Mar 18

Venue Coordinator vs. Wedding Coordinator

This scenario has replayed itself several times in the past couple weeks and I’m starting to see a little pattern here.  First a perspective bride contacts me and asks about pricing, availability and general services and business information.  We happily chat about her dream day and it looks like I might have a potential wedding to add to my lineup. Then she chats again with her venue and Venue Coordinator.  It’s at this point that something happens and she decides that she does not want to move forward with booking my services.

While I know this isn’t new information to be found out there on Mr. Internet, I do think we need to gain a little perspective on this situation.  It’s my unhappy guess that the venue coordinator ensured said bride that all off her needs will be met and that my services are not needed.  Why do you need a wedding coordinator and a venue coordinator?

Before it get into this whole debate, I would first like to remind you that I NEVER want you to spend more than absolutely necessary for your wedding.  Budgets are extremely close to my heart, and I understand that not hiring a planner can be a money saving move.  Secondly, I have been both a venue coordinator and a boutique wedding coordinator – I just want to make you aware of my experience.

Northern Michigan Wedding Planner | The Day's Design | Eliza Jean Photography

Photo by Eliza Jean Photography

Venue Coordinator:

At your wedding venue there is more than likely a person there with the title Event Planner or Wedding Coordinator.  This person works for the venue.  They manage every party, event and dinner that is hosted in their facility.  They know common room layouts, timing in the kitchen and pretty much have your wedding down to assembly line science.  They work with the chef, the bartenders and the service staff making sure that their facilities looks spic and span and service is top notch.  This ensures that their venue looks great, receives rave reviews and you’re a happily married couple at the end of the night.

Now here’s where things get a little fuzzy.  Each venue is a little different so this is a generalized statement (as is some of the above, since not all venues have their own in-house catering).  When you meet with the venue for the very first time, most likely you toured the property/event space, asked lots of questions, were given a packet of information and perhaps even a list of preferred vendors.  You were probably told that they’d help you set up {if they have time}, you can decorate the day before {if there isn’t another event booked}, and they will help with all aspects of the event – which you assumed to mean directing vendors, guests and completing set-up {if they’re scheduled to work during those arrival/set-up times}.

Here’s what they might not be telling you.  Turnover in the hospitality industry is extremely high; the Venue Coordinator you originally booked with at your venue might not be the same Venue Coordinator that actually runs your event.  Did all of your notes get transferred?  And can the new coordinator make sense of them? Ask your Venue Coordinator if they’re actually on-site during the event.  A surprising number do not actually work weekends and just leave notes in the hands of their Banquet Captains.  Again, is the Banquet Captain provided with all the details about your wedding?

{Boutique} Wedding Coordinator:

There’s a sentence up there says “help with all aspects of the event” – but what it really should say is “help with all aspects of the event happening within their facility”.  Because that’s the truth.  While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s simply stepping outside of their event space is not part of their job description.

The individual Wedding Coordinator that you hire is going to be your right hand man.  True, how involved they actually get might vary depending on what you hired them for (day-of, partial or full planning, decorating, styling, etc.), but they work solely for you.  Your Wedding Coordinator will help you with anything you need from the moment you get out of bed on your wedding day until the moment your head hits the pillow again as a married woman. If your transportation doesn’t arrive, she may jump in her Tahoe and go pick up the wedding party.  If your photographer doesn’t show up, she’ll go to her list of contacts and find a backup, ASAP!  You can go to your wedding coordinator with questions regarding timelines, etiquette, vendor referrals and difference of opinions with your new mother-in-law.

Another bonus?  You can contact 1 person to make it happen!  Your Wedding Coordinator can handle all of those various vendor relations for you.  This means that you won’t have to type an email on your IPhone during your rehearsal dinner because there’s been a change of plans.  Venue Coordinators don’t generally get that involved.

If you should happen to host your wedding a location that does not have a coordinator on-site at all then I dare say you NEED to hire someone.  Leaving a rental company to show up at an empty space to set up chairs is a nightmare.  Just expecting that the DJ or band will know where they should set up is asking too much.  Oh the chaos guest could arrive and see!

My biggest piece of advice I can offer is to plan for the unexpected.  Something WILL happen.  Big or small, something that is not in your wedding plan is bound the take place.  Having both a Venue Coordinator and a Wedding Coordinator is like an insurance policy, two heads are defiantly better than one!


  1. Spot on. Thanks for your wisdom! Will definitely be sharing. 🙂

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