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If the potential anxiety and expense of a wedding planner is equal to the relief they could provide, there’s a low-key solution you might be overlooking. A day-of planner (or coordinator) is literally just what the job title implies: they’re hired to make sure things go right on your wedding day. They’re there to take the coordination/execution/wrangling off the shoulders of you and your wedding party — keeping the flow smooth, the programming flawless, and your vendors and guests pleased as punch.
A day-of coordinator leaves the months of pre-planning up to you and your partner, then puts your logistical dreams in action when the big day actually arrives. It’s less of a commitment than a planner, but still puts a lot of trust into the hands of an outside pro. So how do you know when you’ve found ~the one~?
Rebeca Oliveira is the owner of Maven Macaw Events, a unique wedding planning and design company in Boston. She weighs in on what you should know if you’re considering adding a day-of planner to your wedding day mix.
A day-of coordinator is exactly what it sounds like.
“A FAQ! A wedding planner does what it says on the box: they plan—or help you plan—your wedding: they do the ‘before the Wedding Day’ job.
The coordinator is the person there, on your wedding day, running the show, making sure people are where they are supposed to be, ideally when they are supposed to be there; handling emergencies and putting out fires, so the couple never knows there was a fire until a week later. They do the ‘Wedding Day’ job.”
Just because they work the day-of, it’s best to get them on board ASAP.
“‘I’m a big fan of ‘as early as possible.’ You get the best choice of availability when it comes to professionals, their rates (many offer discounts, or honor old rates for very early bookers) and dates. That said, ‘whenever you decide one is right for you’ is always the right time.”
You don’t need both a wedding planner AND a day-of coordinator.
“You need yourself, your intended, and someone to make you legal—that’s all you need to get married. Everything else is ‘nice to have.’
That said, I strongly suggest a coordinator at least. Outsourcing your anxiety is truly a priceless investment, and when better to do it than your wedding day?”
You should loop your day-of coordinator in on the details as far in advance as you can.
“It will depend strongly on what relationship/package you and your vendor work out. If you’re looking at a comprehensive, all-inclusive package, you planner may just ask for a preferred date, your budget, your guestlist, and your vibe.
So: budget and guest count are definite questions. Your planner/coordinator will also likely want to know how your planning is going—who you’ve hired and why, and for how much—and what your priorities are. Food? Beautiful pictures? People having fun? There are no wrong answers, but you have to know why your answers are your answers. Everything else will go from there.”
Just because it’s one day, it’s the day. So make sure your coordinator-couple relationship is solid.
“It’s always a constellation of factors that vary from couple to couple. Ultimately, though, it comes down to comfort and trust: do you trust this person to have your wedding Handled? Will you feel OK being vulnerable in front of, and with this person, so they can support you to the best of their ability on a very big, important, full of Big Emotions day?”
Anticipate regular check-ins with your coordinator, but don’t expect them to be at your beck and call.
“It will depend on your package, and will vary widely—but what matters is that it works for you. If you’re planning your wedding together, I’d expect very regular check-ins, weekly or so, at the minimum, for the duration; maybe less frequently at the start and more frequently closer to the day, as details come up and get figured out.
If you’re working with a coordinator instead, you may not have much beyond one or two meetings to get everyone on the same page. But maybe you’ll exchange 75 texts in the last week! It changes with every wedding. As long as you and your vendor understand each other? That’s the right amount and method of communication.”
Pricing will fluctuate depending on your needs.
“I can’t speak for other professionals, but for me, I base my pricing on expected workload, how much time we’ll have to do that work, and how much I am expected to do on my own vs. what we’ll do together. That can look like a sweet discount for coordinating a wedding at an all-in-one venue (where I don’t have to do any vendor wrangling, because your venue, caterer, DJ, and flowers, are all one vendor) or a heavier than usual load the week-of because you have no in-town family to pick up the flowers and the cake. Like so much else, it will depend on what you need and what I can provide.”
They prep for every problem — no matter how small.
“With me, you can expect me to be the first one there (often with coffee and donuts) and one of the last people to leave, if not the actual last person to leave. I’m there with a timeline, contact list, contingency plans, and a backpack full of tiny emergency supplies like cotton swabs, mouthwash, band-aids, and several packs of tissues. I am there to get your wedding to happen the way you want it to, whether that means doves, glitter, skulls, or all of the above.
If you know what a stage manager does? That. That’s me.”
They’re your point of contact for other vendors throughout the day.
“I frequently describe my job as outsourcing your anxiety — which means I am the one running around solving problems, not you. I can only solve problems I know about, and you can only worry about problems you know about. My job is to handle as many of those problems as possible on the day. I may need to come to the couple for an answer or a clarification, but if I’ve done my job, I should have 98% or more of the answers at the ready.
Your coordinator should definitely reach out ahead of time and let your vendors know who they are, and their preferred means of contact, and to get that info back from your vendors. Your coordinator will also get a day-of timeline together, so they will know when they should expect vendors, and where. Your coordinator should also be made aware of any special accommodations or requirements each of your vendors may need.”
There’s such a thing as an appropriate “thank you” for your day-of coordinator after the big day.
“Real talk? A paid off invoice. Visible positive reviews on wedding vendor listings. If they blew you away, and you want to do them a nice? Nothing makes my day more than a kind, handwritten note.”
Rebeca’s vendor favorite shout-outs
My favorite not-local Instagram wedding photogs are @jennspainphotography and @laureninedinburgh. My local faves are @amandamacchiaphoto and @goldendoorphoto. And I can’t not mention the fact I have Keytar Bear’s number, for all your Prince processional needs. (Yes, he played Purple Rain and it was just as magical as you’d expect.)