Engaged couples will often think that they don't need an On the Day Coordinator as their venue provides them with a Venue Coordinator. But having worked for wedding venues for over a decade I know the differences between the two roles.
If you are planning your wedding yourself, you may think that you don’t need any outside help. You may even have a Venue Coordinator included within your hire fee and so you don’t quite understand the value in a separate On the Day Coordinator.
Well, hopefully the differences explained in this blog will show you the value in both a wedding Venue Coordinator and an On the Day Coordinator.
Firstly, On the Day Coordination is a misleading term, it can make couples think that the Coordinator is just there on the day (in the same way your venue contact is), but this is not the case. An On the Day Coordinator will begin working on your wedding 1-2 months before the wedding date, as there is a lot of work to do in preparation for the big day.
When I come on board as an On the Day Coordinator, I will have an initial meeting with you where we will go through all the details and plans that you have made, what you want your wedding to look and feel like and the people you have hired to do this for you.
Wedding Suppliers & Contracts
As an On the Day Coordinator, I will look through all the supplier contracts and flag to you any details that I think are important to consider. I contact all the suppliers to confirm all the details that you think you have booked. I also confirm their access times, set up times, load out slots and even parking.
Suppliers can contact a Venue Coordinator, but typically a Venue Coordinator will deal with everything to do with the venue, food, bar, toilets etc. But they wouldn’t look over contracts or contact every supplier (from photography to stationery) to confirm their services.
Why is this important?
Often details can be miscommunicated. This could be referring to timings or to the actual product being provided. I’ve heard stories of florists not having the right number of table centres, dance floors not being the right size. I’ve also heard stories of suppliers turning up at the wrong time, to the wrong entrance – affecting being ready on time.
Wedding Day Timelines
As an On the Day Coordinator, I will discuss with you your plans for the day, what you have booked for when and I will go away and create a timeline for the day. I discuss this with you to ensure it allows for all the off-site details as well (such as hair, make up, photos, travel etc). I will be able to advise from my experience on details such as how long to leave to allow guests to take to their seats or move between spaces or how long to leave for the meal and speeches. I will not only devise the timeline for your wedding but I will also liaise with suppliers to ensure that the set up and pack down time allowed is sufficient and that their details such as the catering, entertainment etc is allocated the time as expected. I will then circulate the timelines to all suppliers - each and every version of it (as there may be tweaks in the lead up to the day).
A wedding venue coordinator will ask you for your timeline, some may advise you on timings based on their experience, but often they will not have an understanding of your entire wedding and so this advice can sometimes miss key details or considerations.
Why is this important?
Things can happen outside of our control which can sometimes cause a delay in a wedding day schedule, however if you haven’t allocated the right amount of time in the first place you will always be fighting a losing battle, you will never be able to make up time. You may think ‘well we can just roll with it’, but it isn’t always that simple. For example - a delay leading up to dinner can result in caterers running out of drinks in the pre-dinner reception, it can result in food being dry and overcooked, it can also mean that Evening Only guests arrive into a room full of Day guests still eating their meal. So, getting the schedule right in the first place and having the experience to make back time is something an On the Day Coordinator should be able to do.
Managing Wedding Suppliers
On the day itself, I , as your On the Day Coordinator, will work for you. I am employed by you to make sure all of the elements of your wedding are as you want. This includes managing the suppliers and the setup, making sure it looks as you have envisioned it and that it is ready on time. I will also be their contact for any questions they may have on the day.
A venue coordinator of course wants you to have a wonderful day but they work for the venue and are employed to preserve the venue. They will be around during set up but it is unlikely that they will manage suppliers or manage the set up. They will ensure that suppliers are working safely and that the venue is not at risk of being damaged but they won’t be checking that the tables are set correctly for example.
Why is this important?
If you’ve spent months if not years planning your wedding you want everything you’ve planned to go as expected. For one example, you want there to be the correct number of seats at each table and I (as an On the Day Coordinator) will check these details against table plans during the set up (before guests arrive and see they don’t have anywhere to sit)!
On the Day Ask me Anything
A Venue Coordinator will brilliantly ensure that the venue shines for you, that equipment works and people are working safely. However, they may not be prepared nor have all the answers to questions that are often asked throughout a wedding day.
An On the Day Coordinator will have an overview of all your plans and will use their experience to answer anything that you may not have allowed for. I found this fantastic example list of the questions we as Wedding Planners / On the Day Coordinators get asked on a wedding day:
o What time will the makeup artist arrive?
o When and where will the flowers be delivered?
o Who will arrange the table settings?
o Who will hit “play” on the music for our processional? What about the recessional?
o Where should the families go for formal pictures? And what time should they arrive?
o What time should the DJ announce dinner after the cocktail party?
o Who’s going to release tables for dinner?
o Who should sit where?
o When and where will the other wedding suppliers eat?
o Where should the photographer leave their belongings?
o Who’s going to cut the cake after the bride and groom take the first slice?
o When should the DJ open the dance floor?
o What is the couple’s first dance song?
o Is the bride throwing the bouquet?
o Who will gather our guests for our send off?
o Who will make sure all our suppliers are paid any balances at the end of the night?
An On the Day Coordinator will also be there for you throughout the day and night. I make you aware of upcoming events like toasts, dances etc and will be there to make sure you are having the best time. I can get you anything you need. I will also stay till the end of the wedding to look after the pack down. Not only to ensure that suppliers are finished on time but also to make sure any items that you need (such as presents and cards) are packed away carefully, ready for you to collect the next morning.
So do you need an On the Day Coordinator when you have a Venue Coordinator?
It is worth noting that this blog is not meant negatively towards Venue Coordinators – they do amazing jobs and I make it my aim to build great relationships with all the venues that I work in. Our job can make their lives easier as well. An On the Day Coordinator should be respectful of rules and regulations at venues and having read and understood the venue contract at the beginning of working for you they will be able to execute your plans in accordance with the venue’s needs and according to how you dreamed.
It is important for me that my couples (and their families) are relaxed in the lead up to their wedding, that they feel looked after in those last few weeks before the big day, not just on the day itself.
Weddings can be unpredictable, chaotic and every one is different. It really is a team effort and you need someone bringing it all together, managing it. Someone that isn’t you. If you can hire someone that has experience in planning, delivering and troubleshooting for weddings, someone that is enthusiastic about every part of your vision, that wants to achieve your dream, then surely you want them on your team?
If you want me on your team then please do get in touch.