Becoming a Bride: Coordinator or No Coordinator?

Wedding Coordinator
Originally posted on QueenLatifah.com

Hello again! I’m Stephanie, I work at The Queen Latifah Show and I’m planning my wedding. With help from wedding professionals, bloggers, and brides, I’m helping you find answers to all of your wedding questions in my Becoming a Bride series.

Everyone has heard of a wedding planner (thanks to Jennifer Lopez), but have you heard of a day-of or week-of coordinator? Many wedding or event planners offer a smaller and more affordable package for us budget brides. Generally, this is someone who will jump in after you’ve done all the planning to get all the final details and then orchestrate your big day into the beautiful celebration you envisioned. This is how these two coordinators describe their job:

At the core, a day-of coordinator’s job is to make sure that everything goes smoothly on the day of the event, along with the weeks and days leading up to it. This includes drafting a day-of timeline with suggestions on how the evening should flow; acting as the primary contact for all of the other vendors during the last month, making sure they know all the venue restrictions, rules, etc.; overseeing set-up and breakdown for all other vendors; and placing any decor elements and personal details the couple has provided. Even in a case where the bride and groom did most of the actual planning themselves, the day-of coordinator is able to step in and allow them to relax as their big day draws close. – Ilana Saul at {bookened events}

I usually come in 30 days before the wedding and take everything from the bride’s head and put it into mine! I get the contracts and contact information of all the vendors who have been contracted. I then put together a comprehensive timeline for the rehearsal and the wedding day. My job is to allow the bride to enjoy her day without a thought of how and what is happening with the wedding.De’Neia Whitted, Weddings by Day

For us brides on a budget, the question becomes: “Do I really need one?” Day-of coordinators can range anywhere from $500-$2000 dollars, so is it worth it? To answer that question, I surveyed 14 brides and one groom who were married within the last five years to see how they answered this question for themselves and how it turned out. Spoiler: Everyone who did hire a coordinator said that they had no regrets and some even said it was the “best decision”! Everyone who didn’t said that their wedding turned out beautifully anyway, but some wished they could have hired one if they had the budget. Based on their advice, here’s how to tell if you might need to hire a coordinator:

 

YOU MIGHT NEED A COORDINATOR…

If Your Venue Doesn’t Have Staff That Will Help with Setup
“If you are just renting a space with no staff on site, then a day-of coordinator is absolutely essential and the best investment you can make. The same goes for if you have a lot of DIY/personal decor that you are bringing in. You don’t want your mom or best friend to have to spend 3 hours before the wedding setting up for you!” – Ilana {bookened events}

If you live far from the venue location
“We ‘hired’ a day-of coordinator, since we were doing our wedding across the country, and the woman who runs our venue told us she wouldn’t necessarily be there on the big day to deal with all our incoming vendors. (My partner and I) lucked out and a friend who’s a professional coordinator (at Meinschatz Events) insisted on helping us. She got our save-the-dates and invites designed and printed, got our table signs made, dealt with our florist and photographer (her husband) for us, got all the info out to our families about when to arrive, created a timeline for the big day, arranged to have champagne purchased and delivered (the venue doesn’t do champagne), coordinated the delivery of our cake, helped with a million details on the day of… There are so many things to keep in mind…from making sure we ate to collecting everything at the venue that we might have otherwise left behind after the wedding ended. Her oversight gave us piece of mind. It was WELL worth the money not to have to worry about small things on the day. I’d highly recommend it.” – Jason

“My (now) husband and I knew we had a tall order when we decided we wanted to plan our wedding long distance. Right away we decided to get a coordinator (Vera at Va de Vie Events) to make the planning a little less scary – best decision of the entire wedding! The biggest things were: coordinating vendors on the day-of (managing deliveries and set ups), getting us discounts with vendors because of her connections, giving us the scoop on which vendors to avoid, and most importantly timing out every inch of our wedding down to 5 minute increments.” – Megan

If you have guests who might need to be “corralled”
“There were a couple of instances, such as my mom telling us to hurry up when we were going around talking to our guests, where it would have been nice to have a coordinator to run interference.” – Kristen

