Many couples choose to contact a wedding planner and discuss their ideas, seeking professional advice at initial stages of planning their wedding. A lot of brides hire a wedding planner as the wedding day approaches and they feel overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of getting everything done on time. There are brides who plan an entire wedding themselves and hire an independent wedding coordinator to handle the smooth running of events on the day of the wedding.
However, a lot of couples start their wedding planning process by visiting wedding venues, where they meet a venue coordinator – a person who shows them around and chats to them about having a wedding at that particular venue. Most couples fall into trap of assuming that a wedding coordinator who showed them around the venue (which they simply fall in love with) is going to to help them plan their dream wedding.
“Why do I need to hire a wedding planner when my venue comes with a coordinator – won’t they take care of everything?” is the line I hear all the time. Some venue coordinators tell brides they do not need a planner and that she/he will do ‘everything’, yet fail to disclose to the clients what ‘everything’ entails. “Everything” is a very broad term, yet intriguingly vague. I have lost potential clients who told me after meeting a venue coordinator they will not require my services, only to be hired at a last minute to sort out ‘everything’ that has not been done. This happens as brides are unaware of the limitations to the services rendered by the venue coordinator. Knowing the difference between a venue coordinator and an independent wedding planner is vital in order to avoid frustration and potential disappointments.
A venue coordinator has a very important role in your wedding. Yet their primary role is to make sure your wedding falls in line with all venue rules and regulations. They perform an administrative functions – explaining contracts, invoicing, compiling an action list for the venue staff. Often, the venue coordinator is the best resource of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work at that particular venue. Therefore it is important to listen to their professional advice. There are some amazing venue coordinators who go above and beyond a line of duty, yet it is an exception.
Here is a list of services a venue coordinator will perform:
- Present you with the tour around the venue and explain the contract, rules and other venue related facts
- Book your wedding date
- Keep in contact regarding your payment schedules
- Provide you with a preferred supplier list (a note of caution, a preferred supplier list is often an income generating venture for venues, and suppliers on the list have to pay for referrals. It is in your best interest in doing a thorough background check on all suppliers you might be considering using for your wedding and looking beyond the preferred supplier lists for talented and creative suppliers who suit your wedding style)
- Answer questions/explain rules of the venue such as “check in time for the bride”, or “music off by 12”
- Help with creating a floor plan for your wedding
- Set-up your food tasting, and final meeting date
- A venue coordinator operates within strict office hours and works out of the venue, this means they will not be able to meet with you or attend any meetings anywhere else but at the venue
- Some venue coordinators will phone all the suppliers the day before the wedding to make sure the are coming to your wedding. On the day of the wedding a venue coordinator will make sure that all the tables, chairs, crockery, cutlery and napkins have been laid out.
- They will make sure that the venue space that is being used by you is ready and clean
- A venue coordinator will deal with emergencies pertaining to the venue – table cloths not returned from laundry, alcohol delivery delay, power problems, blocked toilets, burst pipe, faulty gate, etc.
- A venue coordinator will greet your guests and will make sure that the staff at the venue are attending to their duties and tasks
- In most venues, the venue coordinator hands over the wedding to the function manager at around 3-4 pm, and the function manager oversees the waiters, barmen and makes sure the food is served at the allocated time. The function manager will end the function at the allocated time.
- Some venue coordinators leave work (yes on the day of your wedding) around 3-5 pm, some will stay until the reception. Some venue coordinators will greet you on arrival, some venue coordinators will even help you with laying out name cards, setting up your ceremony and reception. However, most venue coordinators will be taking viewing tours on the day of your wedding and chatting to another couple about their wedding day (just like the day when you came to the venue), most venue coordinators will walk into the reception hall at around 2 pm to ensure that everything has been set-up by you and the suppliers you hired.
Very often brides only realise the limitations of the coordinator’s services on the day of the wedding. This is where the trouble begins, and instead of getting ready for the wedding, having that sweet emotional moment with your family and friends, the entire bridal party end up running around sorting out the setting up of seating cards, arranging petals, coordinating deliveries, answering millions of questions from suppliers about what they should do and where they should be doing it, where they can put his or that. This results in havoc, and even tears.
Everything always works out, somehow things get set up and sorted, but at what cost? Is it worth getting stressed, sweaty (yes very sweaty) puffy eyed from crying instead of having relaxed time laughing with your mom/sister/bridesmaids. You only have one day, and that day flies by and your wedding day should only be filled with happy memories.
Then there are wedding planners. At this point, do forget popularised versions of wedding planners on “Whose Wedding is it Anyway?” or Jennifer Lopez in “The Wedding Planner”. Quoting Mindy Weiss a wedding planner is: “Part gal pal, part mother, part shopping buddy, a wedding planner should be a gifted organiser, diplomat, time management guru, psychologist, and style consultant”. A wedding planner is calm, cheerful, optimistic, well connected and very resourceful. An independent wedding planner is someone who is on your side and there just for YOU before, during and even after your wedding day.
