So you think you might want to hire a wedding planner. Or a day-of coordinator.. or a month-of coordinator? Or a designer? Or a producer? But you have a venue coordinator who will be on-site anyways, so do I really even need someone? I know, I know.. I’m lost too. Let’s break it down together.
Day-of Coordinator or Month-of Coordinator:
Someone who can be hired at any point in the process, but doesn’t really come into play until the final planning commences a few weeks before the wedding. All businesses do this package differently and we highly recommend having an absolutely clear understanding of how you will work together with whomever you hire. Here are a few different ways it can be done.
- Some “day-of” or “month-of” coordinators will leave the full planning process up to you, but still be available on retainer to consult on general questions that come up throughout the planning process, provide vendor recommendations, or build a timeline together. There are others however you will hire ahead of time to get the date locked in, but then be in little to no additional contact with until just before the wedding. (HUE actually offers two different packages that each cover one of the routes listed above, dependent on how organized the client is and their price point).
- Sometimes “day-of” coordination and “month-of” coordination means the same thing, and sometimes it means different things. To some businesses, even though the package is listed as “day-of” coordination, they really actually come into play with you around a month or two ahead of time, typically around when you do a final meeting with your venue. This is nearly always the same time frame as when a “month-of” coordinator would come into play as well. However, there are some “day-of” coordinators that truly do not start chatting with you on final plans until just a few days before before your wedding. (All HUE coordination services are month-of).
Once you’ve established where the day-of or month-of coordinator fits into the ahead of time planning process, here are the things they should be doing the day of your wedding:
- Setting decor, within reason. Make to have a clear understanding on if they are willing to set up large items such as furniture, draping, or major installations, and how many people will actually be on-site that day.
- Being a point of contact for your vendors so that you don’t have to be (ie. taking calls on the load in process, making sure everyone knows where they are setting up, coordinating weather backup plans, etc).
- Running your timeline for the day, including cueing things such as the wedding party walking down the aisle, when dinner is going out, pressing play on the slideshow, and letting dad know when it’s time for his speech to start.
- General crowd control and directing guests (ie. coordinating meals and seating for unexpected dates, directing people from the cocktail hour to the dinner reception, and point them towards gift drop off).
- Things that are sometimes included already, but sometimes available only at an additional rate: running errands, staying through the whole evening to tear things down, or decor items from the coordinators personal inventory.
Wedding Coordinators will probably put in somewhere between 15-35 hours of work in total with you, from first point of contact to day-of service.
Wedding Coordinators vs. Your Other Vendors:
- Venue managers are strictly responsible for tasks related to the venue-only. They are going to be focusing on what your general setup looks looks like, making sure vendors are loading in and loading out properly, and any other areas that are included through the venue such as AV or bar service. They are generally not going to be focusing on things such as when your first dance is supposed to happen, how the dinner centerpieces are supposed to look, or having an emergency kit for when a false eyelash becomes loose. Many venues will also have multiple events happening the same day as your own, for which one person is responsible for moving back and forth in between.
- Caterers are strictly responsible for tasks related to their own food and/or bar service. They are only going to keep an eye on the timeline pieces related to when food/beverages are supposed to be served, such as when guests should be seated and when dinner plates all need to be out. They are usually only going to be busing and cleaning dinner items such plates, glassware, and napkins when they are the ones providing them. Do not count on them to aide in rentals of these types of items, or cleaning and repacking of such, unless it’s specifically discussed. It should always be discussed between a venue, caterer, and coordinator who is responsible for event trash.
- Photographers and DJs will help manage some parts of the timeline, but not to the full extent it is necessary. Photographers are great about keeping things on track during those dedicated photo sessions in between events, but are not worried at all about what’s happening behind the scenes during venue setup. And let’s be real, if you’re begging them for a few more shots sunset shots or have put in no ahead of time organization into who needs to be present and when for family photos, they’re completely at the mercy of what the day brings. On the flip side, DJs will cover responsibility for making announcements at the pre-planned times you discussed (as well as when asked) during your reception, but those will typically be strictly dinner and dancing related. They have no control over what is happening before guests walk into the venue, and only the good ones are going to be checking in with the caterers and venue to make sure things are still on track.
- Rental companies provide an extremely wide range of delivery and pickup, and setup and tear down services depending on what you’re willing to pay for, but it should never be assumed that they are setting up or tearing down the items you’ve rented. See our Rentals 101 post on what to expect when working with these teams.
- Your friends and family members love you and would do anything for you, but probably do not have the experience of a vet. And also, you want them to enjoy your wedding day, not stress over it. At 11:00pm when the party is hopping and your bestie is buzzed on the dance floor, are you comfortable with her making on the call on if the bartenders should tap the backup keg? If the photographer learns that the vows were forgotten at the hotel right before the ceremony starts, is your mom the right person to coordinate what happens next?
Okay, now that your final coverage is out of the way, let’s go through a few different roles that you may require assistance from when going through the actual planning process.
Someone that can be hired at any point in the planning process, but is typically done so towards the beginning to middle. This is a person who will work with you to evaluate options, make decisions, provide personalized recommendations, give advice, coordinate logistics, and guide you through nearly all angles of what it takes to plan a wedding. You will work together to build your timeline, meet with vendors, and generally execute all tasks to make your day exactly what you want it to be. On the day of your wedding they will fill the coordinator role as discussed above.
Communication with your planner is generally on a regular basis throughout the months leading up to your wedding through email, phone, or in person meetings. This is usually at least monthly for check ins, if not weekly as you get closer to the date.
Some companies will do custom or a la carte packages for you depending on what you already have done, or what areas you are looking for the most help. For others it will be all or nothing. Packages are another option you may stumble upon as well. HUE tries to accommodate as many couples as possible, and structures it’s services and pricing in the first camp.
Similar to a planner, but likely a seasoned vet with more years of experience, typically a minimum of around 10 years in the industry. Production refers to the actual execution of an event, and covering all the details what it takes to pull together.
Occasionally, you may also see rental, AV, and lighting type companies labeled as event producers. They can be considered this way because a majority of the actual physical items and labor going into the event is running through them. It’s not entirely wrong, just a gray area 🙂
Wedding Planners and Producers can put in between 100-200+ hours of work in total for you, depending on at what point they hired and what they are most utilized for within your process.
This is a person or business who works with you exclusively on the look and feel of your day, and building a cohesive design that all pulls together in the end. They will work with you on elements such as rentals, floral, stationery, and setup, to create something that provides a completely personalized experience to you and your guests. They don’t handle many logistics such as timeline, and their actual time the day-of may be limited exclusively to setting up the space (if that).
Some wedding planners/producers will also provide design services either included in their rates or at an additional cost. We highly recommend looking at a designers previous work and portfolio to get a feel of their style and if it seems to be a good fit for you as a couple. HUE does provides all services listed above, including design, planning/production, and coordination.
Wedding Designers can put in around 30-50 total hours of work for you, focusing exclusively on these ambiance elements of the day
Okay, I think that’s everyone! We hope that this was enough to provide those planning a wedding with insight as to what services are out there and available to them, and also what exactly is the right fit for your needs. And make sure to please consider Harmonious Union Events to fulfill these needs at any point throughout your process!
Featured Photo: Ash and James Photography