Let's talk WEDDING PLANNER vs venue coordinator

Do you know the difference between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator? Many couples don’t, and it can unfortunately lead to a lot of frustration. All too often, when couples start researching wedding venues, they find that a coordinator is included and mistakenly assume that this means they don’t need the services of a wedding planner. In fact, some venues sell their coordinators as an actual wedding planner, which adds to the confusion (and is a pet hate of mine!).

Don’t get me wrong – I love working with venue coordinators. As a KZN wedding planner, I have great relationships with the venue coordinators at many top South African wedding venues. Most of them do an amazing job and some really go above and beyond for their clients. But there are important differences between the two roles, and understanding this can save everyone a lot of headaches.

There are important differences between the two roles, and understanding this can save everyone a lot of headaches.

A Venue Coordinator’s Duties

The most important thing to remember is that the venue coordinator is a paid employee of the venue. In other words, they work for the venue, not for you. That means that they are only responsible for providing everything agreed in your contract and nothing more. So, for example, a venue coordinator will give suppliers access to the site, ensure everything such as the electricity and plumbing work, and liaise with the event staff (including chef, waitrons and cleaning staff). But that’s really the extent of their role. Once everything has been set up, they will often go home since their job is done.

A Wedding Planner’s Duties

On the other hand, a wedding planner (or wedding coordinator or event planner) works for you and only you. We’re your partner from Day One. As our clients plan their luxury weddings in Durban and beyond, my team is there to help them create their vision and turn it into a beautiful bespoke wedding design. We recruit a dream team of suppliers, and act as a central point of contact. Before the event, we create a wedding day timeline, and liaise with all the vendors to make sure they know where and when they’re supposed to arrive. On the day, a wedding planner is there to hold your hand when you get nervous, make sure the right song is cued for your entrance, get the line moving for family photographs, keep everything on schedule, load your gifts into the car, and hand you a pair of flipflops when your feet get tired.

A wedding planner works for you and only you.

A good venue coordinator will try to make you happy, but it isn’t their job to realise your vision or pull your wedding together seamlessly. That’s my job – and I love it!

That’s why, when you rely on a venue coordinator and don’t hire a wedding planner, all of that responsibility will ultimately fall on you (or one of your bridesmaids or family members). Instead of enjoying your wedding morning, you may instead find yourself running around answering phone calls or setting up the reception décor. Not exactly the kind of stress-free day you deserve!

Of course, there’s no question that venue coordinators play a valuable role in the industry, and having one as part of your venue package is a real bonus. However, when making a decision, it’s important that you don’t expect them to fulfil the role of a wedding planner. It’s only fair to them – and to you!

Top image by The Shank Tank