Booking a venue and a wedding planner are two important decisions. These two vendors have a tremendous impact on the planning and overall success of the event. One of the most confusing pieces at the start of wedding planning can be differentiating between the venue event coordinator (also called event manager, catering and sales director, food and beverage director, sales manager, banquet manager, and other similar names) and the wedding planner (also called wedding coordinator or wedding consultant). Both are talented, experienced, and essential professionals with the common goal of making the wedding fantastic, stress-free, and memorable. Yet, they play differing and complementary roles in accomplishing this shared goal. The venue event coordinator focuses on the property, while the wedding planner focuses on the wedding couple.
VENUE EVENT COORDINATOR
The venue is usually the first vendor that couples book since it affects the wedding date and booking all the other vendors. The venue event coordinator knows the facility inside and out. When couples are selecting a venue, the venue event coordinator or a sales person from the venue, will host a private tour or meet by phone with out-of-town couples. S/he will answer all of the property-related logistical questions: How late can music play? How many people can the space accommodate? Where do guests park? Do I have to hire a wedding planner from your preferred vendors list?
As the wedding date nears, the venue event coordinator will assist with choices directly related to the venue and food, such as menu selection and wine pairings. S/he will create and maintain the banquet event order (BEO)—where all food, beverage, and service aspects are tracked. Food allergies and special menu requests (such as gluten-free, vegetarian, children’s meal, etc.) are noted in a BEO. Some venues allow events to be catered by an independent catering company. It is helpful to include the venue event coordinator in catering planning meetings. The venue event coordinator can provide insight and advice to property-related aspects of food preparation, presentation, and breakdown / cleanup policies.
On the wedding day, the event venue coordinator will serve as the liaison between the couple and the venue staff and ensuring the venue is ready and well-maintained during the event, and the on-site food and beverage service runs smoothly. This responsibility can range from serving the food on time and adjusting the house music, to dimming the lights for dancing or turning up the heat or air conditioning.
Other venue event coordinator responsibilities include:
° Assisting with food and beverage selections
° Hosting menu and beverage tastings
° Setting up the tables and chairs based on a floor plan decided by the couple
° Tending to venue details, such as restocking hand towels in the restrooms or cleaning up food spills
The wedding planner is a personal consultant who works directly for the couple. Usually, the wedding planner is booked early in the planning process so that s/he can advise on vendors and guide the planning. Wedding planner services range from full-service with design to “day-of”/ event management. The service level will dictate how involved the wedding planner is before the wedding day. Regardless of the service level, couples can expect the wedding planner to work with their best interests, budget, and style in mind.
A wedding planner is a wedding professional who can advise on wedding etiquette and answer all wedding-related questions. S/he can help with all aspects of a wedding, from pre-wedding activity planning and the rehearsal dinner to farewell brunch. Drawing on their experience, wedding planners can offer vendor and design recommendations. They have seen what ideas work and do not work and pass that knowledge onto their clients. They know which vendors operate using professional business practices so that the planning and wedding day are low stress and flow. The insight and advice from a wedding planner is particularly helpful for planning a destination wedding, when the couple does not live in the same town.
During the planning and on the wedding day, the wedding planner serves as the liaison between the couple and the vendors, including the venue event coordinator. S/he is the point person for any questions and is an extension of the couple’s personal style and preferences.
Prior to the wedding day, the wedding planner will conduct a ceremony rehearsal to ensure the wedding party members understand their ceremonial roles and duties.
On the wedding day, the wedding planner will place all of the personal wedding items that a clients provides such as guestbook, place cards, favors, ceremony programs, table numbers, cake knife, toasting flutes, and any other display items. S/he will invite guests to be seated and cue the parent seating and wedding party entrance and music. The wedding planner will handle all unexpected incidents—like the flower girl needing a Band-Aid, a bridesmaid requesting water during photos, or gusty wind blowing place cards off the dinner tables. Essentially, the wedding planner keeps the day on schedule and the event flowing smoothly. The wedding planner also handles tasks such as getting the gifts and cards to a family member for safe keeping, distribute gratuities to the vendors and collecting lost and found items.
To increase the chances of wedding-day success, leverage the available experts. Hire a local wedding planner for either full-service planning or day-of / event management and take full advantage of the venue’s available staff. Once the planning and decision-making is finished, take a step back and trust the vendors.