Creating Beautiful Celebrations!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What "Day Of Coordination" Is (and is NOT)

Brides seeking wedding planning assistance generally fall into two categories: Full Service ("I’m overwhelmed, I don’t know where to start, I need all the help I can get!") and Day Of ("I’m a hands-on kind of gal, I’ve got lots of help, I just need a little assistance along the way"). With the onslaught of wedding planning blogs, magazines, TV shows and books along with the downturn in the economy, more and more Day Of Brides are surfacing. Being a crafty, creative, practical, "hands-on" type myself, I can totally appreciate the Day Of Bride. But with this continuing emergence of the DIY wedding, there seems to be a bit of confusion about what "Day Of Coordination" actually means….

A Day Of wedding package means that the Bride is responsible for doing the majority of her own planning. In order for your Planner to do her job (and do it WELL), she needs to know every detail you have planned. No detail is too small here. If your Aunt Shelly suddenly decides to sing a solo during the ceremony, the Planner needs to know. If you are considering including a sand ceremony with your vows or want to surprise your new Scottish family with a special bagpipe performance in the middle of dinner, the Planner needs to know that, too! A good Planner will be asking LOTS of questions about your planning, maybe even asking you to fill out some forms, but sometimes details can fall through the cracks. Communication is key.

There is actually no such thing as a "DAY Of" anything. Any reputable planner will tell you that she starts coordinating the final details of your wedding at least a month out. There are vendors to contact, coordination of deliveries, set-up, strike (that’s industry speak for break-down), confirming final payments, going over every little detail with a fine tooth comb to ensure nothing has been overlooked (and trust me when I say it happens…all the time!).

Is your Planner creating a detailed Itinerary for you, your wedding party and all your vendors? She should be. And that, too, takes time. Scheduling all the "major players", letting everyone know where to be and at what time. Contact names, cell numbers and emergency backup contacts can’t be gathered on the "Day Of". It all takes TIME.

Trust me…you do NOT want a Planner who is just going to show up on your wedding day and make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing, when they are supposed to be doing it. Because what if they DON’T? What would she do then? And how would she even know? By then, it’s too late.

Price is important here, too. A smart, budget savvy Bride will get some references and call more than one or two Planners before making her decision. She also knows that pricing should not be the deciding factor when hiring any wedding professional. A good general rule of thumb is to "throw out" the highest and lowest priced Day Of Coordinators and focus on the one(s) in the middle. Coordinating your Day Of package could take upwards of 30 hours, so consider the time and cost associated with that. A ridiculously low price quote and my guess is that the Planner is not doing all she is supposed to be doing.

One more thing; more and more vendors (photographers, caterers, florists, rental companies) are telling me that they are "this close" to not taking weddings if the Bride doesn’t have a Planner. They are being paid for a service that most likely does NOT include lining up the wedding party before the ceremony, coordinating the dances or showing you how to cut your cake. Will they help you if you need it? Of course they will, because they are professionals who love Brides, weddings and helping you have the day you’ve always dreamed of. But given the choice, they’d much rather be able to focus on doing what you hired them to do, because they are good at what they do!

If you decide to go for a Day Of Coordination package, be sure you are asking the important questions of potential planners:

* When do you officially start coordinating my wedding?
* Are you willing to look over all my contracts to be sure I am getting what I am expecting?
* Will you be contacting all my vendors?
* What kinds of details will you be asking them for?
* Will you create an itinerary/timeline for me, my wedding party and my vendors?
* Will you be present for and coordinate the details of the rehearsal?
* Will you be bringing an assistant with you on the day of my wedding?
* Do you bring an emergency kit with you on wedding day?
* What kinds of items/how many items are in it?
* Will you personally take responsibility for personal items like the cake knife/server, toasting glasses, etc and make sure they get back to us at the end of the night?
* Will you stay until the VERY end of the reception, after we are gone, to be sure any last minute issues are taken care of?

Don’t be misled into thinking that a Day Of Coordinator will (or should) show up on your Wedding Day, magic wand in hand with nary a thought for the details prior to her arrival. If you are paying more than several hundred dollars for a reputable Day Of Wedding planner, chances are you WILL get what you are paying for and you will NOT regret it!

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