Do you need a wedding planner or day of coordinator?

June 30 | Guest post by Laura Guerrie offbeatariel

I decided to bring in a former offbeat bride to answer this question. After planning her own wedding, Laura decided to become a wedding planner, so she definitely understands the role from both sides of the bride/vendor equation.

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Thanks to Kristen and Todd for submitting this to the Offbeat Bride photo pool!
I'd like some advice about hiring a day of coordinator for our wedding. We're doing all the planning, crafts, etc for the day ourselves, but with 100+ guests, I don't want to worry about telling food vendors where to go and other tasks during the actual wedding day.

How do you find someone to fill this role? A wedding coordinator seems to be more than we need. My partner would like one of his mother's friends to fill this role, but I'd rather it be someone we paid and who wasn't part of our circle – if something goes wrong, I don't want there to be problems with his mom and her friends! -Anne

The mystical world of Wedding Planners/Coordinators can be a mind-boggling place that makes absolutely no sense to the untrained eye. It's difficult to shop and compare services when prices are all over the board and planners name their packages after all kinds of fanciful things. How are you supposed to know if you're a Platinum Princess or Pink Petunia?

Fear not, my friends. I'm here to pull back the curtain for you, like that masked guy on the magician tell-all show. Wedding Planning Secrets – Unveiled! Today's topic: The Day-Of Coordinator ("DOC").

To be clear, this is the most common name used for this service; however, it's misleading as a good DOC will do quite a bit of troubleshooting for you in the weeks prior to your wedding — hence all those funny package names. Regardless of the label, look for a planning package that includes a couple of in-person meetings, a venue walk-through, day-of timeline, vendor confirmations and rehearsal coordination.

I know what you're thinking: Do I need ALL THAT? Can't my Aunt Zelda tell the florist where to set up? Sure she can, and that's certainly an option. But here are some highlights of what you can expect from a pro:

  • A timeline constructed by an experienced planner will help create an event that appears to flow effortlessly, as if powered by magical fairy dust!
  • Many vendors book multiple events in a weekend and can get their wires crossed. Confirmations handled by a pro help head off confusion prior to a dance floor disaster.
  • Three words: Triangle Of Coordination! (OK, that's my name for it — perhaps not everyone calls it that.) The secret behind the magical fairy dust is a DOC bouncing all night between you, the photographer, the DJ, and the catering/venue staff. (Wait…that's a square. Crap!) We make sure music is cued, cameras are in position and you have a chance to pee before you cut the cake.
  • No matter how well things are planned and confirmed, something will go wonky on the wedding day. An experienced professional will handle any hiccups in such a way that you and your guests will never know anything unusual happened. (From last-second generator orders to one particularly fabulous debacle involving peanut sauce, I've dealt with it all and nary a bride was any the wiser.) This allows you to maintain the sensation of Perfect Wedding Nirvana throughout your day.

Can't afford a day-of coordinator? Try trading with friends!

So how do you find a DOC? Well of course first you should check Offbeat Bride's Vendor Guide. If you can't find one there, an internet search will yield many options, but specifically look for wedding vendor websites with user reviews and read them thoroughly. Bridal message boards, although often a bit scary, can provide first-hand recommendations. Prices vary greatly so be prepared to shop around, but I caution against cutting the corner too tightly here. Place your budget on one side of the scale and the level of responsibility involved in executing your vision on the other.

Then find the balance. Vibe out their website – do they seem like they're speaking your language? If so, meet with them in person to discuss your plans in detail. (This should be complimentary – I wouldn't recommend any vendor who charges for a consultation.) How do they respond to your more unique ideas?

Whatever your concepts, offbeat or otherwise, find a reputable planner who seems as enthused about them as you are and then go for it. Let Aunt Zelda relax and have a second piece of wedding cake!

They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:

  1. The one thing that my husband and I both wish we would have done differently for our wedding is hire a day of coordinator. It would have made such a difference in what we had to be responsible for, and the stress level. I never figured that one would have made a difference, but I was wrong.

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  2. I struggled with the idea of hiring a coordinator – but with 250 guests, the idea of someone else on hand the day off (someone not from 'our circle' – who we wanted to be there just enjoying themselves) started looking better & better. It took me awhile to find someone who gave me the right 'vibe' that I was willing to pay them to do something I knew I could do (if I weren't in the middle of getting married!), but in the end, I have & I think it's going to be some of the best money we spend on the whole event! You don't want to spend all that time & energy planning just to have it fall apart the day of – you want that 'Triangle/Square of Coordination' going on!

