Do You Need A Day-of Wedding Coordinator? Here's What You Need to Know
No matter how much you prepare and how many details you obsess over—stress is still part of the package on your wedding day. While you may not be entirely immune to the nuptials' chaos, a day-of wedding coordinator is a super-beneficial way to lighten the weight on your shoulders. Rather than having to wake up early in the morning wondering about the flowers, the napkins, the timing of events and every other little thing, your day-of coordinator is to be your ringleader. (And, at times, your therapist, too.) While there are many types of wedding planners, over a third of couples who hired a wedding planner booked a day-of coordinator, according to The Knot Real Weddings Study, so it's clearly a popular choice. If you're on the fence about this all-important vendor hire, take it from these wedding experts on why hiring a day-of coordinator is one of the best investments you can make.
What Is a Day-Of Wedding Coordinator, Exactly?
Destination wedding planning expert and designer of Mango Muse Events, Jamie Chang, defines a day-of coordinator as a wedding professional who comes in towards the end of your planning to take over and help coordinate and execute the details of your wedding on your wedding day. "This allows the couple, the wedding party, parents and all the guests to be able to just enjoy the wedding day without having to worry about managing the vendors, setup, breakdown or having to deal with any issues that arise," she says.
You may be a little confused about the difference between a day-of coordinator vs. a wedding planner. And you aren't the only one: Chang says these titles are used interchangeably, and sometimes, they can even mean the same thing in your venue's paperwork. However, there is a difference:
A wedding planner is often involved with planning your wedding, starting from the beginning through your wedding day. "They are usually the first vendor you hire or the one you hire right after you choose a venue. Wedding planners help with all aspects of the wedding, from vendors to design and decor to schedules and logistics to execution," Chang says.
On the other hand, a wedding coordinator focuses solely on the coordination aspect and often comes in towards the end of your planning to help make your wedding happen. Chang says 'day-of' is misleading since really, their work will begin thirty to 45 days before your big day. An easy way to think of a wedding planner vs. a day-of coordinator is a planner is, well, the planner. And the day-of coordinator is the executor of the plans.
Often, wedding planners will have day-of coordinators who execute the event's details. However, if a couple decides to plan their wedding themselves, it's essential they hire a day-of coordinator to manage vendors, setup, the timeline and so on, says Tonya Hoopes, the owner and lead planner of Hoopes Events in Park City, Utah.
When to Hire a Day-of Coordinator
Day-of wedding coordinators can only do so many weddings a year, so book your preferred planner as early as possible, recommends Nora Sheils, the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and the founder of Bridal Bliss in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Keep in mind they likely limit how many day-of events they take on to save space for higher revenue-producing full-service events, she adds. Also, booking early is always a good idea, but that doesn't mean a day-of coordinator will constantly communicate with you. As Sheils explains, you likely will not see much activity other than vendor recommendations and periodic check-ins. :" Most of the time spent together will be at the tail end of planning to tie up loose details and make sure your t's are crossed, and i's are dotted," she says.
How to Hire a Day-of Wedding Coordinator
If you're interested in hiring a day-of coordinator, start by asking your venue if they have a list of approved vendors who can work in their space. If so, you'll have to choose someone from that list. If not, you'll have some flexibility in who to hire. Then, check out The Knot Marketplace, where you can search for pros in your area and even filter your search to only show planning companies who offer day-of services, plus read reviews from past clients. You can also ask recently-married friends and family members, as well as your other wedding vendors, for recommendations. Once you've narrowed it down to a couple of options, reach out and set up interviews to find your ideal day-of coordinator.
Day-of Wedding Coordinator Cost
According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, the average couple spends $1,900 on a wedding planner, but remember, this is just an average. The cost of a day-of wedding coordinator varies greatly, depending on the overall experience, location, services included, time-on-site, time of year and so on.
Is a day-of wedding coordinator worth it?
It may feel a tad unbelievable to pay thousands of dollars for a one-day (or really, one-month) gig, but Sheils says a day-of coordinator is worth their weight in gold! Think about it: if something goes wrong, do you want vendors approaching you or, even worse, your family?
"Having a coordinator on-site allows you to enjoy your day, knowing that a professional handles all the logistics in the background," she says. "You, your partner and your loved ones can be in the moment and not worry about anything happening in the background."
