If your wedding day is approaching, the pressure of finalizing all of those never-ending tasks may be becoming overwhelming. While you were certain that you didn’t want a Wedding Planner to help you with Full Planning throughout the process, the thought of hiring someone to help you with the final weeks might sound pretty awesome right about now. These days, so many venues offer some variation of a Venue Coordinator, and with the leniency / creativity of job titles, some venues even market their staff as “Wedding Planners”. This confusion in title / role can be greatly misleading, and unfortunately for many couples, they don’t find out the difference until mere weeks before the wedding, as they finalize their details.
If you are getting married in the next few months, this blog post was written especially for you! We’ve outlined the questions that you should be asking your Venue Coordinator now, to ensure you are truly getting the value you are expecting.
DISCLAIMER: As stated in previous blog posts, I have been a Venue Coordinator – and for one of the best venues in London, Ontario, I might add. I very much appreciate the role of the Venue Coordinator and truly respect what they bring to the table. When working together in harmony, a Venue Coordinator and a Wedding Coordinator will create a dynamite team for you on your wedding day, ensuring every aspect of your day is absolute perfection. However, a Venue Coordinator is a far cry from an experienced Wedding Coordinator, and the roles that we both offer are very different and both very necessary.
Typically, a Venue Coordinator and Wedding Coordinator are very different in terms of what they offer and support in the weeks leading up to the wedding and on the day of, but generally speaking, the Venue Coordinator is focused on areas pertaining to the venue itself. Their primary role is to make sure lights are on, tables are in place, food is coming out as promised, but when it comes to external items you bring in, or vendors you have hired, you are on your own to coordinate.
Here are the questions you should be asking your venue before ruling out the need for a Wedding Coordinator:
1. How many meetings will/can we have leading up to the wedding?
Many venues have a set schedule that they stick to of how often you can meet, and while some are flexible on offering more meetings, their focus is getting the details that matter to them. After reviewing and finalizing the details of the venue setup (floor plan, number of guests to a table, meal choices), timing of the vendor set up, and dinner service, there really isn’t too much more that they are there to guide you on.
A professional Wedding Coordinator will meet as often as you need to go over absolutely every aspect of the days leading up to your day – from the week of deliveries, to rehearsal, and every minute of your day from breakfast to bed.
2. Will you confirm the final details and logistics with my hired vendors?
For most venues, the answer is no. They will want to know exactly who you have hired, when they will arrive for set up, and a number to contact them. However, their role does not include finalizing the logistics of the entire day with every single one of your hired vendors, to ensure the vendors have all the information they need and you have completed all of your outstanding tasks and payments.
A professional Wedding Coordinator will create to do lists for you, supply all logistical information (including a timeline) to the vendors, and confirm any outstanding information they require. They will also ensure all of your vendors have been paid and have all of the provisions they need to ensure they rock their role.
3. Will you create the timeline of my day, including vendor deliveries, set up notes, and timing of ceremony/speeches/VIP dance, etc?
4. Will you place out all of my decor elements outside of the decorator, such as meal marker cards, guest favours, napkins, guestbook, etc.?
5. Will you be at rehearsal to assist in where we stand, look, etc?
This is completely dependent on whether or not the ceremony is at the same location as the reception. However, even if at the same location, there are many venues that do not attend the rehearsal or rely on the Officiant to run it. The truth is, the most important thing to practice is when to walk, how to walk, where to stand, and where to look – bridal parties look to the rehearsal coordinator for answers, and if a professional coordinator isn’t guiding you, who will? Also, some Officiants charge an additional fee for a rehearsal and some Churches do not have the Pastor present at rehearsal, leaving it up to the Church Custodian.
A professional Wedding Coordinator is present at rehearsal, and the best part? They include it as part of the Day of Coordination services offered. They will also be present at the ceremony to ensure any last minute changes are implemented.
6. Will you be there for the ceremony to coordinate with the Officiant?
As stated above, if the wedding ceremony takes place at the same location as your venue, your Venue Coordinator will be there with bells on! However, if it is offsite, the answer is no. Your Officiant will do a great job of ensuring you are prepared to walk down the aisle, but when the ceremony is happening, they are at the Altar. This means you are on your own to get everyone down the aisle in perfect timing.
A professional Wedding Coordinator will be there, no matter where the ceremony is located. They will make sure you take big deep breaths, give you a breath mint for the kiss, fix your train, and even stop those late comers from walking down the aisle mid wedding.
