What's the Difference Between a Wedding Planner and Venue Manager?
If you’ve been on the hunt for your dream wedding venue, you may have heard the term venue manager tossed around. Every venue has one (but may use alternative terms like event manager, event coordinator, venue director, etc.), and they’ll be on-site on your wedding day. But what exactly is their role, and what will/won’t they handle?
Read on to learn the wedding day difference between a venue manager, wedding planner, and more!
A venue manager’s primary responsibility on wedding day is to oversee the venue. Quite literally, they make sure the place doesn’t burn to the ground. Now, more often than not, that’s not an issue, so they’re ensuring the venue is safe, clean, and protected from any damage caused by your other vendors or even your guests.
They see that vendors are following proper load-in/load-out procedures, assisting with any venue-related questions or issues, and generally keeping an eye on guest behavior. Additionally, if your venue offers an in-house bar, the venue manager will oversee its operation and the bartenders.
If your venue has in-house catering, you’ll likely have a separate venue manager and catering captain. Different venues have different processes, but in general, your main point of contact leading up to the wedding will be the venue manager; they’ll then pass the details of your food and beverage service onto the catering captain for execution on the day. The venue manager may or may not be on-site on the wedding day in this case, or they may be on-site for the beginning of the day to help get everything started and leave after dinner.
Likely, what you’re most concerned about for the wedding day is who is going to set up your decor (think guest book, escort cards, card box, any DIY projects, etc.), who is going to execute the day, and more. In most cases, a venue manager will NOT handle these things. There are some exceptions to that rule, but more on that later.
If you’re wanting someone that will handle these tasks on your wedding day, you’ll want to look into hiring a wedding planner or coordinator. This person will handle all aspects of the day-of to ensure everything runs smoothly and on time; that would include timeline maintenance, liaising with all vendors, setting up decor, executing the ceremony and reception, assisting guests as needed, etc. A wedding planner will of course help you to source and contract vendors, whereas a wedding coordinator will start working with you closer to your wedding to finalize details leading up to the wedding (for our Bursties, this process typically starts three to four months out from the wedding date).
Some venues do offer what is typically referred to as “day-of coordination.” Now, this could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The crucial difference here is if your venue is outsourcing your day-of coordination, or if they have an in-house employee that handles this. If coordination is something your venue handles in-house, it will likely only cover anything that actually occurs within the venue. This could include setting up and tearing down your decor, running your on-site ceremony, and overseeing your reception but wouldn’t include anything prior to you getting to the venue like keeping track of your hair and makeup schedule, executing an off-site ceremony, managing off-site photos, etc. On the flip side, if your venue outsources wedding coordination to a planning company, this is when you’ll get full service on the wedding day from hair and makeup all the way until your grand exit.
If you’re overwhelmed by what your venue may or may not provide, just ask! Get a clear list of what they will and won’t handle, and it’s always best to have this listed out in the contract just to be safe. Moreover, most planners and coordinators offer free phone or video call consultations, so if you’re considering their services, we recommend chatting with them to determine if their services will be beneficial to you on wedding day.
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