What help can you expect from your venue’s wedding co-ordinator?

What can you reasonably ask of your in-house co-ordinator? Five of them give us an insight into the role

A combination of natural and artificial lighting gives Eskmills Venue its sparkle
A combination of natural and artificial lighting gives Eskmills Venue its sparkle

When planning a wedding it’s crucial to find the person who will hold your hand throughout the process and help keep your sanity intact. There is someone you may not even have considered relying on: your venue’s in-house co-ordinator. So how do you make the most of their skills, without taking advantage or con­fusing them with a wedding planner?

Dawn Balfour, Eskmills venue
As planning co-ordinator for Eskmills Venue, in Musselburgh, Dawn has seen it all. “I’ve been asked for fireworks, bouncy castles, a helicopter arrival…” she laughs. As much as her remit sounds similar to a wedding planner’s, Dawn stresses the importance of being able to tell them apart.

“The lines between the two roles are slightly blurred,” she admits, “because essentially we have the same end goal and common interest – making sure that the clients are happy and that we exceed their expectations. The biggest difference is that we co-ordinate the event by liaising with our chefs, operations team and suppliers, whereas a planner is without the working knowledge of the venue.”

Avoid over-stepping the mark by respecting that an in-house co-ordinator’s perspective will always be framed by the venue itself. And be aware that other couples will require their attention.

The red carpet leads the way into Stirling’s Hotel Colessio
The red carpet leads the way into Stirling’s Hotel Colessio

Cassandra Rankin, Hotel Colessio
“There is certainly no typical day for us,” laughs Cassandra Rankin, the wedding and events executive at Stirling’s Hotel Colessio. “It can get quite stressful but the results are always worth it,” she says. “We all love seeing a happy couple having their perfect day. There is no better feeling, knowing that you participated in that.”

For weddings, work starts months before, arranging “catering, stationery, timings, entry times for suppliers and accommoda­tion”, and in the lead-up to the day Cassandra can advise on logis­tics and, to a certain extent, potential companies to work with. “We cannot associate ourselves with the booking processes but are more than happy to make recommendations.”

On the day itself, Cassandra and her team are poised to help. “We’re not usually involved operationally on the day, but we will always be there, though, to ensure that everything runs smoothly.”

The Lynnhurst Hotel in Johnstone
The Lynnhurst Hotel in Johnstone

Fawn Findlay, Lynnhurst Hotel
No matter how many weddings they are juggling, in-house co-ordinators will take each celebration very seriously because there are no second chances. Just ask Fawn Findlay, resident co-ordinator at the Lynnhurst Hotel in Johnstone, Renfrewshire. “We have zero tolerance for mistakes,” she says.

Her tip for a healthy couple/co-ordinator relationship? Try not to count on round-the-clock support. “We are there for our couples 100% and though we never really switch off from the job, it can be difficult to overcome the expectation that a wedding co-ordinator should be available 24/7,” she admits.

Melissa Davidson, Melville Castle
Melville Castle’s wedding and events manager Melissa Davidson has much to celebrate – she recently won Wedding Planner of the Year for the Edinburgh and Lothians at this year’s Scottish Hotel Awards. However, she views herself strictly as an in-house co-ordinator, rather than a planner. “The two roles are completely different,” she asserts. “A co-ordinator acts as an ambassador for the venue and a point of liaison between the couple and the operations team, whereas a wedding planner works for you.”

In the lead-up to the wedding, Melissa facilitates all things venue-related, and on the day itself manages timings and the delivery of food and drink. “Usually the co-ordinator will leave once the meal has been served and a banqueting manager will be left in charge,” she says.

A reception set-up at the Merchant’s Hall
A reception set-up at the Merchant’s Hall

Erin Gardiner, The Merchant’s Hall
Erin Gardiner, events co-ordinator for the Merchants’ Hall in Edinburgh, spends her days showing couples around the venue, producing schedules and setting up spaces for weddings – take heed of her nuggets of wisdom: “We like to include our panel of caterers in meetings, so that everyone gets to discuss what will be delivered on the day. Use the time to find out exactly what is included in the price and what else is on offer, so you don’t waste your budget on unnecessary things that are available in-house.”