Wedding planner, wedding coordinator….two very different and distinct jobs. Both performing tasks throughout your planning and wedding day to some scale. But what they are not doing is “day-of coordination”. I’m not a person to sugar coat things. As I was trying to think of a good title for this blog, andI couldn’t think of a better one. It’s plain and simple and the TRUTH. Day-of Coordination is a unicorn, it does not exist.
Now, of course, your thinking, but The Knot……Wedding Wire…..they can’t be wrong! Oh, but they are and here’s why. No one, and I mean NO ONE, can walk in on the day of your wedding and execute it to your vision. Even though there are coordinators that still call it “day-of coordination”, they are not only selling themselves short but they are doing more work than just one day’s worth.
What does a Day-of Coordinator do?
First, let me talk on what a coordinator who offers this service generally does. They will meet with you at least once to go over everything. This meeting can last anywhere from one to four hours. Then when they get home they take their chicken scratch notes and formulate it into what they need to run the day. They are generally there for your rehearsal and then on the day itself they work between eight to twelve hours. That’s the basics. It does not include other services they might perform like reaching out to all of your vendors, which they should be doing. On average a true day-of coordinator works a MINIMUM of 16 hours for every wedding, but that’s honestly really low. It takes hours of behind the scenes work to make sure that things are going to run correctly, and so really I can’t even believe how someone could even perform “day-of coordination” with just the basics listed above. Which brings me to the change in the industry to Wedding Management.
What is Wedding Management?
Wedding Management is what I do, I manage your wedding starting two months before your big day. I help with all of the last minute details, create your timeline for the day and help with your floor plan. We have a minimum of two meetings that are between two and four hours each. I contact all of your vendors before the day to make sure that they have everything that they need. I review your contracts to make sure they are upheld on both ends, no one wants to breach a contract. I’m there for the rehearsal and between ten to twelve hours (with an assistant) on the wedding day. I spend on average of thirty-five hours on every one of my Wedding Management clients. That is the way it should be and it truly is what is necessary to make a wedding run flawlessly.
Is one better than the other?
With all coordinators (be it ones who offer day-of or management), they offer something that no one else can. They are there by your side through it. They are a voice of reason and an advocate for you. Someone who will put out a fire before you even know what’s happening. Someone who will make sure that your wedding day is just how you want it to be without you even having to think about it. And that my friends is worth so much. You may not see it now, but on the day itself, you will be thankful you have a planner or coordinator by your side.
Lastly, those who still offer “day-of coordination” put in more time than that title gives them credit for. So please try to keep that in mind when you look at the pricing of a good coordinator and think they’re too expensive. What they do is so much more than just the day. And if you are one of those planners who still offer day-of coordination, reach out to me so we can chat. It’s time to take your business and your couples experience to the next level with Wedding Management.
Cleveland Botanical Gardens and Manakiki Golf Course
Photos by: Laura Dempsy
When I first met with Lauren she said that she didn’t think she needed a wedding planner for the day. Then about 3 months before the wedding we were talking again and Lauren, her fiance and her family were starting to feel the stress of the little things all coming together. That’s where I came in. I was able to sit down with her and go through everything together, and really she had it all there it just needed to be organized. Then of course there were the few things she hadn’t even thought about, but hey, that’s what she hired a wedding planner for! On the day itself everything ran smoothly and was just exactly how they wanted it to all be.
Lauren looked stunning in her dress. It was just the right amount of bridal, so that it was a perfect wedding dress for her. Just look at how happy she was when she was smiling at her Father walking her down the aisle at the beautiful Cleveland Botanical Gardens.
Their reception was set at the Hanna Mansion on Manakiki Golf Course with touches of an art deco Gatsby theme. Gold sequin runners, candleabras and feathers all pieced together with great food, dancing and donuts. What more could you ask for?
One of the small touches that was added was the favors for their guests. Little bags of gummy bags that I was informed was the best type of gummy bear out there. Of course I was like, “Aren’t all gummy bears just gummy bears?”. No, they are not, and I was proved wrong that day.
The day ended with the arrival of the gorgeous old fashioned car (if I knew anything about cars I would tell you what it is, but alas I do not) for some portraits to fit their theme. And then a grand exit full of bubbles and cheers for the newlyweds.
