What is a Day Of Coordinator, and do you need to hire one for your wedding? It might sound crazy, but the phrase “day of coordination” can be a hotly debated topic amongst wedding planners.
If you’ve been browsing for someone to help coordinate your wedding details, it’s likely that you’ve been confused by the different options and phrases used by different planners. I’m going to go over what day of coordination or DOC really is and some other details that will be helpful if you are in the search for a day of coordinator.
Before we jump in though, I want to point out that for this article we’re just discussing the details of this particular service that many planners offer. If you’re thinking that you might need more help from a wedding planner, or you’d like to learn more about the other options for planning help that’s out there, check out Podcast Episode 14 where I go into more detail on the different types of wedding planning help available.
Let’s get into it by first explaining what a day of coordinator is. Generally speaking, this is someone who will make sure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the wedding but is not involved in the actual planning of the wedding. It became very popular about 10 or 15 years ago when couples realized that they could benefit from having a wedding planner involved, even if they didn’t have the budget for a full service wedding planner.
Now the issue that many wedding planners have with the service is that the title is very deceiving. I always tell my clients that regardless of how good a planner is or how long they have been in business, no professional wedding planner can simply show up on the day of the wedding and know what to do.
Most day of coordination services will start one to two months before the wedding, which is why some planners will refer to it as event day management or month of coordination. Personally, I’ve opted to still refer to my services as day of coordination, but I will always make sure to explain that the titles are really interchangeable for most planners. Let me explain how I structure my DOC services, which is a pretty common breakdown followed by many planners.
We start digging into the details of the wedding at about the six to eight week mark. I call this our wedding braindump meeting, and it’s intended to catch me up on all of the details that the couple’s been working on. We use my wedding workbook that I created to go through the full flow of the day.
This wedding workbook is actually what we review each month as a part of the planning collective membership, by the way. So if you’re interested in getting a little behind the scenes information on that, check out planningcollective.com and find us over in the membership section. This wedding workbook meeting really is a final planning session with the intention of identifying any potential issues or things that have been missed in the planning process.
The FOWO or fear of wedding oversight is very strong at this point in the planning process and couples typically feel so much better after having gone through these details because we can catch anything that may have been missed. Our goal is to make sure that we’re getting rid of that “what is it that we don’t know we don’t know yet?” feeling that most couples have a couple of months prior to the wedding.
I choose to do this at the six to eight week mark because if we were to go through the workbook too early in the process, say five or six months before the wedding, there’s still going to be details that aren’t in place yet. However, if we wait until the week before the wedding, we won’t have the opportunity to correct any issues, mistakes, or emissions that might make an impact on the wedding day.
After that meeting, we put together the timeline for the day and start connecting with the other vendors regarding the logistics of the wedding. We make sure that all the rental orders are correct, layouts are complete, and all of the vendors are onboard with the timeline for the day. A majority of the work for day of coordination is actually done well in advance of the wedding day, which is why many planners despise the name day of coordination.
In fact, if a professional planner tells you that they can just show up that day and do what you need them to do, I would take that as a very big red flag. Services are going to vary by planner for the wedding day itself as well, but most planners will be onsite anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, and some will have an assistant with them to help.
Our role that day is to make sure that all of the setup details are coming together on time and as ordered, as well as making sure the wedding party, family and vendors are where they need to be at the right times. We typically also help set up personal items like place cards, favors, any signage and so forth.
For most weddings, we’ll head home once the dance floor is open, usually around the same time the photographer will depart. But some venues and the end of the night logistics make it beneficial for us to stay through the very end of the night in which case we can definitely do so. Having a day of coordinator is perfect for couples that have been having fun with the wedding plans, but know that they want to be able to hand off the logistical details to someone in the weeks before the wedding.
And they definitely don’t want to put their family or wedding party to work on the wedding day. Many of my clients actually tell me that they are a type A personalities and they have a hard time delegating or handing things off to others. And man, can I relate to that. I’m exactly the same way, which is probably shocking.
And I actually think that is a huge reason why it’s important for this personality type to have a professional take over on the day. You don’t want to be the one running around, making sure everything is correct when you should be either getting ready for a first look or taking photos with your family.
Okay, let’s take a minute and chat about what day of coordination is not. At least a few times a year I will get an email or a call from someone that says that they are just looking for someone to help set up some centerpieces, or maybe they just need someone to coordinate for a handful of hours on the wedding day itself, but don’t need any of that prep work that we talked about.
You might find some planners that are open to this, but I find that most have decided not to cut back on their day of services, even if they have the date open or they’re being offered their regular rates. For me, the reason for this is that I know what needs to be done to be fully prepared for a wedding day. And if I agree to skip all that prep work, I will not be ready to answer any questions that the vendor’s, wedding party, or guests would have for us that day.
It would be like asking a builder to make a house without a blueprint. There’s a small chance that everything could come together all night, but a much bigger chance that something is going to go wrong. One of the main reasons why couples benefit from having a day of coordinator is in all that prep work that they do in communicating with you and the vendors before the wedding day.
If you truly just need someone to set out your decor, I would recommend you reach out to your florist, caterer, or venue, or maybe even any rental companies that you’re working with to see if they can add in staff members to help you with these items. Alternatively, you could see if there is an aspiring wedding planner that’s looking for experience and would be willing to be flexible with their offerings to help you with this.
Another thing that I want to point out, which we did get into in episode 14, talking about what wedding planner options there are out there, is what is the difference between a day of coordinator and an onsite event coordinator at your venue? While every venue is different, the most common way I can break this down is that your event coordinator is there to work for the venue, which means most likely your wedding is going to be a part of their work day, but not their entire focus of the workday. When you bring in an independent day of coordinator, their focus is going to be fully on your wedding. They’re also going to be able to help you with the details that fall outside of what’s happening at the venue.
So if you have multiple locations, whether it’s ceremony and reception in different spaces, or just other logistics that aren’t taking place at the venue, they’re going to be able to help with that. Again, make sure to check out episode 14, if you are in a situation where you’re not sure if you need to bring in somebody separate, or if you have help at your venue. I talk about that in much more detail over there.
Okay. So before we wrap up, let me share with you some questions that I would recommend you ask a day of coordinator before booking. Number one. Do they have experience at your venue? Number two, when will they begin working with you prior to the wedding? Number three, can you reach out to them? If you have questions or need things like vendor referrals before you have that detailed meeting?
Number four, how many hours are included on the day of the wedding? Number five, will they have an assistant with them? Number six, who will the planner be? Meaning will it be the person that you’re speaking with? Do they have a team that they would assign to you at a later date? Number seven is rehearsal coordination included?
If not, is there an extra cost to have them attend? And number eight, will they have an emergency kit with them? And there you have it. That is a little rundown on what is day of coordination and what will they be able to help you with on your wedding day. Are you planning on hiring somebody to help you with these tasks, whether they call it day of coordination, event management, or maybe months of coordination?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, head over to the wedding planning collective Facebook group and let me know. And if you found this podcast helpful, I would love it if you would give me a quick review. It would mean the world to me, and it would help other couples find the wedding planning tips they need.