5 Differences Between a Venue Coordinator and a Wedding Coordinator
Updated: Nov 1, 2019
With engagement season fast approaching, I want to talk about the team of people hired to be in your corner throughout the wedding planning process. Planning a wedding can be an extremely fun and rewarding time, but it can also be extremely stressful. It is imperative to have the best people possible supporting you and your vision. I am here today to help guide you through one of the more important concepts… the difference between a venue coordinator and a wedding coordinator.
I was a venue coordinator for 5 years and even though I feel that I tried to go above and beyond what was expected of me, there were still plenty of things within the planning process that I was not involved in. As the coordinator employed by a venue, I was responsible for any and all events that came through that facility, from weddings to birthday parties to holiday parties to graduations and so on. This brings me to my first point:
1. The venue coordinator is hired by the venue whereas your wedding coordinator is hired by YOU. Often times, perhaps most of the time, your wedding is not the only thing on the docket for the venue coordinator that day. I know for me, as much as I wanted to only focus on the wedding scheduled for that day, I usually had another event in the afternoon or evening the same day and I had to split my time. In contrast, a wedding coordinator is hired specifically by you to focus on only you. They are there from the beginning of the day until you leave late that night. The venue coordinator makes sure the food is prepared on time and that the bar is stocked with the appropriate beverages, whereas your wedding coordinator is simply in charge of making sure you have the most stress-free day possible.
2. Sometimes the venue coordinator may not even be the person you deal with on the day of your wedding. For example, at the venue where my husband and I got married we dealt with the event manager in the months leading up to the wedding, but on the actual day-of she was not the one on site with me, in fact it was a person I had never met. This is not (typically) the case with your wedding coordinator. The main reason for hiring a wedding coordinator is to have a person you have met and worked with there on your big day to make sure your vision gets carried out just right. This also applies when two venues are involved... Sometimes the ceremony and reception are in different spaces (i.e. a church and an event space). The venue coordinator will not travel with you from place to place as their main concern is likely the venue where your reception is being held. A wedding coordinator’s job is to follow you from place to place. They will be there at the church as you walk down the aisle, collect the floral that needs to be transported and have the reception space all ready to go before you even have time to think about those details.
3. Most venues have a preferred or recommended vendor list that they are willing to share, but that is the extent of their involvement. After you receive their list you must take it as a whole and vet each one of those vendors to see if they match your vision and budget. A wedding coordinator will help you with that process. Every bride has a different style and vision of how they picture their wedding. Wedding professionals are no different. Most vendors have a clear style that can be picked out based on their previous work. A good wedding coordinator will be able to take your vision and budget and match it up with the vendors they feel fit that mold the best, eliminating all the leg work on your end.
4. A venue coordinator is there to answer any and all questions regarding their venue; whereas a wedding coordinator is there to answer any and all questions wedding related… period. Typically, a venue coordinator is not concerned with what color flowers you chose or whether you decided to walk down the aisle to a totally non-traditional song. You will find exceptions, as I said before, I feel like I went above and beyond my job as a venue coordinator because I did care about things like that and I wanted to make sure I had as much information as possible, but that is not the norm. On the flip side, caring about the color of the flowers or what items you want to put in the welcome bags for your relatives is exactly the job of your wedding coordinator. They are there to organize the event as a whole, not just one portion.
5. Bringing me to my last, and most important, point… The venue coordinator will not design your wedding. As a venue coordinator I often got asked what a certain style of tent looked like on the property or if other couples had ever used farm tables before or if anybody else had their wedding face south on the lawn versus east. That is when I would bring out my handy dandy phone and show them pictures of past weddings, but that is typically as far as it went. They would take those pictures as inspiration and put their own spin on it, then simply inform me how they would like the tables placed or what direction they wanted the chairs to face. Whether you have physical inspiration pictures or just a vague picture of different pieces in your head, your wedding planner will help take what you have only been daydreaming about and turn it into a reality. Many times, brides have a basic picture of what they want or have individual elements of what they want included, but are not quite sure how to fit everything together – a professional wedding coordinator is there to guide you through that process and bring what may seem like total daydream to life.
To summarize it all, every vendor involved in your wedding has a purpose, so it is crucial to understand the role and responsibility of each of them. Weddings are meant to be a joyous occasion, both venue coordinators and wedding coordinators can help make that happen, but there is a difference between the two and it is up to you to decide which one is going to benefit you the most.
The other day one of my good friends, who is also in the wedding industry (Ignite Your Light Photography – look her up, she is amazing!), posted about her own wedding experience and I want to take inspiration from that post to conclude this message. It is of upmost importance to choose vendors who you love and who hold your vision as close to their heart as you do to yours. All the little details matter, so intentionally find the people who support those little details whole heartedly. I can’t tell you how many weddings I have teared up at when the groom sees his bride for the first time or how many times I have had the opportunity to meet with past brides just to have coffee and chat about life. People are always surprised when I can remember the names of couples whose weddings I coordinated 3 years ago. It isn’t surprising however, because one of my favorite things about weddings is that I have the opportunity to develop friendships and relationships with these couples that can carry on years past the day they say their I-dos. When it’s all said and done, find people to support you who you trust because we don’t get a do over in life.