Do you know the difference between a venue coordinator vs. wedding day coordinator? I have been scouting out venues for a couple I am working with and I keep seeing venues that boast an “Event Coordinator on-site to help the couple”. As enticing as this sounds, the reality is that the venue coordinator is not enough, and here is why.
The on-site event coordinator works for the venue.
The venue coordinator is usually assigned to a couple after a sales team has booked the venue. Some boutique venues have the same sales person who helps with your wedding day. The sales representative will write down all your discussed details on an event order and pass it to the day of manager. Typically the venue coordinator’s role is involved with the catering, layout of the room, managing their staff and taking requests from the couple about the specifics of the day, like load-in times and AV requirements.
Sometimes they will provide referrals to vendors, but they may receive kickbacks from vendors they refer. Still, if you don’t have a planner on your side, they are a good source of recommendations that are specific to that venue and it’s a good place to start.
If you are lucky, the same person you have been dealing with in the planning process will be there day-of to check in; more often than not though, your on-site coordinator is someone you have never met before. They don’t know the names of your bridal party and family, they aren’t mindful of your full day’s schedule and they don’t know the expectations from your other wedding vendors.
At the end of the day, the on-site venue event coordinator works for the venue and not for the couple. There are some exceptions to this, but more often than not, I would not recommend having only the venue coordinator coordinate your ceremony or reception.
A hired independent wedding coordinator works for the couple.
This means that the wedding coordinator’s focus and responsibility ultimately is to the bride and groom. A hired wedding coordinator will look out for the couple’s needs, specific requirements and will ensure the wedding day as a whole picture is running smoothly.
When I am coordinating a wedding day, I have the big picture in mind.
Not only do I communicate and coordinate logistics with the venue, but I also ensure all the other vendors, like ceremony musicians, photographer, videographer, cake vendor, florist for the reception, etc. are communicated to and on the same page throughout the day if needed.
Because I am a part of the whole day, from ceremony to reception, I can be in a place to make suggestions and changes that take that into account.
Just to give you an idea of some of the finer details I am involved with on the day-of, at the last wedding I coordinated:
- I was the one who placed the chairs on the dance floor just in time for the bride and groom’s shoe game.
- When the couple decided to start their table toasting (a Chiense wedding tradition) and the photographers were nowhere to be seen, I found the photographers and notified them that this was a photo opp needing their assistance.
- When the couple wanted to spend more time mingling with guests during cocktail hour, I was the one who communicated this to the kitchen to let them know we would be starting a little later than planned.
- The evening program was running a bit late, so I worked with the various vendors and MCs to see what could be done to get it back on schedule.
- Closer to the end of the night I was in constant conversation with the live band, photographer and videographer who were all hired for a set amount of hours. The couple’s thank you speech was finishing up, and the live band’s time was up for what they had been hired for and they hadn’t even started the dancing! The band did not want to assume they would be getting paid for the extra they put in and the couple probably did not want an extra bill at the end for something they didn’t agree to. In this situation I made it my first priority to discuss this with the couple (are you willing to pay the band for an extra hour or so for the dancing at their rate?) and to communicate it back to the band so that the night would still go seamlessly.
Without an independent wedding coordinator on-hand, the bride and groom are left to remember and coordinate these details on their own.
Quite often the bride and groom are preoccupied with a million things on their wedding day including being pulled into photographs, greeting guests, touching up makeup, changing dresses, and the list goes on.
Having a wedding coordinator there is an added peace of mind that someone is looking out for your best interests and taking care of your whole wedding day. Without a wedding coordinator, all the vendors and venues act on their own leadership and assumptions.
As a wedding coordinator, I work together with the banquet/venue manager for a couple’s wedding day. The venue takes care of their staff and food, while I make sure all the other details of your day are accounted for.
I would not recommend planning your wedding day with only the help of the venue’s event coordinator.
The venue staff will surely assist you but they will not know the specifics of your wedding day as mentioned earlier and what will happen is when push comes to shove, someone will take the grunt of the work.
When you do not have a wedding coordinator, the job will fall on the maid of honour, your parents or your MC’s. And no one wants this type of responsibility. They are there to enjoy the day, not work for you!
Many couples don’t realize how many large and small details come together to make a wedding day a success. A wedding coordinator is there to ensure that it is!
I hope this post sheds a little light on the role of a venue coordinator vs a hired wedding coordinator, and why having just a venue coordinator is not enough. The wedding coordinator is such a vital role when it comes to your wedding day!
Rebecca Chan is a Toronto event designer and event planner. If you have a brand activation, media launch event, design project, trade show or a special event, connect with her today to see how we can collaborate on your next project.