Difference Between a Wedding Planner & Venue Coordinator

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Kate Whelan Events Wedding Planner Team
Image by Weddings by Scott and Dana

I was speaking to a previous corporate client (and friend) of mine today; she will be getting married in just under a month and I was helping her work out the kinks with one of her vendors. I asked her how the planning was going and she told me she is on her 4th venue coordinator, so it was a little frustrating.

The first coordinator, who was very well-rated review-wise, left the venue to start her own wedding planning business – and her assistant, the second coordinator, would be taking over for her. After a few months, the assistant was promoted to a new position at another part of the property and her wedding was taken over by a third coordinator. I’m not sure why the third coordinator left, but her wedding is now being managed by the Director of HR for the venue (the fourth coordinator).

At each point of transfer, my friend had to reiterate all of her wedding planning details (even thought she had already filled out a 14-page questionnaire early on). Often, she would find mistakes that needed to be corrected (and could have been found in the questionnaire). Also, the initial awesome coordinator had offered her concessions the replacements now needed to see in writing. They even tried to switch up the bar pricing, despite her being grandfathered in to the pricing that existed when she signed her contract. What a headache!

The biggest different between a Wedding Planner and a Venue Coordinator is just that – we work for you, not for the venue. Our commitment is always to you, regardless if the 3rd, 4th or 5th venue coordinator leaves or tries to change pricing or policy – we advocate for you.

While this is the most important part, often venues call their Venue Coordinators, “Wedding Planners” and they are not quite that. They do not call your DJ and confirm his arrival time, setup needs, etc. They do not stay until the end (they often leave after dinner). They do not handle the entirety of your wedding – just the venue. Check out these amazing chair covers that can add an elegant touch to you wedding.

Venue Coordinators are still awesome – we love them and we love working with them. They are experts at their venue, help us navigate issues with the property and become a crucial part of our team (even that 4th Coordinator). Just don’t be fooled by a venue’s clever marketing, selling their valuable wedding venue coordinator as a “wedding planner,” because they are not interchangeable.

If you’re getting married and don’t have a wedding planner yet – contact us to setup a Complimentary Initial Meeting today. We’d love to be your advocate on your wedding day!


Napa Sonoma Wine Country Destination Wedding Venues

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California is home to some of the most amazing destination wedding venues in the country. We often work with clients from afar, planning their destination weddings in California, bridging the gap and making it easier for those clients to find their perfect venue, vendor team and help them design a wedding weekend that accurately represents their story as a couple.

We’ve created this short list of a few destination wedding venues that regularly fit the bill for our destination clients, as these Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Venues meet the entirety of their needs, creating an awesome guest experience for those traveling from afar – or for those locals with guest lists full of long-distance travelers.

  1. Triple S Ranch

    Image by Weddings by Scott and Dana
    With gorgeous vignettes all over the property, including a reclaimed barn with gorgeous antique bar, a whimsical speakeasy below, two tree laden patios for al fresco dining and an epic tree altar for a ceremony space, Triple S Ranch has a little something for everyone. Guests can stay on property at several on-site spaces and a pool adds to weekend activities. There’s so much more – this place is a true gem!

  2. The Meritage Resort and Spa
    Napa Wine Cave Wedding
    Image by Petronella
    There are a handful of wine caves throughout the valley that are event-ready and Meritage Resort and Spa has one of them. Add a few ballrooms for larger guest counts, a gorgeous vineyard deck for ceremonies, a late-night bar and bowling alley and several lounge areas for cocktails and you’ve got a winning combination. With the newly-built Vista Collina Resort across the street, there are ample guest rooms to host all of your guests on property – and they never have to step foot off-property (saving on transportation), as there is also a coffee bar, a spa and several wine tasting rooms between both resorts, just walking distance!

  3. Harvest Inn
    St. Helena Wedding Ceremony
    Image by Caitlin O’Reilly Photography
    From epic Napa Valley vineyard views for a ceremony site, to an on property redwood grove, Harvest Inn has a lot to offer. This venue is great for more intimate guest counts and also offers on-site accommodations. Guests can also taste at many neighboring wineries inclusive of their stay, as well as visit the on-site spa, offering ample weekend activity options.

  4. Calistoga Ranch
    Calistoga Ranch Wine Cave
    Image courtesy of Calistoga Ranch
    Nestled into the Calistoga canyon, this Auberge resort has an escape-like feel for those wanting a retreat-like vibe. This property also boasts a beautiful event-ready wine cave (see above), as well as multiple incredible lush outdoor spaces for your weekend events. With decadent catering, an on-site spa and guest rooms as well (with neighboring properties to extend for affordable guest options), Calistoga Ranch offers a weekend weekend experience like no other in Napa Valley.

  5. Carneros Resort and Spa
    Napa Carneros Inn WeddingImage by Sarah Maren Photography
    A picturesque apple orchard surrounded by vineyards sets the stage for a stunning ceremony site, while there are multiple spaces for cocktails, dinner and dancing. From multiple ballrooms to a beautiful pool with epic valley views, there is something for everyone here. The on-property spa, market, restaurants and bocce ball courts, service guests with no need to leave the property, despite the close proximity to many wine tasting opportunities. Guest rooms at Carneros Resort and Spa range from quaint cottages to private vacation homes, accommodating guests and groups of all sizes.

  6. Meadowood
    Meadowood Napa Wedding Planner
    Image by Kate Whelan Events
    This luxury resort has a long history in Napa Valley, nestled into the hillside along the Silverado trail. The Restaurant on property boasts a star-star Michelin dining experience, which extends to it’s catering program. Several lush lawn areas are perfect for an intimate ceremony, along with a newly renovated lawn perfect for an epic sailcloth tent and fun party room for dancing including a beautiful adjoining outdoor fireplace lounge. Meadowood also boasts so many activities it may be hard to list them all – from croquet, golf and tennis, to swimming, hiking and spa services, your guests will have plenty to do in between wedding weekend activities.

There are actually quite a few more that fit the bill (some we aren’t even able to publish online) – and that’s where an experienced planner comes in. For more information on the above destination wedding venues or assistance with finding the perfect Wine Country destination wedding venue for you, please contact Team KWE here.