The Difference Between A Wedding Planner and Your Venue’s Wedding Coordinator… And Why You Need Both!
I have been meaning to write this post for a while, as I honestly believe this is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the world of weddings. As often happens when you start your own business, life overtook me and all of the things I meant to say at the beginning were forgotten. But recently, when my boyfriend told me about his experience of being a groomsmen at a wedding where there was no wedding planner, I knew it was time to write this one.
So I think that one of the biggest misunderstandings about this subject is the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding coordinator that works for a venue. Due to this misunderstanding, a lot of brides and grooms feel like, because their venue has a specific coordinator, they have the help that they need and they don’t need a wedding planner. But, in actual fact, a wedding coordinator works for the venue and a wedding planner works for you. That’s the first, and perhaps biggest, difference between the two. A wedding coordinator’s loyalties lie with the venue, and they need to do what’s best by their workplace. A wedding planner’s loyalties lies with you and we will do whatever is in your best interest.
What’s more, a wedding coordinator’s responsibilities don’t stretch as far as a wedding planner’s. I have dealt with wedding coordinators in the past, when I have been booking a venue for a couple. They handle a lot of the administration surrounding booking in a wedding, they organise the set-up on the morning of the wedding (provided you have given them specific instructions), and they make sure that the meal starts on time. They don’t have much more involvement in your wedding past this. For some couples this is all they need - if there wedding is small, for example. This may come as a surprise to some couples who think that they will be provided with more assistance on their wedding day.
I feel like the ‘coordination’ element of this job title is perhaps slightly to blame for the misunderstanding. To me, coordination means ensuring that all aspects of your day come together, at the right time, to do the right thing, without a problem. This means making sure all of the suppliers know where they need to be and when, ensuring all of the decorations are to your exact specifications, and sorting out any last minute problems (often the night before the wedding). Don’t believe me? I’ve heard stories about brides and grooms turning up at their wedding venue the night before their wedding to find out some of the name cards and seating plan were spelt wrong. This is a nightmare situation, but it’s lucky that the couple were able to notice this the night before. For a lot of couples, the first time they see the wedding venue all set up is at the wedding itself.
A wedding coordinator who works at a venue is not in charge of scheduling all of your suppliers, or organising your day in that sense. They are in charge of coordinating what the venue offers you as part of your package, and that’s the difference. So if your wedding package includes use of tablecloths, a cake stand, and prosecco for your toast - that is what the wedding coordinator at your venue is in charge of.
Coordination done by a wedding planner on your wedding day is making sure all of the suppliers turn up with everything they are supposed to have, that all of your guests know where they are supposed to be, and that everyone in the bridal party knows what they have to do. As a wedding planner, when I coordinate a wedding, I draw up a runsheet of the day, and a timeline that all suppliers will follow so they know exactly what is happening. Back to the anecdote I started at the beginning about my boyfriend as groomsmen at a wedding. Even after the rehearsal he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing the next day during the ceremony. What’s more, the bride and groom didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing either. No-one had coordinated this for them, and then made sure everyone else knew where they had to stand / walk / smile.
The morning of the wedding my boyfriend was messaging me to say that he had to stand at the back of the church and shut the door after the bridesmaids had walked through, and then reopen it for the bride and her father to walk through a couple of minutes later.
“But I have to be back in the front row of seats at the end of the ceremony to walk down the aisle with a bridesmaid!” He was telling me.
“Well shut the door once the bride has walked through and make your way to the front down the side of the chairs”, I suggested (forever on the job).
“The chairs are right up to the wall”, he agonised, “there’s no way to get there apart from down the aisle.”
“Why are they up to the wall?! That’s a fire hazard surely…”
“I could walk down the aisle after the bridesmaids but before the bride and her father?”
“DON’T WALK DOWN THE AISLE BEFORE THE BRIDE AND HER FATHER. ARE YOU MAD?” I exclaimed, the drama clearly getting the better of me.
A few minutes later, after consulting with the groom, it was decided he would wait at the back until everyone stood up for the first hymn and then make his way to his seat. This is about an hour and a half before the wedding, and all I could think is that some coordination a la timeline and runsheet could have really come in handy.
A wedding planner can coordinate your wedding, just on the day, without planning any of the rest of your wedding for you. Most of us will offer this as a package on its own as we know how important this is. When I coordinate a wedding for a couple, I collect all of their suppliers’ details from them a month before and keep in contact with them until the wedding day so that I know the timings they will work to etc. This will help me create the timeline that all members of the wedding party will get to see before the day so they know what to do. I will attend the rehearsal and give guidance where it is needed, and I will make sure that the venue is set up in exactly they way you want it to be. I work for you, and I will do everything it takes to ensure that everyone knows what they are doing and when.
Wedding coordinators who work at your venue are very important. They ensure that you actually have the venue for your wedding, and everything included in your package is delivered for you on the day. But wedding planners ensure that your wedding is flawless and there are no last-minute wedding morning stresses. And that is why you need us both, even if the wedding planner just coordinates your day in the Monica Geller kind of way; headset and all.