Do you need a day-of wedding coordinator? Well, that depends on your wedding style, venue, and personality. Here are some thoughts to help you decide.
What Makes a Good Day-Of Wedding Coordinator?
Full disclosure – I’ve worked as an assistant day-of coordinator (DOC). And I knew my share when I owned a bridal magazine. A lot get started planning a friend or family member’s wedding. And while that’s a source of inspiration, the best DOCs have more important things in common.
Industry Involvement: Many DOCs are in the hospitality industry and have experience executing events. It’s not uncommon to find a DOC who has a hospitality “day job”. Most wedding clients need to meet in the evenings or weekends because they also have 9 to 5’s. Since weddings are usually on weekends, day-of coordination is a good side gig for hospitality pros.
Education and Affiliations: While experience is a great teacher, you don’t want someone learning on the job at your wedding. Education courses, like those offered through the Association of Bridal Consultants, keep DOCs up to date on industry practices. Networking affiliations also offer education, as well as an opportunity to meet and get to know other wedding pros. When vendors who know each other work a wedding, it just makes the day run more smoothly.
Teamwork: A savvy DOC usually has a capable assistant. Even with the best planning, things sometimes go sideways on the big day. If there’s a problem, the DOC solves it while the assistant carries on and keeps the timeline on track.
What Does a Day-Of Wedding Coordinator Do?
There are full service wedding planners who offer day-of coordination as part of their package. And there are those whose mission is getting you to the finish line and through your wedding day. There’s a saying in the wedding industry that “day-of” coordination is more like “month-of” coordination. Here are some of the things a professional DOC does.
Venue Walk Through: About a month before your wedding, your DOC will tour your reception site with you and the manager. This walk through gives you, your DOC, and the venue manager an opportunity to visualize the location and the “flow” of the reception.
Day-Of Timeline: Venue managers and DJ’s put together excellent reception timelines, but you’re going to need a plan for the entire day, including the rehearsal the day before (which your DOC will attend). And it needs to be shared with all your other wedding vendors. As you get closer to the wedding day, there may be changes. Isn’t it nice to have a DOC stay on top of them and keep everyone in the loop?
Staying On Track: That day-of timeline isn’t worth the paper it’s written on unless you adhere to it. Think of it as your wedding day battle plan and your DOC as your field commander. DOCs know there’s always some fluidity in a timeline and have an instinct for when to let things go on a little longer than planned and when to tighten it up.
Behind the Scenes
Wedding Ninjas: Couples love their personal decor. And many save money by having certain items do double duty. But who is going to put out all of your items, move them around, pack them up, and make sure they get in the right hands at the end of the evening? DOCs are wedding ninjas, quickly and quietly working to make all that happen.
The Diplomatic Touch: As an assistant DOC, I’ve handled weepy aunts who’ve had too much champagne, sewn groomsmen into shirts, found wheelchairs for elderly relatives, and cheerfully but firmly corralled bridal parties for photo ops. Because I’m a parent, I would keep an eye on the couples’ moms and dads, ensuring they enjoyed the wedding as much as their children.
A Real Example of Diplomatic DOC Value
Due to a scheduling conflict, I handled a wedding on my own last year. I felt confident and my boss had thoroughly informed me about the couple and their day. I had a complete timeline, knew the venue, and conducted the rehearsal without a hitch. But after the ceremony, one of the groom’s aunts decided she wanted her son to attend the reception as well.
Obviously, this impacted not only the seating arrangements but the price per head the couple was paying as well. Thank goodness it was a buffet, so food was not a problem. But the price per head was $80. The groom was off in his own world and the aunt was ready to blow a gasket.
I quietly took the bride aside and explained the situation. She asked me what I would do. I said, “You’re starting a new life with this man – and his family. Consider the extra $80 an investment in family peace and show how gracious you are.” She agreed and I worked with the banquet captain to make an extra place. Crisis averted!
Do You Need a Day-Of Wedding Coordinator?
So now that you’ve gotten an idea of what a DOC does, you can better answer the question do you need a day-of wedding coordinator? If your wedding involves a ceremony and a reception location, a lot of personal decor and logistics aren’t your thing, then the answer is a resounding YES.
But maybe you and your sweetie are marrying and partying at the same venue. And you’re a well organized person who can keep track of multiple details. Most importantly, you’ve developed a great relationship with the venue pro who’s handling your day. Then you may not need a DOC.
Here are three great wedding pros in the Blue Ridge who get day-of coordination. Both Bryce Resort’s Jackie Moe and Matt Clements at Massanutten Resort have run their own event planning companies. And Brenda Morrison at Bavarian Inn holds hospitality certification through Cornell University and is a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants. They have experience and education along with personal vendor connections. And all are passionate about weddings
Whether you’re hiring a DOC or working with a venue manager who goes the extra mile, the one thing you DON’T want to do is dump this responsibility on a well meaning, but inexperienced, friend or family member. Let that person enjoy being a wedding guest. And give yourself the peace of mind that comes with using wedding professionals.