My very first "real" job right out of college was the Catering Sales Director at a wedding venue. We were like a wedding factory with around 130 weddings every year. Now I'm taking Tuesday weddings, Thursday weddings, Friday, two on Saturday and two weddings on Sunday. My entire life was weddings...well, it still is :)
As the Catering Sales Director of the property, I gave the tours when couples first came in at the beginning of their engagement, booked the couples who chose our venue, planned their weddings with them (yes, we coordinated too!) and was there on their wedding day to send them down the aisle! You're probably thinking, "Wow, why doesn't my venue do that?" Well before you feel like you chose the wrong venue, I will tell you now that this is very rare for a venue to act as your full-service wedding coordinator. Very very rare.
The Definition of "Coordinator"
Here is where it gets tricky...
Most venues are going to include a "coordinator" that comes along with your package when you book the venue. But what is the definition of a coordinator? The problem is that there is no one definition, and every venue has a different interpretation of this word!
The Truth of the Matter
The truth is that most venues do not have someone who will be coordinating your wedding and if you want a coordinator, you will have to hire someone in addition to your venue. And no, I am not saying that every venue out there is lying to you about what they are going to provide, because 99.9% of them are telling the truth! The problem is that we still haven't clarified what a coordinator does.
In the eyes of the venue:
A coordinator is someone who will be there on your wedding day to ensure the doors are unlocked, the tables and chairs are set up as you asked, and that the food is served right on time per your timeline. And if your ceremony is on site, there will generally be someone there to send you down the aisle. This all sounds great, right? Absolutely! It is so nice when a venue is able to ensure everything is done according to a timeline and everything is set up exactly as you had imagined.
A venue coordinator will generally take care of everything that you have purchased or rented from them. If you rented the tables and chairs from the venue, then they will make sure they are set up! If the linens are provided by the venue, then they will be set up by the venue coordinator. And so on.
So what else is there?
What is missing are the items that you have not purchased or rented from the venue. The escort cards or seating chart, the favors, the additional decor, your DIY centerpieces. See where I am going with this?
If you think about it, most couples tour venues on weekends and most weddings take place on weekends. So you cannot expect your venue coordinator to be there for the entire set up of your wedding, be by your side throughout every moment of the day AND do 10 venue tours that day, right?? If only there was a way!
As you all know, every single venue is different. Some will fall right with my definition of a venue coordinator and some will do absolutely everything for you. But you cannot just assume that you know their definition...so ASK! Before you sign a contract, ask what items will be taken care of by the venue and which items will not. That way, there are no surprises (or tears) come your wedding day when there is no "coordinator" there to set up and you are there in your wedding dress setting favors on the tables. Sounds terrible, doesn't it??
I have seen bride after bride, upset about a venue that is no longer willing to coordinate her wedding day, according to her definition. So be safe rather than sorry and get it in writing before any contract is signed!