Wedding Planners vs. Venue Coordinators: Our Roles on Your Big Day

June 18, 2020

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive in our inbox from newly engaged brides is about the difference between venue coordinators and wedding planners. It’s easy to see why there’s so much confusion here, especially since the names sound familiar and you’d think they would have similar roles to play on your wedding day. Right? In reality, there are massive differences between these two people and understanding those differences can majorly affect the end result on your big day.

Photo: Mark Hawkins Photography

Let’s start with the basics: what do each of us do? A venue coordinator is the person working for your wedding venue who is in charge of all things related to the venue. This person is your point of contact for the venue. Their main job duties are:

* Making sure the venue is open/accessible to you and vendors at the time designated on your contract
* Managing the venue staff (i.e. bartenders, staff required to set up/take down tables and chairs, and possibly your chef/waiters if the venue has an in-house kitchen
* Letting vendors in and out of the building and showing them the space where the reception is happening
* Maintaining contact with you on the day for anything related to the venue (where you want specific things placed in the room, what time the reception is starting, etc.)

So how is that different than a wedding planner? A good way to look at this is to start with what your venue coordinator does not do. A venue coordinator does not:

* Tell vendors the overall design plan for the room. Beyond telling them where the reception room is, the venue coordinator is not going to tell vendors where specific arrangements go, where decor goes, where the dessert table and escort card tables go, or how the room is supposed to look with the decor they are bringing in. The only way to ensure that the room looks the way you want it to is to assign family members to be there (not fun for your fam!) or to hire a planner
* Set up or take down decor in the room. Related to the point above, venue staff will typically not touch anything you are bringing in, meaning the set up and takedown of these items is up to you. Who is going to do all of that work on the day of your wedding while you are getting your hair and makeup done? You, as a bride, will not have time.
* Determine when cocktail hour ends and dinner begins
* Tell the DJ what type of uplighting they should use and where they should place it
* Tell the photographers when to shoot the room so that you will have photos of your decor and the room before guests get there
* Let the bar know when things need to be cut off, and usually does not close the bar unless asked by the bride/groom
* Tell you when you need to make your grand entrance into the room and how that will work with the beginning of dinner.
* Decide when salads should be served, when toasts should happen, and when dinner should begin.
* Talk with the DJ about the flow for the evening. When to start emceeing for dinner, your wishes for how much interaction you want the DJ/guests to have during dinner, when speeches should start and general announcements during dinner
* Determine when speeches have gone on too long. They aren’t going to read the room and encourage continuation when someone has had the mic for a half hour ūüėČ
* Tell you when to sneak away for sunset photos so you don’t miss that perfect light
* Tell you when to cut the cake and when guests can get up to get their dessert

Photo: Mark Hawking Photography

These are just a few of the things that a wedding coordinator does related to the wedding venue. This doesn’t even touch on all of the work and effort that a planner puts in months before the wedding happens. We hope this gives you a good look though, at what the differences are between our two roles on your wedding day.

Need some extra help? Alliey + Co. offers full planning services, month-of planning, weekend coordination and virtual planning. With services that fit into any budget, we are confident that we have a solution to help make your wedding day perfect! Send us a message on our contact page to get in touch!