Wedding Planner vs. Venue Coordinator: 7 Big Differences

Fewer sentences makes this wedding-planner-turned-wedding-blogger cringe more than:  

  • “We’re having a cash bar.” 
  • “Do we have to feed our wedding vendors?”
  • “I don’t need a wedding planner.  My venue has one.” 

(Insert all of the sad crying face emojis here.) 

Listen, I don’t believe in telling brides and grooms that they NEED to do anything.  I say it’s your wedding; you can do whatever the hell you want!  There are no rules, especially none that states you have to have a wedding planner.  BUT before you totally commit to not hiring one because you think your venue coordinator is basically the same thing as a wedding planner, read this. 

Wedding Planner vs. Venue Coordinator: 7 Big Differences from Burgh Brides

1.) Sales vs. Logistical Planning

A Wedding Planner is…

  • A logistics and creative wizard.  They are hired by YOU to work their magic.  Planners specialize in coordination, execution, and design and can help you with everything from budget tracking and contract negotiation, to finding that perfect shade of blush pink.  They’re in it for you and you alone. 

A Venue Coordinator is…

  • In sales, most likely.  While they may have experience in coordinating and executing events, their job falls within the sales industry.  They have quotas and sales goals to meet and their ultimate responsibility is to serve the venue.  While they might have your best interests at heart, they weren’t HIRED by you and therefore don’t work for YOU. 

2.) Wedding Budget

A Wedding Planner will…

  • Save you money in the long run.  Planners do all that they can to help you stick to your wedding budget and possibly even save you money.  Many planners work with vendors to offer discounts or upgrades to their clients, but more importantly, wedding planners know all the tricks of the trade that will leave your money in your pocket after the wedding day is over. 

A Venue Coordinator will…

  • Be motivated by sales incentives and bonuses.  That might mean they’ll try to push you over your anticipating budget.  They are in sales, after all.  It’s their job, so you can’t really blame them.  Just be aware. 

3.) Vendor Recommendations

A Wedding Planner will…

  • Suggest the best vendors for you based on your wedding style and budget.  They will likely already have worked with those vendors in the past, which means they’ll have a great rapport…which could mean an easy experience for you too!  Additionally, many planners will attend meetings with those vendors with you to ensure that it’s a perfect fit and everyone has all the information they need. 

A Venue Coordinator might…

  • Only suggest those vendors that are on the venue’s preferred list.  The venue may be getting a kick back from these vendors, or that list may be very outdated.  Even if the venue doesn’t have a preferred (or worse, exclusive) list, the venue coordinator might only suggest those vendors who have worked at that venue, which is a disservice to you and all of that other talent out there.   

4.) Ideas & Inspiration

A Wedding Planner will…

  • Make creative design suggestions for every aspect of your wedding, like how to display your escort cards in an eye-catching way to which hair accessory will go best with your wedding dress style.  Wedding planners loooooove details and they will offer their design expertise so that every last one of them at your wedding is styled to perfection. 

A Venue Coordinator might…

  • Offer up some design ideas.  Or they might not.  It all depends on how involved they want to be in your creative process.  But if they do, those suggestions will likely revolve solely around the venue, not the entire wedding as a whole. 

5.) Vendor Management

A Wedding Planner will…

  • Work with ALL of your vendors throughout the planning process.  They’ll negotiate contracts on your behalf, they’ll make sure your wishes are being carried out, and they’ll make sure everyone knows what time to arrive and what to do when they get there. 

A Venue Coordinator will…

  • Likely only work with those vendors that impact the venue…the linen company, florist, DJ, caterer, etc.  But what about everyone else, like your makeup artist, hair stylist, or the limo?  The jobs of these vendors are usually done before getting to the venue, so the coordinator there likely won’t ever contact them. 

6.) The Ceremony & Rehearsal

A Wedding Planner will…

  • Conduct the ceremony and rehearsal no matter its location.  Church, synagogue, local park, your own backyard, the random street block that you’ve shut down just so you can say I Do…it doesn’t matter.  Your wedding planner will be there to make sure your walk down the aisle is totally flawless. 

A Venue Coordinator will…

  • Conduct the rehearsal only if your ceremony is also taking place at your reception venue.  They won’t travel to another location to make sure the best man has the rings or that there is a lighter next to the unity candle.   

7.) On Your Wedding Day

A Wedding Planner will…

  • Likely be the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at the end of the night.  The person you spent months working with to make sure your wedding day is exactly what you’ve imagined will physically be there to carry out on those wishes and make your dreams come true! 

A Venue Coordinator will…

  • Probably leave after dinner is served.  That isn’t to say you’ll be totally on your own!  It’s just that after the meal, usually a banquet captain is put in charge to make sure the rest of the night goes smoothly, in terms of catering anyways.  Your DJ and photographer will likely have to jump in to make sure other events like the cake cutting, garter toss, and sparkler exit are executed according to plan.  BUT that also means your DJ and photographer are then paying less attention to what THEY were hired to do. 

Hey, I’m not knocking venue coordinators!  I know many of them and they are all very hard working and dedicated, and the impact they can have on your wedding day even varies from venue to venue.  But I like being honest with you; it’s one reason people love Burgh Brides so much.  And if I’m being totally honest, there are some big differences between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator.  Maybe you need a planner, maybe you don’t.  But at least now you can hopefully make a better informed decision! 

