There are certain things I hear quite often as a wedding planner that make my blood run cold...
“Our friend is the DJ”
“I have 500 Pinterest boards.”
“We only need someone to be there on the day of to make sure the wedding runs smoothly.”
“The venue comes with a coordinator, so we don’t need a wedding planner.”
Many wedding venues, whether it’s a barn or a ballroom, will have a team that includes some type of coordinator. Sometimes it’s the same person in sales coordinating your day, and sometimes it’s a different person that you don’t even meet until 2 months before the big day. No matter who it is from the venue, that person does not, in any way shape or form, take the place of a wedding planner.
I have watched venue coordinators say to my couples, while I am standing right there, how unnecessary a wedding planner is because they handle everything. I have had venue coordinators call my couples and tell them to fire me because they didn’t need a wedding planner.
Yes. That actually happened.
To be fair, I get the whole “we can do everything party planners do and p.s. most of them suck anyway” attitude. After all, there are a lot of people out there that have no experience but show up with a clipboard and call themselves a wedding planner. These types tend to drive the venue and the vendors crazy and make them wary of working with any planners in the future. Because of this, anytime I work with anyone new, I always introduce myself as not that planner.
Because I, in fact, am awesome.
Regardless if the venue coordinator hates planners and wishes a plague would wipe them all out, they are still not an even exchange replacement for a good one. They are working for the venue and only oversee things that happen at the venue. A wedding planner is responsible for the wedding....and the wedding is more than just the venue. It’s where people get ready; it’s where the bouquets are dropped off; it’s where photo and video begins; it’s the ceremony; it’s the transportation; it’s coordinating timing and logistics; it’s creating design and implementing it.
I often joke that if it rains on the wedding day, I will get blamed for it. I’m only half kidding. Many times, when couples hire a planner, there is this thought that we can do anything and fix any problem...problems that shouldn’t exist because the couple hired a planner. That’s not always easy and it’s a ton of responsibility.
And it’s more than just the venue.
At a recent wedding I planned, there was a sales coordinator and a venue coordinator, plus day-of staff including servers, and a maitre’d or two. The sales coordinator is responsible for selling the space for the wedding and basically doesn’t have to be involved in the day of details. Two days before the wedding we had a final meeting with the venue coordinator (we also had one almost two months prior to that) and we dropped off items that needed to be worked into the wedding design.
There were also countless documents that I put together outlining the day of details, and we reviewed them in person with the venue coordinator. In these documents was a rental order for linens, along with a file that listed what linen belonged to what table.
So how happy was I when I saw that none of the correct linens were out? The linens that were delivered to the venue the day before and signed for. No venue coordinator called me to say the order was wrong. No venue coordinator noticed when other linens went down that they were wrong. No venue coordinator could explain anything or even attempt to fix this problem.
How happy was I? Thrilled. Then I really got jazzed when I noticed that none of the table names had been put out, despite that they were dropped off and discussed 48 hours earlier with the venue coordinator. They were just left in a box for my team and the sales coordinator to assemble (yes, assemble) and then place on the tables. Meanwhile, since the venue coordinator hadn’t shared the floor plan with any of the venue staff, we had the only copy that showed which tables were which.
And if my couple hadn’t hired a planner (hi), then they would’ve had the wrong linens, no custom table names and that would be that. Instead, they got replacement linens sent and a full refund for the order being wrong in the first place, along with all of their custom table names displayed correctly. Know where that venue coordinator was during that time?
At home. Took her gratuity and bounced.
In fact, many venue coordinators will leave early in the evening and then the catering staff will take over; specifically, a captain or maitre’d. It all depends on the venue and how they structure these details.There is so much that can go into venue set-up, that without a planner to oversee it, plenty can slip through the cracks. In addition to that, there is everything that goes on with the wedding outside of the venue that is not the venue coordinator’s responsibility at all.
There are plenty of venues that have their act together, but even the best ones can’t substitute a venue coordinator for a real wedding planner. It’s false advertising to the couple and it’s unreasonable to expect a venue coordinator to handle anything outside of their house. There are things that a planner is going to know without needing to reference a spreadsheet (like which linens go where) because they are involved at a different level.
A venue coordinator and a wedding planner can work together, but one is never going to replace the other. Even though they share some responsibilities, they are two different job positions.
And that’s totally OK.