Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On-Site Event Coordinators vs….well, US.

Hotels and many private venues that make their space available for private events boast that they offer on-site coordinators to help you plan and run your event. Wonderful! That means you’ll have a coordinator at your beck and call at all times!

Hold on, not so fast.

An on-site coordinator is NOT the same as a professional event planner. Although helpful and knowledgeable (we here at HJ work with great ones all the time), these coordinators are there for the building or event space and NOT you.

Wow, that’s a lot of emphasized “NOTs”!

Yes, it is, mainly because there are a lot of “NOTs” associated with on-site coordinators.

(Disclaimer: before we go any further, we must say that we are not anti-on-site coordinators. We find these coordinators extremely helpful, kind and enthusiastic about working with HJ Planners.)

What are these NOTs? On-site planners:

  • Do not help you find vendors or negotiate contracts.
  • Do not advise you on how to handle sticky etiquette situations.
  • Do not help you find a new vendor if your original choice falls through.

The list could be endless and, honestly, might make on-site coordinators look bad, which is NOT the purpose of this article.

There are two main qualities of on-site coordinators that every couple should know:

1. They are focused on the building/event space and not necessarily your wedding.

On-site coordinators want your event to go well, they hope that everything runs perfectly, but – their main concern is that the rules of the space are followed and that the space remains unblemished. They are not bothered if your band refuses to play for an hour because they haven’t been feed a hot meal; they are not bothered if your photographer can’t get into the building because they can’t find parking.

2. They don’t create a timeline.

A timeline is the biggest, most essential, most important (please feel free to insert any other adjectives you feel fitting here) tool for any event. If you don’t know what a timeline is, think of it as Eisenhower’s mapped plan for D-Day. A timeline details who goes where, when and what they do when there. It specifies how the numerous aspects of an event interact and ensures that the event itself runs as smoothly. It is a document that quite literally specifies an event’s progression to the minute.

No matter how organized you are or how perfect you believe your vendors to be, you need a timeline. An on-site coordinator won’t have one; in fact, they just might expect you to provide them with one, and it’s pretty likely that you don’t have much experience in creating this type of timeline.

Why a professional planner?

Because they are not tied to a venue, a professional wedding planner can step outside of the venue’s walls (literally) and walk alongside you during the planning process. For the months before your wedding, they direct you to the vendors that can best provide you with what you are looking for and negotiate contracts for services so that they fit within your budget.

Professional planners put out fires when something goes wrong, provide you with alternatives if you don’t like an option and create a timeline. The best part is that they also work with on-site-coordinators to make sure that the space itself is protected and nobody’s feelings are hurt.