Yes. You NEED a Wedding Coordinator.
I wrote briefly about how having a wedding coordinator as part of your event team as essential to wedding planning success in Part 2 of The Essential Eight. Some of you may be nodding your heads in agreement. However, this blog isn’t for you. This blog is for someone who might not see the value of hiring a wedding coordinator. I get it. At the very beginning of planning our wedding, my eyes got wide when I saw what their rates are. But there is so much that goes into a wedding that you may not be aware of. In addition to being a wedding professional for over 5 years, I can also draw from the experience Rhoda and I had when we got married in December 2013.
After booking our photographer, Rhoda was insistent that we hire a wedding coordinator. She expected to have a lot of things that would need to be taken care of, and, while we did some things ourselves, having a coordinator involved with the wedding planning process was, without a doubt, the wisest investment we made.
Finding the Venue
The funny thing about living somewhere is you’re not nearly as aware of all the options you have for a wedding until you start planning your own. And, if you don’t live in the area, you can be overloaded with options to sift through. One of the first benefits of working with a wedding coordinator is after she got to know our taste and what we wanted our event to be, she used that information to qualify venues and the rest of the wedding professionals that fit us. Because of the relationships our wedding coordinator established, she took into account our budget and made recommendations based on pricing also. This helps to eliminate potential letdown from falling in love with a venue only to realize that it’s out of your budget.
Our coordinator found a venue that was on the beach but also had greenspace for ceremonies. We weren’t sold on a beach ceremony. But, since the beach is part of the Emerald Coast experience, it allowed our wedding to be true to that. We liked the fact that there were multiple options to choose from. It also had an indoor reception area which was important because we were getting married in December. Yes, our wedding was in Florida but it can still get pretty chilly here in the winter. Also, the rate for the venue ended up being half of the high wedding season rate because it’s a slower wedding season. The amount we saved on the venue fee was equal to what the coordinator charged for full-service coordination. She LITERALLY earned her fee by just finding us the right venue.
The Rest of the Wedding Pros
As you know, the venue isn’t the only part of a wedding. It requires multiple wedding professionals on your event team to make your wedding a success. In addition to deciding on the venue, we also had to decide on entertainment, photographer, videographer, florist, catering, rentals, officiant, etc. My head is spinning just writing this all out.
NOTE: Different venues provide different things. The venue where we had our wedding provided catering and rentals. Some venues just offer their space, so take this into consideration when planning!
Fortunately, you don’t have to decide on all of them at once (thank God). Our wedding coordinator was INVALUABLE in helping us decide on the other wedding professionals to include on our event team. She gave us recommendations that fit both our budget and style. Instead of sifting through all of the options in the area at once, she helped us focus on wedding pros that she felt would be good fits for us. Another thing to keep in mind is your wedding coordinator will be working with them, so they have an interest in suggesting the best possible fits for not only you as the couple but also themselves.
Consider a Realtor
If your area is anything like the Emerald Coast, there are a lot of realtors to choose from. I was actually a realtor myself for awhile. A good wedding coordinator is very similar to a good Realtor. Anyone can find the right house for themselves. We all can get access to the MLS or Zillow or whatever search engine is the next up and coming thing for searching for homes. A good realtor is really someone who is exceptional at transaction management. They make sure everything occurs on schedule so that the sale closes when the contract says it will.
Just like when you purchase a house, life does not stop while you are planning your wedding. You will still have your day job or classes to attend or BOTH! That isn’t to say that you are just going to ignore things that need to be taken care of but it definitely helps to have someone who acts as your guide through the process, especially if you’ve never done it before (even more so if you’re having a destination wedding). It’s a relief to know that you have someone who will make sure everything is as it is supposed to be. That kind of reassurance is really beneficial, especially for the bride.
I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t as involved in wedding planning as I could or should have been. If we hadn’t had a wedding coordinator, Rhoda and I would have most likely had multiple “tense discussions” throughout the planning process. Wedding planning was stressful enough. Not having a professional to rely on amplifies that stress. And it gets more stressful the closer you get to the wedding date…
Our Wedding was AWESOME!
Yes, I’m biased. But I had a great time. However, our wedding was NOT without things going unexpectedly wrong. As an experienced wedding DJ, something goes unexpectedly wrong nine times out of ten. But, having a wedding coordinator comes in handy. We had two of those things happen on our wedding day.
Unexpectedly Wrong Thing 1
The first unexpected thing was minor. About an hour before the ceremony it started to sprinkle. Since we were having the ceremony outside on one of the greens that’s a deal-breaker. Also, it was a chilly day because it had been overcast since noon.
