Tips for Hiring a Day-Of Wedding Coordinator
Most of us don’t realize how much work planning a wedding is until we get engaged. In a recent survey done by Wedding Paper Divas, 40% of brides were spending 10-15 hours PER WEEK on her wedding. It’s practically a part time job. While most of us wish we could afford to hire a wedding planner to help with every little detail, the majority of us simply cannot afford it.
When it comes to the big day itself, the work and stress doesn’t stop. There are tables to be set, deliveries to sign for, timing to be determined, and vendors to direct. Guess who gets to manage all that? You! Unless…you hire someone to help. Hiring a day of wedding coordinator is one of the best investments you can make for your special day.
What is a Day of Coordinator?
A day-of coordinator (or “DOC” for short) is a planner who is hired to help you with the big day. Some refer to the DOC as a Month-Of Coordinator or Event Manager. They are usually wedding planners who offer day-of coordination as one of their planning package options for brides who cannot afford full planning. DOCs are typically hired several months before the wedding date and start working with you a 3-6 weeks before the wedding. Here is the service most will provide:
- Once hired
Offer ongoing advice and vendor recommendations.
- 3 — 4 weeks to a month prior
Assist you with your timeline, collect all vendor contracts and contact info.
- 1 — 2 weeks prior
Contact all vendors involved for arrival, set up and tear down timing. Send out a timeline and vendor list to all vendors.
- Day before
Attend and coordinate your rehearsal along with your officiant or church official.
- Day of
Arrive at the venue when the first vendor gets there. Be there to direct all vendors, set up personal items, manage the timing and flow of the event (getting ready, ceremony, photos, cocktail hour, dinner, dancing, music), be your point of contact for any questions/concerns throughout, and take care of personal items at the end of the evening.
How Much Time Will They Spend on My Wedding?
An experienced, professional, DOC spends between 15 — 20 hours in preparation for your wedding day. This includes calls and emails with you, offering vendor advice and recommendations, finalizing your timeline, contacting all your vendors and sending everyone the necessary information for the big day. They will spend approximately 2 hours for rehearsal (plus travel time) and at least 10 hours on the wedding day (plus travel time). This amounts to roughly 30 hours of work. In addition, many will also provide an assistant who will be there for an average of 8 hours on your wedding day.
How Much Do They Cost?
An experienced wedding planner charges between $500 and $3,000. This large range is influenced by your geographic location (big cities and popular wedding destinations are more expensive), number of guests, and how complex your wedding is.
This Sounds Expensive. Is it REALLY Worth It?
YES! Wedding planning is a highly, fine-tuned skill and so worth the stress of letting someone else fuss over every little detail. Let’s do a little money math. First, let’s figure out what an average highly, skilled professional (in any industry) charges. You are probably looking at $50 – $100 per hour. Many high end planners charge $150 — $200 per hour. If a planner charges $75 per hour at 30 hours of working time, this would amount to $2,250. In addition, most provide an assistant as part of their package which at $15 per hour, for 8 hours; amounts to $120. The grand total in this scenario is $2370. Not bad considering the amount of time they spend on you, your day and the stress relief this will provide.
How Do I Find A Great Day-Of Coordinator?
First, ask your venue for recommendations of planners who have worked at their property before. They will only recommend professional coordinators who they enjoy working with. Second, ask other vendors such as your photographer, DJ and caterer on whom they recommend. Third, ask friends and family for referrals. Fourth, search online and look at review sites. Before hiring anyone, get feedback on the DOC you are considering from your other vendors you’ve already hired and trust. The wedding industry is a tiny world and generally everyone knows one another in the area. Interview a few coordinators and make sure that they will be there from the first vendor arriving until the last guest/vendor has gone.
I Really Want to Have Help, But Can’t Afford It. What Else Can I Do?
Another option is to look at the possibility of hiring an assistant who works for a respected wedding planner. Ask vendors if they know of anyone and call wedding planners with a great reputation to see if they have an assistant who may be willing to do it for you. Assistants have likely worked at many weddings and understand the basic requirements. While they won’t be as skilled with problem solving as an experienced planner, at least you’ll have someone there who has worked at weddings before and can help with the flow of the day. The cost for hiring an assistant will vary greatly, but shouldn’t cost more than $500 — $1,000.
The final option is to hire an extremely organized friend who will act as your coordinator for the entire day. This cannot be anyone from your wedding party, close family, or anyone with a drinking problem! It’s also not the job for anyone timid as they will be directing your vendors and guests. If you are thinking about hiring a friend, make sure to become a member and watch our video on the Top 7 Mistakes DIY Bride’s Make & How to Avoid Them so you can skip the common pitfalls that can do along with hiring a friend. Also, be prepared to pay this friend either with cash or an expensive thank you gift as it is a big job. We highly recommend having a written agreement on exactly what your friend is responsible for in advance.
What Do I Need to Prepare for My Day-Of Coordinator?
Regardless of who you hire, create a binder for your day-of coordinator. It should include a complete copy of every contract, a vendor list with names of the staff who will actually be on site the day of the wedding along with their cell numbers (so they can be reached the day of the wedding), and a timeline of what is happening on the big day. Your DOC will generally help you put together your timeline.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you to hire a day of wedding coordinator for your special day. This is one occasion that you deserve to be completely focused on what’s important – friends, family and getting married to that amazing person. For more tips on how to save money when planning your own wedding, check out our DIY section of our website.
Article originally posted March 20, 2105.
Photo by Anna J Photography