sabrina cadini wedding business coach on losing business to venue managers and coordinators as part of the wedding planning success lounge series on periscope and on the blog

Wedding Planning Success Lounge: Stop losing business to venue managers – FREE download

The role of a venue manager / venue coordinator / catering manager is very different from the role of an independent professional wedding planner. Many wedding couples don’t know about the difference. They don’t know what an independent planner can do for them and they are not clear on the role of a venue manager or coordinator. They don’t know that the manager is only in charge of a limited amount of duties during the planning and on the wedding day. For that reason, it is imperative that you educate your couples if you want to get their business.

I took the inspiration for this blog post from a colleague of mine and from personal experience. My colleague planner recently posted on Facebook that she lost business to a venue manager. The couple met with the planner and they asked for an agreement. Before they signed it, the bride called the planner and told her the venue manager would also be their coordinator on site. They would be charged a little more but the venue would provide an additional service by assisting on the wedding day. Therefore, the couple decided not to hire my friend planner. They obviously made a huge mistake. The planner was clearly upset and I was too because the couple believed the venue and they decided not to have a professional planner by their side.

I had a similar experience about a year ago. I met with a couple, they told me they were debating between hiring a wedding coordinator and getting help from the venue manager. I explained the differences between the two roles and the couple seemed to understand them. However, they didn’t listen to me, and they opted for assistance from their venue manager only. A couple of months ago, the bride called me and told me their wedding was a disaster. They relied on the venue manager for everything and gave her all the information pertinent to the vendor team. However, the venue manager apparently didn’t follow up and finalize the details with any of them. The DJ never heard from the couple or the venue manager and he didn’t show up. He certainly did the wrong thing, he was supposed to follow up with the couple to find out about the details. Rentals were delivered in a different location. Flowers were delivered in the right location but they were stored by a staff member and the venue manager was not informed. The ceremony started one hour later because they had to look for the flowers. The bride told me she regretted not hiring me for their wedding and she would be more than happy to leave a review with all the benefits they didn’t get to have because they didn’t select me. I was very sad to hear and there was nothing I could do at that point.

Weddings are once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, there are no repeats, you can‘t take any risks. You should educate your couples on the importance of having an independent planner. She/he should be an addition to the team, not a replacement for venue managers/catering managers/venue coordinators.

Don’t’ get me wrong, I have nothing against venue managers. I work with them every time I have a wedding at a venue. They are fantastic to work with because they’re extremely familiar with the location (they work there every single weekend), they’re familiar with their staff, and with the services they provide. This makes my life easier. However, they don’t replace the job of an independent wedding planner. Both planner and venue manager need to be involved with the wedding and they can work together for outstanding results.

In addition to discussing the two different roles during initial meetings with couples, I have a list of differences in my Wedding Collections booklet that is given at the meeting (or after I receive an inquiry via email).

Let’s take a look at some major differences.

A Venue Manager…

  • Is the main point of contact at the venue. If the venue provides catering services (such as a hotel) they will be in charge of this as well (They’re usually called catering managers)
  • Recommends preferred vendors (these professionals are reliable, experienced, familiar with the location, and respectful about the space)
  • Prepares a Banquet Event Order or Service Order including rentals, layouts, services provided, specific instructions
  • Prepares a diagram for the ceremony and/or reception. Keep in mind that not all venue managers are supposed to provide, therefore, the couple – or the planner – is responsible to create diagrams
  • Will be present during the wedding day (but not there at all times). Sometimes venue managers arrive after vendors have started setup; they have meetings or tour visits with other clients during the day so they’re not at the ceremony and / or at the reception; they’re just around the property and available for assistance. They leave early (usually when guests sit down for the reception dinner or after cake cutting) so they’re not there to collect and pack all the wedding items for the couple at the end of the reception
  • Doesn’t communicate with outside vendors. Venue managers are not supposed to confirm the correct number of bouquets or centerpieces with the florist, they won’t discuss the playlist with the DJ, they won’t confirm the itinerary to the transportation company, etc.). The exception is if they offer an all-inclusive package with photography, officiant, flowers, rentals, catering, entertainment, etc. In that case, venue managers will communicate and coordinate with those vendors

An Independent Professional Planner…

  • Assists with wedding vision, budget, guest list, attire, invitations, etiquette, etc.
  • Coordinates all services with the vendors prior to the wedding day
  • Coordinates the ceremony rehearsal
  • Acts as liaison between couple and family, wedding party, venue, vendors
  • Creates a detailed wedding day timeline including ALL the services provided by the venue and outside vendors (including setup, parking instructions, load-in and load-out instructions, beauty and photography schedules, ceremony processional order, order of events at the reception, etc.) – The Banquet Event Order that is created by the venue manager is only limited to the services provided by the venue, it’s NOT a timeline
  • Will be present on the wedding day from start to finish. I arrive before vendors set up and I leave after everybody leaves
  • Places all wedding items (ceremony programs, escort/place cards, toasting glasses, cake knife and server, etc.) where needed. Family members or friends will need to take care of this if the couple is counting only on the venue manager
  • Transfers ceremony items to the reception area. Again, family members or friends will need to take care of this if the couple is counting only on the venue manager
  • Directs the reception together with the DJ or band. I make sure that the order of events happens as scheduled on the timeline. Venue managers usually leave early and they don’t coordinate the timeline
  • Collects and packs all the wedding items at the end of the reception for the couple to take home. How beneficial can this be? Your couple will be exhausted at the end of their wedding day and you don’t want them to gather everything! With a venue manager, they will need to take care of that
  • Provides an emergency kit for the couple, wedding party and guests. This is not provided by the venue manager; maybe there’s just a first-aid kit on property
  • Assists with pictures after the ceremony. Venue managers don’t take care of this
  • Assists with the dress bustle before cocktail hour. Venue managers won’t be there to take care of this, they will probably be making sure the venue is ready for the reception
  • Distributes final payments and tips to vendors

There are many other aspects that we as independent wedding planners take care of and venue managers don’t, but this gives you an idea of the main differences.

Want to know more? Download the complete list of differences between an on-site venue manager and an independent professional wedding planner below, and share it with your wedding couples!

Stop losing business to venue managers!
Educate your couples with this checklist

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Another thing to keep in mind: there’s a very high turnaround rate at venues (at least here in Southern California). When a couple signs an agreement with a venue manager they might not work with her/him at the wedding because she/he moved to another property. The couple will have to start a relationship with a different person and that will increase their stress level. You, on the other hand, will be their point of contact from start to finish as their professional planner. They won’t have to worry about dealing with the new venue manager because you will be there to take care of it. They can have added peace of mind by working with you.

~~~ LEAVE A COMMENT ~~~ What is the biggest difference you notice between a venue manager and a professional event planner? Share with us here!

~~~ TAKE ACTION ~~~ Create a list of roles that a venue manager or coordinator does for wedding couples, and a list of roles that you as the planner do for your clients. Discuss this when you meet with potential clients to make sure they know what you can do for you and what your value is. If you don’t know all the differences, download my list below!

Need help on how to win your wedding couples’ business? Let’s chat! Schedule your FREE Clarity Call HERE today. I will identify your strengths, weaknesses and come up with a quick action plan.

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