How to deal with a crappy venue-mandated coordinator

Guest post by Ang
Bride and Groom Shoes

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.

I kept emphasizing that our whole wedding be “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?

Comments on How to deal with a crappy venue-mandated coordinator

  1. Read your contract. You need to make sure that everything is there that you think is there. Do not assume something is included just because you mentioned it or expect it. We ran into an issue at work which was thankfully easily fixed, but it was assumed that spaces for our conference had internet. It was not in the contract. We discovered it the day before and got that fixed. But you have to take charge of knowing what’s in your contract. Ties in with expectations. Know what you want, know what you will not budge on, and make sure you’re aware of how it does or does not fit with the contract. This goes for any communication. If you aren’t feeling clear on something, make sure you get clear. Require your coordinator to explain the situation, check your options.

  2. For my first wedding (10 yrs ago), there was a venue-mandated coordinator. She seemed really helpful in the planning stages, but on the day of the wedding she wore a tight red dress and seemed to be in some of the important photos (my dad walking me down the aisle!) and she seemed to “forget” a lot of the important details we’d discussed. And the vendors she’d recommended were BAD.

    Check testimonials/references of the vendors! Ask the coordinator what they’ll be wearing. And I should’ve made a list of all those important details and gone over them with her the day before.

  3. SUCH a good article. I’ve dealt with a fair share of unreasonable venue coordinators, AND some awesome ones who let the day happen as the bride wants it, and even goes to bat for her when needed. Read your contracts, and ask if (and how) they might restrict the people you hire for your big day (flowers, decor, photog, videog, planner, musicians, officiant, etc.).

  4. We almost DID get stuck with a venue coordinator we didn’t like (we have since changed our venue)! She was pretty much playing by the venue’s rules, not ours. She did not talk us through anything at all. Finally, I said, “I don’t really feel like we’re envisioning the same thing, is there someone else who can help us?”

    I didn’t even specify how we needed help…but in a matter of seconds, she became a lot easier to work with! Still, I don’t regret leaving her behind one bit.

    • Word! A polite, “I don’t think we are on the same page. May I speak to someone else, please?” Is my go-to phrase when I am having problems with any customer service person or strange “I’m technically the customer or employee but not really” situation. Usually, it serves as a wake up call to the person that you are aware of their bad behavior and aren’t going to be a doormat. They are also more likely to cooperate because you getting someone else is a clear signal to their boss that they aren’t doing their job. And, when this phrase doesn’t work, and they respond with something snotty, it then gives you a nice segueway in to, “All right, I’d like to speak to your supervisor, then.”

  5. To the above:
    Hey wedding biz owners/bloggers: Please just use your real name in your comment — not your business name or title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your business or blog. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.

    • I am an onsite wedding coordinator for a hotel wedding site and could not imagine trying to pimp my venue that way. That’s not what these comments are for.
      I actually recommend this site for my wedding couples, not just for the fun ideas, but for the fantastic, real-life advice on family dynamics and self empowerment.

  6. I would just go right along with be clear with all of you expectations right up front. It could even be helpful to right down your major must haves and expectations to then compare to the contract with someone from the venue before signing or making payment. that way you can feel confident and you give the venue and opportunity to see you and your expectations clearly.

    • This!

      We made a list of ‘must have’ features as soon as we started looking at venues, mainly to make sure we didn’t forget anything when looking around but it proved very useful for checking/negotiating contracts as well.

      The real deal breaker was that we wanted my brother as DJ. He does it professionally anyway but some people acted like we’d asked for a parade of dancing elephants. Needless to say they were off the list.

      I suspect our venue’s coordinator didn’t expect us to go through with it, she said ok then started in with a list of equipment he’d need to provide, safety checks it’d need, liability insurance etc. etc. and I think she expected us to be like “oh ok, we thought he’d pick the songs”. She looked suprised when we said it was fine, but went with it.

  7. I don’t know what this means… maybe I’m behind? Our venue doesn’t seem to have a coordinator I guess. I mean there was a woman we talked to a few times. We met her once, paid, and then we just go in and set up.

    I don’t know what else there is to coordinate? Now I’m a little worried.

    • Not all venues have a coordinator. Usually they only come into play if the venue does a lot of private events. They’re the logistics people who know all the rules, can tell you how many tables fit into a space, inform you about lighting choices, what kind of booze is available, suggest layouts, tell you if the building has wi-fi, give vendor recommendations and they make sure you don’t burn the place down.

      They’re kind of like a private Day of Coordinator for just that venue, and as a result, their job is to act in the venue’s best interests.

      • I feel it’s important to note: You have to use their coordinator. You do NOT have to forgo having your own as well. Their coordinator is there for your contact point to the venue. But your wedding coordinator and their event coordinator can duke it out all they want and leave you out of it.

    • You aren’t missing anything. I am an event manager at a large events venue, and we sometimes do weddings. We are basically just gatekeepers- we rent the space out. If that’s all you need, that’s all we are, but we also know the rules of the venue (are candles allowed? Can we tape things to the wall? Etc.), and many venues also have events staff to do things like move tables and heavy things, so those events managers will also need to know if you need them to do things like set up tables, take them down, flip the room, etc. Sometimes they also have things you can rent specifically for that venue, like special lighting or uplighting. They also can recommend vendors, or sometimes they let you know if their venue has exclusive vendors. We also many times coordinate the bar service and what kind of bar package you need. They also either are in the building during your wedding to answer any questions and coordinate table flips, or they appoint someone else to do that who is familiar with your event as well (I have an events assistant who attends most of the off-hours events).

      However, some venues employ on-site wedding planners as well, who work with vendors for you, work with you on themes, timeline for your day, and many times will also serve as a day-of coordinator’s keeping vendors in line and on time, directing your wedding (think “the wedding planner” with jlo saying “go bridesmaids” “go bride”, etc. I believe that usually big wedding factory -type places that supply all of your wedding needs, or huge tropical resorts employ on-site wedding planners, but there can be other venues that do.

      However, when brides mix the two types it can be dissapointing and frustrating on both sides. If I had a nickel for how many people think that I am a wedding planner, I would be a rich woman. I usually think that if someone is disappointed in an event manager, they probably thought that they were getting a wedding planner, or they might not know the difference. I don’t know which a wedding coordinator is, but based on the name I would be inclined to think that it is like an event manager. However, based on the article, since they say that their venue had a “required event coordinator” and an event manager isn’t optional (someone, at the very least, must rent the space to you- that is not optional), I assume it is like a wedding planner. As someone else said, if you don’t like the venue included wedding planner, just get one of your own to work with them. Or, ask the person you are renting from if they have a venue-included wedding planner before you sign your contract.

  8. I love this article. Words like “bitch” and “Bridezilla” are thrown around to prevent women from standing up for what they want and need. I’ve been working on being more assertive lately for this exact reason.

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