I’ve heard it SO many times- “Oh the venue coordinator will handle everything, I don’t need a wedding planner/coordinator.”
What most couples don’t quite understand is this:
a venue coordinator works for the VENUE, not you.
So the answer is yes, it does matter!
(Nothing against venue coordinators- I love them and they’ve helped me out a lot before!) If they tell you they can handle things on the day of your wedding, it’s true- they can, but it’s only within a certain scope. And so, since I’m kind of the person who says things about planning weddings that not many others will, let’s chat a little more about this…
A venue coordinator is looking out for the venue’s best interests. A wedding coordinator is looking out for YOUR best interests. The venue coordinator deals with everything having to do with the venue- food, setup, bathrooms, etc. A wedding coordinator will deal with aspects of the venue that pertain to you, such as setup, and will make sure everything is to your specifications.
If your ceremony is at a location other than the venue, your wedding coordinator will be there with you. A venue coordinator will not be at that offsite ceremony. If the ceremony is at the venue, the venue coordinator will (ideally) be there to help with the coordination of the ceremony. But if there’s an issue happening with the venue itself, you may find that your venue coordinator will be nowhere to be found.
True story time: A family member of mine was told by her venue coordinator that she would be there for the ceremony to help organize, tell people where and when to go, etc. Thirty, fifteen, ten minutes prior to the ceremony, and the coordinator was nowhere to be found. Guess what? SHE WENT HOME. When I asked why, the venue staff said because everything for the reception was setup and good to go. Ummm… well, thank goodness I was there and had been there at the rehearsal, and I was able to step in and run the ceremony. But not everyone will have someone attending their wedding who was a former wedding planner, so… do with that information what you will. :)
A wedding coordinator stays by your side throughout the day and night. They are there to tell you when things will be occurring throughout the night, such as the cake cutting, bouquet toss, toasts, etc. As a (former) wedding planner, I stayed until the very end of the wedding, until all of the guests were gone. A venue coordinator stays until the meal is served, and the majority of the time, leaves after. Some may stay until the cake is cut and served. He or she will not be by your side throughout the day or night. Although the venue coordinator will do their best to keep you happy, he or she likely will not be helping if your bustle breaks, when it comes time to load up your gifts, or tracking down your lipgloss.
A wedding coordinator contacts your vendors before your wedding to make sure everyone is confirmed and knows what time they will be arriving. A venue coordinator may contact vendors that have to do with setup of the reception, but it’s not common. Other vendors, like your photographer or hair and makeup, would not be contacted by your venue coordinator.
Venues are known to have a high turnover rate among the coordinator/sales positions. The person that you book your wedding with may or may not still be there when it comes time for your wedding 6 months, a year, or a year and a half later. As much as you may have connected with that venue coordinator, she (or he) will have no qualms moving on to greener pastures before your wedding day occurs.
But your wedding coordinator is hired by YOU, hand selected by YOU, and won’t be going anywhere- unless, God forbid, something horrible happens!
So, these notions are just a few things to think about when it comes to deciding whether or not you need a wedding coordinator.
And this is in no way meant to be ill spirited towards venue coordinators. As I said before, I LOVE venue coordinators- it’s always awesome to work with them! But as a couple planning a wedding, I want you to be aware of the differences between the two so you can make the best decision!
If you have any questions about wedding coordinator vs venue coordinators, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!
Click here for more posts about wedding coordinators!
A version of this post was originally published in June 2010.
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29 responses to Venue Coordinator VS Wedding Coordinator… Does it really matter?
Great post! We have both a Month of Wedding Coordinator and a Venue Coordinator. We also have a House Manager – they manage all the vendors coming into the venue the day of the ceremony/reception.
We’re getting married on 10/10/10 and I’m so thankful we have a Wedding Coordinator. She was able to help us find a bartender where our Venue Coordinator was not. She’s also been great at advising us on how to facilitate transforming the venue from ceremony seating to dinner seating as quickly as possible. Our wedding coordinator started out as a splurge, but the closer we get to the wedding the more I believe she’s an absolute must have!
Most Venue coordinators i work with have no qualms about telling the bride and groom that they need to hire a wedding coordinator also. As one recently told one of my brides, “as a venue coordinator i only work with you as it relates to the happenings here at the venue, i will not help you choose invitations, a dj, a baker, florist, photographer, videographer, review their contracts, coordinate with all of them and your bridal party. I wont help you look for gowns & tuxes or special deals or discounts of any kind. your wedding coordinator will.” I am grateful that she makes that clear to brides using her venue.
I could not disagree more. It all depends on the individual or venue hired. I am a venue coordinator and we do everything that you would hire an event coordinator for. I am only speaking for myself and the elite venue I am responsible for. The common goal is a successful wedding and happy couple. In my opinion the venue coordinator has to understand and organize many more details and have time management down 100%. What is all comes down to is finding the right venue and venue-coordinator and you see that he or she is all you need!
