As my business has evolved, I usually only coordinate weddings that I’ve also done the florals or some aspect of design for. This wasn’t always the case, I used to do coordination or event management for the day as a standalone service. So I’m writing this post as if you were hiring me for that unaccompanied help – since we really are trying to single out the Wedding Coordinator’s role in the overall vision of the wedding.
This is purely speculation, but I think this is probably the most commonly hired wedding planning service. Couples are given some professional guidance without relinquishing control or loosing too much from their pocketbooks. While they aren’t necessarily contracted to do so, most Day-of Coordinators will give some tips on etiquette share their favorite vendors with you. After all, it’s in there benefit for the couple to hire a photographer that coordinator loves and makes their life a whole lot easier if you don’t hire that caterer who is terrible at communications. I always say, I’d rather that you come to me instead of asking Mr. Google.
The process of working with me as your Day-of Coordinator typically works like this: the bride and groom hire me. Sometimes this is the first thing they do, other times it happens in a panic three months before the wedding. Either way, I won’t really start talking in more depth about the wedding until about 6-8 weeks before hand. We’ll walk through what the couple has planned for the day, how they envision everything, chat about a brief day of timeline, locations for things such as the guest book, placecards and the cake table. If at all possible, I try to visit the venue together. Then I’ll get a complete list of vendors hired by the couple. I’ll address any concerns I have logistically or otherwise and then I’ll get to work.
My first task is filling in the gaps on the itinerary. Details like ceremony and reception start time aren’t up for discussion. But often no one knows what time the caterer is planning on arriving or when the tables and chairs will be set up so the florist can place her flowers (or when I can place the centerpiece if I’m also your floral designer). If no one has told the baker what time she should arrive with the cake, it might end up sitting out all day and we’ll end up with a big pile of melted buttercream. We want to make sure that pertinent events are scheduled during the time that the photographer is contracted to work. Coordination of these details is absolutely necessary and I fill in all those holes, working on arrival times, traffic flow and general order of the day – things that the bride shouldn’t be worrying about while she’s off having her hair and makeup done the morning of the big day.
Dear Vendors: Your first contact with me will be a nice little introductory email asking if you have any concerns, special setup needs or any lingering questions that haven’t been clarified quite yet. I’ll do everything within my power to address those and a couple weeks prior to the wedding, when all these details have been confirmed with each and every one of you, I’ll send along a copy of the finalized itinerary and contact information – important phone numbers, addresses and anything else I think you might possibly need on the wedding day. Yes, that itinerary will be chucked full of information that you might not think you need, but I think over informed is much better than under.
On the actual wedding day, I try to interrupt the bride and groom as little as possible and ask that you do the same. Please be respectful of what they hired me to do and address me first with questions or concerns. I don’t have all the answers, but normally I have a few.
Dear Clients: You can make this process go smoothly by being up front with those hired vendors about my existence right from the start. Give them my email and cell phone number, that’s excellent and telling them that I’ve authorized to make decisions on your behalf is even better. As for me, I ask that you let me know the person that you’ve been in most contact with. I’d like to know all previously arranged details and if you feel inclined to cc me in on emails or forward contracts my way, that’s perfect. This gives me a little leverage when the limo driver shows up a half hour late to pick you up from the church. But so we’re clear on things, I don’t address why things when wrong on the wedding day – we can figure that out later – my goal is moving forward to solve the problem. Please don’t ask me to focus on the negative on your wedding day.
And one more little reminder – the term Wedding Planner and Day-of Coordinator are NOT interchangeable.
In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 of this series here.