7. On the day of the wedding, what time do you arrive and what time do you leave?
Venue Coordinator start times vary with the venue but you can expect them to arrive between 9 am – 10 am. Too often (but not always) Venue Coordinators leave as soon as dinner service commences. They have a set number of hours that they work (8 – 10) outlined by Management, handing over the reigns to the Closing Supervisor / Lead Banquet Server. Handing over information during a wedding can leave opportunity for miscommunication, errors, and most importantly, a lack of relationship / rapport between the couple and their vendors, and the closing supervisor. Be sure to ask your venue what their policy is on this.
A professional Wedding Coordinator will be there at the earliest opportunity a venue will allow + they will pop in to say good morning to you / pick up any last minute items from you before they start at the venue – they start when you ask them to. They will be there until all scheduled events are taken care of. Having fireworks? No problem, they are there! Note: Most Wedding Coordinators do not offer clean up services, but this can be added to any package for an additional cost. Be sure to ask this question with any Wedding Coordinator you are interviewing.
8. Will you assist with managing the bridal party entrance + general bridal party needs?
Some do, and some don’t. Some Venue Coordinators are very hands on and will make sure your bridal party feels like Royalty. However, some sit in their office throughout the night, only checking on you periodically. Be sure to get clarification.
A professional Wedding Coordinator will not only coordinate the order of the entrance; they will line them up, teach them how to make their entrance fun, and coordinate with the DJ and MC to ensure it flows seamlessly.
10. Will you assist in guiding and queueing the speeches and coordinate with the MC and DJ? What about VIP Dances or Bouquet toss?
Same as above – there are some fabulous Venue Coordinators who are fully present during the entire scheduling of the evening, but with end times varying and their level of involvement, it’s worth asking. For the later portion of the evening, it is important to ask if they will still be there at that point. Typically, no. Are the VIP dances and bouquet toss / garter toss being left to the DJ? Most often, your DJ will be a professional one and they will take care of those details, but sometimes, they also need guidance. What if you aren’t having a DJ? What if it’s a band or an iPod?
A professional Wedding Coordinator will not only coordinate these important aspects, they will also guide you in the direction of what makes the most sense from a logistics perspective (guest experience, vendor timing, and dinner service) + they will work closely with the MC and DJ to ensure everyone is on the same page. Any scheduled events you have in mind are executed by your Wedding Coordinator.
11. Will you personally be the coordinator for my wedding or is our account handed over to a floor manager?
This is an important question to ask very early on. In most cases, once you go through the initial sales process, your file is handed off to someone else in the venue (sometimes multiple people), who will be in touch a few weeks before the wedding. So what’s the problem with that? Well, first and foremost, you now have to build a rapport and relationship with a completely new person. This opens up the chances that they won’t know those intricate details you spoke about, or were promised in the sales process and repeating your needs and fighting for what you want may cause you stress and anxiety in the final weeks.
A professional Wedding Coordinator will not only be there on the day of, they will be there in the final weeks leading up to your day. They will learn all of the important details of your wedding and ensure that it is clearly communicated with the Venue Coordinator, as well as all of your other vendors.
12. What happens if something goes wrong with my hired vendors, will you find the solution?
I cannot begin to stress the importance of the difference here… the answer is no. Unless the issue happens during dinner service, the Venue Coordinator will not be able to assist you. What happens if your makeup artist gets lost on the way to hair and makeup at 6 am? Who should they be calling? What happens if the DJ doesnt have the youtube version of the song you want? Are they going to connect with you to get it? No matter how well you plan, or how organized of a person you are, there is likely always something that will happen that is beyond your control. To be honest, it’s usually something that is fixed quickly and easily when you have a Professional Wedding Coordinator on board – because we know who to call and how to fix it (before you even find out there was a problem). But, if you are that bride who just got the call that one of the vendors isn’t going to make it, you’re probably about to have a major melt down right about now. Who do you turn to, to fix it? What if the venue IS the problem?
A professional Wedding Coordinator will be there to intercept all of those phone calls, cross reference start times and addresses, and make sure that you aren’t dealing with any drama on the day of your Wedding. They are trained professionals in putting out fires and coming up with solutions to fix any problem. They also keep a roster of A-List vendors who can help in any scenario.
If your Venue Coordinator answered YES to all of these questions, congratulations! You are all set for the perfect final few weeks! However, if they answered no, you might want to consider hiring a professional Wedding Coordinator for Day of Coordination or Partial Coordination services. Interested in learning how we can help? Check out our Partial and Day of Planning Packages!