This is so true. I cannot even count how many times I have had this conversation. I have done both jobs so I know the differences personally. What concerns me is when I meet venue coordinators that actually identify themselves as wedding planners and do not know the difference between the two. I realize that there are always exception, but having an on-site, actual, wedding planner, is not typical in my experience. I have talked to many brides, after their wedding, that express regret at not hiring a planner, after things were not handled to the level of their expectation on their wedding day.
I agree completely. When I was getting married we had the wedding ceremony and reception at the same venue and at the time I did not understand the difference between a Venue Coordinator and Wedding Coordinator. Well I learned pretty quickly what you have stated above. Venue Coordinators are there for the venue and there is a very high turnover rate. We had three different coordinators during our wedding planning. Fortunately for me family and friends stepped up where the coordinators fell short. All went well in the end but I do think that it is important for brides to understand the difference between the two so that they won’t get stressed out or be disappointed on their wedding day.
I like the topic of your post, it is really important for to-be brides to know the difference :)
I think this is such an important piece of wedding knowledge to have as a bride.Being someone who coordinates with both venue & wedding coordinators – I can vouch that there is a HUGE difference between the two and I think your article points out the necessary differences quite poignantly! Great post!!
I love this article! As a venue coordinator, I express the need for a Wedding Coordinator as soon as I speak to a potential client. Although my clients haven’t dealt with high turnover at my venue, I’d experienced this during my own wedding planning and it was challenging. I feel it is important to work along with the Planners to create a flawless event so I often find myself helping the couple beyond my job description. But then again, I don’t know any other way :)
Lauren this is a really useful post. Thank you for writing it.
It’s so easy to just assume that a venue coordinator will be all that you need on your wedding day but so much happens before you even get to your reception venue so I always advice people to get a full day coordinator.
Excellent point about the wedding venue coordinator potentially not being there on your wedding day, that is something I would not have previously considered when booking a venue!
Thank you for writing this insightful post! I get this question a lot, and it’s nice to see the difference explained so clearly and simply.
This article was very obviously written by a wedding coordinator, who has a vested interest in perpetuating the fallacy that brides must dish out additional thousands of dollars to hire a coordinator. Just one more cog in the wedding industrial complex.
I am a Venue Coordinator. I am the “new kid” in our team of three and I have been with my particular venue for seven years. My colleagues have been with our 5 Star / 5 Diamond property for nine and twenty years respectively.
I am by my couple’s side until the very end of the night. I help the parents load the car. I am in the room throughout dinner making sure that the timeline is on track and that meal service is running smoothly. Do you know where the hired wedding coordinators spend most of the night? Either in the green room sucking down Diet Cokes or uploading pictures to promote their blogs.
I recommend DJs/Photographers/Hair & Make-up/etc. I contact those vendors prior to the wedding to discuss load-in, set-up, timelines, and all of the pertinent details of the day. In my most recent review, I was criticized for looking out too much for my clients and not enough for the venue.
The only truth stated in the above article is that I am not available for off-site – so yes, I will not be there when you try on your dress, or go to look at stationary…but I trust that my couples are competent enough to make some of those decisions on their own. Who knows, it might even be a bonding experience for the family? After all, isn’t that what weddings are about?
Ashton, this article was written by me, and while I used to be a coordinator, I have also witnessed many weddings (as a designer and as a guest) for which the couples did not have a coordinator, and were severely disappointed that they relied on the venue coordinator. What you do at your venue sounds amazing, and I wish all venues took that same approach! Some do, but sadly, many do not. Weddings take a team to be executed to perfection, and having a coordinator should and would be to your benefit, as well as your couples’ benefit. As a professional, I encourage you to find a coordinator that you trust and enjoy working with, because it’s a partnership that should be for the best, not for the worst. :)
Ashton– I applaud you for doing such a fabulous job, and applaud the company you work for. Providing such a service that you do is very rare in this industry– and the vast majority of wedding locations do not provide that service.
I am a firm believer that the job I do is valuable and necessary for my clients. To be fair, I have seen many a “venue” coordinator come out of their office merely to inquire when their meal would be ready, rather than coordinating anything to do with the clients event. This happens more often than not, as the venue coordinators we work with tend to be a presence only for the location, rather than an advocate for the couple.
While your property may not need additional coordination, the blanketed majority of them do– and clients ought to be aware of that.
Ashton, you are a wonderful exception to the rule. As a photographer, I’ve dealt with many venue coordinators, who, more often than not, are hard to get a hold of on the day of and disappear after the ceremony. You go above and beyond for your couples, which reflects tremendously on the staff and the venue. Kudos to you.
