The Difference Between A Wedding Planner And Venue Coordinator

"Unless you’re in the wedding industry, the differences between the two aren’t commonly known."
02/16/2017 04:07 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2017

Alright ladies, let’s talk about the differences between venue coordinators and wedding planners. As a wedding planner, one of my biggest pet peeves is when a venue sells their in-house coordinator as an actual wedding planner. I’ve learned that unless you’re in the wedding industry, the differences between the two aren’t commonly known.

About 4 years ago, I received a frantic call from a bride who desperately needed help with her wedding which was 36 hours away. Yes…36 HOURS AWAY! When booking her venue, she said that the biggest selling point was that the venue came with a coordinator. She was told that hiring an outside planner would be a waste of money since she was already paying for one with her venue. Filling out a last-minute questionnaire from the venue, she thought it was odd that they asked who her coordinator for the day would be. She answered “you” with a smiley face. The next day, she received an email stating that the person who she had been working with for months wasn’t even going to be at her wedding. She was confused as to why the bride would think she’d be there…maybe because that’s what she was told? Luckily, I was able to step in and make magic happen.

Here are some of the key differences between a venue coordinator and a wedding planner:

1. Venue:

Venue Coordinator- They are responsible for everything that specifically deals with the venue. Tables, chairs, linens, food, etc. If the venue provides catering, their focus is to make sure that the kitchen and wait staff are scheduled according to their needs.

Wedding Planner- They are responsible for everything that comes with your venue AND making sure that your vendors know where and when they’re supposed to be. If the venue provides linens, it is the job of the wedding planner to choose the color based on the design of the wedding and to keep the quantities correct.

2. Vendors:

Venue Coordinator- The venue coordinator will most-likely provide a list of preferred vendors and that’s the extent of their involvement when it comes to interacting with the vendors.

Wedding Planner - Your wedding planner will schedule and attend your meetings with your vendors. They are the main point of contact between you and your vendors. If a vendor is lost or running late or is having an emergency, they’ll contact your wedding planner who will then put out the fire. Your wedding planner gives recommendations based on vendors they’ve worked with previously. They also review contracts; set up hotel room blocks, etc.

3. Timeline:

Venue Coordinator- Hotels that provide catering will have a timeline solely for their catering staff. Their timeline will center around when the food will be prepared and served. That’s it.

Wedding Planner - The wedding planner’s timeline details all aspects of the day from the time that the bride wakes up to the moment that the doors close. As a wedding planner, I have to know every single that is happening with every single person involved in the day. I schedule 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 when and where the sparkler send-off will be. We do it ALL.

4. Accessibility:

Venue Coordinator - You’re most likely sharing your venue coordinator with at least 100 other brides. This means delayed responses to phone calls and emails. This also means that you have to try to catch them during business hours.

Wedding Planner – Fortunately (and unfortunately), wedding planners are 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. Your venue coordinator isn’t giving you their personal cell phone number.

5. Design.

Venue Coordinator – They’re not designing your wedding. Period.

Wedding Planner – They’ll design your ceremony and reception. They’ll choose your colors, linens, flowers, table set-up and design and so on and so on.

Brides, do not make the mistake of not hiring a wedding planner because your venue has a “wedding coordinator”. Planners do drastically different things and they’re more hands-on. Believe me, spend the money on a planner at the beginning so that you don’t have to find out in the middle of planning that you don’t actually have a planner, but a venue coordinator.

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