Sometimes we have clients who contact us stating that they “just” need us to do what they “tell” us to do and all we need to do is “show up” on the wedding day and “direct”. There’s a problem with that. Most do not know what needs to be done… let alone on the level it needs to be done.
While there are some coordinators who may be willing to take this kind of client on, we do not. Pointing people and services around with no advance prep is all about putting fires out that could have been prevented in the first place. And ultimately is costly to the couple. You may save $2000 by hiring a day of coordinator who will only charge $300, but the potential disasters that could happen could end up costing tens of thousands of dollars in the end.
Our minimum planning service is “month of”, and now begins about 2 months prior to the wedding day. This is the minimum time we need to accomplish the following: review our client’s required “month of” worksheet we have them fill out, all of their finalized vendor event contracts and put together a plan with detailed communication with the venue, event partners and client. That takes time. That “plan” is one that involves putting together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and carefully blending schedules, legal requirements, and the personal creative wishes of the engaged couple. And let me tell you this: it is 20x the work for us to do “month of” than it is full service planning. Why? Because we have inherited all the decisions that an inexperienced client has made and now we need to review in painstaking detail and correct those details.
Just this last week, here are several examples of the wedding day disasters that got averted – as well as money we saved the client in our “month-of” planning where we take the bride’s planning and get it fine tuned and ready for wedding day awesomeness:
- Bridal Hair/Makeup Service’s contract not only had the wrong address on it – but a different location– one that was almost 40 minutes away from the actual inn at which they were supposed to appear. How this would have played out wedding day? Hard to say, but most likely, they would have gone to the wrong location (which would not have been open at the time, since it was a winery that does not open until 10am), it would have caused up to a one hour delay in the timeline by the time they found correct location, drove to it, called the bride to interrupt her morning (and probably concern her already stressed self), and the delay in the timeline could have been a domino affect, causing the ceremony to be late and overtime fees from every vendor who was caused to extend their service time.
- Insufficient power sources. In reviewing the event partner’s contracts for the band and their electrical requirements, as well as that of the professional lighting being installed and the caterer’s use of coffee-making (which draws significant pull) and knowing the venue’s electrical limitations, we were able to verify that all of this power drawing on the venue’s source would have most likely caused a blackout . A generator and onsite technician were ordered, power was dropped where it was most needed. And all was well. How would this have played out on the wedding day? Besides the blackout, even if power were to be able to be restored, one service or more would not be able to do what they were contracted to do. Take your pick: No music? No light? No catering? Which would you choose? I didn’t think so.
- Transportation Disasters: one client said she wanted to have her guests transported via shuttle bus to the winery. She had contracted the service on her own with what she felt was a good schedule. The problem: with a 5:00pm ceremony start time, guests were not allowed at the winery (per their policy) until 4:30pm, and she had booked one bus to transport 43 of her 120 guests. “Oh,the shuttle bus can just go back and forth from the local hotels until everyone is at the winery.” What she didn’t factor in is that it is 15-20 minutes one way to the winery from the hotels. Round trip is about 30 -40 minutes. One shuttle going back and forth to get the entire guest list there would have taken a couple of hours at least. We were able to point out that to have all those guests there by ceremony start time, she needed to rent additional buses. We also discovered that she had guests arriving at the winery as early as 4:00pm, when most of the event set up was still taking place. How this would have played out on the wedding day? Guests arriving to an unprepared site, standing around, not able to enter, and most likely a two hour delay in starting the wedding, forcing vendors into overtime fees, and lost fun event and dancing time. After the wedding, it would have been too late for the couple to realize that hiring a “day of” coordinator who just did what they “said” was a huge mistake.
- Not understanding food and beverage timing . Many clients list what they “want” to see happen in their reception timeline, but not understanding the behind-the-scenes workings of food and beverage, they are not savvy to the impossibility of what they are asking. Example: a client insisted on toasting five minutes after the first course of dinner service started service. What they don’t understand is that the very service staff who will need to pour champagne for the toast (which can take 10-20 minutes of pour time, depending on the size of the reception) is the service staff plating up, serving and tending to guests during meal service. How would this have played out on the wedding day? Besides frustration, if the client or inexperienced “day of” coordinator allowed this, the staff would have probably divided itself to half serve dinner and half pour champagne , making dinner service suffer horribly, with most guests finishing way before others and shoddy service. That said, most professional caterers would have refused in the moment to suddenly stop dinner service to pour champagne and the client would have been deeply disappointed. Vendor relations would have been strained, and other event professionals working the wedding may take note of the unprofessional coordinator who was “winging it” doing what she’d been “told” and an unsavory reputation would have been born, limiting possible bookings and referrals downstream.
So when a potential client says that they “just” need me to stand and point people around “day-of” without the actual work that it requires in advance to do the job properly, and “just” need me to do what they say, the answer is no. If I have to explain it further and they still don’t understand, it’s best we part ways. I won’t compromise your beautiful day – or my reputation – by doing anything less than what either of us deserve.