What's the real difference between a venue coordinator and a wedding planner? September 15 2015

I started a blog series a few months back after my older brother got engaged and I realized that a lot of the traditions from our grandparents days and our parents wedding days were outdated and no longer suited the modern day couple. You can read the last blog series on "what to bring to an engagement party" here.  A lot of my brides say they're biggest regret about their wedding was not hiring a wedding planner. Almost every single friend, or customer has said that to me after the wedding. I wanted to give you the inside scoop from a friend of mine who's an amazing planner and does the most beautiful work about why a wedding planner should be part of your day and budget. They're worth every penny! Let me introduce you to Danielle, of Shaw Events. 


I’m so honoured that Hattie has asked me to guest blog for her! Let me tell you a little about myself! I’m Danielle, and I’m a wedding planner. I run my own business, Shaw Events – and we offer planning, styling and vintage rental services in Niagara, Hamilton and the GTA.  I have been in the event world since 2009 - having had opportunities to learn from leading industry planners that resulted in a role as venue coordinator at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Finally, it was time to go full time with my business – and here I am, planning and executing 15 + weddings per season! I am so grateful for the work I do – and really appreciate the relationships I gain with every client. 


Hattie has asked me to explain my role in weddings – and share a few behind the scenes secrets you might not know. Lets start here: you have just gotten engaged. Now what? Many couples start by booking a date and a venue. Once you’ve done that, you ask what’s next? Then the coordinator at your selected venue says ‘don’t worry! We take care of the day!’ Leaving you confused as to what that includes.


So what is the real difference between a ‘venue coordinator and a wedding planner’? Do you need both? My answer of course- is yes! A venue coordinator works for the venue. It is their role to liaise with the caterer and ensure meals go to the right guests, at the right time. They may even offer to set up your décor, or set out your favours. Great! But who is dealing with the multiple vendors weeks before your wedding? Not the venue coordinator. Who is creating a day of itinerary, handling guest RSVPs and meal choices, or styling that décor you picked up over the last year? Not the venue coordinator.

That’s where a wedding planner shines. They work for you. No matter what capacity you work with them, they will be the one styling your day, organizing the details and saving the day with their trusted emergency kit. (Let me tell you, I’ve sewn my fair share of bridesmaid dresses, removed stains from wedding dresses and handed out boxes of band-aids).


Once you make the decision to hire a wedding planner, you need to consider what type of package you would like. Think about how much of the planning you realistically want, and can do! On average it takes a couple over 250 hours to plan their wedding. Do you have time for this while also working your own full time job? And when it comes to choosing the elements for your day, do you want to select linens in the perfect shade of pink to compliment your florals? If this doesn’t sound like something that thrills you, hiring a full planner may be a smart move!

A full planner will be there with you from start to finish – helping you make decisions throughout the process. They make sure you are choosing trusted vendors and keeping within budget, all while making the process enjoyable for you. And contrary to some beliefs – a planner will not ‘take over’ your day. They will do as much or as little as you want them to! 

Another option for couples is partial planning. This is for those who want to customize a package and have help in the areas they find challenging. You might only want help choosing one or two vendors, or want someone to give you direction with a customized timeline.

Lastly, there’s month of coordination. This is for those who want to plan their day completely – but want a planner to step in 6 weeks before to tie up loose ends, coordinate all of the vendors involved, and be on site they day of the wedding - to make it as stress free as possible.


Whatever type of bride and groom you might be, having a wedding planner will be one of the smartest decisions of your planning experience!

To recap, here are the top 5 things a wedding planner wants you to know about “wedding planners:
  1. A venue coordinator and wedding planner are very different – and you need both!

  2. Planning packages can be tailored to suit your needs – just ask.

  3. We are not out to ‘take over’ your day. We are there to enhance the experience and give trusted advice.

  4. We put our hearts and souls into every wedding we plan – every wedding, and every couple is important.

  5. There will be a planner out there that’s perfect for you. Look for someone who has a style you enjoy and a personality to match!


Thank you so much to Hattie for the opportunity to write my very first blog post! Please check out my website www.shawevents.ca, Instagram @shaw_events and like us on facebook @dshawevents If you’re planning a wedding, and need some help – reach out!

Happy Planning! Xo Danielle

Thanks for reading another one of my blog series on a new generation of weddings, for the modern couple. Thanks so much Danielle for being our first guest post. If you haven't checked out our workshop blog. Click here. We're hosting another one in Roncesvalles, Toronto on October 4th. You design it. Hattitude will build it.