This amazing wedding could not have been possible without the help of these amazing vendors:
Photography: Laura Dempsey Photography
Ceremony Venue: Cleveland Botanical Gardens
Reception Venue: Manakiki Golf Course
Catering: Dino’s Catering
Rentals: Julie Elizabeth Event Styling
Donuts: Biagio’s Donuts
Wedding Dress: CLE Bride
Flowers: Eco Flowers
This is the first post of many in a new series of blogs I will be writing. Each blog will contain tips for planning your wedding, and each will be based on a certain topic: venue hunting, making your budget or general decor decisions. Just to name a few that I have floating in my head. I hope that you find this new series beneficial to your wedding planning needs and that it can help guide you in some way.
So let’s start it off at the beginning. You just got engaged, so what do you do? Well of course celebrate, but I mean after that.
Topics to discuss with each other before you begin planning your wedding.
1). What do you see on your wedding day? Talk about the overall vision you have in your head for your wedding day. You should both be represented in your wedding. You should both have ownership of what your guests will experience. It may be something you’ve seen at another wedding, something you’ve envisioned since you were little or a fun, quirky idea that you think would set your wedding apart from every other wedding you’ve been to.
2). What is important to have happen that day? What are some things that are important to the both of you to have for your wedding day. A certain flower in your arrangements or a special meal to be served. These are your priorities for the wedding day and it will help you to know what you need to budget for. Not only are these things important to you both, but they also tend to be those things that really connect your guests to you on your wedding day.
3). When would you like to get married? A lot of couples have a date or season that is very important to them and so it’s easy to pick a wedding date. But you also need to stay flexible in your wedding planning. Sometimes the venue you want isn’t available and so you’ll have to adjust your date. Also holidays and weekends are appealing to a lot of couples planning their wedding because it’s easy for out of town guests to fly in. But also keep in mind that there are certain holidays where people want to stay home. Also, the discounts people say you get aren’t always true and sometimes holiday weddings are harder to plan because either everyone has picked that date or no one wants to work it. Also keep in mind the length of time you will have for wedding planning. The more time you have, the easier it will be on you.
4). Who must you invite? Maybe you want a small intimate wedding or maybe you have 13 cousins and their family that you just have to invite. Talk about who needs to be invited and who would be a bonus. Make a preliminary guest list now. It will set the stage for your budget and venues for your wedding day.
5). What do you want to spend? Are you paying for everything yourselves or are family members contributing? What can you honestly afford to spend? This is a great time to start doing some research on what a wedding actually costs. Some people are very surprised when they start to see those numbers. Talk to some recently married couples or join some local social media groups and see what people from your area are spending.
Wedding planning can be overwhelming at times, so take the time to plan it well. The more organized you are from the beginning the easier your wedding planning will be over time. And if you want the extra help, then contact me for a consultation and I will help with your wedding planning needs to make your day just perfect.
So first things first. The production triangle is not my idea and it is something used across many industries for production management. My husband was the first one to introduce me to the production triangle. In his day job as a machinist and engineer, his company uses it every day to get their projects done on time. And we’ve also used it to explain processes to clients in our other business when they don’t understand why some of the props we make take so long. But it was another wedding planner who brought it to my attention that it can also be applied to wedding planning; Rhonda from Precisely as Planned. I can’t seem to find the blog that started it all, but I did find this one by Jennifer at Alter Ego Weddings. Her blog is more eloquently written then mine, and frankly goes into a lot more detail then I will.
Now onto the topic at hand. The production triangle is just that; a triangle. Each side or corner represents a different aspect of your project. They generally are listed as Scope, Cost and Time. But you can find it recreated for many purposes. Each corner of the triangle directly effects the other corners. The idea behind it is that you choose two corners and that will show you how it will effect the last one. For example, in the triangle below you see the basic project management triangle. Here is how the corners effect one another:
You have a large SCOPE and a large COST you may have to extend your SCHEDULE.
You have a large COST and long SCHEDULE then your SCOPE can also be large.
Your have short SCHEDULE and large SCOPE then you will need to increase the COST.
The best and easiest way I have seen it explained was a sign at a mechanics shop that said:
GOOD service CHEAP won’t be FAST
GOOD service FAST won’t be CHEAP
FAST service CHEAP won’t be GOOD
So how does this apply to wedding planning? Let’s take a look at the wedding planning triangle.
In simplest terms it would work something like this:
A high GUEST COUNT and a small BUDGET means you will have to compromise on some of your PERSONAL STYLE options
A higher cost of PERSONAL STYLE and a small BUDGET means you will have to make you GUEST COUNT lower.
A large BUDGET and a small GUEST COUNT means you can indulge in your PERSONAL STYLE choices.
