I’m trying something new today and kicking off a little series focussing on Utterly Wow; the wedding planning and styling business I’m ferreting away on behind the scenes and shall be launching in the next month or two. Over the coming weeks I want to share with you the range of services I will be providing, along with other business-related posts such as how I came up with a name, getting my first clients etc etc. Not to educate (erm… as I’m still learning myself) but because I thought it might just be of interest- not only for those who may be considering using a wedding planner, but also those in the process of setting up (or thinking of setting up) a small business themselves, and not forgetting those who are quite simply enjoying following my career-building utterings.
I’ve chosen to start with the most commonly used/needed/afforded service a wedding planner can provide- On The Day Coordination. And this post couldn’t be timelier- as on Friday I shall be hot-footing it down to a fort on the Cornish coast where I shall be coordinating my first professional wedding ‘gig’. Exciting times!
So what does this ‘on-the-day coordination’ lark involve then?
Well, it’s a service that does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. I’m there to ‘coordinate’ or ‘manage’ the wedding day as it unfolds, which isn’t actually as dramatic as it sounds. I do have a clipboard and a Wedding Kit (for the all-important schedule, contact sheet of numbers, potential emergencies etc), but much to my friends’ disappointment I won’t have a headset or be crying ‘Release the doves!’ à la Franck from Father of the Bride. (Although, erm, if there were an actual dove release I probably would have to do that.)
Instead, the role of wedding coordinator can be likened to that of a Stage Manager- a subtle but essential backstage role that involves giving actors and technicians their cues, managing scene transitions and set changes, liaising between cast and production and ensuring everything runs to time. And if metaphors ain’t your thang, in the wedding world that would translate to cueing the friend-turned-MC to announce the speeches or the caterers to begin serving, managing the room changes (if turning ‘ceremony space’ in to ‘reception space’ for example), liaising between the bride and groom and their suppliers, and, erm, ensuring everything runs to time. To name but a few of the many things a wedding coordinator is responsible for.
Of course, the working hours of a day-of-coordinator aren’t confined to just the wedding day itself. Like any event, preparation is key, and a good deal of pre-planning, advising, scheduling and liaising will take place in the weeks leading up to the wedding. And in the months before (if you were to book me in advance) I’m here for a sound-off or an update or just a wedding-related chat. I know that the brides I’m currently working with are grateful to have an un-biased and entirely interested ear to talk weddings with. Because let’s face it, our friends, family and partner can only take so much
But who actually needs an ‘On The Day Coordinator’?
What? You mean you’re not already sold? Well, like a play needs a Stage Manager, every wedding will benefit from having someone backstage running the show. But IMHO, the weddings that need a day-of coordinator are those taking place at a blank canvas venue (barn, warehouse, marquee in the garden etc) or those that require a large amount of styling and production.
You may have planned your wedding day to perfection and loved every minute of it, but who is actually going to light all the reception candles whilst you’re off being photographed, or replace them when they’ve burned out? Or greet the band when they arrive during dinner and show them where they need to go? Or pay the DJ? Or call the marquee company when the generator goes? Or cue the dove release?? I jest, but in order for you and your partner and your Mum and everyone else involved to be able to relax and enjoy the day as you all so deserve, a wedding coordinator is a necessity, not a luxury or an extravagance as some people (I’m talking to you, grooms!) may think.
And hey, even I’ve got one! My lovely friend and fellow UKAWP-trained planner, Laura, will be coordinating for me in May. I don’t want to be running around like a mad woman the morning of my wedding. I want to be supping Bucks Fizz and getting pampered with my bridesmaids, and enjoying the beautiful and calming surroundings of the lovely B&B I’m paying a fortune for. It will be up to Laura to hang ribbons in the trees and ensure the tables are set just as I want them and greet guests as they arrive and have a panic attack if the caterers don’t show up. Me? I’ll be luxuriating. Or trying to anyway.
So how do I choose a Wedding Coordinator?
Well, I can’t tell you that. You may hear a recommendation, or really like someone’s website, or go for the cheapest (not necessarily recommended!) or just ‘get a feeling’. My beautiful Cornish bride, Jenny, contacted me after reading this blog post back in November. Whereas one of my lovely July brides got in touch way back in May last year after stumbling across my blog and realising she had a ‘wedding twin’. Both ladies are taking a leap in going for someone not yet officially launched and with no ‘portfolio’ as such to share, but they’ve obviously seen something in me which they feel they can trust. Which is the most important thing. And a pretty awesome thing at that.
On The Day Coordinators will typically charge anything from £250 up to £800 depending on the workload required and perhaps their name and reputation. Whatever the price you want to pay, I know that having a dedicated and passionate wedding coordinator is worth his or her weight in gold, and paying someone to ensure your day runs smoothly is not something to be scoffed at or begrudge. But hey, I am one, so I would say that, wouldn’t I?
So that’s the first service Utterly Wow Wedding Planning & Design will be providing in a nutshell. Over to you now! Would you consider using a coordinator? Are you using a coordinator? Or perhaps if your wedding has been and gone, would you hire a coordinator if you could do it all again?? I’m very interested to hear from you as I make the final preparations for my trip to Cornwall in a few days time…
Wish me luck!