Who Are You Hiring? Comparing Planners, Coordinators, Directors & Venue Facilitators

Posted September 17, 2015
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Have you ever secretly (or not so secretly, let’s just be honest) wondered what the heck a wedding planner actually DOES? Or maybe your friend told you about her amazing wedding coordinator and now you want one of those, too. And to make matters more complicated, several reception venues have directed you to their venue facilitator to handle your inquiries. So your venue has a facilitator, your friend insists you need to use her amazing coordinator and you still haven’t nailed down exactly what a planner does. What’s a girl to do to find the right type of help for her day?!

Today, we offer a brief explanation of what each is, what each does (or doesn’t do)—and how to determine if you might need any combination of these three services as you plan your own wedding day soirée. Keep in mind, these are generic descriptions, which will vary for venues, companies and regions of the country. Our company’s services are broken down into specific packages, which you can find more information about on our website.

Wedding Planner
A wedding planner’s primary role is to help the bride plan all aspects of her day, streamlining and reducing the time, thought and effort needed to create the day. They are the people that sit down with you either at the very beginning or midway point of your planning process, and nail down specific ways to bring your vision to life. Planners will help you source, select, and communicate with vendors, as well as attend vendor meetings with you (or on your behalf, if need be). They act as a liaison between you and your vendor throughout the process, handling the chaotic flurry of details, emails & texts that need to be ironed out between a client and vendor. That means you, the bride, will be freed up to focus on the more fun aspects of your engagement! Planners will also ensure all separate vendors have everything they need prior to your wedding (such as equipment, rentals, correct invoices, stage, lighting, etc) and then connect everything together so that there are no loose ends.

Additionally, a planner will create the reception layout, develop a rehearsal and wedding timeline, create and manage your budget, and prioritize for you what should be tackled each month leading up to the wedding. We feature both partial and full planning service packages, in which we essentially serve as the ultimate wedding encyclopedia for questions big and small—you can ask us for help with literally anything that pertains to your day.

Wedding Coordinator
Typically, this is a day-of service. A wedding coordinator is present on your wedding day to act as a hub of communication for both the client and the venue(s) & vendors for a specified duration of the wedding festivities. Coordinators also act as a client representative for the wedding party and vendors, so that the client can concentrate on experiencing the day instead of managing the logistics and answering questions.

A coordinator will also act as a guide throughout the day. They will guide and direct the wedding party, ensure that key aspects (such as the ceremony, first dance, cake cutting, toasts, exit, et cetera) are flowing along the timeline of the day—and field any issues or surprises that may arise throughout the evening. Coordinators ensure that important items and moments are anticipated and taken care of beforehand, such as setting up personal decor (like those cute personalize cake forks, your guestbook, or favors at each place setting) or on-the-spot needs such as the bouquet being in hand before the bouquet toss, or the father of the bride being present, prepared and nearby the mic when it’s time for his welcome toast. They also communicate continually with your photographer and band/DJ to keep them aware of any fluctuations in the timeline so they can capture or announce all the important moments, respectively.

Coordinators also do small things to help keep clients comfortable, like bringing beverages or food for to couple. Many also attend and coordinate the wedding rehearsal. Often coordinators will depart after the last “agenda” item of the evening on the timeline is complete (like the bouquet toss, or after cake cutting). I Do Coordinators stay at each event until after the couple exits, so the inevitable cleanup is not left to friends and family alone.

A fantastic way to think of a wedding coordinator is as the “conductor of the orchestra”. Everyone involved in making a wedding day happen brings their individual talents, and the planner does the work of bringing it all together to work in harmonious unison.

Church Director
Also known sometimes as “The Wedding Director”, “The Church Guild”, “The Wedding Guild”, or informally “The Church Ladies”, this position is most often voluntary or appointed within a congregation. They have a semi-true reputation of being strict, bossy, or inflexible when it comes to their primary task, which is creating the ceremony order, processional & recessional at the church. We have experienced a wide variety of onsite church assistance, ranging from those who welcome a day-of coordinators presence, direction, and influence; to establishments who prohibit outside coordination or direction of any amount. The role of a “church lady” (as we have yet to encounter a gent who is wanting to step into that ring) is to a) ensure the wedding party upholds the rules and regulations set forth by the church for the use of the facilities, and b) to manage and direct the ceremony. They will either directly unlock and adjust the utilities as needed (power, A/C) or communicate with the sexton/janitor onsite at the church. Their assistance is typically limited to the rehearsal the day prior to the ceremony, 3 hours before the ceremony on the day of until after the ceremony has concluded and they can ensure the building has been tidied up and can be closed in preparation for church the following day.

Venue Facilitator
A venue facilitator is someone employed directly by the venue (not contracted by you, like a planner or coordinator). Their primary purpose is to ensure the facility is clean, ready to be used, unlocked and available to your vendors at a the agreed upon time. They will control facility utilities such as turning on the lights and managing a comfortable setting for heat/air; they are the blessed souls who make sure the fire alarm will not pose an issue, informs the wedding planner & coordinators of power capabilities for vendors, and helps manage and arrange any necessary onsite security as well. They are the point person that personally makes sure that the venue completes and fulfills its contractual obligations, and is onsite for the duration of your event. They will also ensure that the venue is being treated appropriately by the vendors and guests, and will manage your security deposit should any damage issues arise.

If rentals, bar service, and/or catering are not included within the venue’s direct services, the venue facilitator may or may not manage them depending upon each facility’s individual policies. Another task that can vary is whether a venue facilitator will manage a load in schedule for vendors. Venue facilitators are not, by their job description, responsible for handling any personal aspects of your wedding day. For example, they will not come around and help with your bustle, keep track of your timeline for the evening, track down any last minute items you need or ensure your personal decor is packed and loaded at the end of the night. Some venues will have fantastic facilitators that will gladly go above and beyond their basic duties, but it is not in their job description to do so—which is where much of assumption of uninformed clients can put a huge additional burden upon the facilitator. Therefore, many venues suggest or even require that a client hire an outside coordinator or planner.

We hope this brief guide helps untangle things a bit. At I Do, we are proud to offer a variety of planning and day of coordinating services, and also to work alongside some of the best church directors & venue facilitators around! For more information, check out the “Services” tab on our homepage, or contact us!