The lines are often blurred when it comes to "who is doing what" on your wedding day. This is not something you want to leave to chance or to figure out in the moment. The best approach is be proactive and have a conversation with each of your vendors about what role they play on your wedding day. You don't want to end up in a situation where you're saying, "I assumed the caterer would..." or "I assumed the venue would..."
Being a wedding planner, I'm often asked how my role is different from that of a venue or catering coordinator. Some couples question whether they need a wedding coordinator, or if it'll just be overkill. My professional opinion is that it's never overkill to have a wedding coordinator, but the list below will help you determine that for yourself.
After working in dozens of venues and with many different caterers, I've compiled a list of things that some venues and caterers might not do. It's a good list to look over, talk through with your contacts, and determine for yourself whether you'll want a wedding coordinator by your side in order to exceed your expectations for a seamless wedding experience.
Your caterer and/or venue coordinator *might* not:
In advance of the wedding weekend...
Create a floor plan that's ideal for your guest count and desired flow
Create Plan B and C layouts, to reflect changes in COVID restrictions and weather
Communicate these layouts to other vendors and double check for setup requirements, power needs, etc.
Build a minute-by-minute timeline, outlining all cues and who is responsible for what
Contact your vendors ahead of your wedding to coordinate on logistics
Double check all rental orders and deliveries as guest count and event needs shift
Advise and help coordinate all necessary changes due to everchanging COVID restrictions
During the wedding weekend...
Oversee tenting installation (and all correlated rentals) to ensure they go according to plan
Double check rental deliveries to make sure all inventory is accounted for
Run your ceremony rehearsal and answer all pre-wedding questions
Help to manage your wedding party, making sure everyone knows where to be and when
Act as a point of contact for all of your vendors to reach out to on the wedding day
Run point on all weather-related changes and decision making
Setup personal items provided by the wedding couple: seating chart or escort cards, candles and tableware, guest book, card box, etc.
Do quality control on all setup to make sure it looks how you envisioned: laying linens, setting chairs, floral installations, lighting, and more.
Run your wedding ceremony: overseeing setup, cueing musicians, lining up for the processional, cueing all parties to walk, fluffing the bride's train
Run your reception: overseeing setup, cueing all transitions and making sure everyone is where they need to be ahead of time, communicating with all vendors, the couple, and wedding party throughout the evening, cueing formalities.
Pack up personal items and store in a safe place
Your caterer and/or venue coordinator will *most likely* not:
Plan your transportation schedule
Coordinate schedules for hair and makeup and getting ready
Liaise with any vendors outside of those who are contracted to work at the venue site
Coordinate with hotel properties + accommodations
Consult on final payments and gratuities
Coordinate pre-ceremony and reception: hair and makeup, getting ready, first look, and wedding party photos
Advise on ancillary wedding events: welcome reception, rehearsal dinner, brunch
Oversee transportation and stay in communication with drivers
Provide a wedding day kit with personal and emergency supplies
Assist with attire + gown management - bustling and fixing stains
Be by the wedding couple's side to make sure they stay stress-free
Attend to family and VIP guests, help with any challenging family dynamics so that the wedding couple doesn't have to be involved
Keep the wedding couple away from making any micro decisions on the wedding day, only bringing an issue to them if there are financial implications
Assist with loading personal items into vehicles at the end of the night
I'm sure there may be some things that I'm missing, but these are the big ones that come to mind.
It's important to understand that in order for a wedding day to exceed expectations and run smoothly, there needs to be one person at the helm to direct. Gain an understanding from your venue and catering contact to understand who will be running point on your wedding day: sometimes, your contact in planning and your contact on the day-of are two different people. Then, ask questions to better understand exactly what kind of role they'll be playing in the weeks leading up to the wedding and on the day-of.
Also to note: tented celebrations, four wall rentals, and at-home weddings should *always* have a wedding coordinator, at minimum. If you're planning a wedding in a space that does not have a hands-on venue rep, you absolutely need a wedding coordinator to help you plan, oversee all setup, and manage the event.
I hope that this helps! If you're a couple that's struggling to determine if hiring a wedding coordinator is the right move for you, let's do a free consult to talk through your plans and talk about how we'd work together.