What do you think?  Did your venue have a coordinator?  What did he or she do?  Did you hire a wedding planner?  Why or why not?  Comment below! 

Comments

  1. Colleen says

    This 100% makes me want to hire a wedding planner. I originally thought a wedding planner was only for a huge wedding budget but if it could save me money in the long run, I’m all for it. My wedding is 10/6/18 in Pittsburgh and I’m in NY…so planning from so far away gives me anxiety!! Any recommendations?

    • says

      yaaaaay! i’m so glad you found the article helpful! that’s such a common misconception. wedding planners can be for anyone, especially someone who is planning a wedding from a distance!! you’ll be so glad you recruiting the help from an expert. check out the planners in the Vendor Guide! I love each and every one of them. Feel free to email me too, if you have any questions about them!

    • Katherine says

      Omg me too! I’m in Dallas and have been planning my wedding in Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my planner there!

  2. Katherine says

    I hired a wedding planner before I realized the venue had a coordinator. I didn’t know some of things you said but my gut instincts did haha. I’ve been super happy with my coordinator and knowing that she is looking out for me and only me haha well and my fiancé 😉

  3. JP says

    This is certainly a tricky subject. This article certainly tilts in favor of a wedding planner. That’s a shame. Good intentions though.

    There is value in finding a good wedding planner. Experience, budgets, negations, timelines, and your whole day, the big picture. Someone that you trust. For an out of town bride, a real blessing.

    This article though makes it feel as though you can not trust your venue coordinator. They are only after the sale, up charge, and do little work. Both planners and coordinators offer ideas and options to enhance your day. There is a cost involved and a choice to make whether you want to include let’s say an ice sculpture or not. That idea could be offered by the wedding planner or the venue coordinator. It’s up to the bride to do what she wants.

    Why would it be a bad idea if it was suggested by your venue coordinator? Why is it a great idea if it’s offered by your wedding planner?

    The day of the wedding, the venue coordinator is not trying to sell you anything but is focused on delivering excellent service. They are limited in their scope to their part of the event, but they do have your best interests in mind.

    As a wedding professional myself, (not a planner or coordinator), the greatest disservice is item 3, vendor recommendations.

    Planners and coordinators BOTH have longs lists of vendors, but as a bride, what you need to find out is their OWN PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS. Not who is giving you the biggest discount (really), or who is on some list. Neither option is good. My brides are pretty smart and do some good research on their own too. 🙂

    Venue Coordinators see a variety of vendors at every event, every week, every year. They have established their own relationships, people they trust to do the best job for their brides and grooms. There is tremendous value there.

    Good Intentions!

    • says

      The article isn’t one of a “wedding planner OR venue coordinator” nature. i am not presenting the two as opposing options. if a venue coordinator is in the picture, a couple doesn’t have a choice of whether or not they can/should work with him or her. it’s not a question of one of the other. the post is simply presenting the ways in which the two differ, and i believe i do this in an unbiased way.

    • Jessica says

      I have to politely agree with JP, my thoughts exactly as I read this. But certainly things to think about when making this decision! Additionally, I would like to venture an assumption and say that budget plays a much bigger role for brides and deciding on hiring a planner than presented in this blog post. Appreciate your honest opinion though!

      • says

        Absolutely; budget is a big determining factor! Not every couple can afford to hire one, nor does every couple necessarily need one. But I think it’s important for couples to know the difference. Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

    • Anonymous says

      As a venue coordinator I sort of agree with this. Although my venue is a non-profit so the sales side of it only matters slightly (all proceeds go back to our mission) and there are certainly no bonuses that I receive for exceeding budgets.

      Additionally, because I work at a non-profit, the majority of my clients are budget-couples looking to save some money or at least have their money go towards a good cause. Because of that, I find most of my couples don’t hire planners or day-of-coordinators since it’s simply not in their budget. I, therefore, tend to fill the role of a day of coordinator.

      I guess, to sum it up, this article isn’t necessarily reflective of every venue, which is fine. But it’s important to note that not all venue coordinators are solely sales driven. We care about our couples too!

      • says

        Of course, this article isn’t reflective of every venue and venue coordinator! It wasn’t meant to be and I think I even mention that. Hiring a planner is a personal decision based on needs, style, and budget, and I do not think every couple needs one. But I do think it’s important to couples to realize that differences do exist so that they can make their own informed decision. Appreciate you reading!

  4. Allie says

    I have to strongly disagree, I have a lot of friends in the industry who are technically “venue managers” but genuinely love and work for their couples. From booking, to execution and day of, they do every bit of what the definition of “wedding planner” does. They may not attend every off property appt but they still trade just as many emails/voicemails with the same questions you would with a hired planner and would actually take offense to this article that they are not looking out for the couples interest. I wont say that there aren’t venue coordinators like that out in the world, because that would be silly and untrue. But this post is heavily weighed against the good ones.

    • says

      that’s fine; i knew not everyone was going to agree with this article. i do state that this doesn’t apply to EVERY venue or venue coordinator. of course, it varies and i myself know of several venue coordinators who do go above and beyond what is expected or required of them. this isn’t an article against venue coordinators at all! it’s not a question or whether or not you should work with them. BUT it is my job to educate readers and to say that there isn’t a difference between a venue coordinator and a wedding planner would be misleading.

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