“Weddings seem to bring out the best and the worst in family members – having a day-of coordinator allows, if nothing else, for someone to herd all the people into the right places.” – Melisssa

“You’d probably be surprised how many couples have asked us to keep a watchful eye on a heavy drinking friend or relative!” – Ilana {bookened events}

If you want to have a stress-free wedding… and you want all your guests to sit back and relax
“You need someone, not family and not friend, to literally conduct the show and communicate with the vendors day-of. Your wedding party is busy being your entourage, your friends are enjoying the party… When anything goes wrong, and inevitably something will always not go according to plan, there needs to be a person handling it so it doesn’t stress the bride out. The day-of you can’t be running the show, you need to enjoy it and be in every moment worry free. It’s one day, one time in your life, its worth the money.” – Eileen

“You need to concentrate on what you are there for – your wedding and your soon-to-be-husband. Freaking out about the chairs that need to be delivered, etc. will just ruin the purpose of the day. Having someone there to handle those details gives you the ability to focus on the day, reflect on the event, and be present for your marriage!”– Gillian

“The best thing about having (my coordinator) is that I literally never had to worry about what I was doing next. I got to just have fun, bounce around from the dance floor, to visiting with friends, to making sure I got to eat dinner (she made sure we sat down and ate and had everything we wanted… so often the bride/groom don’t even eat!), to tossing the garter, to our slideshow playing, to speeches, to cutting the cake etc. She was behind the scenes making sure she got the right people to do whatever was needed to make it all go seamlessly” – Bryce

If you want to find good deals
“In my experience, (coordinators) pay for themselves. She knew how to save money, who had the best prices, and in many cases got an industry discount for us.” – Megan

If you run the risk of bad weather
“We did a wedding in North Carolina. It was a beautiful day all day long. The wedding was scheduled to take place outdoors on the lake near the golf course. Out of nowhere the sky turned black and the heavens opened. The venue’s rain plan was not in place so… I kicked off my 4-inch heels and ran outside in the rain with my operations manager to another building that was not prepared for a wedding. We set up 100 chairs (by ourselves) with 10 minutes to spare. The wedding started 20 minutes late because we had to get the wedding guest from the golf house to the building where we moved the wedding. That was a special day to say the least, but the bride was beautiful and the wedding was perfect.De’Neia Whitted, Weddings by Day

 

YOU MIGHT NOT NEED A COORDINATOR…

If Your Venue Includes One
“If your venue has a really active and involved site coordinator (who will be at your wedding from start to finish), then you may not need to hire an outside coordinator. But always double check with your venue to see what their site coordinator will and won’t be responsible for, since many are just there on the day-of in case of emergency, but won’t actually assist with decor setup or oversee the flow of the event.” – Ilana {bookened events}

“(Our wedding coordinator) was actually inclusive to the location we got married at, so it was part of the main cost. If you can hire a coordinator specific to your location, I would shop around for the right personality/someone you feel comfortable with, you can trust she has your best interest in mind, and you can tell she’s not just charging you a stellar amount because she can.” – Bryce

“She took my payments for the venue, she helped with where my tables needed to be set up…my venue was all inclusive and pretty much ran itself.” – Nichole

If you have a trusted and organized friend who doesn’t mind skipping the festivities
“I knew (hiring a coordinator) was recommended, but had a very tight budget and was worried that they would take too much control of my day. I had a friend who helped me plan and organize my wedding. She knew my strong personality and my picky taste. I felt safe trusting her with such a responsibility because we went over nearly every detail… Not everyone has a friend that would be willing to do as much as she did for me” – Shanna

“One of my coworkers volunteered her services. (She) did it for me as a wedding present and therefore missed the entire wedding because during the ceremony she was at the reception making sure everything was going according to plan. In the morning she was with the florist setting up church and then going back and forth. Apparently the DJ was missing, the candy bowls weren’t there, our first look spot was taken by another wedding… all things I didn’t know or hear about until after the wedding. My venue came with a day of coordinator but it’s not the same, they only manage their property.” – Eileen

