How to deal with a crappy venue-mandated coordinator

Guestpost by Ang on Apr. 7th

I was going through my wedding pics the other day (as married people do on occasion) and I got really pissed. Hiding in the background of several pictures, there's a little girl. She is a constant reminder of the chaos that was the venue-mandated wedding planner.

I could regale you with tales about how my coordinator seemingly did everything in her power to destroy my wedding, but I won't, as that'll make me sound like an ungrateful spiteful harpy. I also don't want to take anything away from what was, overall, a really kick-ass awesome day. I will, however, tell you that her child photobombed my entire wedding.

It makes me even more livid now because I realize that most of it was my own fault.

If you've read about my wedding, you'll see I kept emphasizing the whole thing being "low maintenance." I was so obsessed with not becoming a Bridezilla that I turned into a doormat. Which led to stress and anger at being walked on, which led to guilt for being stressed or angry because only Bridezillas get stressed or angry, right? Which led to even more doormat-ness in an effort to atone for being a Bridezilla, dragging me into a sucking whirlpool of loathing and self-imposed helplessness. This is stupid. Do not do this.

Learn from my mistakes:

[DISCLAIMER: I understand that there is the option of not using a venue who has a required coordinator. I also understand that there are many wonderful venues who have amazing coordinators in their employ. This is not aimed at them — may they live long in the company of baby bunnies. This is advice to people who are locked in with a venue-mandated coordinator, are noticing red flags, and are past the point of no return.]

  • Know the rules of your venue. If we had known in advance that we were required to use the venue coordinator, I would've been able to contact her earlier, and then, would have had time to choose another venue.
  • Have a plan of action. Have an outline of what your plans are, and focus on the information you need to perform them.
  • Be a bossy pants. This is NOT the same as being a Bridezilla. I shudder even saying this since it might be taken out of context, but, as a client, you are the boss AS LONG AS YOU ARE BEING REASONABLE. Bridezilla = If I don't get to use candles I will burn this fucker down! Doormat = "Can we have candles?" Boss = "Let's talk about using candles." And then, give options to choose from, "We plan on having candles. Are open flames acceptable or do we need to use battery powered ones?" If they ignore what you want to talk about, refocus the conversation. "Thanks for bringing that up, but I want to make sure that *insert x* is taken care of before we move onto anything else."
  • Complain early, complain often. If someone isn't living up to their end of the bargain, I go by a one-strike rule. They get one chance to fix it in a timely fashion, and if they don't, you go to their superior. And you keep doing that until it's taken care of. You are a CLIENT, and deserve to get your money's worth.
  • Establish expectations. I didn't do this because I was worried about making waves, and I really should have. If you are paying a coordinator, that time belongs to you, it shouldn't have to be shared with their children, or their cellphone, or anything else.
  • Have an additional emergency contact. In the case where it's 5AM, you're in the middle of a monsoon, and the coordinator (that you're paying for) isn't showing up, you need to have another number to call.
  • Employ a bouncer. In my case my usually meek and mild sister totally whipped out the talons when the coordinator started making unreasonable demands. Volunteering to be the bad guy was the best present she could possibly give me.
  • Follow up. If your coordinator was great, they need their boss to know that. If they sucked, their boss needs to know it. If it's the latter, my suggestion is to make two versions, the one you REALLY want to send (which you then print out and burn) and a "just the facts" version containing a bulleted list of what you were promised/expected, and how those were/weren't fulfilled. Bullets are magical little business dots that keep you on task and keep things from getting too personal. Plus it makes you look efficient!

So, now we'd like to know: what are YOUR tips for working with venue-mandated coordinators who just don't quiiiiiiite understand you or your wedding?

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About Ang

A graphic designer by day, wedding planner on the weekends, Ang loves nothing more than digging through piles of junk to turn it into something amazing, and solving the world's problems (or at least the interesting ones). She lives in the preppy wilderness of New England, with her musician husband of umpteen months, and her three hairy drooling dogs, where her free time is spent being adorable.