It's the biggest day of your life!
You've dreamed of this day since you were a little girl. By some miracle you've found the person you want to spend your life with. The day he proposed was amazing and took you completely by surprise! You had no idea he could be so sneaky and clever! You scheduled your engagement shoot with the amazing photographer your friends can't stop talking about, you invited your closest friends and family to celebrate at your engagement party at the newest, swankiest hotel, your besties are planning a fabulous out of town bachelorette weekend (cue poolside cocktails with mini umbrellas), you've found THE perfect dress to walk down the aisle in (no one is looking better than you on your wedding day), you've spent countless hours researching and visting all the possible wedding venues on your list and have finally narrowed down your options and think you have finally found the ONE! So exciting!
All these months of planning are totally going to be worth it when the day is finally here! All that hard work is going to pay off. You're going to have a great time! You've been saving your money and being very careful how you spend it.. splurging a little here, saving a little there.. it's all working out. Sure the photographer cost a little more than expected but that's totally reasonable because you'll always have those photos and they have to be beyond AMAZING! Everyone will see them on social media and you'll have those canvas images from Shutterfly hanging on your wall for years to enjoy.
Oh, the venue - that was a stretch. You didn't expect it to cost that much but c'mon - it's like the most important part right? Where you get married is EVERYTHING! So you'll just have to be careful from now on with the rest of the budget, no biggie. But hang on.... there's still food and drinks. Yep, that's a big one. You have 150 people to feed and they'll definitely want some alcohol and a good meal. They're traveling all that way to see you on your BIG day! Serving a good meal and drinks is the least you can do. Turns out catering is costing a lot more than you expected after looking over the menu. Damn! For this crowd you'll need around 3-5 types of appetizers, two types of beer, red and white wine, hard liquor (definitely), several bottles of champagne for the toast, and some non-alcoholic beverages for kids or those who don't drink. After all that there's still service and labor charges, set up fees, taxes.. WOW! This one stings a bit. Maybe you have a buffet instead of a plated meal. Doesn't seem to cut the cost down all that much but it's something. How about only serving beer and wine instead of a full bar? Sure... let's go with that.
Ok so, let's figure out how many tables and chairs you need. How about what color linens you want and if you need any cocktail tables, umbrellas or lounge furniture? What about dinner service? Is the caterer providing everything or do you need to rent all the plates, glassware and silverware? Not only that but this venue doesn't have outdoor lighting (it's a bit remote) and the reception will be going on late so you may need to hang some string lights, maybe put a few lanterns around and possibly rent heaters. And then there's the transportation. You want to arrive in style, safely and on time right? Maybe a shuttle or limo service would be a good idea to get people to and from the venue because let's face it, a lot of people are from out of town, don't know where they're going and they'll be drinking so... ya, you better hire a shuttle service and make sure all your guests are taken care of!
Oh wait! We can't forget the flowers! You'll need centerpieces, bouquets, boutonnieres for the guys, corsages to pin on the mothers, and maybe some extra flowers to decorate the ceremony aisle or arch or to place around the venue along with some other personal decorations that you still need to purchase like candles, signage, framed family photos, a guest book, a card basket to name a few. That also leads us to paper good and miscellaneous items like your wedding invitations, escort cards, table numbers, favors... I could go on and on. The point is, these little things are all adding up!
Wait a second.. you've hired a really good photographer and this is your wedding day so you definitely want to look your best! You'll need a excellent glam team for you and your gals to get all dolled up with hair and makeup! Whatever it takes. You cannot skimp on beauty! You want to feel and look like a million bucks. You might even need to splurge on a spray tan or a pre-wedding facial for the ultimate glow. Might as well add in some eyebrow shaping too cause you know - good brows! And you definitely need some accessories to complete the ensemble. Veil, earrings, bracelets, necklace, sparkly headband... and shoes! Don't forget shoes!
I still think there's some vendors missing however.. oh yes! The DJ! You'll definitely need some music at the wedding and someone who can make some announcements and keep the momentum going. Whew! That was close. Ok, now we've got it all, right? Oooops! Wait! Someone needs to marry you! That's a pretty important detail not to forget! Let's get the Officiant on board and make it all official! Someone has to sign the license right and.... ohmygosh! You totally forgot to get your wedding cake! Literally EVERYONE expects cake at a wedding. Peole wait around for cake! People don't want to leave until.....CAKE! Let's definitely get a cake and avoid a catastrophy!