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  3. I ended up hiring a day-of-coordinator… I orignally worried that she'd end up having nothing to do; instead, she ended up doing *everything* and working her butt off. She arranged all my bulk flowers, coordinated with my cousin who was running the ipod for our ceremony, helped the caterer set up tables, changed the trash bags, cut up the wedding cake, etc., etc. She was amazing and a lifesaver. Our wedding would still have gone off without her, but I would've been WAY more stressed. My aunts pitched in, too, and were invaluable, but I was happy none of them had to "run" the whole day.

    Oh, and our DOC was just starting off in the business and barely charged us anything (we ended up tipping her a ton, because she totally earned it). Plus, she was a really cool/sweet person.

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    • This is what I did. My wedding is next April, but the wedding coordinators (they are a duo) only had one wedding under their belt. By the time my wedding rolls around they will have all the weddings from this wedding season under their belt (and I will have gotten them for their new coordinator price). My wedding isn't large, but I don't want to be putting the centerpieces together and hanging the lanterns in the museum. I want to have a nice relaxing morning and afternoon!

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    • Hi can you recommend your DOC or any suggestions if one is getting married in queens ny

      thanks ,
      Belidna

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  4. "Sniper." It rhymes with "diaper" and would make a great song. :D

    On a more related note – great advice. My little sister is insisting that she is going to help plan my wedding. We'll see if she actually wants to be the DOC. :)

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  5. WORTH IT! I hired a day of for apx. $1,000. But she's more like a "week of" coordinator. I searched for a party planner, not a wedding coordinator. I ended up finding an eco-minded party consulting group that would do it for me. The lady isn't all crazy about wedding this and bride that – which was perfect for me. I didn't want to find someone all about the WIC. If you're in SF I highly recommend Twirl Management!!!

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  6. i wish my sister hired a day of coordinator. well…she had one. she had one she hated. who backed out the day before and had her assistant do it. my sister was so laid back about the entire thing that we, the bridal party, had no idea what to expect.

    we woke up at 8 am the day of the wedding to the flower girl's dresses 8 hours away, frozen flowers, and a peed on couch. and my sister, the bride, still insisted that we would set everything up, get our nails done, have lunch, pick up the desserts, take showers, get ready, eat a meal…and she was going to put all the flowers together herself.

    she was in la la land. the bridal party and some friends in town set everything up. myself and two other saving graces ran around like chickens with our heads cut off. getting everyone burgers at mcdonalds, buying scissors at the gas station, buying grocery story flowers. making all the bouquets at 5:50. the wedding was at 6 pm. we were late. we got phone calls that people were worried she backed out.

    the groomsmen spent the day drinking beer on the beach. they were supposed to put everything away at the end of the night but nothing was settled upon and we had the sinking feeling we would be breaking everything down. we misunderstood and thought the entire party had to be shut down at ten pm, so at nine, in sundresses and strappy sandals, began carrying cases of beer out to the car. no one else moving a finger to help.

    my sister was totally unphased and out of it. she had a good time, and that is what matters to me. but, selfishly, i wish that myself and some of her friends had been able to enjoy themselves more. i really wanted to celebrate with her. i wanted to have a good time and not worry about doing manual labor all day and night for a wedding i was in.

    that is my story. (a month and a half later and i am not so disillusioned but still disappointed.) a little planning and a little someone to help move things along would have been great. someone to say, "hey bride, you are LATE, get going!" and "hey bride, you are NOT making the bouquets, let them help you!" and "how will we transport you AFTER photos at the ceremony site to the reception site?"…instead of the entire bridal party twiddling their thumbs for an hour…deciding who got to stay and who had to wait with a car.

    i think if you're an excellent planner & have amazing, dependable friends, you may not need to hire someone on the day of. but i think it is very, very worth it. because even if the bride isn't wildly stressed out…their wedding party, friends, and family, may be. (and that is a terribly crummy memory to have of a wedding.)

    the end.

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    • & holy shit this is the longest comment ever. so sorry.