Our coordinator asked us if we wanted to keep it outside or move indoors. We decided to stick with an outside ceremony and the weather held up! Looking back now, I’m pretty sure she was trying to account for a potential last-minute decision for two reasons. First, the guest would have to be notified and moved to the new location. If you have never tried to undertake the process of moving a large (100+) group of people anywhere, especially unplanned, it is a daunting task. Second, she’d need to notify the event staff to prepare the reception area for the ceremony. This isn’t always something that requires a lot of moving parts but you have to keep in mind that unexpected things happen at weddings. (Notice a theme?)
Unexpectedly Wrong Thing 2
The second unexpected thing was MAJOR. The photo booth technician that worked for the photo booth we booked no-called/no-showed. Rhoda booked a photo booth out of Mobile, AL. She liked that they provided photo-strip style print outs when none of the photo booth companies in the area did. Unfortunately, the photo booth technician ran into vehicle trouble on I-10. Also, the photo booth technician was not able to reach our coordinator to notify her of the issue. However, Mobile, AL, is over two hours away from the venue.
NOTE: I encourage couples to only book a wedding company that is roughly an hour or so away from the venue for this reason.
Because the photo booth hadn’t shown as expected, our wedding coordinator reached out to the company that provided our DJ for the event. They had a photo booth and it was available. She paid for the photo booth herself. We didn’t even know there had been an issue until the following day at the earliest. She didn’t even require reimbursement. If I remember her words correctly, she said something along the lines of “I just wanted to make everything went right for you both.” We obviously reimbursed her. The fact that she took care of the situation without us or our guests realizing there was a problem was something that still stands out to me.
Even as a wedding DJ/MC, my goal is to make it so that guests are never aware when I have to adjust where I was planning on going in an event. Until you give them a reason to believe that something is wrong or not going according to plan, they will assume that what is happening is part of the plan.
My Experience as a Wedding DJ/MC
I have been the headlining wedding DJ/MC for about 60 weddings. I’d guess that a third of them did not have a professional coordinator involved in the wedding. When I say professional coordinator, I mean someone whose profession is wedding coordination. Every time there was not a professional coordinator, it has always run late. I’m not exaggerating for effect.
Unfortunately, the ceremony is usually when it runs late. Why is it unfortunate? Because the guests know when the wedding is supposed to start. It’s much different during the reception when something like toasts starts later than was written on the timeline. Few people attending the wedding know what the timeline of events is. Plus, if everyone is enjoying themselves they probably won’t care.
But What About The Budget!?
Oftentimes, couples will get sticker shock when considering a full-service wedding coordinator. I did too! They aren’t cheap but they are invaluable when considering that they will be working with you for anywhere from 6 months to over a year. That’s a considerable time investment. However, there are alternatives to full-service: month-of and day-of coordination.
If you’ve found a full-service coordinator that you think would be a good fit but their pricing for full-service coordination is out of your budget, ask them if they provide either month-of or day-of coordination. If they don’t offer it, they should be able to refer you to someone who does. Month-of or day-of coordination would also be suitable for the couple who knows they don’t need full-service coordination, but understand that having a professional as the point person for their wedding is vital.
IT IS. The main thing couples don’t account for when deciding whether or not to hire a coordinator is simple: they don’t see all they take care of. The behind-the-scenes tasks they undertake are set up and tear down of the event as well as making sure the wedding runs smoothly. What a wedding coordinator does is HUGE. They shield you from having to make most of the decisions on the day of your wedding. The fewer logistical decisions you have to make on the day of your wedding means the more time you can just be in the moment and enjoy it. You won’t have to worry about whether or not the centerpieces were placed how you wanted them because you would have already had that conversation with the coordinator. 🙂
This is especially true at the end of the night. You and your guests have had a great time. What is the last memory you want to have about your wedding? The triumphant grand exit with and your guests cheering as you get into your getaway vehicle? Or, following the grand exit, you both begin the process of tearing down everything? I’m thankful that my final memory for my wedding was the grand exit. The latter scenario is one that occurs more often than I think it should. It makes me feel sad for the couple, especially if it was a great wedding!
One more thing…
If you’ve read this entire blog, you’re probably wondering “WHO IS THE AWESOME WEDDING COORDINATOR YOU BOOKED!?” Her name is Heather Archdeacon-Williams from Defining Moments Weddings & Events. I’ve also had the privilege of working with her as the wedding DJ/MC and she is just as pleasant in an official capacity as she when you are her client. I would recommend the location of our wedding but the staff is focusing more exclusively on corporate events and no longer markets for weddings.
If you have any additional questions, feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.