A few weeks ago we talked about finding your perfect venue. Today I wanted to extend that conversation into helping you understand what your venue coordinator does and what your wedding coordinator does once you have your venue booked. I started event planning 6 years ago. First as an intern at a lobbying firm mass mobilizing support for political issues. Then I worked for a university planning thousands of events per year and then I started my own business. When it comes to event planning someone always ends up crossing over into a lane they aren’t quite equipped to be in. Occasionally you’ll hear those nightmare stories where the photographer is the florist, the coordinator and the rental company all in one. And then on the big day they were spread so thinly that they never fully performed any one of their roles you contracted them for. Similar situations arise when a venue representative offers themselves up to you as their wedding coordinator or you as the client get comfortable with the idea that they’ll help you with planning your wedding.
In this post I’m going to share the differences between a Venue Coordinator (VC) and a Wedding Coordinator (WC).
Let’s start off by explaining the role of a venue coordinator (VC), which btw is an integral piece of your big day. A good VC will determine how smooth the planning goes and will definitely affect how your overall wedding day runs. I used to be a VC so I know this role well. A Venue Coordinator is an employee of an establishment serving as the first and last point of contact in all aspects relating to the site of your event. It’s a BIG role with major responsibilities, which is why it’s important to understand their role first so you know how involved it is.
A venue coordinator (VC) is responsible for answering inquiries via phone, email or walk-ins, inputting client data into their venue software, scheduling venue tours, giving the venue tour, creating venue proposals and amending venue contracts, fielding venue questions, communicating venue restrictions and house rules, recommending venue approved vendors, providing venue measurements and layouts, hiring a venue monitor and is responsible for opening and closing the venue doors. This all happens before you book with them.
Once you’ve booked the venue, VCs have to manage everything they have outlined in your contract. If your venue says that your $10,000 venue rental fee includes chairs, tables, linens, ceremony site, cocktail area, reception site etc. Keep in mind that they will most likely be the person that needs to manage and coordinate those details. The sites need to be cleaned and well manicured, the venue staff needs to know the timing of the event and how to set up the different sites. Facility staff needs to be brought in before, during and after to make sure the trash cans do not overflow and the facilities stay clean. Someone needs to turn off the sprinklers and man the lights. All this just to prep for your day so it takes a highly skilled professional to juggle all this.
Their roles sometimes go beyond this (think marketing, venue maintenance, customer service, social media, deliveries/shipments, etc) but this is the gist of it in terms of how it affects you, the couple. What I want to point out is that the Venue Coordinator is responsible to the venue and performs tasks for the venue as mentioned above. The VC is not responsible to you as the client aside from what was outlined in the contract, which is limited to venue related matters, only.
A wedding coordinator (WC) or wedding planner (WP) works very closely with a VC to make sure that the clients plans fall within the parameters of the venue contract. If there is no VC because you’re getting married at private estate, the WP team now becomes both the VC and WP working with the owner to understand what areas are or are not available to us in addition to what can and cannot be done. When it comes to hiring a WP that needs to also be the VC, it’s important that you hire someone specialized in planning weddings in unconventional space. If you want to learn more about that you can check out how to plan your backyard wedding at a private estate. A wedding coordinator’s role is holistic in the sense that we work with and for the couple under a contractor style relationship WHILE being able to accommodate your guests and support your wedding team’s needs including that of the VC. My responsibility is to you, the couple and to thoughtfully pull your vision together and execute it on your wedding day. My role also considers the varying players of your day and carefully integrates your teams needs into your overall plan. There is a lot of logistical planning, negotiations and concessions happening by us on your behalf.
We are concerned with what happens to you logistically throughout the entire day of your event from the moment you wake up to the afterparty at a nearby bar. This includes but is not limited to putting together your makeup and hair schedule, assigning a time slot for media to arrive, ensuring that you and the wedding party are prepped and ready to depart at a specific time, coordinating vendors and ensuring that what they brought is in order. Then you have the VC and they need to make sure that the venue is prepped and ready to go for all that I mentioned to take place seamlessly.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
Here is a real life scenario where the VC and I worked together in our respective roles to tackle an issue for our client, the bride and groom. There is a new venue in Downtown LA called Valentine that I recently worked at. My client booked the venue while wearing hard hats as the venue was new and still under construction. The venue was so new we were not quite sure what to expect and neither did the venue. As we neared the date of the event the summer heat had not yet let up. Valentine has a beautiful greenhouse roof which is where the ceremony takes place. My bride, Shailini was extremely worried about the temperature so we needed to bring in an AC system but it couldn’t be just any AC system. While the venue was extremely helpful in educating us on what could and couldn’t be done it was up to us to figure it out for Shailini and Jason. Due to the exotic and sensitive plants, the venue needed to approve the equipment we would bring in. We needed to use a spot cooler, misting fan and/or an evaporator cooler. There were only about 2 vendors available in my area that specialized in event space cooling so this was a tough position I was in just 3 days before the wedding. While the VC was instrumental in making sure that we were following rules so as to not rent expensive equipment that later we wouldn’t be able to use, they had very limited involvement in the logistics and planning of the entire process. The same is true for rain plans, adjusting timelines, reviewing orders, fielding vendor questions, facilitating communication from guests, booking vendors, etc. They have a big job enough in managing the venue, they cannot also be expected to know what the florists is supposed to bring and when.
In summary, choosing a venue with an excellent venue coordinator or venue team is pivotal in enhancing your experience as you plan in their space. However, the role of a VC is a big responsibility and expecting them to also fill the shoes of your WC is only going to set you up for disappointment. Trust me when I say that you want your VC to focus on their job and to do it well. Once they offer to extend their responsibilities to also include your day of wedding coordination means you are running the risk of jeopardizing your wedding day experience, not only for you but for your guests as well.
Did your venue promise to provide a venue coordinator or do you feel that just having your VC is enough? If so, I’d love for you contact us so we can talk about it. I’m happy to look at your specific situation and help you understand if this is feasible for your space.