Since the services offered by planners covers a huge range, here is a list of concrete services a wedding planner performs so that your wedding day is special, relaxed and professionally executed:
- Get to know you personally and understand your past, your story, what is important and unique to you as a couple as this will help the planner to create your dream wedding
- Work with your specific ideas/wishes and will help you make an informed decision regarding your budget
- Setting up a realistic wedding budget – helping you to understand the exact cost of a wedding from charges associated with a specific venue to smaller items such as your guest book/wedding attire/gifts and more. This way you will not get caught off guard by hidden and/or unexpected costs
- Budget optimisation and wedding supplier negotiations. A wedding planner has an established network within a wedding industry and will be able to negotiate some amazing value added services for you. Why? Simply because we do business all the time, and maintaining a good relationship within the wedding industry is vital. As a bride, your business is once off, but with a wedding planner the business relationship is on-going and service providers are keen to main a good relationship
- Keeping track of payment due dates – from deposits, interim and final payments
- Helping you with legal requirements – documents necessary for your marriage certificate and anti-naptual contract
- Recommending service providers based on your personality, budget and vision. A reputable wedding planner does not work on commission based referrals and only refers suppliers based on previous experience of working together. Personally, I only recommend suppliers who share the same level of commitment and passion for highest standards in service delivery, speak the same creative language, incredibly talented and reliable
- Dealing with all wedding suppliers, keeping them informed about the vision for the wedding and collaborating on how to perfect the vision, so that your wedding day is planned and executed on a professional level
- Selecting, designing and wording your wedding stationery
- Conceptualising your ‘wedding look’, sourcing all necessary items, services and providers required to execute the wedding of your dreams
- Making all necessary arrangements for your entertainment
- Making music recommendations
- Booking transport and accommodation for out of town guests
- RSVP assistance
- Keeping up to date with all commitments on your behalf
- Helping styling your bridal outfit – this involves booking your dress appointments, attending fittings and helping with accessories
- Helping style your bridal party – bridesmaids dresses and accessories, groomsmen suits and accessories and even shopping and sewing on finishing touches for your flower girl’s outfit
- Assisting with your hair and make-up trials
- Attending meetings on your behalf to finilise all the details
- Meeting with you to go over every finer detail of your wedding (as much as required) and even meeting you at your work over lunch hour if necessary, or meeting outside of business hours (after your working hours)
- Arranging your rehearsal and directing the bridal party (or assisting the minister if you belong to a more strict religious order)
- Creating wedding day schedules for all the providers, bridal party, as well as bride and groom
- Paying attention to intricate family situation and assisting in managing delicate situation on the day of the wedding
- Providing emotional support during the months leading up to the wedding, and helping the bride and groom to overcome challenging family dynamics
- We are a sounding board and a bridge between your wishes and other people involved. For example, it is always best to say to your future mother in law “My planner thinks we should do x,y,z” as opposed to “I want x,y,z”. A bride doesn’t even have to deal with some suppliers (who can be tedious and obnoxious) and instead enjoy fruits of their talent on the day of the wedding
- On the day of the wedding your planner will oversee all deliveries and handle all logistical requirements for your wedding
- Set up ceremony and reception as per your specifications
- Attend to the needs of the bride and bridal party
- Deal with any unforeseen circumstances relating directly to your wedding (i.e., service providers not showing up, transportation issues, late starts, a dress that needs to be mended or pinned, missing bridal party/family members to name a few…)
- Distribute final outstanding payments
- Set out personal items (seating plan, seating chart, gifts, guest book, and other items you brought to a wedding)
- Ensure your photographer knows when all of your special moments will take place (this is also done before the wedding). A planner works with the photographer on the day, by helping gather people for photographers
- Ensure your musicians are briefed on all important moments
- Adjust the timeline as necessary and communicate with all of the suppliers (especially the caterer, musicians and functions manager)
- Distribute bouquets and corsages to the ladies
- Make sure that all gentlemen receive buttonholes
- Help ushers with their duties
- Coordinate bridal party arrival to the ceremony
- Adjust your dress and veil as you about to walk down the aisle
- Create a seamless flow of events at your wedding by being your liaison between your family, friends, service providers and venue staff
- Hosts guests on your behalf – relieving guests of gifts on arrival, making sure your granny has a comfortable chair, arranges a swift cup of tea for a difficult aunt, answers any queries from guests and makes sure that everyone is having a good time at your wedding whilst you are having your photographs taken
- Coordinate your grand entrance to the reception hall
- And most importantly, a wedding planner will take care of any last minute changes and emergencies that come up on your wedding day. They have creative problem solving talent, along with an emergency kit!
With weddings, there is only one day to get it right. Using a professional and established wedding planner with a proven track record of successful weddings will ensure that your wedding day is everything you ever wanted – beautiful, memorable, stress free and professionally executed.
Think of it this way, for a wedding planner the client is you – the bride and groom as you pay a planner for their services; for a venue coordinator the client is their manager/owner as they have great deal of obligations to fulfill for their salary (sales, administrative tasks, staff management and working with numerous potential and current venue clients) .
Venue coordinators who work harmoniously with planners, are the coordinators that tend to be exceptional at their jobs. Wedding planners who work harmoniously with venue coordinators tend to provide their clients with outstanding results. After all, working towards creating the most amazing weddings should be the ultimate goal for everyone involved in the wedding industry.