Wedding Wednesday Discussions: Wedding Planner Vs Wedding Co-ordinator

Wedding Wednesday Discussions: Wedding Planner Vs Wedding Co-ordinator

OK so I may not be the right person to write this being a wedding planner myself but I wanted to get your thoughts on your dealings with wedding planners and wedding co-ordinators and what you all think the difference is.
When I first started this job, I found one of the hardest things was selling the role of a wedding planner, a lot of couples didn’t see the need and saw it just as an added expense. After nearly a year in the industry people’s perception do seem to be changing, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Now I don’t want to P anyone off, There are plenty of very very good wedding co-ordinators out there, who do a great jobs, one of which I am meeting this morning, another I know took her job so seriously that this weekend when the venue she works for couldn’t give one of their couples everything they wanted then offered up her own garden to them instead…..now that’s dedication!……….BUT there are some awful ones as well, and I do feel so sorry for couples when I hear their dreadful stories of how the wedding co-ordinator promised them so much and then never delivered.

One of the main things that gets said to me is ‘I have a wedding co-ordinator at my venue, why do I need a planner as well?’ Well my lovelies let me explain

• Firstly the main difference is a wedding planner works independently for the couple, where as a wedding co-ordinator works for the venue, they are paid by the venue so have the venues best interests at heart not the couples. If you hire a wedding planner they will work on your behalf, they will work with a variety of suppliers and it is their job to find you the right people to achieve the wedding you want in the right style and right budget, where as a wedding co-ordinator often has a group of preferred suppliers that they will only use.

• A wedding planner will be there with you for the whole of the planning process, so there is continuity, they will work with you to achieve your dream wedding, they will get to know you, so they know who to achieve whatever it is that you want. Some great friendships have been formed from brides and wedding planners (in fact I’m going for lunch this week with one of my old brides) A wedding co-ordinator will meet with you at the booking and may meet with you a couple of times after that but will not be there for the whole of the planning process. Often (and I have heard this a lot recently) you won’t meet the same wedding Co-ordinator on every meeting, as some venues have 3-4 people working so the continuity isn’t there…….not exactly the personal touch

• The wedding planner will be there on the day of the wedding, for the whole of the wedding. They are there for you where ever and whenever you want. They will come to you house to make sure that you are OK, they will run errands for you, they will make sure the venues is set up OK, meet with your suppliers, and be there throughout the day to make sure that everything runs smoothly. A wedding co-ordinator will be at the venue, and will be making sure that the venues is OK, if you have a dress disaster, or your mum has a hair disaster the co-ordinator will not be there to help you! I have even heard of instances when the co-coordinator isn’t even there on the day. They work on the prep but then hand this over to the banqueting manager.

• A wedding planner will sort out the finer details. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, or help with the little details of the wedding the wedding planner is there to help, they will do everything they can to make that wedding as special as you are. A wedding Co-ordinator will book the venue, arrange your food, maybe give you a few suggestions but leave the rest for you to sort out. Now there is nothing wrong with that, it just isn’t there job to do the other things for you

Now it may seem that I am singing the praise of wedding planners for my own benefit…possibly true, but I just want to draw attention to the difference as these days there still seems to be a confusion. I have heard great stories of some wedding co-ordinators, but at the same time heard horror stories from couples who have told me they wished they’d had a planner for their wedding. Stories of wedding co-ordinators not being there on the day, having 4 different co-ordinators to deal with throughout the planning process and none of them knowing the details of the wedding, while others seemed more like sales people, tacking their money for the booking never to be seen again!

Yes if you book a venue with an on sight Co-ordinator you may get some help, but don’t’ expect them to be there like a planner, in fact don’t expect them t be there on the day of the wedding as they may not be……………so ask! Ask who will be there, ask how many co-ordinators there are working within that venue and will you always see the same one!

I have some pet hates in this industry………….(Venus holding more than one wedding in one day being one of them, as discussed before) and wedding co-ordinators letting their brides down and not offering a personalised service is another!!

So I would love to hear your stories and thoughts. Are you a bride who has had dealing with a Co-ordintor was it good or bad? Are you a supplier and what are your experiences?
Feel free to leave your comments………prove me right, prove me wrong…I don’t mind!

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    Good post and so true. In Essex there are some fabulous venues with in house co-ordinators who have been in the job as long as I have. Many of them are poached from venue to venue and are very organised and efficient. BUT….there are others who sadly dont know what they are doing, recommend suppliers who are the easier option for them not because they are the best for the supplier. Many want an easy life so say ‘but this is how we always have the tables’ rather then thinking outside the box.

    But then I guess they not being paid to?

    Isabel Smith Wedding Design

    I completely agree!

    As a planner who came to my own business via 3.5 years as a venue based co-ordinator, I totally understand the clear differences between the two roles.

    Obviously, I was extremely committed as a co-ordinator, getting much more involved with the planning and details, attending for the whole of the wedding day, and often getting in trouble for working for the client’s best interests rather than up-selling for the hotel like I ‘should have’, but that was because I always knew I would end up as a planner.

