Here are the Key Differences Between a Wedding Planner and a Venue Coordinator, (and Why You Need Both!) / by Kristen Bradley

We are frequently asked to explain the differences between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator in Arizona.  After understanding the key roles both parties play, couples will then ask us if they need both parties to pull-off their big day.  As a rule with only a few exceptions, the resounding answer is, “YES!”.  Read on to understand the differences between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator, and how each will help you from the moment you get engaged until you both say, “I do”.  

Photo by Trevor Dayley

Photo by Trevor Dayley

To begin, booking your venue is such an important “checklist item” because it enables the bulk of your planning to start with this key detail in place.  If you have already started looking at venues, you have probably learned quickly that venue packages can vary quite a bit, not only from one venue to the next, but also in the packages offered at the same location.  This is where you will probably meet your venue coordinator for the first time.  

The on-site venue coordinator is a key player whom you will know your venue inside and out!  A great venue coordinator will be able to give your wedding planner all sorts of tips and pieces of advice to make your big day incredible.  This list is by no means complete, but here are some of the key responsibilities of a venue coordinator:

  • Primarily acts at the catering sales manager (when catering is offered)
  • Schedules meal tastings with the chef
  • Completes your banquet event order, (BEO), and bar order
  • Assists with audio/visual needs
  • Assists with ceremony chairs, and general reception arrangement

On wedding day, your venue coordinator is a key person in the overall successful flow of the day.  This person will check in with the wedding planner to make sure everything is running smoothly as vendors arrive onsite, and they will also assist in deliveries, and help coordinate placement of decor items so as to put on finishing touches on everything.  

Photo by Trevor Dayley

Photo by Trevor Dayley

For venues where catering is not offered, the role of the venue coordinator can 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 you and your partner with the wedding venue.  The contract establishes ground rules specific to the location, what is expected, and what the venue provides.  It’s a good idea to run this contract past your wedding planner before signing, as they may be able to objectively help you read between the lines.

The team at Sip and Twirl, Laurie, Emily and Kate

The team at Sip and Twirl, Laurie, Emily and Kate

Your wedding planner, on the other hand, has a different set of responsibilities and focuses on the months, weeks and days leading up to your wedding.  Most importantly, your wedding planner’s focus is you and your partner.  A great planner will make sure that you are taken care of every step of the way leading up to, and of course including 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 will setup your décor and personalized details.

Photo by Trevor Dayley

Photo by Trevor Dayley

Here is the main difference: 

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. 

Photo by Trevor Dayley

Photo by Trevor Dayley

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!

Next week on the blog, we will share our recent experiences with a simply beautiful wedding we planned at Desert Mountain, in north Scottsdale.  This wedding is the perfect example of one where the dedication of a venue coordinator, and the wedding planning team at Sip and Twirl were crucial to the success of the day.  

In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you!  If you are recently engaged and are interested in learning more about how we can bring your dream wedding day to life, reach out to us at (480) 648-0663 or info@sipandtwirl.com.