I think it’s incredibly important for brides to know exactly what their venue coordinator will and won’t do, and verify that with reviews on WW or The Knot or Yelp.
Thank you for making my job easier – but the vast majority of venue coordinators I’ve worked with have made it harder. I’ve had to start processionals, show the couple how to cut the cake, find plates for them, even set up. I have a venue coordinator this weekend who refuses to set out the place cards. And she is at a 4 star hotel in SF.
Ultimately, it comes down to education. Brides need to ask questions. Do their research and be fully aware of what is said will happen and what past couples have said happened so if she needs to hire a day of coordinator, she can.
Ashton, new kid on the block indeed. As a master planner with over 20+ years experience & close to 1000 events around the nation at many 4 & 5 star properties…you’ve got to be kidding me. It’s always a real treat when I realize that the venue coordinators are on their game, however the 100 ‘ s of hours of planning 100 ‘ s of emails & all the counseling that goes into a wedding plan can’t possibly be achieved through a venue coordinator, you work for the venue, we work for the family. Hopefully you will gain some valuable insight as you evolve in your career.
I have to agree with Lauren on this post and on her comments. I am a wedding planner and at many venues, the venue coordinator does just as she stated – helps with venue logistics and departs after dinner.
Your approach and attitude is not typical of venue coordinators. You are definitely in the minority – probably the ONLY one I have heard of that stays until the end and packs up the car. I have never had a venue coordinator do that and I have been doing this for 9 years.
This post was aimed to help brides know the difference between the two and be educated. Again, you are in the minority, and many venues won’t do the things you are saying that you do. Brides need to know that and not assume that you will do ALL that a wedding coordinator will do.
While brides and grooms are competent to make invitation and dress decisions, along with many other decisions, many want the support of someone that has gone through this a multitude of times and has experience dealing with issues and decisions that come up while planning – that you say you won’t be there for. They want another person to bounce ideas off of, to talk logistics, and to have someone with them the day of the wedding that knows their wedding the way they do. Some brides and grooms do not have the time to attend meeting, vet vendors, and design their wedding, and even if they do, they aren’t able/don’t want to be the go to person on their wedding day.
Also, I take offense to the notion that wedding coordinators are not needed (ie – “perpetuating the fallacy that brides must dish out additional thousands of dollars to hire a coordinator”). There are MANY, MANY articles and posts written by brides that say the best thing they did was hire a coordinator to help them with their wedding day. Furthermore, I have read and heard from countless other brides that didn’t hire one, say they wish they had because things weren’t taken care of properly. The majority of venue coordinators are thrilled when there is a coordinator there the day of, because it takes some stress off of them and they can focus on their duties at the venue.
I think you are in the minority on a lot points in your post – from wedding coordinators being a “cog in the wedding industrial complex” to the what you do for your venue. Kudos to you for being that involved but know that it is not the norm, and don’t bash others in the industry.
So perfectly said! As the ‘sales’ person for a venue, I am always there for initial questions. But basically every thing through goes to our house manager for any logistical needed for any vendors. But that is it. I stay through the ceremony, but then leave. Even though I work at the venue for commissions, I am also lucky enough to offer my own services should our clients desire. I often have a hard time explaining this to my clients, and feel like a shyster when I offer my services. You have given me some really great verbiage for when I’ talking with them. Thank you!
I knew when I chose to enlist Professional Event Planners, that my Brides would benefit greatly. I also knew I would also never succumb to a “Cookie Cutter Style” by having an “In House Planner” that offered a repetitive style to my clients.
Event Planners are a blessing that transtorm a Bride and Grooms Vision into a Reality (our teams helps too)!
Here in the UK Wedding Coordinators are sometimes viewed with suspicion by couples – unless the top end of the market.
I am a Wedding Coordinator who happens to work with a low budget venue – but not exclusively. I do work on behalf of the venue but I also have the Bride and Groom’s interests at heart and look to save them money wherever possible. I am there from the early morning until the last guest has gone and am there “by the couples’ side” throughout. I don’t get involved with the wedding dress, hair etc (i.e. the more personal choices – as I agree with Ashton that it is nice for Mother of the Bride for instance to feel involved). I work my fee into the overall package offered to the couple and am conscious of keeping costs reasonable. I like to think you can have everyone’s best interests in mind when helping to plan a wedding. It seems it is big business in the States being a Wedding Coordinator?
As a venue coordinator, I think this is a great read!
This is a great article and pretty true except in my case. I was a Catering Manager for years at some well known West Suburbs hotels. However I was a certified wedding planner so that being said I went the extra mile.
It is true that the venue manager is there to assist but most likely will not be there for personal attention.
I did a planning session with the couple, I made sure the execution was correct, I laid out favors and set up escort card tables and I confirmed vendor arrival times and set up. etc….