    Generally speaking, this won’t be the case for other co-ordinators – particularly at the moment as the leisure industry suffers in the recession, forcing hotels to let staff go, leaving the remaining sales people to coordinate far more events per month. How can you help a client with all the details if you’re working all the hours God sends already just to get the hotel specific details right for the 10 weddings per month you’ve got booked? How can you attend to a bride’s every need on the wedding day when your boss is telling you to do more showrounds to secure sales for next year?

    I don’t want to put the co-ordinator’s roles down. They are essential for the venue as they mediate between all the other equally busy departments within the hotel and, as mentioned, there are some FANTASTIC, committed, creative and super organised co-ordinators out there, but it does annoy me when my job is compared to theirs as there are many more differences between our roles than there are similarities.

    Your Day - Your Way

    Gritty stuff again Kelly! You manage to get right to the heart of the matter in an objective way without being patronising- well done! You have clarified the differences very well and I hope lots of brides and grooms read and leave their comments xx


    Great article, I agree a great venue coordinator is a pleasure to work with and will always have me recomending both them and their venue to future clients however, all to often the difference between the two roles is not appreciated and couples are let down. I also find it dissapointing when the venue coordinator puts a couple off having a planner by implying they will give the same service when they know it won’t be. Why are some venues threatened by planners, they not only make the day better for the couple but also make their job easier allowing them to concentrate on what they know~ best their venue and their staff.

    Rebecca Jones - Ever After Designs

    Great article Kelly, some very valid points. I think there is definitely a possibility that a co-ordinator could be biased, as you said, they have their own preferred suppliers. Although I have heard lots of very positive stories about co-ordinators.

    I personally would go with a planner as I think that personal touch is what it’s all about. A lot of brides don’t realise that by hiring a wedding planner they can save a lot of money. They get the benefit of your knowledge of suppliers (and discounts). It also saves them SO much time as they don’t have to spend days or weeks on end researching suppliers.


    Julie Dawson

    HI Kelly, agree with everyone fab article and right on the nose. I agree with Andri and hate it when these guys discourage brides to go with a planner. Do they answer their calls at most times of the day, be there for them when they are stressed beyond belief! Give them unbiased advice and support. Are they even there on the day? – most I have worked with hand over to a duty manager, who may be brilliant but they are dedicated to the venue not the bride!. I totally agree that some of the venue coordinators are super fabulous. I have to say one I met last week who not only manages all conference events but all weddings works seven days a week and stays late most nights. She does want to be a planner so that says it all. I really hope brides read this post and take on board our comments. Even if it just drives them to ask questions like will you be there for me on the day?

    Melanie Kiani

    Completely agree Kelly – well said entirely. I always find it very much a concern with venues who do not embrace a planner being involved in a wedding or an event – those that have had a good planner involved in the past are usually far more receptive to you being part of the planning process. It may be that they have not experienced it before but once they have tried it – they love it! The venues that we have worked with say great things about had us on board and have only found that our involvement and help has enhanced the day, made it run a lot smoother and helped the venue out no end!

    If we work with a new venue (either new to us or new to having a planner involved) we always go to great lengths to explain that we are not there to tread on anyones toes or to take over their job but we offer a very different role or service which does not begin and end with the venue. As a planner our prime importance is to look after our bride and groom for their whole wedding and not just dealing with the venue. Some venues will need managing on the day and some need minor attention or sometimes nothing at all if they are extremely organised but we are always there on the day to ensure that the bride and grooms needs are tended to and they want for nothing.

    I agree with comments that sometimes the role of co-ordinator in a venue can mean that a wedding or event is passed between co-ordinators (and there is quite a high turnaround of staff in some venues too) which means that things get missed and then more often than not the event is handed over to a catering or event manager on the day who has very often not even met the bride and groom.

    Hopefully the industry and demand for planners will continue to grow as venues as well as brides and grooms appreciate that its a necessity not a luxury and buying into the service and contacts and experience which a planner offers is a no brainer!



    I think you have done a brilliant job raising the topic, which is always to the fore front of most planners minds, when dealing with venues or peoples perceptions.

    You have given clear indications to any bride & groom who may read this article, so they can see the benefits of having or not to have a planner involved in the planning process.

    Lets hope that some venues change the way they market their services as planners, when they are clearly co-ordinators.

    This really gets me, we spend a lot of time marketing ourselves and when for example search engines on the net return umpteen numbers of venues as planners against the odd few actual planners, this speaks volumes itself.

    We all have equally important roles to fulfill, but each are unique to the actual services that are provided.

    Thank you for taking the time to blog about such a good and informative subject whom many can benefit from.

    Maria Kirk

    I love reading your blog and once again I have found myself nodding in agreement to every point which you raised.

    The biggest hurdle I have to overcome with brides is the fact that so many venues have coordinators and therefore they feel that is is the same type of job… Which of course it isn’t! Day coordination is only a small yet important part of planning a wedding and therefore it is difficult to explain the importance of having a professional planner.


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