Difference Between a Venue Manager & Event Planner
By Kastina / March 4, 2019
Coming from years as an event venue manager I thought it might be helpful if I break this one down for all of us once and for all. Although the difference can vary between types of events – we’ll roll with weddings and the responsibilities typically involved with a wedding.
The Event Venue Manager is in charge of just that, the venue. You signed a contract and they are in charge of ensuring that is upheld and the space operates effectively for your event. Electricity, lights, water, plumbing, heat/cool, wifi, and all direct facility-related responsibilities. A lot of ‘behind the scenes’ management. I think of being a venue manager as I would a stage manager during a production; they are calling the shots in the ‘back of house’. Here’s an example list, ’cause we all like lists:
Venue Manager Responsibilities:
- Unlocking the doors
- Turning on the lights (fixing those lights if they are out)
- Ensuring the space is clean and clear (cleaning if it’s not, mopping/sweeping)
- Ensuring floor plan is correct including all tables and chairs provided by the venue
- Ensuring any other contracted equipment is set and ready (ie. audio or visual, easels, signage)
- Answering parking & load-in related questions
- Directing vendors to correct entrances during load-in & load-out
- Coordinating with vendors about any electrical & water/plumbing needs
- Coordinating with vendors regarding any venue related installations (ie. hanging chandeliers)
- Coordinating with vendors regarding cleaning up post-set-up, trash receptacles, and storage needs
- Ensuring building temperature is controlled and maintained
- Ensuring the venue’s first aid kit is prepared and available
- If they provide ‘in-house sound’ through their speakers, ensuring that is managed during the event
- Helping to provide space and safety for guests with special needs (nursing mothers, or grandma got overheated during the outdoor ceremony)
- Maintaining cleanliness & stocking of bathroom facilities
- Assist in managing any unruly or intoxicated guests (alongside bar manager, important for liability reasons)
- Coordination with any on-site security, also for any unruly, intoxicated guests or any medical emergencies
- Coordination of load-out & locking up of venue at the very end
What they are NOT in charge of (a short overview):
- Directing your detailed timeline and you, the wedding party, your family, and generally not in charge of micro-managing your guests (ie for a sparkler send-off at the end of the night)
- Your stuff – typically they are not in charge of setting up your decor (ie special signs, table numbers, guest book, place cards)
- Your vendor service details – they aren’t in charge of double-checking that the DJ plays certain songs or that the florist remembers to put flowers on your cake etc.
EVENT or WEDDING PLANNER
An Event Planner or Wedding Planner is in charge of you, your guests and often directing your vendors too. They call the shots – keeping the timeline moving as the pieces fall into place during set-up throughout the event and into tear down. The event planner is the overall event leader since they are representing you, the client, and all the goals, visions and dreams you discussed leading up to the big day. You can’t work the day-of so this person handles all the little details you brought into the plan that your other vendors aren’t in charge of; they tie it all together and direct the flow. Overall the planner handles all the visible details – ‘front of house’ details. Of course, your planner also helps plan the entire day, even before you get to the venue – they make sure the entire experience comes together from start to finish.
I like to think of being an event or wedding planner like being a director of the show.
Other than all the planning & logistical organization leading up to the big day – here’s an example ‘Day-of Coordinator’ list condensed into sections.
‘Day-Of’ Planner Responsibilities:
Decor Set-Up – items you provide, created, or ordered on your own that are not contracted through any other vendor.
- Welcome Sign, Guest Book, Card Box, Cake Topper, Program Sign, Escort Carts or Seating Chart, Unity Symbol, Table Numbers, Favors, etc. etc.
Vendor Details – double-checking special details you’ve planned with your vendors
- Did the florist remember flowers for the cake? Did the DJ remember your officiant wanted a handheld microphone? Is the photographer keeping up with the timeline and shot list? Did the shuttle show up to the right door at the hotel? Have we all double-checked the audio is working everywhere?
The Timeline – As the director of the show, they are the one calling the shots, cueing the starting points, ensuring everyone is running on-time and if someone or something falls behind they are problem-solving on the fly. Managing and directing all the moving parts and ironing out glitches is the majority of the day.
- Ensuring set-up is done prior to guest arrival
- Ensuring transportation is running smoothly
- Cueing the prelude music
- Lining up the officiant and wedding party for the ceremony
- Cueing the ceremony/processional
- Lining up the wedding party for the grand march
- Cueing the grand march
- Cueing the toasts
- Cue cake cutting or opening of dessert
- Ensure late-night food comes out or is ordered
- Coordinate with late night transportation
Clean-Up & Load-Out – Not all planners stay for clean-up (K&Co does), some might pack-up after dinner and leave you with a few things to remember at the end, but here’s what it should look like.
- Clean-up & pack-up any special ceremony decor (unity symbol, aisle decor, programs)
- Pack-up any dinner decor (table numbers, guest book, cake topper, cake cutting sets)
- Clean-up and pack-up any other personal decor, ensure that you’ve gathered all your personal items from any dressing rooms.
- Ensure that gifts and cards go home with whomever you designated
- Coordinate and keep on-time any vendors coming for tear-down (typically florist)
I like to use a theater analogy a lot considering event production. Your venue manager is in charge of the stage, set pieces, load in, load out; overall all the behind the scenes policy and procedures, a lot of logistics the wedding clients and their guests never see. Your event planner is your director. They direct you and the show cues; everything your audiences’ attention should be directed towards.
I hope this detailed list helps everyone! THE END.