Arizona Wedding Planner vs Venue Coordinator: You NEED both / by Kate Baskauskas


Booking your venue is such an important “checklist item” because it enables the bulk of your planning to begin now that you have a date and a location for your big day.

The on-site venue coordinator is a key player whom you will likely get to know well as you nail down the details of your venue booking.  But what exactly are the differences between a venue coordinator and a wedding planner? Why would you need both? Where does the division of responsibilities lie? We are here to help make the distinction between two very important players on your wedding day!

If there is on-site catering at your venue, there will most likely be a catering sales manager who will book your event, schedule your menu tasting with the chef, and complete your banquet event order (BEO) with you (this includes your hors d'oeuvres, meal choices, bar menu as well as any audio/visual needs, ceremony chair and table set up and reception arrangement).  On wedding day, the sales manager or venue coordinator may check in with your wedding planner, on occasion, to ensure that everything is running smoothly as your wedding planner oversees the arrival of each of your vendors, receives your deliveries and coordinates placement of your decor items including all the finishing touches on floral, layout, etc..  

For non-resort venues, where there is no on-site catering, the role of the venue coordinator can be be limited. She or he will help you book your date and will work with you to determine pricing and write up the contract between the couple and the wedding venue. The contract establishes ground rules specific to the location, what is expected and what the venue provides.  On wedding day, the responsibilities and focus of the venue coordinator are particular to what the contract includes. Often times, the venue coordinator will leave after the ceremony, returning at the conclusion of the event to make sure tear down occurs and to lock up the site.

In either scenario, the venue coordinator or sales manager is an invaluable resource who knows the venue inside and out.  They can give you and your planner all kinds of tips and suggestions on how to keep your wedding day humming!

Your wedding planner has a different set of responsibilities and focus for the days and months leading up to your wedding . Most importantly, your wedding planner's focus is YOU, the couple. Their primary goal is to make sure that you are taken care of every step of the way during your wedding planning process and on the wedding day.  A wedding planner will work with you from the very beginning stages of planning (providing venue options, vendor choices, tracking your budget, creating your itinerary, and coordinating the rehearsal) all the way until you drive off into your “happily ever after” the night of your wedding.  On wedding day your planner will oversee every aspect of your wedding, making sure that all of the vendors know what time they need to arrive, and make sure to prepare everything your vendors need for their setup.  Your Planner will coordinate a smooth timeline for the day/night, cueing important moments such as the ceremony start, processional music, sending the wedding party down the aisle, speeches, MC, grand entrance, etc.  and setup your décor and personalized details.

The main difference is this: Venue coordinators work for the venue and oversee all of the events that are taking place on a given day. Some venues limit their events to one per weekend. Others have many in a single day.  They will work tirelessly to assist you in getting your preferences arranged for in advance of your wedding,  but are not meant to be a “planner” or day-of coordinator.

Your wedding planner’s main concern at all times is advocating for YOU.  We help plan, prepare, hire and design almost every aspect of your wedding.  On wedding day, we act on your behalf to make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible and everyone knows where they need to be. While planners work in conjunction with venues and adhere to all contract terms that are specific to each venue, our main goal is to make sure the you get the wedding that you have been envisioning since day one. We also like to make sure things run smoothly for our venues and vendors so we go out of our way to anticipate the needs of all who are  involved. 

Here is a scenario: It is wedding day and minutes before you are to walk down the aisle. Your beautiful bouquet was accidentally dropped and now the flowers have come loose. You don’t have time nor the knowledge to fix it quickly. Who do you turn to? You cannot count on the venue coordinator for day-of fixes like this because he/she may not have the time, knowledge (although many do!), or even be present to help. Your wedding planner will be the one standing next to you in these moments leading up to the ceremony and can quickly re-arrange the bouquet and send you down the aisle looking fabulous.

Both venue coordinators and wedding planners are committed allies and valuable people to have during your wedding planning process and on the actual day. It is important for couples to realize the differences between the two so that they are not relying solely on the venue coordinator for things that they simply are not hired to do. The distinction between the two can avoid frustration and unnecessary surprises on your special day, and provide you with the knowledge to consider your needs and plan ahead to ensure a simply flawless day!