Ok let's recap! We've got the venue, the dress and accessories, the catering and bartending team, the rentals, the DJ, the Officiant, the flowers, the CAKE, the glam squad, shuttle transportation, paper products, decorations, and the pricey (but TOTALLY worth) it photographer. I think that covers it all. Yep, look at that! You've done it! You've planned the entire wedding and it's going to be EPIC! Everyone is going to be so impressed and have so much fun! You can't wait to get married and party the night away... what could go wrong?
You've spent months, maybe even a year or more planning your wedding day. There is no other day like it. This is it. This is your moment. It will be unforgettable! All the phone calls to vendors, emails back and forth, reviewing quotes and contracts, menu tastings, gown fittings, and the hours spent making decisions on details like where Aunt Margie should sit and what song you and your father should dance to.. all those thoughts and meticulous details you put into it are now in the past. You are looking ahead to the future - the moment you and your fiance say "I Do" in front of all your loved ones. You cannot wait to be married and to be celebrating into the late night hours, drinking, dancing, laughing and enjoying every moment of your new life together. It all goes by so fast!
That is the ideal scenario. The one we all strive for. We want that to be the outcome. We want all your hard work and beautifully crafted day to be noticed and to go off without a hitch. But that can only happen if you have someone there to ensure that it does. That person cannot be you.. you're the bride! You cannot possibly execute all those details that you've set in motion. You need help. You don't want to burden family or friends with tasks and "to dos" on your wedding day - a day that everyone should enjoy without worrying about how things are getting done. That's not their job. Who's job is it?
THE WEDDING COORDINATOR!
The Wedding Coordinator is your best friend from the time you start working together. The one who will have your back. The one who gives it to you straight. The one who you can lean on for support and advice. The one who will listen to the issues you're faced with and offer solutions. The one who understands how many decisions you have to make and will pick you up when you feel like you're failing or can't do it anymore. The one that is on the phone when the florist is 5 minutes late to the venue and you need your bouquet for photos. The one who makes sure the DJ brings a microphone for the Officiant and one for the toasts, that the decorations are set up exactly as you want them, that there are exactly the right amount of chairs at each dinner tables, that the linens you rented are the right size and color upon arrival. The one who fixes your dress before you walk down the aisle. The one who makes sure someone has the rings! You get the picure?
We are the ones. The ones managing the flow of the day. The ones who see it all. We make sure things happen when they are supposed to and that all the pieces of the puzzle come together. We are not there to take over your day and make you do things you don't want to do. We just want your day to be the best it can be. We are there to eliminate risk and the chance for something will go wrong. We are there to resolve any unforseen issue that could arise quickly and as discreetly as possible so you and your guests are none the wiser. It all happens so seemlessly behind the scenes when you have a Wedding Coordinator taking care of all those details for you so you can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on nothing else but getting married!
You may have thought about hiring a Wedding Coordinator and decided against it for some reason. Maybe you didn't plan for it in your budget and after you spent all your money on other things there was little to none left for a Coordinator. But let me tell you - you really cannot afford NOT to hire a Coordinator. And let me clarify. I don't mean hire someone strictly to manage the wedding day. That is a myth. Yes, you read that correctly! There is no such thing as a "Day of Coordinator." Any experienced and professional Wedding Coordinator is going to charge you for their time on the wedding day plus any time they spend leading up to the wedding in the final few weeks.
What will a professional Wedding Coordinator do in those last few weeks you ask? At a minimum 4-6 weeks before the wedding is the timeframe needed to finalize your details, review your vendor contracts, fix any last minute issues or make changes, help you make final decisions, create a timeline, conduct a site visit at the venue, schedule a final planning meeting with you to go over the wedding day schedule and coordinate and manage the ceremony rehearsal the day before. If you think your friend, relative or person you met that offered to "help" can handle all that plus work 10+ hours on the wedding day (with little to no breaks) you are very misguided.
So brides, please do yourself a favor and budget for a professional Wedding Coordinator. Hire one from the beginning or as soon as possible so you can get the most benefit by relying on their knowledge and expertise. Very often they can save you time and money! It truly is an invaluable service and one you will not regret. Don't spend weeks, months or years planning your perfect day to have it all go downhill because you made the mistake of not hiring a professional Wedding Coordinator. It's just not worth it.
Ready to take the next step? Read Which Wedding Planning Package is Right for You?
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Image: Danielle Honea Phototography
Brenda Cali is a professionally trained Wedding Consultant and plans a variety of social and corporate events.