We hear this frequently from brides– “I don’t need a planner, my venue provides that!” The difference between these two vendors gets blurry often, even to other vendors! It’s hard to know who will really do what when you’ve never planned a wedding before, and the internet is ripe with horror stories of all types. The reality is they do different things, and both can serve you well. Today, we’re breaking down the differences, and talking about when both types of professionals can come in handy during the planning process.
1) Venue coordinators work for the venue, planners work for you. Both professionals will have the best interest of the overall event in mind, of course. Everyone wants things to run smoothly! Ultimately though, venue coordinators are there for their venue and the planner is there for you and your fiancé. Ashley, of Ashley Graham Events, who previously worked as a venue coordinator at several venues and is now an independent planner said, “A wedding planner is there every step of the way during your planning process. They handle every single little detail and take the stress and pressure off of the bride, groom and their families. A venue coordinator is great, but isn’t there during your planning process to make sure you have covered your bases prior to the wedding. They work for the venue and are there to make sure the venue services run smoothly on your wedding day. I always recommend hiring a professional planner who knows all of your wedding details and will focus on you and your needs on your special day.”
2) One stays on site, the other follows the event. If you have a ceremony in a church or a field, and your reception at a venue, who’s managing your ceremony? You might think your ceremony will be just fine on it’s own, but having someone to manage the flow of all aspects of your big day is important. A venue coordinator stays on site, a planner will follow all aspects of your big day.
3) A planner manages more than just logistics. Both vendors will likely have a hand in the layout and day of logistics of your big day. A planner will also be involved in the design plan, color selection, coordination of aesthetic elements and assist in the overall details of the event. Knowing how much assistance you want in those areas will determine who can assist you the best in all aspects of planning. Jeanine, the owner and coordinator at Foxwood House, a venue in Newport, told us about how she loves working with planners and her brides. “For our wedding venue, because we do not hire anyone to help us and there is always more to do then the bride realizes we now require brides to hire a wedding planner. We don’t sit down from the time we get up in the morning at 6 am until things are all cleaned up and put away around 1 am. We do the set up of the tables, chairs and linens. Most of my day is running to get something for somebody….You name it, we do it. The list goes on. The wedding planner does so much that I cannot do while being pulled in every direction…This is one reason we keep our venue price low. We want our brides to have the wedding of their dreams with out going over budget. Wedding planners are one of the most important vendors for any wedding.”
4) Who manages ALL your vendors? A venue coordinator is likely well versed in handling a rental company’s load in and load out needs, knowing where the florist needs to be and where a DJ can plug in. But who’s managing your hair and makeup artists, checking on you at the hotel you’re getting ready at and picking up those last minute sparklers you had to have? A planner will assist in coordinating all vendors involved in your big day, and managing off site errands as well. A venue coordinator focuses on the pieces specific to the venue, since they know the space like the back of their hand. Managing those tasks can also help free up your planner to focus on other details, which creates a cohesive working dynamic and can be helpful for everyone.
5) A wedding planner is always within reach. They are there, in part, to tell you when things will be occurring throughout the night, and managing the flow of those things. Often, a venue coordinator will stay until the meal is served, and then leave, handing things over to a banquet captain. Although the venue coordinator will always do their best to keep things going smoothly, they won’t be there to load up your gifts, finding that lost guestbook and making sure great aunt Helen has that special handkerchief you bought just for her. A venue coordinator will, however, manage their in-house catering staff, make sure their staffing is running on time and related needs that come up, like blowing a fuse or needing to dim the lights.
6) Accessibility! Venues often book up to a hundred events in a season. Their coordinators are slammed! They’re managing a TON of moving pieces and events, which means they might not always get back to you immediately, or be as accessible as you may need. A planner is hired to focus specifically on you, and be at your beck and call (if that’s what you paid for!). Don’t get us wrong, both types of vendors are fantastic, and important to the overall scope and flow of an event, especially large weddings. You may decide you want a planner, or you can DIY without. You may decided a venue coordinator is a deal breaker at a venue. It’s all about doing what’s right for you and your soon-to-be-spouse, whatever that looks like. Knowing the difference between the two often confused vendors is the first step to making an educated decision.