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The Truth About Day-Of Wedding Planners

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If you thought that "Are you hiring a wedding planner?" was a "Yes" or "No" question, think again. There is a happy medium between hiring a full-service planner and winging it all on your own, and that is the day-of coordinator.

An often poorly understood concept, the day-of coordinator can be a life saver for couples who don't have the budget for a full-service planner; couples who thought they could do it all alone and then realize, close to the wedding, that they were wrong; and couples who actually manage to plan it all alone, but then wisely realize that they shouldn't leave the day-of nitty-gritty in the hands of their mother or maid of honor. Remember, your family and friends are your guests too, and you want them to be able to relax and enjoy your wedding.

To dispel the myths surrounding the day-of wedding coordinator and shed some light on what this really means for the couple, I sat down with a seasoned planner. Fallon Carter has recently seen a significant increase in the demand for day-of coordination, and she shares some tips with us.

Fallon, what exactly is a day-of wedding coordinator?

Well, there actually is no such thing as a day-of coordinator. Although many planners use that title when describing this service, we are usually month-of planners.

Got it. Since that's what it's become known as, let's go with the term "day-of coordinator."

As a day-of coordinator, we do just that: We coordinate the logistics of your wedding day to make sure that everything that you have spent months planning runs exactly how you envisioned. From the arrival times of the florist, limo pick up and drop offs to packing all your gifts and goodies at the end of the night, the day-of coordinator will take care of it all.

What kind of couple should think about hiring a day-of coordinator?

I strongly recommend that every couple that is planning their own wedding hire a day-of coordinator. Planning the entire wedding without a coordinator is already stressful enough, so the least you can do is hire someone who can handle the stress of the day. Your peace of mind on your wedding day will be worth every penny!

When a couple is interviewing prospective day-of coordinators, what types of questions should they ask?

Just like you would a new restaurant, ask for reviews, and also ask what their day-of package includes. You definitely want to know how many hours they'll work for you on your wedding day. Also ask about their past wedding clients and see if they can give you some examples of how they handled thorny issues on the wedding day. Keep in mind that it's not always what you ask the potential planner, but your overall experience during the meeting. What kind of vibe do they give you? Are they excited about the conversation and your day? Does your intuition say, "Yes"? Most importantly, make sure this potential planner is truly listening to you and understanding the vision you've already created for the day. Remember, once all your own planning is done, your day-of coordinator becomes your spokesperson.

What kinds of tasks should a couple expect from the day-of coordinator?

When your day-of coordinator comes on board, she or he will be the new point of contact for your vendors. They will introduce themselves to your vendors and get an idea of what to expect on the wedding day. Also, the coordinator will review your contracts and understand exactly who is doing what and when. She will create your day-of timeline, which will break down all the details regarding arrival times, setup and breakdown. This one is very important: Your coordinator will do a site visit with you, and discuss all of the details you have planned, to get an idea of how you envision the space on your wedding day. The day before your wedding, your coordinator will run your rehearsal, and on your wedding day, she will be there to run the show! For me, it's sometimes a 15-hour day, and we're there to make sure that each hour of your wedding day is worry-free and seamless. Depending on your arrangement with your coordinator, she will pack all of your goodies up at the end of the evening (cake knives, flutes and gifts), distribute the tips, and ensure the hotel has "romanced" your bridal suite, if she was not able to do it herself.

Conversely, what kinds of tasks should a couple NOT expect their day-of coordinator to take care of?

Well, this really depends on the coordinator. As solution oriented people, once we are on board we usually want to do any and everything we can to make the last moments of planning a breeze. If you hire your day-of coordinator a month before the wedding and you still do not have major planning details in place, such as a photographer or caterer, you should anticipate an additional planning charge to get these last minute details in place. If your coordinator is gracious enough and does not charge for this additional planning, then consider that when you're tipping on wedding night.

Do most wedding planners offer this day-of service, or is it a separate niche?

There are wedding planners who are strictly day-of coordinators, and there are others who offer many planning packages, including day-of coordination. One is not necessarily better than the other.

What's the biggest myth about day-of wedding planners?

That you don't need one.

What if the couple's wedding budget is really tight?

Don't let the price tag keep you from contacting a day-of coordinator. If you find one that you like but it's out of your budget, consider reaching out to them anyway. Be honest about what you are able to spend and how impressed you are by their work. You may be surprised by their response.

Any final words of caution?

Some couples choose to forgo a day-of coordinator because their reception venue includes a coordinator. Although this may sound similar to a day-of coordinator, beware: It is not exactly the same. It's important that you identify exactly what your needs will be on wedding day and know ahead of time exactly what your venue coordinator is able and willing to do. Keep in mind that they may not be able to call the limo driver who is running late, or assist the groom who can't find his shirt.