Updated: Jul 21, 2021
Let’s be real, you want perfect, smooth sailing on your wedding day. You should be super blissful from the time you wake up to the time your head hits the pillow. But guaranteed, you’ll have a lot going through your mind.
If you’ve hired a killer vendor team (likely a caterer, a venue, a DJ and photographer) you may be thinking, “they’re seasoned pros, they got me!” Well, the caterer, venue, DJ and photographer are like important crew members on a ship, but you need a captain to navigate and sail the ship in the right direction. Let me explain: the caterer, venue, DJ and photographer will be busy executing the crucial job you hired them to do (feeding the guests, keeping the event facility clean and private, playing amazing music and taking the perfect photos), but they won’t have the time to exclusively focus on YOU and make sure the ship is sailing in the right direction. This is where a day of coordinator comes in.
What is a day-of wedding coordinator?
A day-of wedding coordinator is like a fairy godmother who takes the responsibility of hosting your wedding off your shoulders. They manage the timeline, your vision, your guests’ experience and you and your fiancé’s overall happiness. They become your venue and vendor liaison, so you don’t need to answer a single question or make any decisions on your big day. They are creative problem solvers who step in when things go wrong and often fix problems before they even happen. They typically start working with you about a month prior to the big day to understand your vision, take over vendor communication and allow you the time to enjoy the last few weeks of being engaged.
Day-of wedding coordinators are often overlooked by engaged couples because hiring one is an investment in something that you can’t hold, touch or see. Sometimes couples forego a day-of wedding coordinator because they’d rather spend the money on extra floral arrangements or upgrade their bar to premium liquor, something they can tangibly see and enjoy. The result? Couples quickly discover their vendors cannot give them their undivided attention throughout the entire day. That’s why even if you have a great team of vendors, hiring a day-of wedding coordinator is an investment into peace of mind on the biggest day of your life. Here are 8 things a day-of wedding coordinator will do for you that your other vendors will not.
1. Arrive at your getting ready location with everything you could ever need
While your vendors set up at your wedding venue, a day-of wedding coordinator will come to your getting ready location (both yours and your soon-to-be spouse’s) and make sure the day starts off smoothly. During this time, they’ll help you with anything you need, which might include:
Make sure hair and make-up runs on time (I even work with your hair and make-up artists ahead of time to make a getting ready schedule)
Make sure no one runs away, leaves, gets stuck in traffic or gets drunk prematurely (I’m all for a celebratory nip, but if you kill a 30 rack before I arrive to your getting ready location, I will be suspicious…)
Bring an emergency kit full of everything you could possibly need. For example, my kit has Band-Aids, scissors, dry shampoo, earring backs, deodorant, tissues, a mini sewing kit, stain remover, Pepto, mints, wardrobe tape, hair elastics, Bobbi pins, nail files, make-up wipes, nail polish remover...ETC...so like, everything you could ever need.
Assist with your wardrobe including steaming dresses/shirts, tie bow ties, help sew a button back on, fix little stains (I’ve faced up against some pretty cringey stains on a few rental tuxes in my day…*shiver*)
Pin boutonnieres and remove moisture from your bouquets when your floral gets dropped off
At go-time, fluff your train (and bustle your dress later in the night), assist with attaching, removing, fluffing and carrying the veil, and most importantly talk you through how to sit and go pee in your outfit (wedding wardrobes tend to be pretty form-fitting, sometimes we all need a little instructional demonstration!)SO much happens at your getting ready location before you even step foot in your wedding venue. While your other vendors are setting up, snapping photos and applying hair and make-up, it is crucial to have someone there to support you with all the little things happening in the morning.
2. Set-up all your personal and sentimental items
With a day-of wedding coordinator on your team, there is no more worrying about setting up those precious little details. As your other vendors set the tables, perfect the floral arrangements and set up the sound system, a day-of wedding coordinator makes sure all your personal touches get to the venue and are in the right place (they often pick everything up from you earlier in the week). This could be grandma’s wedding picture, grandpa’s hanky, your card box, escort cards, place cards, table numbers, favors, décor, etc.
A day-of wedding coordinator will not only get these items to the venue, but also make sure everything looks exactly the way you want it to. That way you can focus on enjoying your pampering the morning of your wedding! At the end of the night when your vendors are closing down and packing up their equipment, your day-of wedding coordinator will pack your items up and get them to wherever you need them (hotel room, car, etc.) so you can jump right into your get-away car without any concern in the world about what happened to your personal and sentimental items.
3. Make sure the ceremony runs smoothly and is legal so you can focus on soaking in every second
A wedding ceremony is a legitimate production: there are cues to hit, people to wrangle, readings to read, speakers to speak, music to play—without a ringleader to bring these pieces together, your ceremony can become disorganized and disjointed. Plus, the last thing you should have to worry about is the wrong song playing as you walk down the aisle…
In order to make sure the ceremony runs smoothly and is legal (kind of the whole point…) a day-of wedding coordinator will help everything run smoothly, which can include:
Confirming you have the marriage license, and make sure it gets to the officiant
Confirming your witnesses are present and connect them with the officiant
Making sure the rings are in the right place at the right time (I even bring fake back up rings just in case!)
Cueing your ceremony music once everyone is lined up and ready
Slipping mom some extra tissues
Having extra copies of your sister’s reading when she inevitably forgets hers back at the hotel
Sending everyone down the aisle at the right time
Tackling drunk uncle Jerry if he tries to make an impromptu toast.
Even for just a 20-minute ceremony, there are a lot of pieces to coordinate. While your other vendors finish setting up, play the music, take the perfect photographs, prep the hors d’oeuvres and make sure the waitstaff is ready, your day-of wedding coordinator will be right there making sure all the pieces of the ceremony fall into place for a truly magical and memorable experience.