What to Look For in a Day-of Coordinator
When hiring a day-of planner, the goal is to take the stress off of your mind and give you peace throughout your wedding. In an ideal situation, you would have the ability and permission to sit back, sip on your mimosa and let the day unfold rather than panicking. As you go through applications for the day-of coordinator, ask yourself these questions:
Do they have experience?
Regardless if you're hiring a full-service wedding planner or a day-of planner, experience is so essential, Chang says. "The more experience they have, the better they will be at preparing for the wedding day and dealing with any issues," she continues. "Find out how long they've been coordinating and if they've worked at your venue or venues like yours."
Why does that matter? A day-of coordinator who has executed many events at your venue will understand how to work with the staff and know the space's nuances and limitations (and opportunities!).
Do they communicate effectively?
You can think of a day-of wedding coordinator as an orchestra conductor. They are structured and organized and know when and how to direct the vendors in perfect harmony. And all without breaking a sweat! How do they do this? By communicating effectively, frequently—and easily. So, if you are having a tough time getting a response from a planner, Sheils says it's a big red flag. "If they aren't giving the time of day to a potential booking, imagine how they will treat you after you've booked," she says. "When talking with planners, ask what kind of communication you can expect, both in frequency and method, and make sure it fits your expectations."
Do you like them?
This may seem silly, but hey, your wedding is personal, and you want to feel totally at ease and comfortable with your day-of planner. You also want to be able to tell them exactly what you want, give feedback and know you can hold them to high standards. "You want someone on the same wavelength as you and who understands you but who will also be cool, calm and collected," she says. "A high-strung, stressed-out wedding coordinator is not what you want because they'll only stress you out. And that defeats the purpose of a stress-free wedding day."
Do they have a team?
One day-of coordinator might not be enough if you're planning a large-scale event. Chang says while some small, intimate weddings can operate with one person on site, most require at least two. "This is because there will be moments when a coordinator is needed in different places simultaneously," she says. "But beware that the bigger the team doesn't necessarily mean the better. Again, it's about finding a coordinator who understands what needs to happen and staff accordingly with experienced team members."
Day-of Wedding Coordinator Duties
Hiring a day-of planner removes one more item on your to-do list—giving you back time and energy to make a wedding special and memorable. It also allows you to enjoy the experience from sunrise to sunset. Here is a glimpse of what you can expect in terms of day-of coordinator duties and responsibilities:
They will keep the timing and the pace of the day flowing smoothly.
Chang says one of the biggest duties of a day-of or month-of coordinator happens before the wedding, which is the preparation. Usually, this begins about a month from your wedding day. "This involves a big review of everything that has been planned, discussed and chosen," she says. "This review allows the coordinator to find any holes or missing pieces and time to fix them, in addition to getting all the information they need to ensure a smooth wedding day."
Manage setup and breakdown.
You've selected the flowers and ordered the bouquets—but when will they arrive? And will the florist know exactly where to set them up and deliver your bridal party's bouquets? You wanted white candles for the ceremony—but they need to be in a specific place. They're also rented–so they need to be boxed up and returned. Your day-of coordinator will take care of these nitty-gritty and necessary set-up and breakdown details. "This means coordinating with the vendor team, setting up any DIY or decor items, directing people as needed and ensuring everyone is in place on time," Chang says. "And at the end of the night, it means gathering items for the couple, making sure vendors have their items and making sure the venue is left clean."
Keep the timing and pace flowing smoothly.
Sheils says a day-of coordinator will keep the timing and pace of the day flowing smoothly. They will line up everyone to walk down the aisle, ensure champagne is poured for the toasts, ensure the after-hours nibbles are served when the party winds down and so on. "There shouldn't ever be a lull where guests wonder what is supposed to happen next," she adds.
Keep a cool head.
The hard truth is things can—and do—go wrong on wedding days. And that's okay. However, a day-of coordinator who does his or her job will keep the timeline going so smoothly; you never know anything happened at all, Hoopes says. "Your wedding coordinator should be an individual who knows how to work well under pressure, ensuring they can lead and assist multiple vendors at the same time," she says. "An excellent coordinator knows how to fix issues on the spot by thinking quickly while being as discreet as possible."