Choosing the Right Wedding Event Planner – Go It Alone or Call in the Cavalry?
So you wanna have a wedding! Are you going to put this shindig together yourself or get someone on board to help?
Some clients start from the very beginning by picking a wedding coordinator--someone they trust, who gets their vision. That person typically guides them through most or all their choices, start to finish. Other clients like to pick out their own venue and vendors first, and then hire the coordinator to literally coordinate between them. Still other clients look for a “day-of” coordinator (more on that in a moment). And extreme DIYers don’t hire a coordinator at all. That can work under certain very controlled circumstances, but we don’t see that at a lot of weddings.
What are the OPtions for a wedding "coordinator"?
So, which path should you choose? It depends on your personality and to some extent your budget. It’s probably somewhat cheaper when you do more of your own legwork, but some people like to have help from the beginning. However, it may come down to who you think is more likely to gather the right options for you: you or your coordinator.
Recently, the trend we’ve seen (over the past decade or so) is that the clients themselves are making a lot of their vendor choices. Our coordinator friends often tell us that by the time the clients contact them, they’ve already picked out their venue, music, photographer, etc. Then, they want the coordinator to take it from there, making sure all the pieces fit together and filling in the gaps. Again, the choice is personal. Consider what approach feels most comfortable to you.
As I alluded to above, the second-to-most extreme option is for clients to hire only a “day of” coordinator, who is technically not on the clock before the wedding day itself. Many coordinators will tell you there’s really no such thing as just popping in the day of the wedding and taking charge of everything. If you’re in charge, there’s a good argument to be made that you kind of need to know what elements are in play well before you arrive. So, hiring someone for all or most of the preparation, and not just the day, is probably more realistic. Many coordinators who bill themselves as “day-of” take the extra before-day-of effort into account in their pricing. If you’re looking into this route, make sure you know how much effort you’re paying for.
What Exactly Does a Wedding Coordinator Do?
Good question! Let’s take a deeper dive into the specific things coordinators often do, so you can determine which details the coordinators you interview really get involved with and which they might prefer to de-emphasize.
Here are a list of jobs that they may be take on:
- Helping you choose the other vendors needed for a wedding
- Setting up a series of deadlines of what decisions and communications need to be accomplished from now until the day of the wedding
- Coordinating between those vendors (who’s bringing chairs, does the venue have enough electricity, who comes to the hotel loading dock at what time, etc.)
- Suggesting or designing the wedding decor
- Writing or facilitating the minute-to-minute timeline for the wedding
- Keeping you and your family members calm (or relatively calm) at “moments of increased tension,” should they just so happen to occur. 🙂
Not all coordinators do all those jobs in equal measure, so try to get a feel for the specialties of the people you speak with.
A quick word about jobs #5. From this band leader’s perspective, it’s really really important that you have someone on your team who’s into staying on top of the tiny little changes that happen with the schedule in real time, and communicating those changes between the vendors. It can be the coordinator, the band leader or the caterer. This is a particular area of focus for me, whether I end up band-leading a particular event or not. For more on this, check this blog post here! [The Wedding Timeline]
Ready, Set, How to Choose a Wedding Coordinator!
So, bottom-line, what do you look for in a wedding coordinator? I recommend that you look for someone who makes you feel more confident when you’re in the room with them. That confidence can stem from their level of expertise, from other events you’ve seen them produce, or from recommendations from trusted sources. It can also come simply because you have a sense that they totally get your personality and can make your vision happen.
Remember, the coordinator may end up guiding you through all the small steps from invitations to seating charts and beyond. You’ll want someone that you feel good about working with. Each client is different in terms of which aspect is most important.
From our perspective, we enjoy working with coordinators that have organizational skills of their own, but also love working in tandem with vendors who know what they’re doing. Then, it becomes a team effort where we all add our elements of expertise to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Hope that helps you along your way!