Four Differences between a Venue Coordinator and a Party Planner/“Day-of” Director

We get this question all the time, why do I need to hire someone to run the day-of my event when my venue has someone with a similar title. Without going into too much detail, here are the biggest differences between the two, and why it is beneficial to have a specific “Day-of” Director.

  1. Turnover
  • When you book at a venue, you are booking and contracting with the venue; therefore, there is absolutely no guarantee the person you met with will still be working at the venue by the time your event arrives. In some cases they will have left very detailed notes on your event to guide their replacement, but that is not always the case. By contrast, when you contract with a party planner be it for full-planning services, day-of only, or anything in-between your contract will include the name of the person you are working with to guarantee (barring emergencies) they will personally be there.
  • Real Life Examples:
    • One of our current clients is having their son’s Bar Mitzvah at a major hotel chain. They have personally been assigned three different venue coordinators in the past year, and are still four months away from their event. When the first person assigned left in less than two months our client said the following, “I’m glad you are on our side […] One of my concerns in going with a hotel was the constant turnover as is already happening.” As he said, he was glad that he had a private planner and day-of coordinator who would know all the ins and outs leading up to and the day-of his son’s Bar Mitzvah.
  1. Staying the Night
  • Let’s say that the Venue Coordinator you originally met with is still at your venue when your party arrives. Your contract with the venue does not state that a particular person would stay from start (the set-up and arrival of all your vendors) to finish (the breakdown of all your vendors) or even at all; it just says that staff will be there. Even if the coordinator you’re working with does plan to stay the entire evening, there may be multiple events happening at your venue at the same time, and it is more than likely your coordinator will be responsible for all of them. By contrast, when you contract with a private, independent party planner you are getting at least one (at SAVE The DATE a minimum of two) people whose entire focus during your event is just your event. They are not thinking about other events going out at the same time or throughout the weekend. Simply put, they are not stretched as thin and truly guarantee they will personally be there from start-to-finish because they are personally contracted to be yours for the entirety of your event. Another note, even if the Venue Coordinator does stay the entire evening and focus solely on your event, more than likely they will not assist with loading your car at the end of the party of all the items (decorations, gifts, favors, and more) which is extremely helpful after an evening of merriment and alcohol. This is something we, at SAVE The DATE make a point of taking care of.
  • Real Life Examples:
    • At a recent wedding the venue coordinator was at the event the entire evening, and was helpful for the vast major of the night; however, she knew that her venue had an unrelated brunch early the next day. Once the guests were out of the room, her and her entire team focused solely on flipping the space, so we were the only ones gathering the items the family was taking and making sure they were able to exit the venue in a timely manner.
  1. Managing all your vendors and guests vs. managing the venue
  • So you got lucky, your original person is still there, and there are no other events at the venue during your party, so your venue coordinator can focus solely on your event. As the coordinator of the venue, their primary role during your event is to make sure that the venue’s responsibilities run smoothly. This is not in any way a bad thing; however, it does mean that they need to focus on the venue first, not necessarily all your vendors and guests. Their job is not to check with your DJ, your photographer, and you throughout the evening to make sure everyone is on the same page. They may to offer to do this, but it’s really adding work to their plate rather than being an organic part of what they do. By contrast, a private party planner and day-of director is specifically there to be sure your vision is executed, your vendors are all aware of schedule adjustments, and that your guests are taken care of. Our directors, assistants, and associates specifically go from table to table to ask guests if they are okay and enjoying themselves. Our planners repeatedly check in with all your vendors (including the venue) to ensure everything runs smoothly. Our staff makes sure you, as the hosts, are taken care of; we get you drinks, make sure you eat, and that you and your family partake in all of your entertainment (especially your photo entertainment) to ensure you all walk away happy and regret free.
  • Real Life Examples:
    • At a recent Bar Mitzvah, a venue let go of a staff member (assigned to the party) during the set-up of the event. They did not have someone available to rush in and knew they would be short staffed. The solution? The venue coordinator had experience as a licensed bar tender and jumped in serving the drinks because her primarily responsibility is to ensure that the venue runs as smoothly as possible not to coordinate everything.
    • At a Bar Mitzvah at a country club, a child attendee was dropped off by their parents at the wrong country club and their parents had immediately gone to see a movie which made them unavailable by phone. The country club the child was dropped off at started reaching out to all the local country clubs to figure out where this teen was supposed to be. It turned out they were supposed to be at our client’s event. Because we were there, the club went to us instead of the party hosts, and because we had such a good working relationship with the other club, they agreed to have their security guard transport the teen to the correct party. The venue coordinate at the club we were at had immediately handed us the phone as she was new to the club and did not know the other club manager, but we did.
  1. Event IQ and Supplies
  • A professional, licensed party planner and day-of director (being licensed and insured is the topic of our next blog) comes prepared with the following items in addition to your personalized event details and paperwork: an event checklist to ensure everything is taken care of, an emergency bag to handle a variety physical issues that pop-up, and a wealth of knowledge and experience to pull from. Party planners often joke that they act as therapists at times. Knowing how to emotionally connect with and manage the teens at a B’nai Mitzvah, or the family dynamics at a wedding is something that can never be under appreciated. Having the resources of an event specific emergency bag and a detailed checklist really goes miles in insuring that your event runs smoothly even when the eventual glitch occurs. A Venue Coordinator may be equipped to handle these issues, but again keep in mind that it isn’t their primary responsibility and there’s no guarantee they will be on-site at the particular moment; by contrast, a planner/day-of director goes into an event knowing that miscellaneous hurdles will occur, their job is to make sure the entire party (guests, vendors, etc.) successfully and smoothly make the jump.
  • Real Life Examples:
    • Every event we work has compelling examples of how our emergency bag, our checklist, or simply put our event knowledge helps to put out any fire; however, these are a couple favorites of ours.
  1. IQ – We recently saw a bride, whose wedding we planned and directed 15 years ago, at a Mitzvah we were directing; and she stressed that she still remembered how we knew that you could remove a deodorant stain from a dress by rubbing the stain on another part of the dress. She said that it saved the day.
  2. Checklist – a client that we helped with planning, but who decided that she did not need day-of help came to us after her son’s Bar Mitzvah saying she regretted not having us there because she had not taken a single photo booth photo during the evening and she knew we would have reminded her. She is correct, this is something we have on our checklist … “be sure the family uses their photo entertainment”.
  3. Emergency Bag – We worked a wedding at a local Italian Restaurant and the bride managed to get marinara sauce on the front of her wedding gown. Among many other things, our emergency bag had shout wipes which actually did take the stain right out and allowed her to get back to her party.
  4. The Combination – At one wedding, a dress hem fell out and we had to sew the bottom of the dress with dental floss (knowing it would hold stronger than regular thread). At another wedding a groomsmen couldn’t get his kippah to stay on his head because he had a shaved head, so our roll of fashion tape to the rescue!

Think of a day-of Director as a head coach and a cruise director rolled into one. A head coach to ensure all your specialized vendors (DJ, Photographer, venue, caterer, and more) are following the same playbook i.e. your event timeline while adjusting as necessary; and a cruise director because they are there to ensure you and your guests are well taken care of, and having fun from start to finish.

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