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Day of Coordination for Dummies

October 10th, 2011 by Jeannine

 
Day Of Coordination for Dummies

Over a year ago, I was approached by family friends, Iris and Jeff, to see if I was interested in coordinating their wedding day. At the time, I was interested in getting in the wedding business so I thought, why not? I’m really glad I did it because now I can share my experience with you. If you are planning on asking a friend to coordinate your wedding, with little to no experience, it can be done as long as they are organized, prepared and are able to think on their feet… and maybe they should read this blog post so they can have a better idea of what’s coming!

My First Wedding Experience

I’m a wedding rookie, but that being said, I thought it went really well; there were, however, there were a few factors that made it less challenging: I was required to stay at the reception venue only, there was no bridal party, there were no extra activities like a garter and bouquet toss, it was a plated dinner so a good chunk of the night involved sitting and eating, and last but not least, I had the privilege of working with a great group of vendors and a very organized and easygoing couple :) All of this made a world of difference!

As soon as I arrived at the venue at 10:30 in the morning, it was go, go, go! I was lucky, everyone arrived when they were supposed to and worked so hard to transform the room. People kept coming to me for questions and I had to make sure I had answers for everything. I was the eyes and ears for Iris and Jeff that day so if I didn’t know what to do, I had to improvise and make a decision that they would be happy with. Coordinating different people at the same time for the bride and groom reception entrance was a little tough but we made it work. I probably would have gone over clearer cues between the MC, DJ and the couple to make the entrance flow more smoothly. Dinner was plated so the kitchen had a schedule to stick to when each dish would come out. For the most part they were bang on but you have to take into account some slow eaters that will skew your timeline just a little bit. Thanks to this, the dance started 45 min late, but what can you do right? It’s not like you can call the clock on them! At times like these, the best decision was to adapt.

After 14 hours, we were ready to call it a night, but we didn’t leave until all the decor have been put away. It was a long, tiring day but I had a blast. My organizational and quick thinking skills were definitely tested and it was such a great feeling to see the bride and groom so happy with everything. I can see how fulfilling this job can be, it’s all worth the hard work seeing a couple have the most perfect wedding day :)

Important Must-Haves for a Rookie Coordinator

If you’re asking a friend to coordinate your wedding, they need these to make their job easier:

  • Contracts - Have a copy of the contract between the coordinator and the couple, as well as contracts from their vendors so all parties are clear as to what services will be done and by who.
  • Consultations – The coordinator must meet with the couple at the beginning of their planning stages and 2-3 weeks before the wedding day. The first meeting will give you an idea of what’s to come and the last meeting will be the time you all come up with a feasible timeline (I’ll be writing more about this in another post so stay tuned!)
  • Detailed Contact List – You’ll need contacts of the bride and groom, the bridal party, anyone involved in the wedding and of course the vendors. Have their email and office phone and cell phone numbers on file in case you need to get a hold of them. I know I used mine quite a bit on the day of!
  • Detailed Schedule of the Day – You’ll need a copy so you know who’s supposed to be doing what, where and when. Have a copy for your MC (I put an extra one on the podium and starred his cues), one for your DJ, and one for the Banquet Manager so everyone will be on the same page.
  • Detailed To-Do List – List all the things you need to put out and where, if you can, draw it up with the bride or ask her to provide you a chart that shows which decor goes on what table, including quantities. Any special requests would go here too.
  • Quick Thinking, Stress Management and Problem Solving Skills – If you’re not comfortable with thinking on your feet, this job isn’t for you.
  • A Clipboard or Folder - You’ll need something to hold all your paperwork – this will be the “Event Bible” that day, everything you need to know will be in that folder so keep it close to you.
  • Emergency Kit & Supplies – Some handy supplies are pens, scissors, super glue, first aid kit, stain remover, hand sanitizer, feminine products, nail file, sewing kit, bobby pins, etc.

Tips for a Rookie Coordinator

  • Wear a watch – This is one of the most important times to be punctual… arrive early, keep the schedule moving, and improvise, if necessary. Try to stick to your timeline as best as you can.
  • Get to know your vendors - Since you probably have to confirm all the vendors for the wedding day anyway, give them your contact number in case they need to reach you. Some actually did contact me the day before to give me updates. On the wedding day. the banquet manager will be your best friend, work closely with him or her to ensure the event flows smoothly. Stay in touch with anyone else working the wedding so they know you’re there to support them if needed.
  • Schedule loosely, but tightly – Allot more than enough time for anything you’ve got on the schedule because things happen that will skew it. You need a bit of wiggle room in case there are unforeseen events like a traffic jam. Pay attention to your schedule and try to keep events happening at the appropriate times. Don’t panic if things change, adapt.
  • Stay focused – It’s easy to let loose and enjoy the party, but remember, you’re there to work. You need to know everything when approached with a question, and people will definitely approach you.
  • Have an assistant – If you can swing it, have an assistant with you all day, it’ll really help lighten the load, especially for bigger weddings. (My husband was with me all day helping out, he’s the best <3 )

Coordinating my first wedding opened my eyes to how much responsibility these professionals actually have. It isn’t easy and it definitely isn’t for everyone, so unless your friend is a people person, extremely organized and a real go-getter who actually wants to do this for you, find it in your budget and hire a professional. I’d like to thank Jeff and Iris again for letting me be a part of their special day. As for whether I would do it again? Perhaps ;)

In case you’re curious… here are the vendors Iris and Jeff used:

Ceremony Venue: Celebration Pavilion at QE Park
Reception Venue: Terminal City Club
Hair and Makeup: Makeup & Hair by Ai Nagasawa
Photographer: Jarusha Brown Photography
Decor: Bride and Groom’s relative Loviena Lam
Flowers: Buy the Bunch Flowers
Cake and Wedding Favors: Ganache Patisserie
DJ: Their own laptop with playlists with speaker rentals from Long and McQuade

Tell me… are you hiring a day of coordinator for your wedding?

All photos courtesy Jarusha Brown Photography

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Comments

  • May 9th, 2013 at 1:55 pm
    Kaitlin R says:

    Thank you for this article! As someone who is new to the wedding business it was nice to get insight and to see how things went for you. :)

     
  • February 22nd, 2015 at 2:20 pm
    MK says:

    This is very helpful, as a friend just asked me to be her “day-of” person! You mentioned “the last meeting will be the time you all come up with a feasible timeline (I’ll be writing more about this in another post so stay tuned!) ”
    Can you share the link to the post where you discuss timelines more?

     

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