One of the top 5 questions we get on our “Ask Us” page is: “Do I really need a wedding planner since my venue already comes with services from a venue coordinator?” Well, the best way to answer this question is to explain the difference between the two and let you decide how much help you need.
A venue or hotel coordinator is there to aid you with everything that will happen within the venues walls. They can recommend vendors, help you with the layout and seating arrangements, and set up a food tasting. One of the venue coordinators biggest responsibilities is to create a banquet event order (BEO) that is passed on to the banquet manager that will be setting up the event on the day of. Now, take note of that last statement. A banquet manager (which you have probably never met), not the venue coordinator, will be in charge of setting up, running, and breaking down your event. The venue coordinators do show up on that day, most of the time. The good coordinators come for a couple hours to make sure that the banquet manager is understanding the BEO correctly and everything is getting set up just like you want. But be ready to have your phone in hand for all questions, concerns, and problems from the coordinator, your vendors, and your bridal party and guests.
In contrast, A wedding planner is an expert at you. We are in charge of helping you plan your wedding and overseeing every element of it whether it be at the venue or anywhere else. We oversee all vendors, including the venue. On the day of, we are there from set-up to breakdown, making sure everything is being done exactly as you wish (and we would know since we have been meeting with you various times at key points of the planning process). If a vendor is late or doesn’t show up, we have all the information and will call. If your bridesmaid left her shoe at home, we drive over to get it. If the venue coordinator, vendor, or guest has a question or problem , he/she calls us, not you, so that you can enjoy your day.
See the difference? The coordinator works for the venue. The planner works for you. Now, I absolutely love working with venue/hotel coordinators. They know the staff, the rules, the capabilities of the space, and the problem areas and how to work around them. They truly are a wealth of information about venue and we as planners rely on their experience to produce a smooth running event. But as a client, you need to be aware of what they will not be doing so that you can make sure either you or your team (groom, mom, maid of honor) will be there to do it.
Now for my disclaimer, like everything else in life, nothing is black or white, as a very famous author has now reminded us there are many Shades of Grey. There are some venues that will offer a full wedding planner as part of their rental package. These planners will do all the responsibilities of an off-site planner. If you do run into this situation, I would go over the checklist below and make sure they are willing to do everything on the list. I would also ask how many other events they are planning for your wedding weekend.
Venue/Hotel Coordinator Responsibilities
Wedding Planner Responsibilities (or your responsibilities if no planner)
Hope this helps!