Welcome back to Wedding Secrets Unveiled! We’ve got a fun episode today for you all about wedding planners and venue coordinators. If you’ve got the ring and have picked the date for your big day, you’ve probably picked your venue! You may begin to work with a venue coordinator. But what does that actually mean? There’s differences between what a venue coordinator and wedding planner each do. Many couples make the mistake of assuming they’re one and the same. So today, we’re chatting with Michelle Ryder from Lakeview Pavilion the difference between a wedding planner and an event or venue coordinator, as well as when (and why) you should have them… or not.
I’m the marketing and event coordinator at Lakeview Pavilion, which is a beautiful venue in Foxborough, Massachusetts. We serve everybody and focus primarily on weddings. But, we do also host other events like birthdays, retirements, banquets, and proms. We’ve been non-stop busy since we opened 33 years ago and it’s a wonderful place to work and for your events.
There’s so much to cover with this topic, so we want to get right into it. What is an event or venue coordinator?
A venue coordinator is someone that oversees everything that’s happening at the venue on the day of an event. Whether it’s speaking with the kitchen or the waitstaff, or ensuring a timeline is going smoothly, they’re helping to execute the event. The role is slightly different at every venue, but that’s the general gist. At Lakeview Pavilion, we’re pretty involved with our couples. We want to know who they are and what we can do to help them – and how we can make everything run well with their vendor team. We’re really trying to make sure it’s a successful day for all of us.
So to me, you just described a wedding planner. What’s the difference?
I totally get it! But there is a difference. A lot of wedding planners have a more detailed understanding of the day. What I do is more like a traditional planner… but in a venue coordinator position. From the moment they enter our venue, we’re making sure that they’re treated well and feel like everything is under control. But… I’m not a wedding planner. I’m an in house planner at a venue. There’s such a slight difference in the roles – and again, my position isn’t always typical of other event planners.
How do couples know what kind of venue coordinator they’re getting then?
I think it comes down to your first impressions. What’s the first impression you get of that coordinator? Look to see what they’re excited about, what they offer, and how they show up. For me, it’s making sure that we’re impressing them and expressing our love of weddings – and our couples. I would make sure you talk to the venues. Sending an email and seeing that you have a venue coordinator all day is great.. but really doesn’t tell you anything. Make a point to actually speak to the staff and understand what the roles mean.
The second thing to look at is the reviews and photos. Look at the food and how they run their business. For us, we’re a family-owned venue and business so everything is run tightly and with precision. That comes across in our reviews and events. When we have tours, I make sure to show up and be involved. I want our couples to feel like royalty every time they visit us. That’s the atmosphere you want to look for.
What if a couple finds out that they’re not getting the experience you described? What do they do then?
Well, I think every client has a different experience. So, if you’re not happy with what the venue coordinator does, it’s time to think about hiring a wedding planner. If you want to be sure someone else has control of the situation, then that’s the best option. It really comes down to building trust – and if you feel that your venue coordinator is building trust, even if their time with you is shorter, then go with them. If not, get someone else involved.
What are some questions that people should be asking their venues when they visit?
I think the biggest question to ask is what you’re getting the day of. Does the venue coordinator help with setup? Do they just make sure things are running on time and know where your items are? Find out exactly what everyone’s roles are. I would also ask if the coordinator helps with the timeline at all. It’s also important to clarify when the timeline they’re involved in starts. Is it only once you’re on the property? If you need more help than that or half a good portion of your day offsite, it may be time to consider a wedding planner.
The next big question is to find out if they work with local vendors or have a preferred vendor list. This helps ensure that your vendor team will work together smoothly.
If you’re getting married at a full-service or all-inclusive venue, do you need a wedding planner?
Every couple is different, but for the most part… no. If a portion of your day is offsite, then consider a planner. But once you’re at that full-service location, you basically have two people who are doing the same job and that seems silly. Again, that’s not the case at every location – so you need to clarify roles.
Can you tell us what separates Lakeview Pavilion from other venues?
Our business is family owned and it shows. We have staff that has worked with us for 20+ years. Everything feels very familiar and comfortable. Because of that, we have a lot of repeat families and it’s amazing. From the start, we’ve always believed we have one chance for a good first impression – and one chance to really create the wedding day our couples dream of. We want to go above and beyond for every single wedding day. It’s all about the passion for us.
What can couples expect from you the day of their wedding?
Well, from me… excitement. I can’t hide it! I’m always so excited for their events. They’ve never experienced the events we create and I have. They have no idea what they’re going to get and it’s such a great feeling. I get really involved with my clients and want to know them personally – outside of the conversations we have. And it shows on the wedding day. I step in and fix dresses, remind people about gum, answer questions, find parents. Whatever it takes, I want my clients to have the best day possible.
Lakeview Pavilion is now offering a new program with offsite services. We’re now going to be able to go offsite and help you at your ceremony location – like a church – to ensure you day goes smoothly. Our team will help with the timeline before you even arrive to our venue. It’s a service designed to really make an impact on your wedding day.
What are some key points that couples should be asking their event coordinator to ensure that their wedding day is going to be a perfect event?
How long is the venue coordinator actually going to be at the event?
Are they coordinating the timeline for the entire day?
Will you work with my vendors to make sure everything stays on track?
If your venue coordinator can’t follow through on those three things, I would say that’s when you need to hire an outside wedding planner to help you get throughout the day.
What We Discussed:
What is an event coordinator’s role? (6:22)
How do you know what the coordinator’s role truly is (9:46)
What you should ask your venues when visiting (18:04)
What makes Lakeview Pavilion a unique venue (24:34)
Wrap-Up Question: What to ask your even coordinator (40:08)
Links Mentioned in the Episode
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