The majority of my clients, during our initial consultation, want to know what it is that I can do for them. At these consultations, newly engaged brides and grooms have an understanding that my services will make the wedding planning process easier for them, but aren't 100% sure how.
I should first start out by stating that wedding planners, wedding coordinators and venue managers all play important roles on your wedding day; however, those roles differ.
Let's start with Wedding Planners ...
If you've seen The Wedding Planner, you saw Jennifer Lopez in all of her crisp blazer'd glory working with a bride and groom who want her to help them make all of their wedding day decisions. Her role as a wedding planner was what those of us in the industry like to call "Full Planning".
I work with couples as a wedding planner and the level of involvement varies per wedding. While some couples want me to attend their food and wine tastings others would rather I weigh in only on the timeline and vendor recommendation. Regardless, hiring a planner means that you want professional guidance and assistance in getting from Point A to Point B. If you think that you'd like to work with a wedding planner, I recommend hiring them shortly after your engagement - it'll make the entire process go much more smoothly.
Wedding coordination is part of the wedding planning process; however, there is less involvement from the planner. Most wedding planners offer coordination as part of their planning package, but some offer coordination only. Coordination is a valuable service, and I highly recommend it to all couples.
A good wedding coordinator will work with you at least three weeks prior to your wedding day so that they can get on the same page and begin to take some of the last-minute tasks off of your plate. Wedding Coordinators will work with vendors to make sure that they have the details they need, will put together a timeline for you and most importantly, will make sure that your wedding day goes smoothly so that you can enjoy it without worry.
Prior to going solo with my planning, I was working as a Venue Manager. Many folks would tell me that I was willing to do much more than the average manager for them, and I quickly realized that they were right. Since I was invested in the planning aspect, I was willing to be more hands-on with our clients. The role of a Venue Manager will vary based on how involved the company wants to get.
Primarily, the Venue Managers job is sales and opening/closing the space, leading tours and coordinating deliveries on the wedding day. I've worked with venues where I met the Venue Manager once and others where the Venue Manager tells me that they are relieved to have me on-site because they often get stuck handling all of the coordination themselves. The important thing to remember here is that while you might have someone available that enjoys a hands-on approach to your wedding, they aren't getting paid to do so and as a client you should make sure to check-in with them upon booking the space to figure out what that level of involvement will be. You don't want to be in a position where you're assuming that they'll handle your decor setup only to find out that they've scheduled tours the morning of your wedding.
You can see that while all of these positions are industry-related, they vary in the services that you're acquiring. It's important to decide which services you need on your wedding day so that you can make sure to contact the proper professional.