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    • This is what I'm so worried about happening at my wedding. My fiance works as a wedding caterer and says, "DOCs are a waste of money, they just get in the way and fuck everything up," but I don't think he's looking at it from the point of view of people who are going to get stuck setting everything up and breaking it down!

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      • As a coordinator, I have heard many caterers and venues complain to me about other coordinators. Like every business, there are good and bad day of coordinators. I would recommend reading a lot of reviews and even asking your potential coordinators for past client referrals you can call. That way you know exactly what you are getting and that the money you spend will be worth it.

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  7. As a very-freshly-married gentleman, I would echo all the sentiments above. (Full disclosure: Laura was my DOC. My wife and I owe her what you humans call a "life debt".)

    If you like the idea of having creative control over all the details of your kooky wedding, but still would like to remain calm and sane on the big day (as well as the final weeks running up to it), a DOC is a perfect fit and a *great* asset. The above-mentioned invisible problem solving that a pro will provide is invaluable, as is the advice during the planning.

    White and fluffy as it may be, your wedding is a train. A DOC makes the train run on time.

    "Magical fairy dust" is an apt description, actually.

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    • @Luke Thank you so much for making it so clear what a DOC can do for a DIY bride. We have had brides create Folders detailing step by step how the table arrangements, Cake table and many other parts of the wedding should flow and look like. We 100% agree that you MUST hire a coordinator to ensure you Truly enjoy your big day. We love it when our couple and their guest are able to leave in peace while we handle the Setup and Knockdown.

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  8. Thanks so much for this! All week I’ve been trying to decide whether to hire a DOC. I guess it is really worth it. I can always count on Offbeat Bride for calm and honest advice.

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  9. *points to Luke*

    What he said.

    I am the other half of the couple who owe's Laura a "life debt" for her work at our recent wedding (seriously, hubby, prequel references? Is it too late to get this thing annulled? *rimshot*).

    One of my good friends, the moment I got engaged, said "I only have one piece of advice for you. Get a DOC. Worth every penny." After the past month, I can say that it's the one piece of advice I would pass along to any newly engaged friend, especially if you're planning a wedding for over 100 people filled with offbeat, DIY personal touches and/or going through a DIY venue where you need to bring in everything through a variety of vendors (and, accordingly, need a DOC to get you in touch with an "ice guy" to order 400lbs of ice, which is a skill most of us don't use in our day-to-day).

    Laura's advice above regarding finding a coordinator that GETS what you are doing is really important (Laura not only didn't flinch when she saw our lightsaber cake cutter, she took pictures of it) and is organized and on the case about a month before the actual day.

    Just meeting with someone a few weeks ahead of time to run through all the logistics and address issues you hadn't yet considered (from cocktail napkins for the bar to who was going to place the giant AT-AT on the cake and when), was a huuuuuuge relief. When my HTB remarked on wedding day that he couldn't believe how zen I was, he also knew exactly who to thank. I can't speak for all DOCs, but Laura was a great support system and sounding board for a bride both offbeat and anal-retentive when it comes to details and lists!

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  10. Thanks for this post!

    Since I have ADHD, and we strongly suspect my fiance has it as well, a wedding planner is a rather big priority for us. Somebody's gotta organize this stuff, and it ain't gonna be us.

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  11. I like the idea, but I don't think it would work well for a wedding like mine. My parents are doing all the food, my friend is running the ipod, etc. I don't think my parents especially want to take direction from somebody I hired.

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  12. Personally, I really regretted getting a wedding planner because it ended up being a waste of money since our turned out to be utterly useless. We spent a pretty penny on her and the only thing she ended up doing was essentially giving us the phone numbers of some vendors she could have gotten us deals with (none of whom we ended up going with). It was infuriating. I fared better utlizing my friends and family who pitched in and helped out.

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  13. *Ditto for Suzanne and Luke*

    I literally would not be here if it wasn't for my wedding coordinator (who happens to be Laura). Because someone would be dead and I would be in prison. As one of Laura's recent Rebel Brides (we're the ones with the homage to DIE HARD as a cake on her website), I can tell you that DOC doesn't even begin to cover what a good coordinator actually does. One of the many, many tasks that a really great wedding coordinator is not only dealing with vendors, but also dealing with:
    1. brides who throw a fit over having to use table numbers and then deciding to do it at the last minute anyway
    2. scheduling all vendor meetings in one 4 day period because that is the only time the bride's mother will be in town
    3. a Father of the Bride who decides to put the time-line together (and then quotes Patton at the reception)

    Of the utmost importance in finding a coordinator, whether its day of or full ride, is getting someone who can offer advice and then smile politely and move on when you don't take it.