I wish this article was around when I was working with my couples because I would have sent it to each and every one of them! I heard many of them complain that “we” wouldn’t be available all day or if we could not be reached due to another event going on. The worst was when there was a turnover in staff…..talk about a hysterical couple? OMG they would fly off the handle and ask “Who will take over, they won’t know all the details. I don’t want to work with anyone else. It was a nightmare and believe I went through 4 turnovers at one hotel in 3 years. Always makes for long summer…. So glad I’m out of the industry now but still involved with brides in a totally different capacity.
I appreciate this article. We are having issues drawing the line between what the managers do and don’t do. More and more couples are expecting that we are going to do so much more than we actually should and end up being disappointed in our services. We represent the venue and making sure things go well for our best interest, but we do want to help the couple as much as possible to make sure their day is special. As a venue we are trying to figure out a good way to communicate our role more clearly to couples as many times they assume we are the planner or day of coordinator. This article and all the insightful comments are a huge help! :)
Hi all, I am finding this a really interesting read, but I agree with Martine-here in the UK couples are far more sceptical of wedding “planners” and the need for them, even though the merits are obvious and I wish I had had one myself! I am interested to gauge the professionals’ thoughts here. I am currently looking at a role in a newly refurbished old country house (think Downton Abbey!) but the job description is rather vague-it is 20 hours a week, and the title is Event Manager/Wedding Coordinator. Part of the role is to greet the organiser on the day of the event and ensure accurate numbers/table plan before handing to the operations team. The employer is vague about details, and I would like to go with a strong view as to how this role will be carried out-where and how I would be working, and would 20 hours be enough? There appears to be scope for flexibility in working conditions but I was wondering how you would split the 20 hours (particularly since from a sales perspective it is vital to respond to enquiries asap?) and whether I would be expected to stay throughout the wedding (the employer implied I would be working 12-12 on the wedding day). Who would the operations team consist of? Suppliers, or the House Manager at the venue? I am slightly concerned that the lengthy job description is a combination of planner and coordinator and I would like to be clear on what my role would be…Hence the stumbling across this article! I assume the couple would be able to hire a planner of their own accord in addition to my role? The only issue being that the employer is very particular about who she has representing the venue (they live in the house and are English aristocracy) and may not allow that. The employer is up front about not having a huge amount of knowledge in what they are looking for, so I am in a position to create a role-my question is, how do you seasoned professionals envisage this type of role? To put it into context, they have done 12 weddings this year and are looking to up it to 20 next year-so far nobody is really doing any real coordination hence the need to fill this position. Interestingly prior to coming across this article I would have assumed my role would be similar to Anton’s…But having read all the responses to his comment I realise that may be rather naive and would welcome advice and suggestions. Thank you :-)
I am looking a a few venues for an important event and am working with a boutique firm that I would describe as “venue coordinator based on these descriptions. Does anyone have any experience with the potential difference in charges? For example, if the venue coordinator is really getting their fee as a % of the “venue fee” the responsibilities and services should (imho) be addressed in the contract (for example a “statement of work” that may be unique to each event and location right?. If the venue coordinator wishes to and is competent to “creep” into a wedding/event coordinator function or at least recommend a series of preferred or vetted vendors (caterer, bartender, photographer for example) that is great….If the venue coordinator can and will agree to additional services what should I expect in the way of fees/ how can I check to make sure these fees are reasonable? BTW this article is incredibly informative!
I agree with Lauren’s view and the difference. It is just not possible to be the same – even if they try to do the same job… Why? because the accountability and responsibilities are defined by the employers and the venue coordinator’s employer is the venue and the independent wedding planner/coordinator’s employer is the bride and groom. It is like hiring a bank to be your financial adviser vs hiring an independent financial advisor – I can guarantee you that the advice given by these two advisors would be different as each is working towards the interest of their own employer.
There is a big difference between wedding coordinator and a venue coordinator. Thanks for informing us.
Hello Lauren, your blog is awesome! I love the way you shared such considerable difference between a wedding and a venue coordinator. Thank you and keep posting!
I found that as an ex-event venue owner, the best way to help all parties understand what they are paying for is as follows (also stated in the contract); “In choosing our venue for your wedding, you are purchasing the right to use the building and grounds and all furnishings, decor and facilities that it contains on your specified day. It is basically a rental fee.
There is no staff or wedding coordinator included to enforce your timeline or handle details unless specifically outlined and purchased in your contract. We strongly encourage you to have someone dedicated to organize your event, adhere to your timeline, see to the set up and take down and coordinate all activities that are planned for your event”
That said, I have pinned bustles, set out place cards, racked rental dishes and cried at the ceremony…as needed, to insure that all brides are successful brides! It’s just better to let my contributions be a happy surprise than an unrealistic expectation.
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