"Oh you're a PLANNER! I'd love to do that, do you go to cake tastings and own a warehouse full of napkins and have couples calling you at all hours of the day then?"
I'd hazard a guess that around 95% of my starting conversations about being a wedding planner open with this... but I'm not judging; wedding planning looks a WHOLE lot different in 2019 than it did even 10 years ago, and the age of the On-the-Day Coordinator is upon us!
But, what exactly IS an OTD Coordinator, and why on earth should you be parting with your hard-earned for one? Allow me to explain...
First up, 'On-the-Day' shouldn't be taken too literally, and if you ever do stumble upon a planner claiming they can just rock up: run. Instead it's an easy way to say that you'll have a pro on-hand for anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 months in the lead up to your celebration; during that time it'll give them a chance to get to know your suppliers, give you some essential guidance on timeline snags (see my recent post here on that can of worms!) as well as beginning to compile some form of working document which can include vendor details, timings, access information and beyond. It's the sweet spot between having a planner involved full-time, from much further out (useful if you have zero time and lots more to spend) or deciding you and/or an enthusiastic wedding party member will manage running the day yourselves (useful if you want to give yourself/ said enthusiastic helper an aneurysm).
Once they've helped you navigate the build-up, an OTD Coordinator is then (one would hope) there for the day itself! Services can be flexible; with some offering set-up right on through to take down whilst others offer their time for set 'chunks' of time during the day; below I've outlined a couple of the main offerings you'll come across:
Set-up/ Venue Dressing: Pretty much does what it says on the tin, some coordinators will offer this as a single service, being on-hand for morning deliveries, rigging, table laying and general decor. This is normally really handy if you have a big space to decorate and the venue will only let you in on the day itself to do everything! Having a planner on-site for set up is one of the most overlooked elements by couples; often there are lots of people offering their services to lend a hand (which is great) but at every wedding I've set up so far, the helpers are always relieved to have someone with a strategy, realistic expectations on timings and a kit full of handy tools to get everything up and out on time.
Management/ Coordination of the day: The main event, from ceremony to evening reception (some go longer if you need them) your planner should be there to keep things ticking over; one of the main questions I get asked is how I keep things running on time. Honestly? I don't. Weddings NEVER run perfectly to an up-to-the-minute schedule, but a solid gold Coordinator *ahem* will know where and how to make up time if things run over, smooth over any changes and keep all of your suppliers in the loop so neither you, nor your guests, will even notice. On the subject of guests, another key role for a Coordinator is to be a helpful point of contact for anyone in need on the day, from microphones for speeches right on through to safety pins for broken bra straps (true story), they'll be the eyes and ears of the day to help out whenever needed.
Take Down: The benefits are much the same as the Set-up services, except now all of your willing helpers have drunk their fill of wine and sambuca shots and so are doubly as enthusiastic (unless already in a taxi) but sadly, to put it bluntly, half as capable. Enter: The Coordinator, who should be able to work alongside your caterer/ any other suppliers still on-site to get everything cleared away, thrown out or boxed up ready for collection the next day. Again, this is incredibly helpful if you have a short turn-around time with your venue but also means you don't have to traipse around with a litter picker the day after, when you should be recovering from all the fun!
Last, but definitely not least, is something I always tell my couples and something they'll always attest to afterwards: An OTD Coordinator should be your very own 'Stress Sponge', there to soak up any worries and ensure you can relax. One of the things I love the most about my job is knowing that I can deflect a huge amount of pressure and unnecessary hassle away from my clients; small issues that may arise during the day can be dealt with discreetly, all of the suppliers on-site have someone to give them a hand (and make sure they get fed - another essential!) plus there's a constant from start to finish, someone who's friendly, quick-thinking and 100% on it.
Need a little more convincing? You're not alone, but I think one of my recent brides, Christina, summed it up pretty perfectly in her testimonial: "While Kate was our day-of coordinator, she supported us from the first time we spoke to her... We were both quite surprised with how much value she added to our wedding well in advance. My husband was skeptical about the need for a wedding coordinator. His view now is that Kate was the best money we spent on the wedding."
Congratulations! You are now fully swotted up in the world of OTD Coordination, now you can go forth and conquer your planning, with a little help from a pro when the time is right.
Want to find out more about how we do things at JTB? Click here to see how I run my OTD Coordination service.
Love, Kate x