There is often confusion in what duties a venue coordinator performs and what duties a wedding planner will perform for you. Brides and grooms sometimes perceive that they may be double paying. A valid point, but perception is not the reality in this case. This is why.
What are the Differences?
1. Your venue coordinator is responsible for your venue (thus the title). They are there to make sure all of the venue employees are informed of your reception plans. Think about it: the chef, the serving staff, the setup crew, the landscapers, the hotel staff, the bartenders, the cleaning crew, the janitors, maintenance department… just to name a few. Yes, they can be there when your cake is delivered or when your entertainment arrives, but that is the easy part.
2. Your wedding planner is responsible for YOU, your family and your wedding guests. We are with you the entire day after putting together a comprehensive master timeline that includes all of your plans that you wish to happen, all of the personal touches that you want from your ceremony all the way to the reception. The venue coordinator may not be concerned where your dance shoes are, whether Aunt Betsy in a wheel chair is comfortable, if the flow of your reception is going smoothly or perhaps how your liquor tab is progressing. The bride and groom may still be bombarded with questions from all the vendors (photographer, videographer, DJ). When we are there (or any wedding planner) then we answer those questions so that you and your family can truly enjoy your celebration with your guests.
I’m not suggesting they are callous, not at all. They are focused on doing their job which is ultimately ensuring accurate and prompt service from catering to bar services. We don’t know where the extra kegs are located or how to turn up the air conditioning should it get too warm. But they do, because it’s their venue.
[boxparagraph]A wedding planner’s paycheck comes directly from our client. A venue coordinator’s paycheck comes directly from their venue.[/boxparagraph]
Now this blog post is written a little backwards, concentrating on the wedding day FIRST. Let’s back this wedding train up and discuss PRE-wedding day duties.
Wedding planners help with the pre planning of your entire wedding. From reviewing contracts, designing details, reviewing the flow, securing hotels, finding the right wording and invitation, looking out for your best interest in staying within your budget, answering your many etiquette questions, calming your anxiety and referring the right vendors that fit your budget and style.
The Elusive Preferred Vendor List:
Venue coordinators will also give you recommendations from their preferred list of vendors. But please, PLEASE, be sure to ask them:
“Do vendors on this preferred list PAY the venue to be listed here?”
In my humble and experienced opinion, I don’t believe the correct description of a “preferred vendor list” means that a vendor shelled out some moola to have their name on it. It should instead be entitled “vendor paid advertising”. You see the vendors that we prefer to work with have proven themselves time and time again working along side with us. We know that they not only deliver what they promise they are a gem to work with, especially when times get tough (unexpected increment weather, for instance).
They don’t pay us to refer them, where is the credibility in that? Nor do we pay to be on any preferred vendor list.
“You Don’t Need a Wedding Planner!”
Sometimes venue coordinators like to tell brides, “You don’t need a wedding planner, we’ll coordinate your wedding.” Hmmm, let’s dissect this. You mean the venue coordinator will be at your ceremony coordinating between the musicians and lining up your wedding party? Or are they available take your late afternoon phone calls and meet with you after hours in your home to discuss your wedding plans and what are the best options to alter your dress? Or maybe they are there to help you manage your Pinterest projects and design the details from programs, escort cards and signage? They are not helping you plan your wedding. They are coordinating their venue.
Now as a professional planner, who gives venue referrals I can tell you when I get feedback from a client, WHO I REFERRED, and is told that we are not needed, it does more than get me a little hot. It is infuriating. And for your venue coordinators that think these client’s don’t come back to tell us, you are wrong. And it happens more than we would like to admit.
For years, I asked myself “Why?” And I think I’ve got it narrowed down. This is my personal epiphany on this controversial subject:
Some venue coordinators absolutely do not want a wedding planner on board because they are not able to upsell the bride and groom. Venues that provide inclusive, turn-key weddings are no-brainers for couples that don’t want to be bothered with the details. But trust me, you’re going to pay for it. Right or wrong is not the issue, it’s understanding the difference and acknowledging it. If you have a third party, such as a professional wedding planner, that understand contracts, BEO’s and knows what questions to ask to potentially save their mutual client money, hey … that’s not necessarily good for the venue.
Notice I kept saying “some venue coordinators”. There are many that love to work with planners and we love you right back. Nothing falls through the cracks and our mutual clients are served very, VERY well.
Would love to hear your feedback, thoughts or questions!
update: Did a TV segment on this subject on Local 7 Lifestyles, check it out!