There are lots of blog posts out there discussing the difference between wedding planners and wedding coordinators (I’ve written one myself!) However, there is very little written about what makes a good wedding venue coordinator and why so many venues are getting this wrong!
After many years as a wedding planner here in Wales, I have worked in countless wedding venues, with myriad venue coordinators – many many fabulously good ones, some who are OK and some who it has to be said, are just terrible! But is this the main problem?
A number of years ago, as alluded to above, I wrote a blog post about the difference between wedding planners and venue coordinators. At that time, I was finding it increasingly frustrating that couples often said to me “we don’t need a wedding planner, our venue has a coordinator” when I was acutely aware that venue coordinators are responsible for looking after the venue and their priority wasn’t the couple choosing their wedding venue as the place to celebrate the most important day of their lives and they absolutely didn’t do the job that a wedding planner did, whose sole focus was the couple – their clients and ensuring they had a carefully planned, executed and fabulous wedding day.
So often as well, when I told people what I did for a living, they would say “oh we wish we’d known about you when we got married, our venue coordinator was awful and we could definitely have done with someone like you on our wedding day”.
Now please, please, please don’t think, I am tarring all venue coordinators out there with the same brush! I know many completely awesome venue coordinators who really do go above and beyond for their clients (and I should know, I’ve trained lots of them and worked with even more!) and I also know that there are so many fabulous coordinators out there, who want to do the absolute best for their clients, but the venues pile so much onto them, that they just don’t have the time and capacity to deal with their wedding clients in the way that both they and their clients would wish.
So it got me thinking…..
Why can’t venue coordinators just be given the opportunity to be better?
And why aren’t they being given the opportunity to bring the love of planning someone’s wedding and supporting the couple on their special day to their venue coordinator’s role and combine it with providing a seamless service on behalf of the venue?
Now, some venue coordinators reading this, might say “but when you run weddings day in, day out at the same venue, you can’t help but feel jaded and it’s hard to treat each couple differently”.
I get that, but I don’t think it’s an excuse! My background is in retail management and I worked for a number of years in large retail stores. It didn’t matter if I was having a good or bad day, I still smiled at every customer and was friendly… because that’s what I was there to do (don’t even get me started on bad customer service, that’s a whole other rant!)
This is no different, in fact I think it’s even more vital to get right, because, I don’t care how many weddings they’ve done, how many days they’ve worked on the trot, how many couples they’ve dealt with or what their budget is… in the wedding industry, to that couple, on that day, the coordinator is there to ensure that it is the most important day of that couple’s lives! To guarantee that the day they have planned to the smallest detail and possibly stretched to afford, is absolutely WONDERFUL!
That’s it! because if the coordinator hasn’t for whatever reason excelled in their role and made that couple’s wedding experience fabulous, then the venue has let that client down and the couple will remember that…. and tell all their friends – and is that really the publicity you want as a venue?
Having offered freelance wedding venue coordination for venues in Wales over a number of years, running endless weddings on behalf of venues, I fully appreciate the challenges of the role and the differences between the expectations of venue coordinators and wedding planners, which is why I know, first hand that it can be done better by venues.
So how do we change the perception of venue coordinators and offer a far superior level of venue coordination service?
How do we improve the reputation of wedding venues and ultimately their success and profitability?
Honestly? I think it’s very simple…
1. Time, Focus and Training
If weddings are important to the venue as a business and profit driver, then the wedding team deserves and needs to be properly valued and invested in!
Is the team big enough to cope with the number of wedding bookings? Are weddings given the focus and investment required to enable the coordinators to go above and beyond?
Do the wedding teams also have to spin numerous other plates and wear many different hats? And is this justified?
Are they given the training they need? Do they know how to undertake a killer showround and run a wedding perfectly?
Even the most committed, fabulous, customer focused coordinator can only take so much and achieve so much without the necessary tools!
2. Organisation, communication and follow up
Communication throughout the planning process is key, no matter how many weddings are on the go. If the clients are not fully confident in the ability of the coordinator, don’t feel fully engaged or can’t get the answers they need, they will panic and will either increase their level of contact; which can prove very time consuming for the venue or retreat and complain about the coordinator to their friends, family and other suppliers. This might not be the coordinator’s fault, but a wedding is an emotional as well as financial investment for the clients so they need to be made to feel valued.
2. People buy people
This is a customer facing role and above all else, the coordinator must be friendly, smiley, confident and engaging. This is absolutely fundamental to their success! The couple need to feel reassured in their presence, comfortable with them and delighted that they will be on hand throughout the day’s proceedings. This can’t be taught. You’re either a people person or you’re not. Is your coordinator?
3. Remember what this day means
This is the most special day of this couple’s life and they certainly don’t want to be made to feel that they are on a wedding conveyor belt!
Make them feel that they are the only couple ever to get married in your venue. It has to be all about them!
4. There are ways of saying ‘no’
Many venues have restrictions, such as candles, fireworks, corkage or curfews. However, a clear explanation as to the reasons behind these decisions upfront rather than waiting for the clients to notice them in the Ts&Cs after they’ve paid their deposits, will go a long way to pacify a potentially inflammatory situation and might even secure a booking the venue may otherwise have lost.
5. Go above and beyond
One of my biggest bug bears is when the coordinator retreats to their office and hides behind their computer for the day, only popping up when food service is imminent. They are there to run a wedding and the venue must make them available to do so, for when the couple or their guests need them. The emails need to be able to wait until Monday!
So, calm the bride’s worries before her walk up the aisle, froof her dress for her, chat to the bridesmaids, pop the bouquet in a vase of water so it doesn’t wilt, chat to the dads who are nervous about giving a speech, reassure the MC who’s panicking about the timings to announce the cake cutting, get the groom’s granny a cup of tea if she’s flagging – even if its not in the package. It’s the little things that really stand out, make a difference to the couple and make the coordinator’s job that much more fulfilling and enjoyable.
Plus, the testimonials are lovely to receive too…
“Zoë – you were an absolute dream, so calm and I could totally relax knowing that you were dealing with everything. If there were any problems, I wasn’t aware, which just shows how good you are!”
Lucy & Pedro
“Thank you so much for coordinating our wedding day. You were ‘on the ball’ for the entire day and made the whole day run so smoothly. Many of our guests have commented on how professional and friendly you were and my grandparents in particular want to thank you for ensuring they had cups of tea throughout the day! I’m convinced that the day would not have run as well without you, so thank you very much!”
Jay & Scott
“Thank you for everything on Sunday. You were a massive help to make everything run smoothly and couldn’t have been more attentive”
Hannah & Alex
“Thank you so much Zoë. We literally had the best day of our lives and we are extremely grateful for all of your help.”
Kirsty & Ryan
We offer bespoke training packages for your in-house venue coordinators, to ensure that they have the tools in place to provide ‘above and beyond’ service to your clients and truly stand out in the wedding industry for all the right reasons!
We can also provide your venue with highly trained, professional, freelance wedding venue coordinators. We offer a variety of packages to meet the needs of your wedding venue business.
“Zoë is ultra-efficient, extremely professional, warm, friendly and is never without a smile, however busy she may be. She has demonstrated on every occasion that she understands the demands of a high end venue and the expectations that couples have when booking their wedding with us.”
Karen Davies, Commercial Director at St. Donat’s Castle & Arts Centre
To find out more, contact [email protected]