I decided to bring in a former offbeat bride to answer this question. After planning her own wedding, Laura decided to become a wedding planner, so she definitely understands the role from both sides of the bride/vendor equation.
I'd like some advice about hiring a day of coordinator for our wedding. We're doing all the planning, crafts, etc for the day ourselves, but with 100+ guests, I don't want to worry about telling food vendors where to go and other tasks during the actual wedding day.
How do you find someone to fill this role? A wedding coordinator seems to be more than we need. My partner would like one of his mother's friends to fill this role, but I'd rather it be someone we paid and who wasn't part of our circle – if something goes wrong, I don't want there to be problems with his mom and her friends! -Anne
The mystical world of Wedding Planners/Coordinators can be a mind-boggling place that makes absolutely no sense to the untrained eye. It's difficult to shop and compare services when prices are all over the board and planners name their packages after all kinds of fanciful things. How are you supposed to know if you're a Platinum Princess or Pink Petunia?
Fear not, my friends. I'm here to pull back the curtain for you, like that masked guy on the magician tell-all show. Wedding Planning Secrets – Unveiled! Today's topic: The Day-Of Coordinator (“DOC”).
To be clear, this is the most common name used for this service; however, it's misleading as a good DOC will do quite a bit of troubleshooting for you in the weeks prior to your wedding — hence all those funny package names. Regardless of the label, look for a planning package that includes a couple of in-person meetings, a venue walk-through, day-of timeline, vendor confirmations and rehearsal coordination.
I know what you're thinking: Do I need ALL THAT? Can't my Aunt Zelda tell the florist where to set up? Sure she can, and that's certainly an option. But here are some highlights of what you can expect from a pro:
- A timeline constructed by an experienced planner will help create an event that appears to flow effortlessly, as if powered by magical fairy dust!
- Many vendors book multiple events in a weekend and can get their wires crossed. Confirmations handled by a pro help head off confusion prior to a dance floor disaster.
- Three words: Triangle Of Coordination! (OK, that's my name for it — perhaps not everyone calls it that.) The secret behind the magical fairy dust is a DOC bouncing all night between you, the photographer, the DJ, and the catering/venue staff. (Wait…that's a square. Crap!) We make sure music is cued, cameras are in position and you have a chance to pee before you cut the cake.
- No matter how well things are planned and confirmed, something will go wonky on the wedding day. An experienced professional will handle any hiccups in such a way that you and your guests will never know anything unusual happened. (From last-second generator orders to one particularly fabulous debacle involving peanut sauce, I've dealt with it all and nary a bride was any the wiser.) This allows you to maintain the sensation of Perfect Wedding Nirvana throughout your day.
Can't afford a day-of coordinator? Try trading with friends!
So how do you find a DOC? Well of course first you should check our Vendor Guide. If you can't find one there, an internet search will yield many options, but specifically look for wedding vendor websites with user reviews and read them thoroughly. Bridal message boards, although often a bit scary, can provide first-hand recommendations. Prices vary greatly so be prepared to shop around, but I caution against cutting the corner too tightly here. Place your budget on one side of the scale and the level of responsibility involved in executing your vision on the other.
Then find the balance. Vibe out their website – do they seem like they're speaking your language? If so, meet with them in person to discuss your plans in detail. (This should be complimentary – I wouldn't recommend any vendor who charges for a consultation.) How do they respond to your more unique ideas?
Whatever your concepts, offbeat or otherwise, find a reputable planner who seems as enthused about them as you are and then go for it. Let Aunt Zelda relax and have a second piece of wedding cake!
planners: Rebel Belle Weddings