Wedding Planner vs Venue Coordinator: 5 Things You Need to Know

Selecting a wedding venue is one of the first and most important tasks in the wedding planning process. As you’re going through the venue selection process, you’ll probably hear the term wedding planner and venue coordinator a lot. While their job sounds the same, the truth is they have two separate jobs. Unfortunately, if you aren’t a wedding professional, you wouldn’t know there’s a difference. Since most venues offer a venue coordinator, many brides make the mistake of thinking they don’t need a wedding planner.

Wedding Planner vs Venue Coordinator

Because these professionals have two different jobs, you need a venue coordinator and a planner to ensure your wedding day runs smoothly. If you want to avoid unnecessary frustration and stress on your wedding day, it’s important to understand what each one does. Today I want to dive into the five main differences between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator.

Bride and groom kissing at Rodan Museum in Philadelphia

01. Who is their client?

Wedding Planner: YOU! As the couple, you hand select your wedding planner. Their focus is entirely on you and your wedding. You don’t have to worry about them not being there on your wedding day.

As a wedding planner, I take on a limited number of weddings per year. This allows me to give each couple my full attention during the planning process and on their wedding day. My main goal is to make sure all the details are executed flawlessly and ensure each JTE couple is thrilled with how everything comes together.

Venue Coordinator:venue coordinator works for the venue. They’re focused on managing their own staff and making sure the basic venue facilities are available and ready for you to use. If the venue has multiple spaces on-site, a venue coordinator ensures the venue facilities are functioning properly for each bride. They’re responsible for all the events happening on-site, so it may mean they won’t be able to focus entirely on your wedding.

Learn the difference between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator.

02. What are their responsibilities?

Wedding Planner: In short, a wedding planner is responsible for everything. A wedding planner keeps everyone on the same page. They handle everything related to your venue, your vendors, and the wedding party. They ensure everyone is in the right place at the right time and knows what needs to be done.

A wedding planner will be with you at your offsite ceremony, coordinating how everyone walks down the aisle. Your wedding planner will fix a broken zipper, manage unruly guests, and take care of all the cleanup.

What many couples don’t think about is how much happens before they arrive at the venue. Hair and makeup, your first look, photos with your bridal party photos, and getting everyone from point A to point B are just a few of the things that happen beforehand. As a wedding planner, I’m with my couples from the beginning to the end to oversee all parts of their wedding day.

Venue Coordinator: venue coordinator is responsible for the venue. Their job is to make sure the venue abides by your contract and manage the operations. For example, they make sure the air conditioning is on, the doors are unlocked, and that there’s electricity in the building.

If the venue is providing catering services, a venue coordinator oversees the kitchen staff, waitstaff, bar staff, and the meal service. They determine how many servers are needed and when to start prepping the food. Since a venue coordinator’s focus is on the operations, it’s not uncommon for them to leave after the meal service is complete.

Escort card display at The Downtown Club in Philadelphia coordinated by Jenna Tracy Events

03. Who manages the timeline?

Wedding Planner: A wedding planner manages the overall timeline for you, the wedding party, and all your vendors. From the minute you wake up to the moment you walk out of the reception, your wedding planner manages all the details of the day. They know when the florist is delivering the flowers and when the transportation for your guests arrives. A wedding planner reviews the timeline with the DJ to ensure they know when your first dance is and when toasts are happening. They know when to set out the confetti for your grand exit and when vendor cleanup ends.

Venue Coordinator: The venue coordinator handles the timeline in regards to food prep and service. They create the timeline their kitchen staff uses to make sure the food is plated and ready to serve on time. A venue coordinator knows how long it takes to transition your bar from cocktail hour to the reception and how long it takes to serve and clear each course.

A wedding planner and venue coordinator are not the same thing. Here are the 5 key differences between the two.

04. Who handles the event styling? 

Wedding Planner: A wedding planner helps you plan every detail of your wedding day. From selecting your color palette to the favors your guests receive at the end of the evening, a wedding planner assists with designing all aspects of the wedding. They help create your save the date, centerpieces, signage, and décor. They provide guidance on bridesmaids’ dresses, what to put in your welcome gifts, and how to create an outdoor seating area for your guests.

Venue Coordinator: A venue coordinator won’t help you select colors, plan your welcome bags or give you advice on your seating chart. They’ll be able to offer advice on how to best utilize the space based on your guest count and offer vendor recommendations.

Find out the difference between the a wedding planner and a venue coordinator.

05. How can you communicate with them?

Wedding Planner: Since you hand select your wedding vendors, you can expect them to give you a way to contact them directly. A wedding planner may give you their personal cell number and have additional hours you can reach them outside of normal business hours.

Venue Coordinator: Communication with your venue coordinator usually happens during business hours. It’s likely you’ll have to catch them in between meetings and for couples with full time jobs, that can be challenging. To work around that, many venues will host open house events or group tastings which allow you to meet with the venue coordinator to talk about the details of your wedding during those events.

Is there a difference between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator? Here are the 5 things you need to know.

Do You Need to Hire a Wedding Planner? 

To ensure your wedding day is executed seamlessly, you need a wedding planner (or a wedding coordinator) and a venue coordinator.

When it comes to the wedding day, no one manages the behind the scenes operations of the venue better than a venue coordinator. They’re the experts at making sure your venue is safe and ready for your other vendors. For everything else, your wedding planner will be your go-to gal.

It’s important to know the responsibilities of a wedding planner and a venue coordinator. Take the time to understand what the venue coordinator is handling and what you (or your wedding planner) is responsible for. Knowing what each one does alleviates a lot of stress and frustration on your wedding day. Having clear expectations about what everyone’s responsibilities are allows you to enlist the right help to make your dream wedding happen!

Photos by Lauren Fair Photography

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Learn the 5 important difference between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator.
Here are the 5 things you need to know about what a wedding planner and venue coordinator do.

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Hello, I’m Jenna!

A PHILADELPHIA-BASED WEDDING COORDINATOR

Welcome to the JTE blog, where I share my favorite weddings and insider tips to make your wedding day simply swoon-worthy. Grab a cup of coffee (cream and sugar for me, please) and enjoy a virtual peek into my color-coded planning binder.

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