Wedding Planner : On Site Manager ~ The Difference

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Wedding Planner : On Site Manager ~ The Difference

It seems there is a lot of confusion, by some, as to the difference between a wedding planner and an on site manager.  (Notice I didn’t say on site coordinator, as I find this title misleading.)  Before I begin this post I would like to say that I mean no disrespect to any of the very hard working site managers that are out there.  Especially the ones I have had the pleasure to work with.  But there are some sites that literally tell brides that they don’t need a wedding planner because they are.  I take intense offense to this.

I got my start in the business as an on site manager, I absolutely know what the job entails.  They work very hard, managing the site and the staff on site.  But they are not wedding planners.  They work for the venue, not you the bride.  (It would be a total conflict of interests to be hired by the venue to run the venue AND be hired by the bride and groom as a planner.) Their responsibilities include making sure that nothing goes wrong with the venue and the venue’s staff.  They are going to be there for you if you want to see the site and if you have any questions about the site between 9 – 5.  They can also be helpful in vendor referrals.  On your wedding day they are there to open the site, make sure it is set up correctly, bathrooms are stocked, and remain on site in case you need anything.  Some site managers I work with have an office that they are at during the event.

A wedding planner is in charge of EVERYTHING.  The wedding, flow of the day and making sure every little aspect is organized.  They are usually available to you more than just 9 – 5.  I at least am.  My brides have my home and cell phone numbers and may call me any time of the day or night.  As a planner, I help with the design, look and feel of the wedding.  Most of my clients hire me a year out and we spend an extreme amount of time together.  I attend every meeting, fitting and shopping trip, I know absolutely every detail about the wedding.  I get to know who the family members and key players are.  I run the rehearsal and most times am invited to the rehearsal dinner.  Family members get to know me and trust me, this helps so much the next day.  My job doesn’t stop after the wedding day.  There is usually many things I do the week after a wedding.  Making sure all of the rentals were returned, dealing with claims of damage to rental items, returning personal items to the bride and groom, and possibly planning Sunday brunches.  I literally spend 100 hours on an average wedding.

I have heard from quite a few brides that particular venues in my area intimate to them that they can go without a wedding planner because they have them.  This is a gross misleading.  I have no idea why some venues would not want to work with wedding planners.  I basically think it’s because they have had a bad experience with a wedding planner or they like to think themselves the planner.  You’re not.  Working at a beautiful venue doesn’t a wedding planner make.  Planners get a bad rap.  I’ve even lost a job to a photographer who convinced the bride that they would be the planner.  How odd is that?  I would never say I could plan, coordinate AND photograph your wedding.  Also last time I checked, owning a camera does not make you a wedding planner.  I mean you need a clipboard too.  😉
(I should also say that there are many venues I work at that know the value of having a wedding planner and require their brides to hire one.  I love those venues.)


For On Site Managers:  If the bride and groom hire a wedding planner, please let them do their job.  Don’t undermine them in front of your clients.  I’ve actually had to nicely ask a site manager to leave a meeting she tagged along on because she kept contradicting everything I said and was offering bad advice.  (She was a recent bride and was apparently all knowing.)  That’s not being helpful.  The bride and groom have researched and picked their planner for a reason.  When a couple hires me, it’s because of ME and what I bring to the table.  Don’t butt in and try to take control.  I had a site manager, thinking I was behind schedule, tell the caterer to push dinner back.  He listened to her because he works at the site so much.  Well, I wasn’t behind schedule and when I went to check with the caterer about serving dinner, he informed me that he had been told to push it back.  I was livid!  Truth be told, there are a few sites I get hired at mostly because the bride doesn’t want the on site manager near her wedding.  Case in point.

Don’t be so ridged.  One of my biggest complaints is when a site manager doesn’t let us change up their typical set up.  Sarah Angelique does not do cookie cutter weddings!!  😉  Why do you care if we want the chairs a little different, or the aisle wider?  I know you always do round tables, why do you care if we do square?  I hate hearing “we always do this or that.”

Don’t feel offended when your clients hire a wedding planner.  This is no slight to you.  They simply understand the value of a wedding planner.  A planner should make your job easier.  Without one, you could be expected to step in much more than you are paid to.

Any questions?  Did I leave something out?  Let me know, I love to hear from the people reading my blog.

1 Comment

  1. Good job!!!!!
    Thanks a lot for your good info.