Like most wedding planning teams, we get this question all the time from pretty much every newly engaged couple we know…“What IS the difference between a venue coordinator and a wedding coordinator? Aren’t they the same thing? And, do I really need both?”
To simplify very detailed job descriptions and responsibilities…A venue coordinator makes sure the venue you booked — and the staff that represents the venue — are ready to be of service, providing an incredible experience of hospitality. They ensure the events spaces are accessible, the lights are turned on, and the venue as a whole is clean, taken care of, and well presented.
A wedding coordinator makes sure that every detail planned for your wedding day — and every vendor you’ve hired to fulfill your vision — is put into action to make everything you’ve imagined over the many months (if not years) leading up to your celebration actually come to fruition. They keep the order of events on track, get you and your guests where you need to be and when, and take care of your and your family’s needs all day long.
The Venue Coordinator
The primary responsibility of venue coordinators is to be stellar ambassadors for their venues, taking care of them as if they were their own. This means their priority is first and foremost to deliver an enjoyable, memorable property experience.
On your day, having an experienced, professional venue coordinator really does make the difference in your vision being executed well. If you want your guests to leave your event with only good things to say, make sure your chosen venue has a top-notch venue coordinator on hand.
If you look up reviews for your venue and previous couples are constantly calling out the exceptional work and efforts of a certain individual who you come to find out is the space’s coordinator, you’re event is likely going to be in really good hands.Wed + Wander Co. Wedding Planning Tip
You’ll get face time with your venue coordinator when you take a tour of the space. Then you’ll see them again on your actual wedding day when you arrive at the location. On that day, they are incredibly busy doing a ton of important things to ensure the success of your event:
- Acts as the liaison between you and the venue, communicating with you (or ideally your wedding planner/coordinator!) about your contract, deposit and billing, special event permits, allowances and logistics for sparklers / confetti / open flame candles, and more.
- Opens up the venue on the day of so vendors can gain access for set up.
- Supervises all space logistics as tables, seating, linens, dance floors, stages, tents, and tech are set up according to the floor plan in preparation for florals and decor.
- Keeps an eye on vendors to make sure everyone is respecting “house rules”. Takes care of the event space as they load in and set up their equipment, decor, and goods.
- Supports in-house staff to ensure everyone that represents the venue, from the chef to the valet, is safely and successfully doing their job. Keeps staff to the contracted standards and provides a memorable experience for you and your guests.
- Greets guests and provides directions to wedding event spaces, designated smoking area, etc.
- Manages the catering team’s timeline, table and bar service, and clean up (if catering is provided in-house).
- Does the dirty work! Before and during your event, they are ensuring the space is serving you well and looks beautiful for photos. They’re replacing broken chairs in the reception hall, perfectly tidying up the bridal suite, restocking toilet paper and paper towels in the restrooms, and in general ensuring everything is clean and presentable.
All of these responsibilities leave very little time for taking care of you and your needs. Especially considering the fact that your venue coordinator will have many clients on their plate at any given time. Odds are they have another 5-6 weddings in the same month as yours alone. Not to mention all the corporate events, birthday parties, and quinceañeras that occupy their spaces the rest of the time.
All of this is to say that no matter how good your venue coordinator is at their job, or how much you get along on a personal level, they simply don’t have the means to be available to you for everything you need help with. You need someone else whose sole responsibility is to do just that. Someone to confirm you and your friends are well hydrated and well fed all day. To get you where you need to be and when so the day’s schedule of events remains on track. And to make sure your gown is properly bustled throughout the whole reception. This is where your wedding coordinator comes in!
The Wedding Coordinator
The primary responsibility of wedding coordinators is to serve as the director of your event. They shoulder all responsibility for the logistical and creative success of the big day.
Depending on the exact scope of work you’ve hired them for (i.e. full service planning, partial planning, or day of coordination), your wedding coordinator may be by your side project managing and people managing over the days, weeks, and/or months leading up to your celebration. Over that period of time, these are just some of the things they will take care of for you:
- Answers all wedding related questions ahead of the event. If you’ve hired a wedding planner, they will also do things like collaborate with you for inspiration and ideas for your vision, manage your budget, help you to personalize your celebration with creative design and styling, recommend fabulous vendors and negotiate contracts, and guide you in making decisions for seating arrangements, music selections, catering options, florals and decor, and more!
- Communicates with venue and vendors prior to the wedding day to confirm contracted details and logistics. Ensures everyone involved is on the same page, prepared, and excited for the event.
- Creates a timeline from the beginning of the day when you will start getting ready to the final farewell.
- Orchestrates the wedding rehearsal.
- Assists with all of the bride and groom/bridal party/family’s needs. Delivers welcome bags to guests’ hotels. Steams wrinkles out of bridesmaid dresses. Properly pins groomsmen’s boutonnieres. Coordinates a successful first look moment.
- Sets up all personal items for the wedding ceremony and reception. (Programs, unity candle, escort cards, menus, table numbers, guest book, card box, signage, picture frames, etc.)
- Coordinates the ceremony’s flow of events, including cueing musicians and telling you when to walk down the aisle.
- Manages anything and everything that goes astray with a contracted vendor or with an unforeseen situation. Examples: If a vendor is late / does not fulfill their contract / cannot find their way to the venue. If the weather turns suddenly, a guest becomes…we’ll call it overly excited…, or the zipper on your dress breaks.
- Assist with queuing the photographer, videographer, entertainment, and venue coordinator for introductions, dances, speeches, cake-cutting, and the grand exit.
- Breaks down all decor and personal items after the wedding ends and returns them to you.
And, this is just the basics! There’s so much more to being a wedding coordinator that you never find in a job description or vendor contract. Check out some of the “extra” things we often find ourselves doing at any given event!
You know you’ve got yourself a really good wedding coordinator when they are:
- super nerdy about preparing for anything,
- insanely organized,
- calm under pressure and conflict (because on wedding days, people can get really emotional real fast),
- and, have a heart for hospitality and taking care of others.
They should also boast a bunch of random skills and knowledge like:
- on-the-spot floral arranging,
- a proven ability to take charge and lead a group,
- and, attention to detail, ensuring everything promised in vendor contracts actually happens.
We’ve seen that the most seamless weddings employ the skill sets of a dream team venue coordinator and wedding coordinator.
Weddings never go entirely according to plan. Something always goes wrong. It may be little things that none of your guests ever notice. Like changing the reception’s order of events because your Dad’s five minute welcome speech turns into a sweet as can be, weepy twenty minute monologue…
Or, it could be a big thing. Like your entire tent, all your rentals, and personal decorations blowing away the night before your big day due to a freak windstorm and having to relocate everything, and everyone, to a local fire hall on the day of. (Yep, that happened!)
If you have the right team of pros ready to jump in and handle whatever comes your way, you will still experience the most magical, happiest day of your life, no matter what!
Psssst…if it wasn’t clear already, we’d love to make sure your wedding day runs smoothly and stress-free. Let’s get coffee and get this party started!