    As far as I'm concerned (and according to all my guests as well), my wedding day was perfect. And since I'm obsessive over details – the only way that was going to happen was to make sure someone took the detail worry away from me.

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    • Ditto to all those who have had Laura the fabulous wedding planner. It was great to have someone pre-day-of to help mediate with the few vendors we had (a significant portion of our wedding was DIY) as well as day-of timeline & magic duties. As far as I was concerned, everything went smoothly, and I will never know what mini disasters may have occurred. This was in direct contrast to our friends' wedding we attended the year before, where they did everything themselves and were visibly frazzled. It was also in contrast to a cousin's wedding we attended where the wedding planner was in-your-face about doing everything. It's important to find someone who can give you the balance of taking care of things so you don't have to stress over it, while not infringing upon your intimate family/friend circle, who may also be involved in the planning & execution. Laura definitely nailed that balance on the head for us, and we are eternally grateful to her. : )

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  14. Full disclosure, I'm a wedding photographer myself, so I see first hand all the time how a GREAT day-of-coordinator can make all the difference in the world. (Psst, Laura, we should totally make some kind of Cube of Coordination manifesto with team t-shirts or something because that is SOOOOO how it works best.) There should be a reality show like, "When Wedding Vendors Get Married (Dun Dunt DUUHHHH)" because the whole vendor-to-bride paradigm shift was an absolutely fascinating part of the journey for me. But I digress.

    That said, I didn't hire a day-of coordinator. Three years prior to my wedding, my sister had a terrible experience with a "professional coordinator" who was neither. Instead, I had a kickass friend do it, and it worked out great. Just in case anyone wants to know how and why it worked out great, here's what I did.

    1.) I picked the right friend. My friend Andrea is a retired wedding videographer who's seen firsthand what can go wrong (Fabulous Peanut Sauce Debacle" would be a great name for a rock band) and how things get back on track. She also loved planning her own wedding. She's an innovative crafty etsy fiend who would get totally on board with my wedding planning inspirations. I was a DIY bride all the way, and she was happy to brainstorm with me during the planning phase when I would say, "I'm thinking using concentric circles as a graphic motif." So I picked someone enthusiastic, creative, organized with a lot of firsthand wedding event knowledge.

    2.) Second, I communicated EVERYTHING very clearly. I put together a wedding playbook that contained a full breakdown of what was supposed to happen and when, complete with instructions for a Plan, A Backup Plan and When Do We Panic? mode. She had a labeled map of the garden (ceremony in the oak grove, cocktail hour in the gazebo, etc.) all the phone numbers for vendors, site contacts, the lady bringing my dog for the ceremony, everyone. There's nothing worse, as a vendor, than watching a bunch of people scrambling to fix things for one of my client couples when no one knows exact what is supposed to happen, where or when. So I made sure everyone was fully debriefed.

    3.) I delegated a lot of things so it didn't all fall on Andrea's shoulders. For instance, the garden where we got married didn't have lighting on the path to the bathroom, so at sunset, I had two friends light "luminarias" (generic white lunch bags full of kitty litter and tealights from the Dollar Store) along the path to the restroom. That job fell entirely to my "bridal ninjas in charge of fire-related tasks" who also passed out the sparklers at the end of the reception. Andrea knew who was in charge, where everything was and had an extra lighter just in case, but I delegated things so it wasn't like everything was all on her all day and night long.

    4.) I gave her the "power of bride" on the day of the wedding. Much like "power of attorney," she was fully empowered to make executive decisions if things had to change on the fly and I was otherwise engaged. I also made sure the other members of the Square of Coordination knew that, too.

    5.) I thanked her profusely. Every wedding has a fairy god-person who just makes things WORK behind the scenes. For my clients, I've seen that role filled by everyone from the day-of coordinator, the bride's aunt, the mom's best friend, the father of the groom's ex-wife from his second marriage, and the gay college roommate who goes medieval with a glue gun on the centerpieces. One of my gifts to the people who supported me most during the wedding was a day of reflexology, massage, bodywork in a new age-y spa setting. Andrea (who in addition to DOC-ing, made my jewelry, headpiece and cake topper) joined us for the spa day, received a thank-you gift bridesmaid-style, got thanked profusely in person and in writing, and received a gas card since she did a lot of driving. We also paid for her hotel room, but the truth is, what she did for us was priceless. I let her know that she was amazing in every way I could, and that her hard work didn't go unnoticed.

