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Proud pup mom, type A creative, lover of the outdoors, Top Chef fan girl, and wedding and portrait photographer. Welcome to the blog!
HI, I'M RACHEL!
Today I’m kicking off a two part series on a topic I’ve been dying to share about: venue coordinators and wedding coordinators. We’ll start today with answering – what is a venue coordinator?
This is the scenario I see every single time I work with a couple who has counted on their venue coordinator to do the job, or at least part of the job, of a wedding coordinator:
A venue tells a couple they have an on-site coordinator; sometimes they even charge a separate fee for that coordinator (btw the coordinator often does not get paid that whole fee. They get a percentage or nothing, just their usual pay or salary, giving them not much skin in the game). The couple assumes that coordinator is going to help with all or most of their needs on their wedding day, and probably with some things leading up to the day. Which makes sense especially when they are paying an extra fee! The couple thinks they’re all set day-of coordination-wise, and therefore don’t hire additional planning or coordinating help.
I’m not sure who sets up the expectation that a venue coordinator will be this helpful – if the venue is overpromising in order to entice the couple to book their venue, or if the couple is making a somewhat uneducated assumption; perhaps both, perhaps it’s different for every wedding. Regardless of why it happens, this is what I’ve seen occur time and again.
What we have here is a disconnect between expectations and reality.
After analyzing a bit further, I’m imagining couples think a venue coordinator (VC) and a wedding coordinator (WC) are the same; that a VC does the same stuff as a WC. That they are interchangeable. Both titles have the word ‘coordinator’ in them, so I get it. I am here to tell you, though – they are most certainly not the same.
What Is a Venue Coordinator?
In my experience, a venue coordinator works on behalf of the venue to coordinate venue-related things/activities. They are the point of contact who will maintain boundaries for the venue; coordinate catering; make sure that overall, things are happening on time so that everyone can leave on time at the end of your contracted reservation; as well as many other venue related things. (I even heard from one former VC that they got paid minimum wage to literally be there to open the doors, lock them at the end of the night, and sit in the back all day.) Each venue’s coordinators have varying tasks and levels of involvement with the couple since each venue is different, but overall you can count on the venue coordinator being focused on the venue. It’s a helpful and important job, one that contributes to things running smoothly on your wedding day.
Also, remember – a lot of venues will host multiple weddings in one weekend. They want to maximize their profit in the on-season, which makes sense. That’s hundreds of weddings a year! So a venue coordinator is likely working all those weddings, interacting with hundreds of couples a year. You’re one in a couple hundred to them. That’s the nature of the job.
This next thing I’m going to say may sound harsh, and I feel the need to say it because it clarifies that problem I mentioned above – the disconnect between expectations and reality. Here goes:
A venue coordinator’s priority is not ‘the couple’s best interests’. A venue coordinator is there to look out for the best interests of the venue. That is their actual job.
That’s not to say that venue coordinators don’t care about a couple having a wonderful wedding day – I assume they really do care about that! It’s just that the way they are able to ensure you have a wonderful wedding day is by doing their actual job – coordinating venue things; not coordinating or managing your wedding (because that is not their job).
What a Venue Coordinator Does Not Do
This is a list of what a venue coordinator will NOT be helping with on your wedding day or leading up to your wedding day –
1. Because it’s literally not their job and 2. Because on the wedding day they are doing other things that are their job:
And I’m sure there are other things in addition to this list.
How This Impacts Your Wedding Day
When a couple assumes their venue coordinator will be doing the job of a wedding coordinator or planner, they typically don’t realize their mistake until the truth is unfolding in real time the day of the wedding. In that case, those things I listed above still need to get done and they fall on either the couple – and usually the bride, or me – the photographer; we’re usually both impacted.
When items from that list fall to the couple, they either don’t get done or don’t get done properly or in a timely manner or without aggravation, simply because a couple has other things to do – like get ready for the day. The couple is also usually fielding questions all.day.long. from everyone from family to vendors to wedding party members to the venue coordinator. The couple also becomes the point of contact to deal with issues as they pop up, adding stress.
Since I’m often the only person in the room who has been behind the scenes at dozens of weddings and because I’m the one physically there all day with you taking photos (while the VC is physically elsewhere doing their actual job), people often look to me to fill in the gaps. In the midst of doing my job (photography), which requires a lot of presence, forethought, creativity, and positivity, I’m thrust into the position of managing the timeline, answering questions on how things are typically done, managing family members, finding people I have never met before for photos, coordinating with other vendors, etc. It’s so much pressure feeling like I have to do those things – and at the last minute, nonetheless! – or else my couple’s wedding day won’t go well. Those things all take away from my presence and focus. That’s just the honest truth.
Tune In Next Week
OK, so now you get it: a venue coordinator’s priority is the venue, and they are not doing the same things as a wedding coordinator. So what do you do to make sure you have an enjoyable wedding day while everything gets done that needs to get done? Come back next week when I tell you why you should hire a wedding coordinator.
Did this post get you excited to book your own wedding, micro-wedding, elopement, or engagement session?! If yes, send me a note and we can chat about what you have in mind: contact me
Hi – I’m Rachel! A wedding, engagements, and headshots photographer in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and northern Virginia. I love taking photos of elegant people who love to laugh, as well as of much in-love couples. If you’re a dog owner, that’s a plus! I’m currently booking 2022 portrait sessions, as well as 2022 and 2023 weddings.
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