Let's be honest, not everyone can afford to include a full service wedding planner in their budget. Many couples also choose not to hire a wedding planner because they want to plan all of the details from A to Z on their own. However, all couples would benefit from hiring a "Day Of" Coordinator. That said, the term "Day Of" is often misleading, and there is always some confusion as to what this person actually does and doesn't do. Our company is frequently contacted for "Day Of" services, and due to the increasing popularity of this service, it was important to share information with those in the planning stages of their Big Day.
To begin with "day of" actually means month of and sometimes even two months of the special day. Typically, a package will run anywhere between $1,500 to $4,500, starts six to eight weeks prior to the wedding day and includes a timeline that is constructed with all of the previously hired vendors to make sure that the day unfolds without a hitch. The likelihood is that the vendors have already been hired by the couple, and we will them work with those vendors to ensure all those involved are on the same page. There are times when this can get a little tricky because we have no control over whom was hired and if the vendors are truly professional or not. Unfortunately this may also lead to unresponsive vendors who don't want to work with a wedding coordinator. However, it is the couple's job to make sure that their vendors know we are going to be a part of the coordination process. Nothing is worse than when we have to reach out to a bride and tell her that her makeup artist refuses to return calls and we cannot develop a timeline for the wedding day.
Also included in a "Day Of" coordination package is a team of coordinators that will be present for a final walk through the week of the wedding, as well as at the rehearsal and for the entire wedding day. Typically, only two coordinators are needed, but it really is up to the couple to decide just how much help they will need from us. Sometimes couples request that a coordinator is present with the bride (and groom) all day, as well as available to coordinate at the venue. Of course, this means bringing in three coordinators instead of the typical two. When hiring a "Day Of" Coordinator, it's important that the couple is honest about their needs so that a package can be customized accordingly. The more information we have, the better coordinating we can do.
On the day of the wedding, the "Day Of" Coordinator will make sure that everyone is following the timeline that's been established. We like to ask all of the vendors for their input regarding start times and anything that they need, so that the timeline is a joint effort and not something we just tell them to do. This creates a team environment and for a planner, it helps working with vendors, not against them. As long as the vendors work with the coordinator, and that everyone works as a team, the day will be smooth and stress free.
During the six to eight weeks prior to the Big Day, we will go over everything that the couple has already planned. Couples will give my company all of the contracts that they have with their vendors so that we can review them. A planner can see problems before they even arise. It is our job to point out where we think adjustments need to be made. For instance, if we see that they are planning to use the same chairs from their ceremony and move them into their reception during cocktail hour, we will advise either hiring staff to do this, or simply renting a second set of chairs. However, a planner can only insist so much, but ultimately it is up to the couple to make decisions. It's important to trust that the coordinator is not suggesting more money be spent, but rather suggestions that we know will help make the day more perfect.
"Day Of" Coordinators are not full planners by any stretch. This means that they did not bring on anyone from their team (i.e. musicians, photographers, etc.), and that all of the vendors were chosen by the couple. In "Day Of" contracts, it is stated that we are not responsible for the other vendors already contracted. The reason for this is because we cannot take responsibility for other vendors. If the vendors are not "vetted" by us, we cannot vouch for their professionalism. Therefore, if a DJ ignores the timeline given, or a cake is the wrong color, we can try our best to fix the situation, but we can only do so much.
On the actual wedding day, the "Day Of" service also means my company is there from the beginning to the end. This means we are there to fix any problem that may arise. We also act as the "point person" for the venue, vendors and even wedding guests. The idea is that no one bothers the couple with any questions because we are on hand to answer them.
Unfortunately, we have seen instances where a vendor that was hired either didn't show up, showed up late or just didn't do their job. This is precisely why we do our best to fill in those gaps -- whether it means bussing tables, pouring champagne, even running to a store to get more ice.
Ultimately, a "Day Of" Coordinator is a priceless asset to have. Even if a venue has a coordinator on staff, that person works for the venue and not for the couple. A "Day Of" Coordinator will work with the couple leading up to the wedding during the time when things get the most hectic. This coordinator would be in constant communication with the couple and all of the vendors leading up to and including the wedding day. A "Day Of" Coordinator is also an affordable alternative to a full-service wedding planner, and something that all couples should consider.