“Downloading your wedding brain”: what is wedding day management and why do you need it?

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What is a "wedding day manager" and why do I need one? As seen on @offbeatbride
Photo by Lars Kommienezuspadt

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We've already waxed poetic about how event planners can save you money, save your ass, and be your wedding savior, right? But maybe you're still thinking it's just too expensive or you have someone on your guest list who can wing it. To play devil's advocate, we talked to one of our own Offbeat Brides and beloved vendors, LA-based Jessica Carrillo of Art & Soul Events, to see why hiring a wedding planner (or in this case, a “wedding day manager!”) may be the decision you'll totally be happy you made.

Let's talk about what the heck wedding day management even is and why you might totally need it.

What is a "wedding day manager" and why do I need one? As seen on @offbeatbride
Photo by Laura Goldenberger

What the heck is “wedding day management?”

What is a "wedding day manager" and why do I need one? As seen on @offbeatbride
It's our girl, Jessica!
Jessica has been moving away from “day-of coordination” in favor of “wedding day management,” which is more like partial planning for the couples who want day/month-of coordination rather than full event planning. It's a step up from just a day, which allows Jessica and her team to really know all the ins and outs of the day and be prepared to handle all the moving parts… of which there are MANY.

Jessica gave us some great insights into what wedding management can do, how it differs from what we used to think about “day-of coordination,” and how having one on your team while planning and on the day will de-stress your life in ways you never even imagined:

As a day-of coordinator I can say that day-of coordination is way more than just day-of. We have two in-person meetings with one or more at the venue. We really love for our couples to keep us in the loop along the way, so that when the wedding day comes, we know everything about everything. We liken it to “downloading your wedding brain.” We also create and manage the timeline. Generally, we come in and really take charge the month before the wedding:

  • reviewing all vendor and venue contracts
  • contacting vendors about arrival and departure times
  • sending the timeline to key vendors
  • locking down the order and timing of events
  • we run the rehearsal
  • set up decorations
  • place flowers, pin boutonnieres, fluff dresses, give pep talks, bring cocktails and water, hold speeches in our bras, bustle dresses, sneak you off to let you pee, grab you when a wedding guest is talking to you too long, refresh your lipstick, or grab you a mint…

We are your personal day-of assistant all while executing your wedding vision.

So having someone dealing with the contracts and details is the biggest load off we can imagine, but then having someone there for all those big worries you're imagining in your brain (which, let's face it, aren't all out of the realm of possibility), is exactly what most of us need to plan a big event without losing our minds.

What is a "wedding day manager" and why do I need one? As seen on @offbeatbride
Photo by Manstrom Photography

Why do I really need a wedding day manager?

One thing that I've always been cognizant of was not leaning too heavily on friends, family, and other guests to put in tons of work, put out fires on the wedding day, and end up not enjoying a party I'd plan for their enjoyment. A wedding day manager allows your guests to be just that: guests at your wedding. Can you do it all yourself? Of course you can. But the risk is that you spend your day cleaning up messes, looking for staff to help, and generally ending up a little less in-the-moment because you're acting as a full-time host. A wedding day manager can take all of that off of your plate so that you can boogie down in peace. Here's Jessica's take:

As a coordinator we plan, plan, plan, and cross all t's and dot all i's. After all of that planning, it is amazing how much we also do on the fly. A great coordinator will be organized and prepared, but they will also be flexible and able to easily adjust and accommodate for the unexpected. After each wedding we work on, I think to myself, “how would they have handled this without us?” And the couple usually doesn't even know about all the little fires we put out along the way.

I'm genuinely emotionally invested in the success of the wedding I'm managing. Wedding planning is my passion, not something I just do. I'm really accessible and I love getting to know my couples on a personal level. I want to know what makes them happy, what their concerns are, family dynamics that could impact the wedding, favorite foods, preferred beverages, color/style/theme preferences, etc. Professionally, the success of a wedding directly impacts my business, unlike a friend or family member who may be put in charge.

What is a "wedding day manager" and why do I need one? As seen on @offbeatbride
Photo by Jessica Schilling

Insider advice makes all the difference

You're here on a wedding blog, so we know you have questions about planning and need support. That's where wedding day managers totally shine. They've got hookups, connections, and have seen it all go down… in many ways, in many places. Let's hear from Jessica about why industry expertise can save money and make wedding magic:

I also feel like my couples really lean on me for emotional support along the way. They may be stressed about budget concerns and then I'll give them my top five tips to reduce the budget, for instance. I also spend a lot of time with my clients empowering them to have an authentic wedding by making their own wedding rules. “This is your wedding. You make the rules. Be bold and do your thing.”

I also have the professional connections of amazingly cool and unique vendors, a library of resources to forward and link to, a professional certification, blog features, and a big ass wedding of my own under my belt which allows me to really relate. Oh and I'm the Lovesick LA co-sponsor, the co-leader of The Rising Tide Society, and I run a Facebook group for LA Wedding Vendors and Creatives.