4. Manage the ceremony rehearsal the day before so your friends and family know where to be and when
If number 3 just stressed you out, that’s the reason we have number 4: the ceremony rehearsal.
The day before the wedding, a day-of wedding coordinator will run your ceremony rehearsal alongside your officiant to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing, where they’re standing, when to walk, when to read, when to hand the rings over, when to grab the bouquet, etc. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT (*clapping aggressively*).
This all takes place the day before when typically, none of your other vendors (other than perhaps your venue coordinator) are there to assist you. This process is crucial if you want a smooth ceremony that you and your loved ones will remember forever. Plus, it’s a great excuse to go out to eat after.
5. Make and manage the timeline so your vendor team knows the plan
A professionally made timeline is the blueprint to your wedding day. This timeline, made and managed by your day-of wedding coordinator, will contain all your vendor’s information in one consolidated place.
It’ll include the getting ready timeline, vendor arrival times, ceremony cues, reception order (including dinner service timing, speeches, dancing and other formalities) and end of night clean-up.
This timeline is like my bible at weddings. It keeps the day running on time and tells vendors everything they need to know so you don’t need to be answering a single question.
The purpose of having all the info in one place is that it gives your vendors the whole picture of the day, which helps make sure everything is expertly executed. For example, my timelines help the DJ schedule their sets in coordination with the caterers’ dinner service and formalities like toasts. Meanwhile, the photographer will use the timeline to know when all the special moments are happening, so they are there to capture every minute.
Without a day-of wedding coordinator to pull these details together in a master timeline, it is harder for your vendor team to have the clarity and answers they need to execute a flawless service experience for you and your guests.
6. Wrangle your family members so you don’t have to track everyone down
You know when it’s time for that rogue best man of yours to make a toast? I’m going to make sure he isn’t throwing down nips in the bathroom while he’s supposed to be on the mic.
The beauty of a day-of wedding coordinator is that they are the go-to point person for the family and friends who have responsibilities at your wedding (like readings or toasts). While your other vendors are managing their set-up, your closest people know your day-of wedding coordinator can help them out with any questions or concerns.
Day-of wedding coordinators also help your photographer wrangle family members to breeze through the formal family pictures so you can dive right into those hors d’oeuvres you’ve been dreaming about.
7. Come with a back-up plan and problem solve on the fly
Shit goes wrong. Day-of wedding coordinators are like problem-solving ninjas. When the unpredictable happens, they snap into action. For example, I’ve had to:
Make myself a living “Wet Floor” sign by protecting guests from a slippery marble floor because a woman fell into a fountain
Stop party crashers from sneaking into a wedding through a tiny gap they found between the restroom trailer and the tent
Discreetly dab a client’s stained dress while she continued to drink and mingle
Bounce party crashers coming in off the streets of New York by sitting sneakily in a stairwell guarding the door
Steal a carpet from a hotel lobby to make the stage less slippery for the band
In almost all of these circumstances, the clients didn’t even know there was a problem because day-of wedding coordinators have the power to fix it at the drop of a hat.
To take it a step further, day-of wedding coordinators identify problems before they happen. They’ll make sure there are sound back-up plans in place for rain plan or other emergencies. I always discuss a well thought out plan for inclement weather ahead of time so we can be prepared for anything. For example, I bring clear umbrellas if there is a chance of rain so you can still take beautiful outdoor photos.
While your other vendors are photographing every moment, keeping the dance floor lively and serving that delicious late-night bite, a day-of wedding coordinator is specifically there for YOU when you need someone the most.
8. Act as the point of contact for all your vendors so you don’t need to answer a single question on your wedding day other than “more champagne?”
It is crucial to have a point person at your venue from set-up to clean-up who knows your full vision. While you enjoy being pampered in the morning, a member of the day-of wedding coordinator’s team should have their boots on the ground making sure your ceremony and reception set-up is going exactly as planned. Once everything looks exactly how you wanted, they’ll become the point person for your vendors, so you don’t need to answer any questions. Having a single point of contact for your vendors makes sure everything comes together cohesively. As the point of contact for your vendors, your day-of wedding coordinator will assist with a large list of tasks, which may include:
Answering vendors’ questions about where they are supposed to set-up, review the evening’s timeline with them, make sure they get their vendor meals and access water, make sure they find their access to power, remind the DJ how to pronounce your new last name (or remind the DJ that you kept your last name!), confirm the caterer knows about Grandma’s coconut allergy, make sure the ice cream truck doesn’t park in the spot that was reserved for the restroom trailer, etc.
Distributing your final vendor payments and gratuities
Make sure your photographer/videographer and important family members are there before any formalities occur (cake cutting, toasts, etc.!)
Make sure drunk uncle Jerry doesn’t start switching the place cards around
Manage your transportation by confirming your getaway car is staged outside and your guest shuttles are ready to go (I always connect with your transportation company in the weeks leading up to your wedding and work with them to make a transportation schedule)
Even the most amazing vendor team will still have little questions here and there on exactly how you want things done. Having a day-of wedding coordinator be your liaison to answer these questions for you will minimize y our stress and keep you focused on enjoying the best day ever.
Lastly and most importantly, your day-of wedding coordinator will provide emotional support and peace of mind from the moment you wake up to the moment your heads hit the pillow!
Building an amazing vendor team is crucial – but what is just as crucial is having a day-of wedding coordinator who can be your designated point person, emotional support human and event expert on the biggest day of your life. While your other vendors are making your wedding fantastic, you’ll have someone to make sure you’re having the best day ever. After all, the best investment you can make on your wedding day, is in yourself – your peace of mind, your blissfulness and your happily ever after, horror story free.
Yes, you got me – I’m a day-of wedding coordinator! I also believe selecting the right