"...But my venue provides a coordinator!" The Big Difference
Since beginning work on my own as a planner/ coordinator outside of a venue, I have run into a lot of potential booking situations where a bride feels its unnecessary to hire me based on the fact that their venue or caterer provides them with a coordinator.
Unless you have spent time in the wedding and events industry, the difference in the two may come as a surprise- by the time you realize there are details that the venue coordinator does not cover, someone else may have snatched up your planner!In no way am I discrediting the involvement of venue coordinators, as I have bounced around to several venues as banquet staff and have even been co-coordinator at a venue myself. They are no less busy the day of the wedding than that of an outside coordinator, their tasks and focuses are just a little different.
So, to avoid potential confusion in deciding if you need to hire a day of coordinator in addition to your venue coordinator, consider the roles of each:
ROLE of a VENUE COORDINATOR
The first thing to remember about an inclusive coordinator is that they are not hired by YOU. They are an employee of the venue who is available to you. They are on the schedule of the venue, not of the bride or the bridal party. They arrive at the time they would for any other Saturday Wedding shift, and leave at approximately the same time as well. They have assignments set forth mostly by the venue- which includes overseeing all operations of banquet or event staff as their most important venture on the day of.
Some jobs of venue coordinators may differ by the venue, most coordinators are mainly responsible for overseeing chair and table setup, linens, food, and their timeline is tailored to that of SETUP, FOOD, AND BEVERAGE. Most venues will do cake cutting for you and have their banquet staff place it out- but for the most part, the responsibility of the venue coordinator is that of keeping their staff on task with setup, cocktail hour, dinner serving, dinner clear, and tear down.
While the coordinator will check in with the bride and bridal party when they arrive, have drinks and snacks available in the bridal suite and will have a venue version of a timeline available to you, the smaller details and responsibilities sometimes end up falling on family members or bridal party members when an outside day of coordinator is not available. The last thing you want to deal with on the day of is delegating someone to pin your groomsmen with their boutonnieres, make sure you have pens next to your guestbook, or make sure your photographer is on time.
All of the assignments of a venue coordinator are extremely crucial to the smooth running of the event as a whole. After all, mass chaos usually ensues in situations where a buffet is available at a wedding and no one is dismissing tables in an orderly manner, among countless other jobs. Don't get me wrong- some venue coordinators will go above and beyond for you and try to cover all the bases they can to make your day as seamless as possible. However, generally the MISC items are not the responsibility of the venue coordinator and they should make you aware of EXACTLY what they will do for you before convincing you to book with them.
Don't be afraid to ask, "who will do blank" to be sure.
ROLE of a DAY- OF COORDINATOR
Your day of coordinator is YOUR team captain. They are your lifeline on the day of (and usually the night before). They are accessible to you from the rehearsal of your ceremony and pre-setup the night before the wedding to the end of your contracted time the day of. If your venue isn't yet open and you have a question, your day of coordinator is just a text or call away. They don't operate on the timeline of the venue, they operate on YOUR personalized timeline. A venue coordinator isn't going to be concerned with what time your photographer shows up at your hotel to take makeup and hair pictures- and tracking them down falls on you and your relatives/ bridal party if they don't show on time. If your bridesmaids' dresses need to be steamed on the day-of, your day of coordinator is the go-to girl. She is the one who will make sure your florist knows exactly where to place pieces, your groomsmen are on task and arriving at the venue on time, your decor is placed correctly, and your vendors are all on the same page with start times for ceremony, cocktail hour, etc. It is the job of the day of coordinator to KEEP those people on the same page while the event is happening, all while being sure you have everything you need personally by periodically checking with you. Think of her as your personal assistant... you tailor her schedule to fit YOUR needs.
The day of coordinator is also the person who you may trust with making sure that last minute payments/ tips to vendors are taken care of. Most venues do not get involved with the transactions that do not involve the venue for liability reasons. The day of coordinator will usually take care of the distribution of tips and payments to the DJ, Florist, Bakery, etc. if need be to eliminate you having to chase them down yourself, saving you some time and stress.
Determining What's Best for You
While it is understood that it isn't in everyone's budget to hire a full-service planner, it is by far one of the best expenses to at least consider hiring a day of coordinator! Most planners have packages that offer an exclusive day of coordination option ONLY that is budget friendly and TOTALLY worth it. If you are still unsure if you should hire an outside coordinator, consider asking your VENUE COORDINATOR these questions:
* How accessible will you be to me and my bridal party the day of the wedding?
* May I contact you outside of business hours if I have a question regarding my wedding?
* Who will arrange the decor I bring?
* Will you still be available to me after dinner and cake?
* Who will move our gifts to a safe place after cocktail hour?
* Are you running my rehearsal? If not, who is?
* Will you confirm arrival times with my vendors?
* Are you able to set up hotel room blocks for us?
* Who will send me down the aisle, and who will cue the DJ to play the processional music?
* Will you help me choose invitations, design, florists or a videographer?
If your venue coordinator says they will not help with any more than 3 of these questions, you may want to strongly consider a day of coordinator or full-service planner to supplement and to ensure your day runs as smoothly as you had always imagined. What may seem like a splurge with your budget may turn out to be the best decision you made for your sanity!