Many brides call or email us asking for the “Day-of” coordination service. What is it? The TRUTH is it doesn’t exist.Then why do so many brides want it? Where did this term come from? The term was introduced and perpetuated by wedding publications and blogs.
They’ve convinced the bride that they can plan their own wedding and simply bring in a coordinator to handle things for them on the wedding day. Jumping on that bandwagon were newer, inexperienced planners who wanted to build up a portfolio. So along came the $500 “day-of” coordinators.
Let’s break it down, shall we? You can expect your coordinator to work, at the very least, 10 hours on the wedding day. If you hired an established planner, his/her hourly rate is between $50 and $200 an hour. Planners charge different rates based on experience and region. We’ll just base this exercise is on $50 an hour.
That sounds accurate, right?
Now, let me explain the difference between the Experienced Coordinators and the $500 Coordinators.
EXPERIENCED COORDINATORS: They have been in the wedding business for years and can identify every single problem before the wedding day arrives. Their experience allows them to manage 10 to 15 vendors prior to and on the wedding day. The experienced coordinator is also calm and resourceful, which allows them to problem-solve when things turn bad.They have an extensive vendor list that they can turn to if one your vendors has to be fired and a replacement needs to be found FAST. They have extensive knowledge in floor plans and timelines. Another advantage the experienced planner carries is insurance, which is required by almost all venues. The experienced coordinator can charge anywhere from $50 to $200 an hour for their expertise. On your wedding day, you can expect that your coordinator will work at least 10 to 14 hours.
$500 COORDINATORS: They are most likely new to the business. Their list of vendors is minimal, if they have one at all. They have very few weddings under their belt, which means they don’t have much experience. Because of that inexperience, they may not be able to direct a large number of vendors requiring their leadership. Their knowledge of contracts and timelines is minimal. They may not have the insurance required by your venue. The “Day-of” planner charges $500.
Here is where it gets interesting. In order to be present at your wedding, your wedding coordinator has to do more than just show up on the wedding day. Why? What’s so hard about just showing up? Let me pose a few questions for you to consider. Humor me, it’s all going to make sense. Here we go:
- Should your coordinator know who all of your vendors are? Well, of course they should. They would have to spend hours calling each one, introducing themselves to them, discussing their duties, delivery, set-up and start times.
- Should your coordinator have copies of — and have read — all of your vendor contracts? In order for them to fully understand what each vendor’s scope of work is, delivery and set-up times, and even the amount of hours of service they are providing, they would have to spend hours reading and comprehending these contracts. Without these contracts, they’re not able to create an accurate timeline of your day.
- Should your coordinator know the physical aspects of your venue? It’s essential. They have to visit your venue prior to the wedding day. Together with you and the venue managers, it’s mandatory that they perform a detailed walk-through includes the vendor’s meal room and the loading area. It’s their job to know your venue like the back of their hand. If they just show up on your day, how do they know where the load-in dock is? How will they direct the vendors on delivery and set-up? Can they tell the DJ or band where the electrical outlets are for their use? By meeting with the venue managers prior to your wedding, they know your floor plan. They would know where there is an extra chair if an unexpected guest arrives. And by the way, they spend time revising and reviewing many versions of your seating chart in order to know that. They definitely will sort your guest list by last-first name alphabetically and by table numbers since the majority of your guests expect the coordinator to help them find their escort cards and seats.
- Should they make a timeline for your wedding day? ABSOLUTELY. I’ve been planning weddings for over 10 years, and it takes me an average of three hours to draft the perfect timeline. Yup, I’m serious. After the preliminary timeline has been made, the coordinator need to review it and confirm the detailed activities with the bride, groom, their wedding party, all vendors and the venue manager. Then,the coordinator will update all changes and send customized timeline and instruction to your wedding party, ushers, attendants, officiant, venue, caterer, photographer, videographer, florist, rentals, ceremony musicians and DJ. Everyone follows the coordinator’s timeline and directions. Moreover, the coordinators have to be super flexible and be able to adjust it as the day goes on, especially if problems arise.
- Will your coordinator direct your rehearsal? They absolutely should. The only reason they wouldn’t is if your ceremony takes place at a church. At any other venues, don’t expect the venue manager will coordinate the rehearsal for you… it’s not their job. An experienced coordinator will take their time to send you a ceremony diagram and go over the details with you. My clients and I work together to decide who stands where, who walks in first, last and in between. We also determine if there is a table needed for a memorial, or a unity candle. With preparation, your rehearsal should last only an hour. This ensures you get to dinner on time and start having fun.
- Who sets up your guestbook, place cards, favors, toasting flutes, framed photos, signage, cake knife and server… and all those special little items you that require attention? Your “day-of” coordinator does. But how do they get them? The experienced coordinators will attend and direct your rehearsal, and gather all these accessories at the rehearsal. They show up on the wedding day setting up all these items. If your coordinator only shows up on the wedding day, how would these items get to your venue during the preparation time? Who is going to bring them? Will the items be delivered on schedule?
We’ve addressed some very important questions and scenarios. We hope it’s much clearer for you to understand what tasks your coordinator must perform prior to your wedding day. Are you still not sure? Let me break down the required tasks and time spent performing those tasks.
- Contacting your contracted vendors and obtaining their contracts — 3 hours
- Reading and fully comprehending contracts — 3 hours
- Venue walk-through — 2 hours
- Creating and revising a timeline to perfection — 5 hours
- Assisting you in creating your ceremony order and flow — 1 hour
- Rehearsal and rehearsal dinner coordination…and gather the accessories — 5 hours
- Pre-planning with the bride on ceremony lineup, seating chart, floor plans, place setting, etc. — 3 hours
- Wedding day coordination — 10 to 14 hours (with 1 assistant)
- Total hours required to PERFORM SUCCESSFULLY on the wedding day: 36 hours
36 hours X $50 = $1,800.00
1 day of assistant for 10 hours x $20 = $200
That’s far more accurate. And we haven’t included the costs for our assistant, our insurance and our overhead costs.
We know that every bride expects her “day-of” coordinator to handle all of the tasks outlined above. When it’s broken down, she is charging you $500 for 36 hours of her time. The $500 does not include the costs of their phone, website, advertising, computer, transportation, fuel costs, paper and printing. After the costs of doing business are accounted for, you are paying them $3.00 an hour. That’s just crazy talk! It’s less than minimum wage. Even employees at McDonald’s make more than $3.00 an hour.
How hard would you work for your boss if he told you he wanted you to perform the tasks of a $50.00 an hour employee, but he’s only going to pay you $3.00 an hour to do it? Eventually you will be tired and disgruntled. So is the $500 coordinator.
A word to “day-of” coordinators out there offering this service: If you are reading this, ask yourself, “Am I not worth more?” Your future is based on the reputation you build with venues and vendors. If you place yourself in a situation ripe for disaster, you place your reputation at risk. Your career will not thrive on bad reviews. For clients and the industry to value you, you must first value yourself. Offering at least “month-of” services, and charging properly for it, allows you to perform a thorough job for your clients, and it raises the level of professionalism in the industry.
A word to brides who want a “day-of” coordinator: Be careful, you may get what you pay for. We’ve actually received calls from brides who thought we were too expensive. They have called us after their wedding to say, “I should have listened.” By then, it’s too late. You only get one opportunity to do it right. Don’t put the success of your wedding day in the hands of the $5-an-hour wedding coordinator. If you aren’t paying them what they are worth, the odds are they don’t have your best interests at heart.