The Myth and Mystique of the Day-Of Coordinator

For some engaged couples, the earlier parts of the planning process seem to come easily. The big choices, such as where to have the ceremony and reception and whether they want a band or a dj, seem simple. Their recently-married friends are full of recommendations as to who to hire for one vendor or another. And it’s all rolling smoothly along…until about 6 months out when those vendors start asking more detailed questions you’re not 100 percent sure how to answer. This is when the reality of how much work the day of a wedding is sets in for couples, and when they start thinking about choosing a day-of coordinator.

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But what does a day-of coordinator actually do? Contrary to what the name implies, it is NOT someone who just shows up on the day of your wedding and takes care of things. I like to compare someone who’s willing to do that to a substitute teacher. Usually, a substitute in a classroom will do one of two things: show a movie because there’s no lesson plan, or look over the lesson plan and ask the students themselves questions about it. A day-of coordinator is not a “substitute planner.” She should definitely not show a movie instead of having a wedding, and couples literally hire her so they don’t have to field questions from vendors on the day of their wedding. Why would they hire a person to ask them a bunch of questions?

Wedding coordinators should start working with couples at least a month before their wedding and become a part of the planning process. They work with the couple to understand exactly what the couple wants their wedding to be like. The coordinator works with the couple to develop a master timeline of the day that combines and adjusts all the different schedules the vendors have, and then makes sure every vendor understands exactly how things are going to work on the day of the wedding. Coordinators usually attend the rehearsal so they can remember all the instructions the officiant gives the wedding party and family.

On the day of the wedding, the coordinator is in charge of managing the whole day. She will answer questions from the couple, from family and the wedding party and the guests. She will ensure all the vendors have everything they need and all their questions get answered. She will make sure nothing is forgotten and that everything goes smoothly. But most important, she will make sure that the couple is able to relax and enjoy their wedding day. This peace of mind is what, more than anything else, couples are paying for when they hire a wedding coordinator.

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Which brings me to the next question many couples are confused about: How much should you pay for a wedding coordinator? In Chicago, the range can be wide, but depending on the scope of the service, couples should expect to pay between $1800 and $3000, on average.

I know. Couples tell me all the time that they saw online that it should only cost $500, $800 max. And in some parts of the country or in articles written 10 years ago, that might be true. But think for a moment about your own job. Would you do your job for a month for $500? A wedding coordinator is working for at least a month on a couple’s wedding, and it’s the only wedding they’ll do that day, or in most cases, that weekend. And that’s the gross cost; including all of the overhead and expensive. And while you might find a cheap coordinator out there, ask a lot of questions before you confuse a low price with a good value. The coordinator may be inexperienced, or may not be providing the scope of service the couple expects.

Want to learn more about An Urban Affair’s day-of coordination services? Go ahead and check out our Finishing Touch coordination package or email us at hello@anurbanaffair.com.