“Honestly, I didn’t even consider (hiring one) because I knew that it would never have been in our budget. Thankfully I was able to have (my sister-in-law) help me with a lot of what a day-of coordinator would have done for me, such as making sure that the procession happened correctly, and that we stuck as closely as possible to the timeline that I had made.” –Kristen

If you’re a non-chalant (BE HONEST!) or punk rock bride
“I didn’t hire a planner because I couldn’t afford one, and frankly didn’t feel like explaining my complete “I don’t care” attitude to a lot of the things that most people consider important on their wedding day. …We had like 40 people in a trailer park in the desert that was known for being bare bones, punk rock, dirty, etc.” – Laura Leigh

“Honestly never even considered getting one. Our wedding was pretty low key so I figured I could do it all myself.” – Sara

 

WHO TO CHOOSE…

If you’ve decided that you might need to hire a coordinator or find a trusted and organized friend to take on the responsibilities, here’s what our brides had to say about who to choose:

Christen at The Broke Ass Bride, offered her advice as an occasional coordinator. “I actually ‘act’ as coordinator for a number of my friends — I’m the bossy one who loves events and doesn’t have a problem telling people where to go, so it’s my wedding present to them. And I would recommend that to people: If you have a friend who is a good stage-manager type, ask if they wouldn’t be willing to do some wrangling on the day of. I’ve found that even if a couple has a planner, it’s nice for them to have someone who is dedicated to helping them out, or what I like to call the “couple’s coordinator.” Someone who makes sure everyone is where they need to be for photos, ceremony stuff and reception events. Not to mention tracking down bouquets or wayward groomsmen :)”

“There are plenty of newbies out there that are inexpensive. We paid a fraction of what some businesses charge – Yelp is the perfect resource to find these new, but awesome coordinators! Go with your gut — do they have an aesthetic you like? Have they replied to your initial emails promptly? Without typos? Etc. Are they willing to give you a consultation meeting (they should!). …Just ask yourself if this is someone you’d be excited to have a lot of contact with. Even day-of coordinators like ours will usually happy answer questions and emails throughout the entire process!” – Megan

“Ideally it would be nice to choose someone that you know who knows you. If you’re in the market for one, shop around and find someone that can fully grasp your vision.” – Eileen

“I would suggest NEVER have a family member be the coordinator. I would recommend that every bride have someone not in the wedding party who can be in charge of the day-of events to relieve stress. Whether they hire a professional or a good friend, it depends on budget for their wedding.” – Shanna

“If you aren’t able to (hire) a coordinator, ask someone that is also organized (and bossy) to help you run things the day-of. (Also), I feel that it is necessary to be completely organized and to come up with a timeline of how you want things to flow.” – Kristen

“No one wants to be bossed around on their wedding day (and neither do your vendors!), so it’s really important to find someone who can get things done while remaining friendly. My coordinator approached everything and everyone with a smile, regardless of whatever hiccups occurred during our wedding (I don’t even know that there were any, and that’s how you know she was really great at her job).” – Katie

“I don’t think paying more necessarily means you get a better coordinator in this situation…I think it’s really important to feel that connection and most importantly not feel like she’s taking advantage of the situation by overcharging you because she knows you “need” her.” – Bryce

“You have to make sure the two of you have the same vision for your day and you have to feel comfortable communicating with them.” – Erica (she hired Tara at Your Event By Erin)

And make sure to read the fine print and ask a lot of questions to find out what is included! “I assumed I was getting the whole kit and caboodle (I bought the biggest package) but there were still a lot of last-minute details that I had to tend to the week of the wedding (playlist of the DJ, place cards for the rehearsal dinner, etc). Those are things I would have liked my coordinator to take care of.” – Melissa

I hope that this advice has been helpful! If you have any more questions on whether you should hire a day-of coordinator or have another topic you’d like me to cover on my Becoming a Bride series, leave a comment below or you can tweet me at @Stephisawes0me.



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