5 Key Differences between a Venue Coordinator and an Independent Coordinator, and how hiring the wrong one might affect your wedding


You’ve found the perfect venue, your dream dress, and booked all your vendor’s, except one. Someone to help tie up all those loose ends, take the reins during the last weeks and oversee that everything goes according to plan on THE day…

But, WHO should you trust with possibly one of the most expensive, detailed, and important days of your life? Your venue has a coordinator, either as part of your package, or as an add on for a few hundred more dollars. Or you can take some time and find an independent coordinator, or “Event Manager” and hire them, although they will typically run a bit higher. So. Who do you choose? Lets go over 5 key differences between venue coordinators and independent coordinators or event managers, and how hiring the wrong one could derail your wedding day.

HPW Productions

Number 5 –
Who stay’s longer?

In most cases, an Independent Coordinator will be on-site the longest, whether that’s the lead Event Manager you hired, or their staff who stay after the primary timeline has been completed to ensure the rest of the event flows smoothly and take care of any cleaning up that may be a part of their contract.

Usually a Venue Coordinator arrives in time to oversee vendor’s setting up, which is about 1-2 hours before the ceremony; and stay until dinner starts, although some stay a bit longer. After that, if there’s a snag anywhere, it’s up to the couple, or possibly a banquet Captain to handle the issues.

How does this affect your wedding? If the toilet paper runs out, or the photographer needs their final payment, or the bar runs out of ice, you might get pulled away from your guests to deal with these and other issues. You might also be sweeping up after guests finally depart in your suit or dress, instead of enjoying those blissful moments as the two of you ride off into the night after your festivities…

Christine Flower Photography

Number 4 –
Who creates the timeline?

If you’ve hired an Independent Coordinator, they will. And they will do a complete and thorough job too. From getting your Hair & Makeup done, including a copy of the schedule if your artist provides one, or creating it if they don’t, so everyone knows when they need to be in the chair, and when they can be sipping on mimosa’s… All the way to the end of the night, when they or a designated other person loads your car up with all those gifts and cards, and they do a final walkthrough of the space to ensure that everything meets the specifications of your venue’s contract before leaving.

A Venue Coordinator on the other hand, is most likely to go by the BEO, or Banquet Event Order. This will include things the venue is providing, and how those things are to be done, like where the DJ should be set up, the number of tables, whats on the menu, to whom walks down the aisle at what point. They will also probably have on their the first dance, and cake cutting, but most likely your Venue Coordinator will leave this BEO in the hands of the Banquet Captain after they leave to finish up the rest of the night. And it won’t include anything not taking place at the venue, or prior to the venue’s first task regarding your event (such as placing tables out.

How does this affect your wedding? If you want everything laid out in a timeline to keep things flowing smoothly and so everyone, including your vendor’s, know whats happening when (Because the BEO isn’t given to outside vendor’s) then you’re going to have to do all that yourself. And that’s 10-15 hours of coordinating back and forth with each vendor making sure every aspect of that timeline works for everyone that you could be spending elsewhere.

Number 3 –

Typically, your Independent Coordinator has at least some availability outside of normal business hours, as they are always a small business. They have the flexibility of working with you during the times you are available – You just have to be sure that’s communicated ahead of time, especially if your best hours are typically late in the evening due to job constraints.

A Venue Coordinator will likely also have at least some flexibility, however, they are more likely to be unreachable once they leave the venue/their office for the day or weekend. And they are highly unlikely to be available to you very late…

How does this affect your wedding? If you are counting on being able to reach out to your coordinator to communicate changes, and you need answers quickly to facilitate these changes, you might be SOL. Especially in conjunction to the next key difference…

Event Planner's working together
Kayla Illies Photography

Number 2 –
Who’s really going to be there the day of?

When you hire an Independent Coordinator, you typically know exactly who your coordinator will be the day of your wedding. In most Planning and Coordination companies, you are hiring the business owner as your coordinator. Other times, you might be hiring a Lead planner within the company, however, your contract lets you know who will be there.
**In some cases, the Independent Coordinator company you hire gives you a good deal in exchange for being free to assign anyone within their company as your Day Of Lead, be sure to talk to them in advance, and know what your contract states.

Venue Coordinator jobs, however, have a high turnover rate, and you might have 8 different “Coordinator’s” throughout the life of your contract, and each successive coordinator will be trying to pick up the pieces from their predecessor, losing something each time. Ever play “Phone”? the message whispered to the first player is never what the last player hears…

How does this affect your wedding? If you’ve worked out something special to happen with the coordinator you had at the start, it’s likely to be lost over time, and not honored by whomever is your coordinator at your wedding. ALWAYS get EVERYTHING in writing, just in case.

Number 1 –
Who are they really working for?

The biggest difference, really, is who the Coordinator is ACTUALLY working for. When you add on that great deal coordinator through the venue, that coordinator, even if they operate an independent company, is contracted to the VENUE before you. They must first answer to the venue, and the venue’s needs before they can answer to your’s. And if there’s a problem with the venue, they will side with the person who sends them the business. The Venue. However, a completely Independent Coordinator, that doesn’t come through the venue, is on YOUR side. YOU are their client. This is also why Independent Coordinators will require the couple to sign the contract, NOT an outside person who might be paying the bill.

How does this affect your wedding? If the venue fails to provide the stuff they are contracted to have, a Venue Coordinator will at best, put up a token fight to get what you are owed. However, when you hire an Independent Coordinator, You can be sure they will do everything they are capable of to make sure your event runs smoothly…

Kayla Illies Photography