What is a "wedding day manager" and why do I need one? As seen on @offbeatbride
Photo by Lars Kommienezuspadt

Dealing with venue managers

Do venue managers love working with Jessica and her team at Art & Soul? Oh hell yes they do. And here's why:

In my experience, the venue managers LOVE us, because we make sure everything is on-time and organized, and everyone knows when and where they are supposed to be. We take the pressure off of them so they can do what they do best. I really love working with venue coordinators too, because they generally have a great staff and work like a well-oiled machine.

If you have a venue coordinator and you are trying to decide if you need a day-of coordinator/wedding day manager, here is what I recommend. Just get a bid from a day-of coordinator and take it to the venue coordinator and just ask if they will cover all of the responsibilities listed on that bid. If not, then you will at least know where your gaps of coverage are.

Now that we know what a step up in responsibility a wedding day manager can be, how they'll make your day a serene dream for you, and why Jessica of Art & Soul Events is the crème de la crème, we think it's time you got in touch with her. But wait: we can make it even more affordable:

Offbeat discount:

Namedrop us when you get in touch for a $300 discount through the end of January 2016. Hurry and get your date in her calendar.

(Note: This special discount is for a limited time and cannot be combined with any other offers, including any discounts listed elsewhere on the site.)

Ready to make Jessica your wedding planning bestie? She's already ours. Hell, Jessica is even planning the wedding of another of our fave vendors, photographer Evangeline Lane! When a trusted vendor trusts another vendor… then we know it's on point. Go say hello and get all your questions answered.

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Comments on “Downloading your wedding brain”: what is wedding day management and why do you need it?

  1. I cannot thank Jessica enough for all the work she put in for our big day. We were going to try and swing it ourselves until we were just so overwhelmed with things…so many things! Having someone there every step of the way to guide you, help filter out things and keep you calm the day of is 110% worth it. Not to mention, she’s a blast to work with and totally understood what we were going for. Our day turned out amazing thanks to her and her lovely sister Ashleigh. It went off without a hitch.

    • Thank you so much Jayme! I will never forget your wedding and I feel so thankful I got to be a part if it! We are friends now for sure! Hell, we even went and got our eyebrows done together:)


  2. This article is on point! As a wedding photographer I always suggest hiring a wedding manager/planner to my clients for pretty much all of the reasons Jessica talks about above. A good planner will take your stress away, organize your day, manage any crisis (trust me there WILL be at least one) but a GREAT planner is something else all together. Jessica is just that. She goes above and beyond for her clients and really truly cares about the work she is doing. It’s no wonder that they all want to continue the friendship after the wedding has ended. I’ve met many many planners during my time in this business but when my man and I got engaged and I knew that I had to have Jessica. She has been amazing, without a shadow of a doubt. She is my absolute #1 go-to for everything wedding related. She lifts me up she calms me down she is bloody brilliant and I can’t wait to have her right there with us on our wedding day.

    • Thank you Evangeline! My eyes got all teary eyed when I read this. I love sharing this planning journey with you and I know it will only bring us closer. I’m so excited for 2016!

  3. This article is so true! There are so many things a bride could worry about on her wedding day. It’s best to plan ahead and let the Bridesmaids help out so the Bride and Groom can just enjoy the day.

    The Bubbling Brides Team
    Bubbling Brides

  4. This isn’t meant as a criticism of this article–or a criticism at all–but it would be nice if OBB posted more articles on the nitty-gritty of actually running your day, for those of us brides who definitely, really, honestly, truly cannot and will not pay for a DOC. There are lots of articles out there that give great general advice (“hand it all off to a trusted friend or family member!” “make lists!”) but skimp on the specifics (“here is how you transition from cocktail hour to dinner without just shouting stuff!” “here’s how to cue up your speeches!”).

    • Definitely. I’m going to have to run the day myself and I have absolutely no idea what to do.

    • I think the reason those types of articles are more rare is that it really does depend on personal preferences. Some people are fine with transitions just being announced/shouted. Others are not. Both, I think, are pretty much fair game.

      I can’t speak from a wedding perspective, but as a stage manager, I can at least lend a little perspective from a people-corralling/organizational standpoint. One thing you might find enormously useful is a “paper tech”. That is, sitting down with the relevant people, your big book (or spreadsheet, or photographic memory) and talking through the event moment by moment. Starting at the most basic and working forward from there.

      For a show, that looks like:
      “I want the audience to come in and see our oh-so-awesome painted main curtain. Then, after they’re seated, I want the curtain to rise as the music swells, and the actors come on stage.”

      And that means you need have cues for:
      1) Lights to be on in the house
      2) The curtain to be down
      3) Lights off (or dimmed) on stage
      And then cues for:
      4) The house lights to go down, so the audience knows they should be seated by now
      5) The music to start
      6) The curtain to rise
      7) The onstage lights to come on
      and finally
      8) The actors to enter!

      So for a wedding, I would recommend sitting down with your SO and walking yourselves through the day, starting when you wake up. Ask yourself how you want/need your day to unfold, then plot out the steps necessary to make it happen. You don’t have to get insanely detailed, in fact, I advise against it, but for every “what” you want to happen, you should have an idea of “how”. Dialing it down to what “cues” you need gives you a workable plan that is flexible enough to withstand most disasters, and allows you to make those lists, or delegate to a friend, or whatever else you’d like to do with it.

