent.  One decision that should not be determined by your choice of wedding venue? The decision to hire a wedding planner. On the outside it may look like hiring a planner when you have a venue coordinator is paying for the same service twice, but I assure you, that is not the case.

Why? Well it’s simple.  Your venue coordinator is NOT a wedding planner. Regardless of the title on their email signature, the truth is that very few venues have an actual wedding planner on staff.  On top of this, there are key distinctions between what a wedding planner that you hire and the venue coordinator are going to do for you. Let’s do a quick comparison, shall we?

Your wedding planner:

  •  Works for you and answers only to you, the couple. Your planner’s focus is on your day and your details, nothing else.
  • Is involved in every step of your planning process, from the linen selection to the decision to hire a band or a DJ.  We touch base with you regularly and will have a pulse on where you are with the entire wedding at any given time.
  • Will be ready to put a plan B into action if and when any snafus occur.
  • Can save you time and potentially money by researching awesome vendors and working out preferential pricing with them and passing the savings along to you.
  • Is with you on the day of your wedding from the time you’re getting ready until the last guest says good bye and all your stuff is packed up.

Your venue coordinator: 

  • Is usually your main contact at the venue, and may be the person who walked though with you the first time you visited.
  • Works for the venue. Of course they want you to have a great wedding, but they answer to someone other than you. They also have other responsibilities – maintaining a certain revenue basis for each event, managing food and beverage and potentially other staff – suffice it to say they don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart. Not because they’re bad people, just because they don’t answer to you.
  • May not be in touch with you for months after you book your date. They do have other events to produce as well as other couples to sell, and the details they’ll need from you aren’t generally confirmed until about 2 months prior.
  • May not be able to recommend any vendors that aren’t on their preferred list, and likely won’t have time to assist you with planning tasks that aren’t venue related.
  • Can’t be responsible for any wedding related things that happen before you’re on site. If your ceremony is off site, they won’t be attending or running it.  Bridal bouquets show up late to the hotel? Photographer gets lost an d needs directions? Limo breaks down on the way to the church? Don’t call your venue coordinator- they most likely won’t be able to help you, and may not even be available.
  • May not be the person on site for your wedding day, or if they are on site, it may only be for a part of the day.  They may hand off duties to a banquet captain or maitre ‘d.
  • May not even work at the venue when your wedding rolls around, depending on how long in advance you book your event. This happens more often than you’d think! (Another reason to get everything in writing)

Now with all of that said, please know that a good venue coordinator is worth their weight in gold. I have worked with some stellar rock star venue staff, and they do so much to make a wedding day flow smoothly and make your whole team’s jobs easier.  The good ones also often recognize that they aren’t wedding planners, and recommend that couples hire a day of coordinator at minimum.

In closing, if your venue claims to have a wedding planner on staff, find out what that person’s responsibilities will really be. Will they help you with other wedding related duties that have nothing to do with t he venue? Will they get quotes from four different photo booth vendors? Can you call them to talk through a dispute you’re having with your maid of honor? Will they sit with you and discuss proper etiquette for seating charts or what flowers they think will go with your grandmother’s gown? Probably not. If they will, count yourself lucky! But if they can’t, have no fear and hire a wedding planner to handle all of those other details for you.

Happy Planning!