If you’re enjoying the planning of your wedding but want to a right-hand woman (or man) to ensure all your hard work comes to fruition in exactly the way you had hoped, a day-of wedding coordinator may be the best option for you. Read on to find out exactly what an on-the-day coordinator does and how to find the right one for you.
Why on-the-day wedding coordination is a myth
You’ll often see planners with packages titled ‘on-the-day coordination’, but really there is no such thing, hence why I call it ‘wedding day management’. A planner can’t simply arrive on the morning of your wedding and instinctively know what is meant to happen. Instead, your on-the-day planner is likely to start working with you about 4 to 6 weeks before your wedding. From this point forward, they will then become the main point of contact for your suppliers, meaning that all their questions and demands are handled for you rather than stressing you out. I estimate, depending on the complexity of the wedding, it takes me approximately 15-20 hours ahead of the wedding day to complete all the necessary admin preparation as well as visiting the venue. I always do a site visit as I find it essential in order to spot any potential issues and explain things to suppliers.
Why would you need a day-of coordinator?
Really it’s all about reducing your wedding day stress. If things get a little stressful in the last few weeks with suppliers or if something on the day doesn’t quite go to plan you’ll have someone to support you and sort it out. After all, it shouldn’t be on your mums/bridesmaids shoulders to manage the day, they should be able to relax and enjoy themselves too. Plus, an on-the-day coordinator will have experience of how to manage challenges and will tend to take care of things before any guests even know there was an issue. I’ll do another blog post soon with some examples of the challenges I’ve taken care of for my on-the-day couples in the past.
What does an on-the-day coordinator actually do?
Your planner will coordinate all the logisitics of your day. Before the big day the planner will usually do a site visit and then review all your contracts to ensure they know what the suppliers are expecting/responsible for and to spot any potential issues. They’ll introduce themselves to the suppliers and become their main point of contact, ensuring they have all the information they need/check their arrival times etc. The planner will also produce a final, and likely much more detailed, on the day schedule.
On the day your on-the-day coordinator will tend to be the first one on site and the last to leave. This can mean 15+ hours for the planner plus at least one assistant. The number of assistants depends on the size and complexity of the wedding, but for a single venue with up to about 150 guests just the one assistant will usually suffice.
The planner is there to ensure the venue is set up exactly as you wish, manage all the suppliers and ensure that you have your dream day. Many of my couples come to me with the concern that, at weddings they’ve attended, guests don’t know what’s happening and sometime miss important aspects such as photographs or the first dance. An on-the-day wedding coordinator will constantly circulate amongst your guests making sure they are all in the right place at the right time. The rapport I build with my couple’s families and friends is often one of my favourite aspects of my job – everyone is so happy and friendly that it’s always such a pleasure to deal with them.
What DOESN’T an on-the-day wedding coordinator do?
By the time the planner starts work you’ll be expected to have all your suppliers booked and briefed. If you require additional suppliers to be sourced the planner may charge you extra. It is, however, usually the case that your on-the-day planner can also be used for consultation prior to their official start date (4-6 weeks out). If you have something particularly challenging you, most planners are happy to give quick tips, or for more assistance you can usually pay for an hour or two of consultation here and there.
The only other note of caution is that, although most planners are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure you have your dream day, you shouldn’t plan to use your on-the-day coordinator to save costs from other suppliers. You coordinator is there to manage the running of your day and therefore shouldn’t really be relied upon to stand in if, for example, catering teams are short on staff.
How should you pick your day-off coordinator?
I would suggest choosing your planner based on a couple of aspects. Firstly, choose a planner who you have a good rapport with during your initial consultation. You need someone you trust to be able to hand everything over to them and know they will manage it in a way that will match your expectations. Your planner will be with you and your guests for your whole day so it’s also important that you actually like them.
Secondly, for on-the-day coordination you really need a planner who is strong on logistics, whereas some planners are stronger at the creative/design aspects which would be more beneficial to full planning clients. This is when the number of years’ experience a planner has comes into play, as with years, comes experience of having to manage a whole host of different challenges, meaning they will know what can be done to rectify things. I’ve been managing events for 16 years and have had to deal with all sorts!
A final note
I really believe that most couples can see huge benefits from hiring an on-the-day wedding coordinator. Both your pre-wedding peace of mind and the running of your day will be infinitely improved through having a coordinator.
I should also mention, some couples plan to forgo a day-of coordinator because their reception venue package includes a coordinator. Although the two job titles are similar they are very different roles. I’ve written another blog post about the differences which you can read here.
If you would like to explore the possibility of having an on-the-day wedding coordinator, please do get in touch!