While there are certainly similarities in skillsets when it comes to In-House Wedding Coordinators and Wedding Planners, there are some marked differences between the two and ultimately which service you require will boil down to two things; the type of venue you end up choosing and the amount of work you as a couple are willing to put in during your wedding planning process. It is very common for there to be some confusion between the job roles and so it so important to distinguish the different tasks each party undertakes. Alice from Alice Heydon Events is just the person to lend us a little (a lot of!) insight into both roles and to help you decide which is right for your day.

Image: Ring & Veil 

In-House Wedding Coordinator

An in house wedding coordinator is someone who works for a singular or group of venues.  When you send in a venue enquiry, that person is there to answer you.  They send you information about the venue, prices, packages, what is and isn’t included, and what the venue can provide you on your wedding day.

Once you have paid your deposit, it is likely you won’t hear from an in house coordinator until about 2-3 months before your wedding (unless you have venue or package related questions along the way). Don’t be disheartened by this! They haven’t forgotten about you, but they have many other weddings before yours that need their attention first.

About 2-3 months out, you’ll get an email from an in house coordinator starting to finalise all the details for your wedding day at the wedding venue. This includes which vendors you have chosen, their contact details and the times they will be arriving and departing, your initial timings from the ceremony right through to cocktail hour and reception, and your choices for food and drink (excluding BYO venues.)  They will be able to advise where things can and can’t go on your floor plan in relation to the number of tables and chairs, fire exits, power points, kitchen/bar access and general venue flow.

They will write you a venue run sheet, draw floor plans and finalise your estimated final bill. Bear in mind that you will have to confirm your final numbers at least 2 weeks before for the operational side of the venue (aka the kitchen and bar departments!) to order your food and drink for your guest count. Remember you can always go down in numbers, but it’s very hard to go up!

It is however very important to note that not all in house coordinators are function managers. Whilst it is common for them to be able to organise your wedding in the office and run your wedding on the actual day, some venues have two different people filling these roles and so it is so important for their handover that all of your details are correct. It is also important that you as the client meet the function manager beforehand so you are comfortable that your day is in the right hands.

A function manager is different again in that they are the people who actually run your wedding with their staff.  Setting the rooms to your specifications, coordinating the vendors’ arrival and departure, checking off inventory items as they go, serving your guests food and drink, and clearing up afterwards.  In a nutshell, these people work for the venue, and they make your day happen. They are not responsible for décor, styling and collecting everything together after you leave, although some will do this for an extra fee, and so this is something you as the client must arrange beforehand.

Image: Ring & Veil 

Wedding Planner

A wedding planner however is someone who works externally.  They are a singular person or company of people who work for you the client, as opposed to a venue.  Once you’ve found your perfect match, your wedding planner is your lifeline throughout your wedding planning journey.  They organise everything, from the venue and catering to the photographers and videographers, entertainment, catering, celebrant or religious venue, stationery, cake and many more. Some will address, send out and receive all your invitations and some will even come dress shopping with you.  They love spreadsheets, writing lists, logically planning things in a coherent manner, and ticking off boxes as they go.

They know all the best people, they know how things should be done and in what order.  Some have worked operationally and have a fantastic knowledge of how venues work, some are also stylists and curate beautiful wedding designs, and some are also coordinators, who will be there on the day from start to finish making sure your vision materialises the way you both planned it.

It is also very important to note that a wedding planner does not necessarily have all of these traits.  Some are not creative and just very good at planning, some do not coordinate your day for you because thinking on their feet is not what they’re good at.  If you decide to hire a wedding planner, it is crucial you have a very frank conversation right at the beginning so both parties understand the scope of work, and what each expects from the other. A good wedding planner will initiate this conversation right off the bat, and those are the ones you should trust the most because they are clear and honest in their offering.

A wedding planner is also a sounding board. Unlike a venue coordinator or function manager, a wedding planner is someone you can talk to when you’re confused, or when you’re freaking out because you can’t decide which colour table linen to have.

Header Image and This Image: Ring & Veil

Images: Amy Tomlinson Photography

So which do you need for your day? Someone to help you plan right from the beginning? Or do you need someone there on the day making sure what you have organised yourself happens? Do you need someone to bounce ideas off? Or do you think you have it sorted and will be comfortable bringing everything together when the time comes?  Ultimately these are the questions you have to ask yourself, and the answers will determine if you require a wedding planner or not.

There is however an out.  If you have an all-inclusive venue you may not need one, but if you have a BYO venue, it is strongly recommended and sometimes required that you hire an on the day coordinator.  These people are the godlike creatures who come in a month or two before to take over from you and bring it all together so you don’t have to worry or stress that your plans aren’t going to happen the way you want them to.

An on the day coordinator will confirm your vendors, organise your run sheets and timelines, draw floor plans and then be there on the day to set everything up and pack everything down.  They are the perfect intermediary to be able to have the best of both worlds, especially if you have a smaller budget.

Images (L-R): Kate Drennan Photography and Ring & Veil

A wedding is hailed as one of the most expensive days of your life, and who you choose to be leading the charge, while certainly may rest upon a few factors including your venue choice and budget, will determine the quality of how well your day is organised, created and produced.  It is so important that you do your research beforehand.  Meet with a few wedding planners and venues and their coordinators to make sure you find the right fit.  Have a coffee, discuss your needs, wants and expectations, and together you will find the right person/or people to help you have the most amazing day!

Image: Amy Tomlinson Photography

About Alice Heydon Events: Alice Heydon Events is a Perth based premium planner and stylist with more than 17 years of experience in the industry.  Specialising in bold colourful design and using the unique personal ingredients each couple brings to the table, Alice takes great care to create a truly magical and Instagram worthy event. She is also the creator of Little White Wedding Book, an educational online wedding planning website and owner of Perth Wedding Giveaway; Perth’s premium wedding competition where couples can win up to $10,000 towards their wedding day.