Wedding Planner

Understanding the Difference Between a Venue Coordinator and a Wedding Planner

April 26, 2023

< back to blog home

When you start planning your wedding, you'll likely come across the roles of a venue coordinator and a wedding planner. While they may share some similarities (and may even have you wondering if you really need a wedding planner if your venue “includes” one, the truth is that there are vast differences between the two roles. As luxury wedding planners in Upstate New York, we have seen first-hand the importance of understanding these differences to make sure your wedding day runs smoothly. The closer you look at the two roles, the more you'll understand it too! In this blog post, we will share a few MAIN differences between a venue coordinator and a wedding planner. That way, you can decide for yourself that you need both.


the difference between a wedding venue coordinator and a wedding planner


Scope of Work: What does a wedding planner or venue coordinator do?

A venue coordinator's primary role is to ensure the venue's operations run smoothly. They are responsible for ensuring that the venue is ready for you, the venue vendors arrive on time, and the timeline for your ceremony and reception is followed. This means that they typically have a set process, such as a preferred vendor list and layout plan for the venue. They will typically not manage any aspects of outside rentals, decor, or transportation (beyond sending you a pdf with a list of names anyway!).

On the other hand, a full-service wedding planner will take care of all aspects of wedding planning. They will guide you through every decision: from vendor selection, design, timeline, budget, and so much more. They will handle the day's logistics, troubleshooting anything that arises, and ensure all vendors and guests are comfortable. A full-service wedding planner has a far broader scope of work, ensuring all aspects of the wedding are coordinated and aligned, whether it involves the wedding venue or not. Shuttles are a good example of this. Especially when working with some of the more unique and off-the-beaten path venues in Upstate New York!


Popular on the blog: 5 Things Your Venue Coordinator Does NOT Care about


Photo Credit: Coryn Kiefer Photography


Their Relationship with the Venue

A venue coordinator works solely for the venue, ensuring everything within their scope operates accordingly. They can help you answer questions about lighting or suggest other vendors that have previously worked with the venue. However, when push comes to shove: their loyalty will always be to the venue as they are the ones that employ them. This means that if there ARE any issues on your wedding day (or leading up to your wedding day), they are unlikely to advocate for you (for example, if your reception space needs more lighting than was originally quoted).

Conversely, a full-service wedding planner will work closely with all vendors, including the venue coordinator. They will work on your behalf and collaborate with the venue coordinator to ensure your vision is executed. Full-service wedding planners understand the importance of developing great relationships with venue coordinators, which can lead to better vendor recommendations and problem resolution. Contrary to popular belief – we are not out to replace venue coordinators either!  We all want to work together for the mutual benefit of our couples! But at the end of the day, your wedding planner works for YOU. This means you will always have an advocate on your wedding day so that you can remain present no matter what. That's well worth the investment.


two grooms hire wedding planner in upstate New York

Photo Credit: Larkin and Trevor Photography

Timeline Management

A venue coordinator typically has a timeline that ensures the venue is ready (as per your contract). Their focus is primarily limited to the start and stop times of your wedding ceremony and reception, versus a wedding planner which may be more invested in the minute details. You won't find your venue coordinator, for example, checking in on your hair and makeup teams to ensure your first look can happen on time.

We take timelines very seriously around here (you know this already if you follow us on Instagram or have purchased our Day Of Timelines bundle). We create individual timelines so that EACH vendor is aware of the exact timing of their services. The reason is, we want to ensure everyone is on the same page. Seriously, we have everything planned down to the minute. As a full-service wedding planner, we also ensure that all services, including setup and tear-down, are carried out correctly. Your venue coordinator is not reading your contracts between your other vendors to ensure you got what you paid for! And speaking of money…


lace wedding dress

Photo Credit: Michelle Scott Photography

Budget Management

A venue coordinator is not responsible for managing a client's budget; they are only responsible for what you are paying the venue. We have talked about this A LOT on the blog. Choosing a wedding venue without having a comprehensive spending plan is one of the biggest mistakes we see couples make when they choose to DIY their wedding planning (or book their venue before hiring a wedding planner). A full-service wedding planner works to manage the entire wedding budget. We create a detailed budget breakdown for each vendor and ensure all of the expenses (and gratuities) stay within your budget. We also know how to work with budgets of all sizes to maximize your investment.

Want more? Check out this wedding budget template tutorial


wedding budget template


Lastly, one of the differences between a wedding planner and venue coordinator is that your point of contact might change with the latter.

Working with a venue coordinator can be wonderful, but it is important to remember that point of contact may change throughout the planning process. This means that you may have one person at the beginning, and by the time your wedding rolls around, you may be dealing with someone else entirely. Trust us – this can be a huge source of frustration during this already stressful time. And let us just say – the good venue coordinators always get promoted. Especially with larger wedding venues.

On the other hand, with a wedding planner your point of contact is consistent from start to finish. We also will manage all communications on your behalf. You will not have to worry about who to go to for what or whether something has been done correctly. Any hiccup will all be taken care of before you even realize it has been an issue. Even if you are a highly organized person, you'll appreciate this peace of mind.


wedding couple hugging their wedding planner

Photo Credit: Jenny Berliner Photography


Do I really need a wedding planner?

When you’re planning a wedding, it can be tempting to think that the venue coordinator is all you need. After all, they know the space and will have some ideas for decorations and activities. When touring a venue, they may even promise they will be there to guide you every step of the way. But the truth is that if you want your big day to go off without a hitch (and you actually want to ENJOY planning your wedding) then hiring a full-service wedding planner is absolutely essential. There's no need to worry about forgotten details or unwelcome surprises – just sit back, relax, and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event! And hey, shameless plug here: At Verve Event Co, we specialize in creating unforgettable weddings in Upstate New York. For more ways to work with us (including virtual planning calls if you live outside of Upstate New York), head here!


Want to save this for later?

the difference between a wedding venue coordinator and a wedding planner