Now why is this so important to keep in mind when you are planning your wedding? A lot of brides that I talk to love a lot of images they see on Pinterest or in wedding blogs. I mean, who doesn’t? But what they don’t see if the cost of those items and what it takes to pull that off. So then they don’t understand why they can’t have their ceilings draped and an off season flower in their bouquets with their budget or in the short time they have to plan. They just saw and wanted. So this can kind of help put things in perspective for you when wedding planning. Knowing that your guest count and your budget will effect how much you can spend on flowers and decor and food. That the bigger your budget or the smaller your guest list, the more fun you can have.
Now of course this isn’t to say you can’t have a beautiful wedding without all the glorious decor you want, but by keeping the wedding planning triangle in your back pocket you can revisit it and remind yourself on what really would be the best decision to make for your wedding day. In the end it all comes down to what is important to you. Is it important to you to have every one of your family and friends with you to celebrate your day, but you’re not worried about having your entire wedding covered in flowers as far as you can see? Then you adjust that to make your wedding budget fit exactly what you want. At least this can help you understand how it all works together.
I can help walk you through your decisions and why you can do some things and not others. That’s what I’m here for. So if you’d like more information please send me a message and lets set up a consultation today!
So you’ve got your guest list finalized, your venue of choice is booked and your budget is set so you can plan the rest of your wedding day. Then it happens. You’re reviewing your contract with your DJ and see a clause about feeding him at the reception. You stop and say, “Oh my god, I didn’t even think about that”. This is just one prime example of a hidden expense that a lot of couples don’t think about when they start to plan their wedding.
I mean wedding planning is stressful enough, you don’t want to be hit with hidden expenses. Now of course the benefit of hiring a wedding planner like myself, is that I can prepare you for these in advance. But let’s say you haven’t hired me just yet. Here is a list of a few hidden expenses that can occur when planning a wedding.
Hair and Makeup Trials
Some artists include trials in their fees, some don’t. They generally are less then the cost of what’s needed on your wedding day, but sometimes can be the same. Make sure when you’re talking with your chosen artist you discuss trials and add those fees to your budget.
When you start your wedding planning you know you’re going to need invitations. You may know of wanting or needing programs for the ceremony. But you’re probably not aware of the other stationary that is typically found at weddings: escort cards, table numbers, table assignment signs, menu cards, general signage throughout the wedding for your guestbook table or bar, etc. There’s quite a few places where stationary is used, and if it’s not done by stationary it is done in some way, shape or form. So you need to be prepared for those small expenses that can add up.
Surprisingly a common thing I run into with my Wedding Management clients who are getting married anywhere that’s not a place of worship, is that they didn’t think about ceremony music. Getting your DJ to set up at two locations or finding a live musician to play for you costs money and is not something that is included in a basic DJ package.
Tips and Gratuities
The general rule of thumb is that tips are not expected, but is a wonderful way to thank your vendors for helping make your wedding day so special. Now there are some vendors where is is expected, and those ones usually have it written in their contracts. So make sure you’re looking over them closely. Not only to see what you are spending on what, but to also make sure that you don’t tip twice. (On a personal note, I never expect a tip. The way to show me you’re thankful is a nice thank you card with maybe a few bucks for a cup of coffee.) I do know that every vendor truly appreciates a positive review left on their social media accounts. That’s the best way for them to get more clients is from people like you spreading the word of their fabulous work.
Feeding Your Vendors
As I mentioned, feeding your vendors is very important. People like your photographer and your wedding planner have been with you all day. It’s nice to give them a good meal so they don’t pass out on you. Some caterers even offer something called “vendor meals”, it’s cheaper for you but still something substantial for your vendors. Sometimes your vendors will eat hidden away, sometimes couples will use their vendors to fill in holes at tables or have a special table in the back specifically for vendors. Check with your creative team to see what they prefer. Either way make sure they are taken care of that way they will be strong to finish out your night, even after you’re gone and they’re still cleaning up.
This is a topic that I can really expand on, so I know I’ll be writing more later. Check back for the rest of my tips on hidden expenses for your wedding day planning. In the meantime I will leave you with this tip: check and double check your contracts.
Read them thoroughly and all the fine print. See what you are spending your money on and what you should expect. This is just one of the things that I do for all my clients when they hire me to plan their wedding. It doesn’t matter if they hire me for Full Planning or for just Wedding Management. It really is an important step that you must do to ensure you have everything covered.