    (And THAT is the new longest comment.)

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  15. I think it depends on your friends and family and the kind of wedding you are doing.

    We had a weekend bash that was totally DIY (I was up 'til 1:30 cooking the day before). we wanted a more old-school community wedding (our friends and family were the community) where everyone pitches in and takes pride in and ownership of the event. For us this worked really well. Everyone worked hard and then said it was the most unusual and awesome wedding ever! BUT I worked my ass of for a month before the wedding organizing everything to the nth degree. I had task sheets and directions and schedules galore. Every bit of anal control freak in me came out while writing those things up. Then two of my ORGANIZED and BOSSY friends played the role of go-to gals. They had all the necessary info and I told them that if I'd left something out to make a decision. They were still able to enjoy themselves because there was an army of people helping, each person doing a small task that they'd signed up for in advance. So, long story short – a DOC is not necessary if things are organized (did I mention I was unemployed during that month so had time, time, time?) and you trust the person you're choosing to be able to make snap decisions that are in line with your ideas.

    Phew. that was LONG

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    • Alison- I totally agree that it's about the type of wedding you're organizing, and who you have surrounding you helping with all the details. That said, from one hyper-organized gal who loves her lists and had ample organized and bossy friends and family ready to pitch in to another, I think it comes down to the day itself. I think you put it so well when you said that you wanted (and got!) an event where everyone pitches in and takes pride in and ownership of the event, I think we all want that.

      For me, the beauty of a DOC (as opposed to a full blown planner) is that my friends and family still got to do a ton of weighing in and pitching in on personal touches, but then got to just take the day off and enjoy the wedding without any duties to stress about (and without me feeling guilty for stressing them out).

      (And apologies, because that was a long reply!)

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  16. Even for the DIY weddings, I would recommend a DOC. Though your friends and family enjoy helping and being part of your wedding day, it's always good to have someone outside the picture to field the coordinating for the actual event itself. The last DIY wedding I was at, the friends who helping looked very frazzeled, and only got a chance to sit, relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor for an hour or so after the big barbecue dinner and before they had to start rounding up the cleaning crew! Though it's fun to be part of the process up to, it's nice to leave the stress to someone else so everyone can relax and enjoy your most special moments with you.

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  17. I'm yet to get married, but based on what I have seen happen to my friends I would get a DOC.

    My best friend is a gifted public speaker and was asked by our mutual friends to MC their reception. However, in effect, he ended up being the DOC, as he wrote the schedule for the reception and the waiters, dj, photographer, and everyone else kept having to run things past him before anything could happen.

    He was actually quite annoyed about this, as it meant he barely got to sit down, did not eat dinner, and didn't really have any fun at the wedding at all, which he had flown across states for.

    He ended up feeling a bit used.

    3 agree
  18. We considered ourselves an 'offbeat' couple in many ways, and we ended up hiring a full-out, year-long, total wedding coordinator. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. Expensive? A little. Typical wedding? We thought not! Total relaxation on the day of our wedding? YES. We loved our wedding coordinator, who really emphasized 'it's what YOU want' throughout, and she was priceless when it came to the nasties of venue issues, negotiations, etc. But the Day Of Coordination was really the best… there were definitely issues, there was a lot of setup, there was tons of people-herding to be done, and we didn't think about any of it. We just hung out with our people, took photos, and drank! I recommend having at least a month-of coordinator, because there's a lot of organizing in those last few weeks, and a day-of person will be better able to make it all run amoothly if they can establish relationships with the wedding party, vendors, venue, etc. beforehand and work out any kinks before showtime. So we heartily recommend it! BUT be sure to do lots of research on the person before you hire, and make sure you have good chemistry and communications with them! There are a lot of planners who are building experience and may not be totally professional… these might be fine, but we went for a professional with lots of experience and felt very confident in her.

