Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ask a Planner... "Myth Busting Initiative - Venue Coordinator vs. Wedding Planner"

Hello Lovelies,

This week’s post is about setting the record straight on a common wedding industry misconception.  There seems to be quite a bit of confusion around the difference between the job of a venue appointed wedding coordinator and that of a professional wedding planner or wedding day coordinator and the tasks and responsibilities that are generally performed by each.

All too often I hear from brides that the reason they did not hire a wedding planner or coordinator was because their venue came with one.  Yikes!!  I must admit that this inaccurate belief concerns me because the two professions ARE NOT one in the same at all.  It is true that some of the tasks and services performed by each may overlap, but overall they are completely different jobs and therefore offer a different type of service. 

Now, I am by no means trying to downplay the importance of a venue’s wedding coordinator as they can be a wonderful part of the wedding plan and can enhance a couple’s overall wedding experience.  And in such circumstance where a couple cannot afford, or perhaps doesn’t want to have a professional planner or coordinator involved, can be a cherished and valued substitute.  I actually held a similar position for six years with one of Vancouver`s busiest wedding venues the Brock House Restaurant prior to starting DreamGroup in 2004 and so have first hand knowledge on the tasks and responsibilities carried out by each role. 

The role of a venue appointed coordinator is first and foremost to ensure that the client has a successful reception experience (and sometimes ceremony if held on site) and will work in varying capacities (pending the venue and person in the position) to take care of a bride and groom and help them enjoy a fun reception.  The role of a professional planner or coordinator is to ensure the overall success and enjoyment of the wedding day as a whole (from hair and make-up activities in the morning through to bouquet and garter toss celebrations at the end of the night) and will put in place the proper pre-event planning practices and incorporate the right on-day tools to make that happen.

I feel it is important to differentiate between the two as many couples are led to believe by the venue that the service they are offering should be used in lieu of hiring a professional planner or coordinator when in fact the client may be expecting something more hands on and complex in scope.  I wanted to provide a clear and definitive way to articulate the differences between the two jobs and decided a cross comparison analysis was the way to go so here it is…

Venue Appointed Coordinator 

1. Advise on Venue’s House Offerings, Rules, and Associated Costs

2. Offer Vendor Referrals.

3. Offer advice on various wedding related matters upon request.

4. Assist with solidifying the Food and Drink plan.

5. Provide basic Reception Timing guidance. i.e. food service, cake cutting, first dance, etc.

6. On-Day Wedding Venue Management and Troubleshooting.

7. Placement of personal wedding belongings from favors, to overlays, to sometimes even place cards if the venue offers this level service.

Professional Wedding Day Coordinator

1. Pre-Wedding Meeting to discuss priorities and wedding day plan and to collect all relevant Vendor and On-Day set up requirements.

2. Offer reminders and a finalized checklist to ensure the bride and groom have not forgotten any planning details.

3. Create a realistic wedding day timeline and therefore accurate schedule outlining all vendor start and end times, all ground movements including confirmed addresses and contact information, key celebratory elements, speech timing , etc.

4. Oversee or Conduct the Rehearsal.

5. Pick up Wedding Day Bits and Pieces to be set up at the Venue. i.e. place cards, favors, cake topper, dessert flags, Polaroid cameras, guestbook.

6. On Day Execution: Available by phone and on site as needed throughout the day to ensure a smooth wedding day flow and to troubleshoot any on day occurrences so the couple and their family can focus on enjoying themselves and being present in every moment the day brings.

Professional Wedding Planner

1. Meet regularly to discuss and manage ongoing needs and vision for the wedding.

2. Shortlist Vendors that meet the client’s budget, date, and style expectations.

3. Allocate your Budget to maximize its purchasing power and allow the client to see what their vision will cost them so any adjustments can be made before it’s too late. 

4. Provide ongoing Inspiration and Ideas to help personalize a client’s wedding.

5. Create a wedding plan of action from date of hire to W-Day outlining tasks and responsibilities that need to be addressed.

6. Offer important reminders to help client stay on track and motivated. Procrastination is a huge Wedding Planning Pitfall that will be avoided with the help of a planner.

7. Support the client through any family issues or tricky dynamics that need to be overcome.

8. Provide Honest Insight and Advice throughout the Planning stages to help the client maximize their vision, priorities, and/or budget.

9. Facilitate and confirm communications and contracts between vendors and the client to help ensure that the end service is the one provided on the day.

10. Finalize balances due and facilitate payments as needed.

11. Take on the responsibility for the overall success of your wedding day.

12. On Day Orchestration: See Professional Wedding Day Coordinator point #6.

Wedding Planner signing off!  Until next week… keep those questions coming in!  Submit your questions by emailing us at 



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Genève McNally, Principal Planner, DreamGroup Productions

Genève first began her wedding career in 1999 as the Catering Manager for one of Vancouver’s most sought after wedding venues, Brock House Restaurant.  In 2004 Genève and college friend Sarah Shore ambitiously started up what is now one of Vancouver's longest running and most trusted wedding planning companies, DreamGroup Productions Inc.

These days, in addition to working with her clients in a full planning capacity and raising her two wonderful boys Harrison and Campbell with her husband, Genève focuses her attention on the sales and marketing aspects of the company and is most often the friendly voice you will chat with when first inquiring with DreamGroup.  Genève is known to inspire and excite both clients and industry associates alike with her exuberant personality and joie de vivre!  Her ability to be refreshingly candid and her in depth knowledge of the wedding industry have earned her the friendly moniker “Two-Cents McNally”.  Genève also teaches the Wedding Planning classes offered through the dg Academy and is the chief correspondent behind DreamGroup's weekly Blog feature Ask a Planner.

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