Is a venue wedding coordinator the same as a wedding planner ?

30th June 2012

As wedding planners we regularly meet couples who wonder wether they NEED A WEDDING PLANNER… given that their venue offers an in house wedding coordinator. We have also seen a few of these couples who ended up being desappointed, not because the service of their in house coordinator was not great, but just because it was not as COMPREHENSIVE as they expected. That is why I thought it could be interesting to write about the differences between a venue coordinator and a wedding planner, so you can make an informed decision when it comes to getting some help with the planning of your wedding.

First things first : what does a wedding planner do ? Well, a wedding planner can pretty much do EVERYTHING. Everything that has to see with putting things together for your day, your wedding planner can help with. From giving you IDEAS for your save the dates to get them printed/photographed/filmed and sent out to your guests. From creating a comprehensive BUDGET with all the tiny details inside and all the possible hidden costs coming with each supplier involved to giving you advice on wedding style and wedding entertainment to suit your personnality and wishes. From SOURCING all of your suppliers, including this american photographer that does exactly the kind of photos you are after, and organising his/her trip, to arranging your rehearsal dinner in this nearby restaurant you love. From HELPING YOUR GUESTS book their flights and hotels to creating sweet welcome bags with all they will need for your wedding weekend in France. From… well, you get the idea. Also, as a wedding planner I am always in the look out for the new TRENDS and what is new for weddings, so I can advise my couples and help them create a UNIQUE EVENT to surprise their guests.

Now : what does a venue coordinator do ? A venue coordinator will deal with what is happening in the venue’s premises : catering, entertainment, decoration, furniture, security,… This means that everything that is happening before the wedding day, such as the establishment of a budget, the printing of your invitations, the organisation of a wine tasting the day before the wedding, WILL NOT be part of the venue’s coordinator role. To plan everything that is happening on the day, a venue coordinator will use, just as a wedding planner, his preferred suppliers. But unlike a wedding planner, the venue coordinator might not always base his choice on quality of service only, but also on convenience (using always the same supplier means they know the venue well, so no long briefs, no surprises) and sometimes on commission (sometimes suppliers have to pay to be on some venue’s list of recommended suppliers). Where your wedding planner’s only objective is to make sure each supplier is right for you, the venue coordinator might be more about making sure the supplier is right for the venue. The venue coordinator will also make sure that everything he has helped you with runs smoothly on the day, just as your wedding planner will. Where you might find a difference on that is that your wedding planner, who will have been by your side every step of the way, will know absolutely everything about your wedding, your guests and what is going to happen on the day, even who is supposed to read what during ceremony. By the end of the planning, you and your wedding planner will have spent so many hours talking about your wedding around a cup of tea (or a glass of wine), exchanged so many emails, that you will be 100% confident that she knows exactly what you would want if there was a last minute decision to make. And in most cases, your wedding planner will even be like a friend in who you completely trust. That said, all venues and all venue coordinators are not the same and I know of some who are great and offer an excellent level of service to their couples. These will usually be found in the exclusive type of venues, who only take a limited amount of weddings each year for exemple.

Bottom line is : having a venue coordinator is great, especially if you are planning your wedding abroad, as it will hugely facilitate the coordination of your wedding day. That said, venue coordinators and wedding planners are playing on different levels of involvement and personalisation. Remember that a venue coordinator deals with much more couples than a wedding planner does, as he will be working on at least one, sometimes two weddings per week, every week of the season… For the more thought after venues this can be up to EIGHTY weddings per year, when your wedding planner coordinates about ten. I would not be able to fully coordinate eighty unique events each year, so I would definitely not expect others to.