They’re entirely differently roles, with one serving the venue and one serving you. We polled six professionals, three venue coordinators, and three wedding planners for a well-rounded, expert take on why both are essential to hire—and sometimes required!—in order to pull off the best day ever. Here’s their dish on the misconceptions about their roles, horror stories of brides not having both, and their approaches for playing nicely together. Let the sound-off begin—and never question yourself again!
“Many brides do not understand why we at Rancho Valencia require them to have an outside wedding planner. Often it’s the first time they’re planning a wedding, and they don’t grasp the enormity of the work that goes into making it seamless. Working with a professional wedding planner ensures that for both the families and the venue. It takes the stress away from the bride or groom of having to coordinate vendors, manage budget, create timelines, remember the small details, and so on—tasks that most brides don’t have time to coordinate on the day of and leading up to their wedding.” —Whitney Broom, catering and conference services manager
“Your wedding planner is in the front of the house, typically more visible during the event. And the venue coordinator is in the back of the house, often ensuring meals are perfectly plated and in the correct guests’ hands. At I Do…Weddings & Events, I create the full-day itinerary of events, from hair and makeup to transportation and photography, working with each vendor to ensure all of their timelines roll up to one master timeline and that everything is logistically cohesive—you won’t ever have the emcee announce toasts only to realize the room doesn’t have Champagne! Finally, we’ll work with you in a number of areas, including but not limited to etiquette, design of your wedding ceremony, and drilling into your personal style to help you find vendors (and even a venue) best suited for you.” —Melissa Barrad, owner and designer
“Before Lomas Santa Fe Country Club required planners, we had clients with a ton of details and no one person designated to set them up. We ended up with stressed brides who were desperately looking to us to do this for them. This really took away from our ability to take care of venue-related items. With a planner, all of those details are taken care of, with the couple’s vision in mind and kept realistic prior to the event. This is so crucial to the day-of logistics. While I know that mini liquor bottles with holes drilled in them for a straw looks really neat on Pinterest, it is neither the most cost effective nor logical choice for your big day.” —Krissi Trevino Thomas, regional director of sales, private event and tournament divisions
“Our roles look like a Venn diagram. There is a small piece of the circles that overlaps, but for the most part our responsibilities are separate. In the simplest of terms, planners like yours truly at Michelle Garibay Events work for the couple, and venue coordinators work for the venue—they are an essential part of our success on the day of. Without things running smoothly on the venue side, it makes for a stressful day. One person cannot be two places at once—managing the venue operations and food and beverage service, and coordinating the details with applicable vendors, you, and your guests. These are two full-time jobs, with separate but equally important roles.” —Michelle Garibay, owner, creative director, and lead consultant
“I guide the bride and groom through each detail leading up to the wedding at Cape Rey Carlsbad. To ensure a flawless event, a professional wedding planner is required for the wedding day—we even provide a customized referral list, with packages ranging from full-service to day-of coordination. The planner will assist with the rehearsal, ceremony, reception, and overall wedding planning. Really, Cape Rey tries to be a one-stop shop.” —Louise Lambert, wedding and event sales manager
“Some clients are mistaken in thinking a venue coordinator will be communicating with their vendors, creating a timeline, and running their rehearsal. None of these responsibilities are in their job description, but they’re all things that wedding planners handle on a regular basis! We at Bliss Events have the ‘big picture’ of each event in our heads. We work with all of the other vendors (photographers, florists, musicians, etc.) on the details of their contracts and obligations to the clients, which is something that venue coordinators do not do. It’s a huge piece of the planning puzzle, which is why independent wedding planners are necessary!” —Rachel Welland, owner and wedding and event coordinator