“Day Of” Wedding Coordination

A wedding I planned in 2009 – Andrew Reilly Photography

“Do you offer ‘day-of’ wedding coordination?”

Yes! But – there is nothing “day of” about this service, if done by a wedding professional. “Month of” coordination has found its way into the wedding lexicon, and it is a little better of a description. But let’s discuss this further. Here is how I describe everything included in this service:

The package includes unlimited emails and phone calls, so you can always feel free to bounce ideas off of me and ask questions.

Six weeks before the wedding I ask that you send me all of the other vendor contracts so that I can begin to familiarize myself with your wedding details and compile information on the wedding. At this point if I notice any glaring red flags, I will point them out to you.

Five weeks before the wedding we will have an in-person meeting to write the wedding day timeline, which is usually 6+ pages long and includes a vendor contact sheet. I can also help you with a floor plan for your wedding, if your caterer has not done this already. At this 1.5-2 hour meeting I will ask a million questions, half of which you won’t know the answer, but that is OK- we still have plenty of time to nail down all the details.

Thirty days before the wedding we will do a walk through at your wedding venue with your caterer to confirm layout and flow of the wedding.

Two weeks before the wedding I email the other vendors to introduce myself and give them a copy of the timeline.

One week before the wedding we will have our final in-person meeting to review the timeline one more time make sure no detail is overlooked. Then I send out a final version of the timeline to the other vendors, ensuring that they are up to speed with all your details.

I attend the wedding rehearsal and help run it as much or as little as needed (if your officiant can’t attend, I can run it all myself), and introduce myself to the wedding party and family members. 

On the wedding day I check in with you before you get dressed, usually in person, and then begin set up as early as your venue will allow. I oversee the other vendors, answer their questions and make sure they are executing the terms of your contract. I help set up your personal items at the ceremony and help greet your guests if needed. I cue your ceremony musicians and direct the wedding processional. I make sure everyone safely leaves the ceremony location and I remove your personal items. During the reception I direct guests to the various places they need to be, and I work with your photographer and entertainment to cue you and your VIPs for toasts, dances and speeches. I manage timeline changes, minor hiccups and sometimes major emergencies like calling an ambulance because of an allergic reaction or a fall on the dance floor. I am there until the end of the night, packing up your personal items, wedding gifts, and make sure all guests depart safely. I also make sure that the vendor break down is going smoothly before I depart, usually 10-12 hours after I first saw you on your wedding day! 

Whew! Sounds like a lot, right? Well it is! And it should be – you are probably putting hundreds of hours into planning your wedding, so the person responsible for executing your carefully made plan should be full immersed in all your wedding details! This preparation takes time.

a wedding I coordinated in 2007 – Joy Lyn Photography

“You are out of my budget”

I hear this frequently from brides and grooms who are looking for this level of service from a wedding planner. And no, I am not the least expensive option there is. And there will always be a less expensive option. But will you get what you want or deserve? That is the question. I think, for the amount of experience I bring to your wedding day, and the time I will invest, I charge a fair rate. Let me explain.

I’ve been working on weddings in the DC area since 2002. Not a typo. 2002. I founded Bellwether Events in 2006, and since 2006 I’ve worked on 125 weddings (and dozens of other types of events) at the time of this publication. Between my 2002-2006 jobs and Bellwether Events, it is safe to say I’ve spent 200 Saturdays (and some Fridays, Sundays, at least one Monday and one Tuesday) at my clients’ weddings. I’ve learned some very, very valuable lessons, some of which I turned into a book about weddings. I’ve lost power, cut cakes, been soaked to the core with rain, climbed on ladders, practiced breathing techniques with anxious grooms, and picked up demolished tents. I’ve refilled generators, bustled 100+ dresses, set up candy buffets and schlepped tables and chairs. There is no question that I’ve surpassed 10,000 hours  in this field, achieving the status of expert event planner.

What I don’t mention in the package description above is that I almost always bring an assistant with me, sometimes two, on your wedding day to help with set up and the ceremony. My primary assistant has 9 years of experience in wedding planning.  I personally invest about 40-50 hours of time into the clients who hire me for this package that I call Wedding Direction. My assistant is on-site at your wedding for 4-8 hours. In sum, you are getting nearly 2 decades worth of experience and up to 60 hours of service with this package. And I feel that my fee, usually in the $2500-$3000 range, is really reasonable considering the time that two very experienced planners will put into your wedding. This is something to consider when you are deciding who to hire to coordinate your wedding. Because you only get “one take” on your wedding day.

If you are looking for a ‘day of’ wedding planner in the Washington DC area, I’d love to hear from you and help you with your big day! I think you’ll join the ranks of my other “day of” clients who regularly say that I was the best investment they made!

A wedding that I planned in 2008 – Matt Mendelsohn Photography