    1 agrees
    • OO – BTW, a comment on price. I know someone above said about 1K for essentially week-of coordination. We paid about 2 – 2.5K for the whole year, and most planners are perfectly willing to adjust up or down depending on your needs. So there's a cost-time ratio to be considered, and since most of the planners we talked to preferred to be involved as much in advance as possible (it makes their lives easier), that extra time doesn't cost that much relative to the month/week/day-of. It depends.

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    • Yay! So happy we always love Year long Planning and are often sad when it's all over. We call ourselves WeddingBFF's .

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  19. We too also hired Laura. It was the best thing we could have done. The question is finding the right kind of planner for you. I had interviewed a few planners, but they wanted to make our wedding into something they "knew we really wanted", instead of what we actually wanted.

    To use theater terms, cause most of our wedding party were performers of one kind or another, my husband and I were producing and directing our wedding..but we needed someone to stage manage it. For that, a day of planner was the perfect choice. I wanted to get married on my wedding day, not have to run the show. I would do it again in a heart beat.

    1 agrees
  20. Re: the family/participatory wedding. I paid a newbie a very low rate for the day only. I had talked to several DOCs in the months before but vibed with none of them but her. I figured she would run into a few problems through lack of experience and the fact that this was self-catered, which is tough. We ended up having a wonderful stress-free day, but I took the precaution of introducing her to some of the restaurant and design professionals in our wedding posse so that she'd have someone to go to in a pinch. Like when the souffle cakes weren't cooperating with the usual knife, she tapped the best man, an executive chef, who got it handled in no time. Nobody but the BM ever knew there was a problem, and everyone got to enjoy themselves at the party.

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  21. This is all great advice… And having read it it sounds like I could really benefit from a DOC.
    I'm torn, though… On a tight budget and starting to plan a wedding long-distance (with waaaaaay more DIY creative juices than organizational ones) I'm worried that finding the right person at a reasonable price will be hard to find from "way over here." Are phone interviews and emails enough to "feel someone out"?
    Sorry if that came out sounding like whining… I am not in panic mode. It's early still in my planning and I am simply overwhelmed. A dream DOC sounds amazing.

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    • Hi Claudia,

      I have been hired "sight-unseen" before by couples out of the area, but when I do that I usually spend a good hour or more on the phone with them during that initial consultation. (The "vibing-out" thing works in both directions!) So, the first things to pay attention would be if they respond quickly to your emails and if are they willing to put in some phone time to get to know you up front. If not, it doesn't necessarily mean they're not a good planner, but it would be much harder to get a good feel for them from a distance.

      When it comes to choosing wedding vendors of any kind, here's a little nugget of advice I always tell my clients: First meetings with a vendor are a LOT like first dates. This is BEST behavior time, so if you find yourself making mental excuses for them in any way, RUN! I'm not saying their behavior *will* go downhill from there, but it certainly *can* and what someone shows you when they want your business is the absolute best they have to offer. Over the phone or in person, if you keep this in mind when you chat with potential vendors you should be able to get a good feel for what's going on.

      Best of luck and happy planning!!

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      • Laura,
        Wow! Thank you for the quick response and the valuable nuggets! I will keep them in my pocket for the planning ahead…
        I'm so glad I asked!

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  22. YES!

    I might be a teensy bit biased, since I am a wedding coordinator, but I can't even tell y'all how much of a difference it makes to have one person–who isn't related to you, or in your wedding party–taking care of all the little shit that inevitably piles up.

    Generally, I take over the reins about a week or two before an event–it's when the pressure really starts to get bad for the couple, and the last thing they need to do is be running about, calling vendors.

    That square-triangle thing is right on, too. I do everything I can to make sure that all questions are fielded through me, so the couple can just enjoy their day.

    Find someone you like and trust, and hand it over–then *you* get to rest, and remember why you're doing this crazy wedding thing anyhow. :D

    1 agrees
  23. YES! So worth it! My whole wedding was planned by a coordinator, and it was the best thing I could have spent money on. It was a perfect day, and I could not have done it without a planner's expertise. If you are in Florida, I highly recommend Array Event Design. Tell them Dara sent you :)

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  24. question- my fiance and i's wedding is fairly cut and dry, we have a funky venue that includes everything but the photog and DJ… i basically would want a DOC to bring my centerpieces and place cards in/set them up, make sure people know to get on the free shuttle at the end of the ceremony and night… thats about all i can think of! i guess the music and photog may have to confirm the week before- but do I really need a DOC in my situation? I def want to enjoy the day and days leading up to the wedding, but I live in the DC area and even day of services are like 2500 from whom I talked to so far…

    Help! :-)

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    • My comment below was meant as a (belated) reply to this question – but I hit the wrong button. Oops! Please see below for my response.

