What is the difference between a wedding coordinator and a venue coordinator?
Many venues have a staff member available on-site during a wedding, but some even provide coordinating services. Each venue is different (and may even call this service different things) so how do you know if you need a wedding coordinator, or if your venue will take care of everything?
A common misconception among brides-to-be is that the event coordinator at their wedding venue will also serve as their wedding coordinator. It is understandably confusing when we use the same words to describe what we do, and when every venue operates a little differently. Some venues provide full service planning, some provide day-of coordination, and some just unlock the doors and say good luck! As I talked about here, a wedding coordinator is there to ensure you have a smooth, enjoyable, stress-free wedding day, so it is important to know exactly what is provided and what you may be missing in your venue.
So when you are considering whether or not you need to hire a wedding coordinator in addition to the venue coordinator, make sure you ask these questions.
1. Will we meet before the wedding weekend?
It is imperative that the person running your event knows the intimate details of the day. This person will be the go to for vendors, guests, family members, and bridal party for any questions during the day. They will also be the one to make last minute decisions when things go awry, so they need to understand your vision and your priorities. To make sure they have the correct answers to all of these (and aren’t checking with the bride) you need to spend some time going over the big picture and the tiniest details.
2. Will you communicate with all of my wedding vendors?
With so many wedding professionals coming together in a short period of time, you need to make sure their arrival, set-up, break-down, and departure times work in harmony. When the caterer calls for directions to the loading dock, the coordinator should be ready to take the call and give direction. The best way to make sure your rockstar team of vendors has everything they need is to have a point person connect with them before the big day.
3. Will you create a comprehensive timeline for the wedding day?
This goes hand in hand with #2. Once your coordinator has talked with each wedding pro, confirmed their needs and timelines, they need to consolidate all of that information into one concise timeline so they can keep it all on track. This is KEY to a smooth wedding day, and is something a coordinator should take care of.
4. Will you facilitate our ceremony rehearsal?
If your ceremony and reception locations are at the same venue, will the venue coordinator direct your rehearsal? An effective, efficient ceremony rehearsal plays a major role in a smooth ceremony. More than likely (actually, I guarantee it) your officiant does not want to do this, so you will need someone with an understanding of ceremonies, processes, and traditions to take the lead. If your ceremony is at a different location, do not pass go, do not collect $200, you need a wedding coordinator. By definition, the venue coordinator is tied to a specific location. If you have multiple locations, you need someone who will be present at both during the day.
5. Will you set up and break down our décor?
If not, you’ll need a team of family members and friends who can take care of this. Be sure to consider how much time you have in the venue to set up, whether or not those family members are in the bridal party, and if they need to be present for photos by a particular time. This may limit who is able to set-up in time for the party to begin.
6. Will you manage day-of emergencies?
Every wedding day will have them. I promise. It doesn’t mean you won’t have a spectacular day, it just means that you need someone who is prepared to handle them. Not only physically, but emotionally. Will they be able to solve the problem quickly, calmly, in the way you would have chosen, without consulting you?
7. Will you make sure the day runs smoothly and on-time?
See #3. It’s not enough to make the big, beautiful schedule if you don’t stick to it. While each participant and vendor is aware of his or her own timeline, they may not realize what is supposed to happen immediately before or after. The coordinator should be able to follow the timeline all day to make sure everyone works together seamlessly and nothing runs behind.
8. Will you coordinate with the other vendors to make sure they have what they need to do their jobs well?
It takes a village to execute a wedding. Florists, caterers, hair stylists, photographers, cake makers, the list goes on and one. In order for each of these fabulous folks to do their best work, they need someone who knows their needs and can make sure they’re met. The live painter needs an easel to display the finished work at the reception, the photographer needs a plate of food at the same time as the bride and groom, and the cake maker needs the cake stand to be in place 2 hours before the ceremony begins so she can set up. A coordinator’s role is to set everyone else up for a successful day.
If your venue coordinator answered yes to all of these, fantastic! If not, you may need to hire someone to take care of the details he or she isn’t able to manage.
Remember, each venue is going to have a different set of roles and expectations. If a venue coordinator doesn’t provide these services, that doesn’t mean they’re deficient or lacking something. It just means they don’t have the time, resources, or manpower to provide a full coordinating service. Lots of venues provide excellent assistance and support on a wedding day, but they’re just not equipped for this extent of coordination.
I’d love to talk more about how I can fill these roles and more. If you think you may want to have a wedding coordinator manage all of the details that go into your wedding day (and beyond!), click the link to fill out my contact form below. I can’t wait to hear from you!