      As far as the mechanics of it, like I said, a lot of it boils down to personal preference. But people are generally good natured and reasonable beasts. Make the necessary information obvious to them, whether it be a program or a visual/auditory cue, and they’ll generally comply. Just be sure that you draw their attention to it somehow. Well meaning they may be, observant they are not. However you choose, I recommend having your officiant or someone make an announcement after the ceremony. “You can find tonight’s events listed on the program”, “there will be a bell at the end of the cocktail hour to signal the beginning of dinner”, “the unnervingly lifelike dragon firework is your cue to grab chow”. Give them an idea of what to expect, and they’ll follow along. The other thing you can do is lead by example! Snag a couple people, grab some plates, and start loading up on food. The rest will follow.

      As for your other example, cuing up speeches, talk to your DJ beforehand! Give him a nod, or a timeframe (~20 minutes after we start eating, ~7:30pm, once everyone is seated) and he can announce it. Or, if you’re using an Ipod/Spotify/what have you, turn the music down. Sudden silence is a great auditory cue, and folks will stop talking. Same goes for glasses clinking, or the lights dimming, or your first speech giver standing up and starting to talk.

      But, really, as long as you wind up married at the end of it, I’d say you’re fine. 😉

  5. Hey Kim (+ Nic),

    When you are doing this planning thing on your own, I know it can feel really overwhelming. And the reality is that not all brides/couples can or will pay for a wedding coordinator/manger/planner. It is hard for me to give out super specific information without knowing the ins n outs of your wedding details. I read every contract and structure the timeline based on all of the planned events (photography, number of toasts, dances, what type of food service buffet/plated/food truck, etc…). But if you can please reply with a few specific topics or questions you are struggling with, I will try to write something for OBB.

    In my attempt to cater directly to DIY brides/couples, I will be doing a few little affordable wedding planning workshops in Los Angeles in the new year. I will be teaming up with some wedding vendors and we will spend a few hours (in a fun group setting) with engaged couples, allowing them to pick our brains about wedding day timing and logistics. Some couples just don’t even know where to start so we will help give them direction.

    If you are really stuck, you might also consider contacting a local planner/coordinator in your area that offers à la carte services. Ask him/her if they would be open to “timeline creation” services only. They would need to read all of your contracts and know your wedding plans from top to bottom. They might agree to this if you are super organized and have all of your wedding details in one binder for easy review. Then you could hand that custom timeline off to a trusted person to manage. Just note that the trusted person will not be able to enjoy the guest experience of attending your wedding, they will be working.

  6. Another thing I hear a lot from coordinators is that they’re the point person for all vendors and guests: if a guest can’t find the bathroom, they have someone to ask; if the florist needs an alternate spigot for water for a vase, they have someone to ask; if there’s a panic in the prep kitchen they’re the go-between so you never know about it….I mean, that alone is priceless. We’re budgeting for one (they seem to run an average of $2K out here in Seattle, for day-of) because the peace of mind is worth it to us.

    • Hey Beth! You will be so happy that you factored a coordinator into the budget to manage your day. You and your family can enjoy the wedding knowing someone has your back 100%.

    From the moment Jessica and Ashleigh began to help us with our wedding, I knew we made the right decision by hiring them.
    One of the first things they did, was contact all of our wedding vendors. They introduced themselves and became the main point of contact, always cc-ing us. This immediately relieved stress and put us at ease. They knew the right questions to ask, and reviewed all contracts. This wasn’t their first rodeo!

    Even if you want a “relaxed” wedding, as we did, a timeline is crucial! Art and Soul Events worked with us to develop a timeline that was perfect for us. The day of the wedding they stuck to the timeline without rushing anything or making us feel like we were “behind”.

    I could never begin to thank Jessica and Ashleigh for all the work they did to set up the venue. These hardworking ladies got into gear at 7 am and really didn’t stop until midnight! They worked with all vendors and set up every square inch of the venue. They tackled any and all issues that arouse the day of, and trust me there will be some!

    I really felt like they were an extension of myself and my husband, doing all the things I would want to do if I was the one setting up. They knew everything we wanted to happen and made it happen, plus way more! They really take the time to get to know you and it shows in how they operate.

  8. I’m so grateful my wife and I hired Art & Soul Events for our wedding day management. When we were interviewing potential wedding day managers, we felt immediately connected to Jessica & Ashleigh. I can tell they were genuinely interested in our story as a couple, and it’s clear to me that they especially love their Offbeat Brides! There was never too much information I could update or share with the ladies at Art & Soul Events. They managed every detail, executed our vision, kept the night flowing smoothly, and made sure we enjoyed ourselves! We felt really cared for by them, and they made sure we got to do everything we wanted during the reception. They grabbed us water, bustled my dress, rushed to get us napkins after we smashed cupcakes into our face, and even drove us back to the hotel at the end of the night! Thanks so much to Offbeat Bride for helping me find this power business sister duo, making them a part of a special time in our lives.

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