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    • I think a lot of what a DOC does is make sure you stay on your timeline. Think about the size of your wedding and how many formal situations are going to need to be cued up. Do you need someone to cue you when to start walking down the aisle (sounds silly, but I had to walk down a curving staircase and could not see the aisle so it was necessary), Do you need someone to tell the kitchen when to bring out the courses, alert the DJ to toasts, bouquet, cake cutting, etc? They are going to make sure that everyone is at the right place at the right time. We did not hire one for our wedding, and more so that setting up decorations, that was our biggest challenge.

      1 agrees
      • this is along the lines with my plans. There's a lot of cuing and synchronizing that needs to be done for my timeline, but I actually enjoy coordinating stuff and don't find it stressful at all. I was going to buy walkie talkies for all my vendors and myself and just run the show. My mom hates the idea, but I could spray paint mine white and bedazzle it! I also think it's easier to run stuff myself since i've ben planning it for over a year and know everything about everything. i think it would be harder to get someone else up to speed than to do it myself.

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  25. A huge part of my job as a wedding coordinator is to make sure that each vendor (and venue) provides exactly what they have promised you. You would not believe the things I have been sent scrambling to cover on a wedding day – from missing vegetarian meals to restrooms that were somehow devoid of toilet paper. In addition to the set up you described and the timing of the event, someone is going to handle several of those troubleshooting types of things on your wedding day – be it you, a friend, a family member, or a paid professional. In a way, deciding whether or not to hire a wedding coordinator is really no different than any other service for which you can choose between DIY and hiring someone, like painting your house or changing your own oil. It's up to you where your comfort level falls and whether you don't mind doing it yourself or if that would totally stress you and, therefore, it's just worth it to eliminate the worry and have it done for you. (Of course, a wedding is not an oil change – but I think you get the point.)

    Personally, I love to source new vendors through the Offbeat Bride vendor listings and can often find some budget friendly choices there. But if options are limited in your area, remember – every pro was an up and comer at some point. Checking online classifieds for talented people looking to build their portfolios can sometimes net great deals. You may have to screen a little more carefully but you never know what you might find!

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  26. I think it really depends on the size of your wedding, the level of involvement of your venue, and how structured you expect your wedding to be. I was recently married at a small, independently run hotel, and they kept telling us we needed an "event coordinator" for the day of the event. Since our wedding was only 70 people & we didn't have a ton of decorations, we decided to save the money. My father-in-law was in restaurants & catering for years, so we put him in charge of communicating with the kitchen and waitstaff, my parents and I set up the decorations, (mostly my folks, I had a lot going on 2 hours before the wedding), I made a timeline and gave it to everyone, and when the DJ needed to be cued (he was a friend of ours) someone just told him. Still there is a lot of wrangling that needs to be done that you never even consider, and it was definitely more stressful! We had a wonderful wedding, and the little flaws (like bridesmaids hollering down the stairs for groomsman that were nowhere to be found) didn't diminish how special it was for me. But if you want to save yourself the stress, and you have it in your budget, a coordinator is probably worth it.

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  27. I've been married before and am getting married again this summer. The first time I didn't have a DOC and while nothing went wrong I didn't always feel like I got to enjoy myself because I was busy being pulled in 10 directions at once.

    This time hiring DOC wasn't in our budget, but my sister is going to be my DOC. Here are my tips if you are choosing to pick a family member or friend to play DOC for you:

    1) Leave the Mom's out of it. – They will be sure to hover and help, but let them do what they enjoy and encourage them to relax too.

    2) PICK WISELY – This is not a time to choose your closest friend because she's your BFF. It's time to pick someone who is up to the task. I chose my sister because she's a project manager and IT professional. Which means she can heard cats if need be.

    3) Make sure your DOC and you are one the same page – What do you want them to handle? Just the vendors? Hearding the wedding party? Everything? Make sure that you tell your DOC (friend or hired) exactly what you expect of them so that you don't have surprises later.

