//The Difference Between an Independent Wedding Planner and an On-Site Venue Coordinator//

November 20, 2015
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As a wedding photographer, I love when I hear my brides have hired a wedding planner and I cringe when I hear they are using an onsite coordinator.  While choosing a venue that provides a day of coordinator seems like a great way to save money, you tend to become what we call “a conveyor belt wedding” and there aren’t the personal touches taken that make your big day so special.  I’ve asked one of my favorite wedding planners, Shelby Owens from Simply Classic Events, to break it down for you in a way only an expert can!  Take it away Shelby!

     Like most brides, you may be wondering what the difference between an On-site Venue Coordinator and a Wedding Planner is. It’s common to initially think that they are essentially the same thing. If you think that you would be paying for two identical services, you are oh so wrong. So, to avoid all confusion, let us differentiate.
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 //The Wedding Planner//

     The Wedding Planner is hired by you. It is their job to keep everything running smoothly on your big day. Together, you will go through exactly what you wish your wedding to be, from start to finish.
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     Planners offer a wide range of services, but the main point to remember is that they are there to assist in making your dream come to life. They know the ins and outs of what you want. This saves you time and stress, helping you to avoid worrying about your checklist. They will help you create and design your ceremony and reception to the last detail. They help you make all the important decisions which will shape the end result.
     There won’t be any need to panic with a Wedding Planner on hand. They are one of the first to arrive and the last to leave on your wedding day. They make sure everyone and everything is running to schedule, so you can spend every last minute of your single-hood relaxing. They will double check all the details and keep an eye on the entire progression of the day.
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     From Bridal emergency kits to backup plans, they are organized and proactive from concept to completion. It’s not necessary to hire a Wedding Planner from day one as most offer a range of packages. However, the earlier you do it, the more you get to know each other and the more involved and ‘in the know’ they can be. A Wedding Planner has a far greater investment in your wedding, because they are working for you, not to mention that it’s fun to work together!
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//The Venue Coordinator//

     The Venue Coordinator however has a completely different focus. Of course everybody is working to make sure your day goes to plan, though unlike a Wedding Planner, a Coordinator is working for the venue. They will operate as a salesperson and representative of the venue. Most likely they will be the one to initially deal with your inquiry, show you around, quote you the rates and monitor your payments.  Their responsibility revolves around what happens within the venue.  They will act as the link between the onsite operations team and you, the couple. After you book their services, you are unlikely to have much contact with them until a few weeks before the event, mainly to talk about logistics. Coordinators ensure that whichever services you booked through their venue are completed as booked. They direct vendors and make sure set-up is executed appropriately. They do not, however, have any commitment to stay through the entire event.
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//Finishing Touches//

     If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of research and time you will need to dedicate to planning your own wedding, you should absolutely welcome a Wedding Planner into your life. Wedding Planners take on board everything you want for your wedding and help fit all the pieces together.
     Wedding Planners source vendors for you, accompany you to meet with them and make sure all the right questions get asked to fit your needs. They are more invested in accommodating your budget and your vision. A Coordinator will most likely set you up with a vendor who is connected with their venue, so you may be presented with fewer options.
A Wedding Planner most often ends up saving you money, because they know the necessities of a wedding. Taking advantage of their input will serve you well, saving you money, time and stress.
     Banking on the help of the Coordinator may seem like a ‘cheaper’ option, but remember where their responsibilities lie. They will make sure everything runs smoothly at the venue, but they will not be there along the way as a contact for you, or to help you to dream up and organize your day.
     In conclusion, the roles of a Wedding Planner and a Venue Coordinator are completely different, but go hand in hand very nicely. They work well side by side and appreciate each other for all they do. Just don’t get them confused, because you will find out what the difference is on the day. Having both parties on your team will do wonders for your wonderful day. They are both key components to the smooth-factor of your wedding.
     Have fun, relax and enjoy your engagement! A bit of help goes a long way!