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  28. I am two weeks out and umming and ahhing over this too. I asked my aunt who was a big construction project manager (and even more anally organised than I am), but I am still a bit worried about her taking on too much and not enjoying herself. We don't have vendors to coordinate (except for a caterer who is in house and the florist doing the bouquets), but we do have a DIY photobooth and music to cue up (im doing the playlist myself and using my brother's DJ gear). I feel like there isnt enough for a coordinator to do, but know it will give me peace of mind. The wedding is already costing a fortune, so it is easy to just go "meh, what is another $500?".

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  29. I think – like all other wedding decisions you make – it depends on the vibe of your wedding, your comfort level, your priorities, and your community. The posts and majority of the comments are bringing up very helpful things about having a DOC, but don't panic and think you HAVE to have one.

    I got married two weeks ago tomorrow (yikes, time flies), and we had a tight budget, paying almost everything ourselves. We live in the Bay Area. Nothing can be had for less than several hundred dollars, so every decision we made was based on the priorities for the event and whether the expense was worth cutting out something else. We did not have a paid DOC, because – again, for us – the vibe of the wedding, the guests, the style, and our priorities – didn't leave room for it.

    Throughout the planning stages, I had friends and family asking how they could help. Frankly, I'm mostly a do-it-myself, very independent kind of person. I don't like feeling as though I'm burdening everyone. So, for the most part, the Hubs and I did all of the work in the planning/DIY range. My mom and one of my bridesmaids (the only local) helped a little bit. But all of those generous offers in the 6 months of planning mostly were politely thanked, then ignored.

    But when it came time for me to schedule the setting up at the park, picking up the cake, helping make bouqets, cleaning up at the end of the night, I was a little overwhelmed at how I could do it myself. Then my family/friends seemed upset to have not been asked to do their part. So we made a very detailed schedule of tasks (thanks to the Tribe for the sample/ideas/discussions) and sent it to all of those people who had offered generally to help wth suggested "helping" spots. They stepped up more than I possibly could have imagined. And they had the benefit of knowing us, our priorities, and our guests. Some had helpful suggestions on the schedule – and some didn't, but they tried ;)

    Granted, we didn't have must of any formality in our event – people had red cups full of beer in-hand during the ceremony, we had minimal "must have photos," and the whole thing was in a park with a BBQ buffet (catered, but relaxed). But if you are honestly stressed about money, and you've used the amazing tools and resources available from the Tribe to make a plan, I just wanted to be sure to say it can be done with friends doing the DOC duties. But it depends on the vibe of your wedding and your guests/friends. If we had been in a reception hall with tight catering timelines, lots of scheduled items (we nixed bouqet toss and garter because I hate them personally), or a somewhat less casual guest list, maybe it would have been needed.

    And I will say, the toasts were a bit late and the cake a little quicker after first dances than planned and NOBODY CARED. We were still out of the park by sundown as required and not a scrap of trash or flowers or decoration was left – and the Hubs and I didn't do any of the clean up. And I was (mostly) not stressed about the details like catering delivery, etc. Certainly at the minimal level it would have been even with a paid coordinator.

    If I'd had unlimited resources – or even just more cushion – perhaps this would have been an expense I'd have used for the many reasons people have stated above. But given the faily one-sided comments, I just wanted to give comfort that – while super helpful and lovely – a professional DOC isn't required.

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  30. Wonderful post! As a wedding planner who does Day of Coordination (really month of) and larger packages this is what I am always telling people. There are so many reasons to get an outside person, a paid vendor to deal with your wedding day. Thank you very much for giving my career the credit it deserves!

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  31. I did not have a day of coordinator. In retrospect, I think it would have helped immensely. There were a few things that were ridiculous little stressors that really did not need to be. I didn't think about how when I was wearing my dress and trying to relax and not be seen that it was going to be really hard to run up myself and tweak that little thing that I had spent weeks on that was strangely important to me even if it seemed small to others.

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  32. With 3.5 weeks to go, I'm starting to lean more towards yes, I did need one! Need more time…

    On a related note… I still haven't gotten a shrug… and I want to know where the bride in the photo got her jacket! I love it.

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  33. Our venue had a coordinator (two actually but we used only the one). It was so nice to just tell her what we wanted, she told us what we could do, and then to tell our vendors when to be there and to look for her. She took care of everything and it was a huge weight off my and my mother's shoulders, who likely would have been the one worrying about everything.

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