Many brides compare planning a wedding to be like a full-time job. There’s just so much that goes into planning such an event, regardless of whether you’re planning a small, intimate backyard affair or a large, ornate ballroom soiree. Organizing a celebration of your love with your closest friends and family members requires a great amount of research, time, effort and attention to detail. Wedding planners and day of coordinators work in tandem to create the ultimate wedding day experience for you. But what’s the difference between the two? Do you need both? We’re here to help you decide whether or not you should hire a wedding planner, a day of coordinator or both.
What Does A Wedding Planner Do?
A wedding planner is someone who plans your wedding from start to finish. She’s there by your side from the beginning to help guide you through the wedding planning process. She outlines a feasible timeline, helps decide and manage your budget, provides vendor referrals and negotiates contracts, schedules and attends all vendor meetings with you, coordinates travel and hotel arrangements, manages the rehearsal, comes up with design ideas to fit your theme and oversees everything on the wedding day to make sure things go smoothly. Wedding planners typically spend anywhere from 80 to 250 hours planning your big day.
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What Does A Day Of Coordinator Do?
A day of coordinator (DOC) starts working with you about four to eight weeks before your wedding day. Her role is to check in with your vendors to review signed contracts and confirm details, creates detailed timelines, itineraries and floor plans, does a final walkthrough of both the ceremony and reception venues, manages the rehearsal, handles any details that were forgotten about and oversees everything on the wedding day. Day of coordinators typically spend about 25 hours working on your wedding before the big day.
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Should I Hire A Wedding Planner?
In general, hiring a wedding planner is a good idea if you have very little of your own time that you can devote to planning your wedding. A wedding planner is a professional who knows the ins and outs of the wedding industry and will know what needs to happen in order to make your dream wedding become a reality. If you know that you aren’t the most organized person, or you have literally no idea where to start when it comes to planning your big day, consulting a wedding planner may be a good idea for you. You will have the support and advice of someone who has tons of experience with the wedding industry and will be able to guide you through the process step by step.
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Even if you have a good idea of what you want your wedding to be like, you may want to hire a wedding planner if you are having a destination wedding or your wedding will take in an untraditional place (not a hotel, restaurant or banquet hall). Your wedding planner will be able to coordinate travel and hotel arrangements and make sure all of the contracts and vendors for your event adhere to the laws and rules of the place in which you’re tying the knot.
A wedding planner will create a feasible timeline and stay within your budget. She will handle everything including choosing a venue, caterer, florist, photographer, DJ, bakery and more, such as picking invitations, handling furniture rentals and everything else in between. Depending on how much of your own time and effort you are willing to dedicate, your wedding planner can be involved as much or as little as you’d like.
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Keep in mind that whatever your total wedding budget is, you’ll need to spend around 10-15% of it on a wedding planner. Ask yourself these questions before hiring a wedding planner. If you answer yes more than no, then a wedding planner may be a good fit for you.
- Do you have less than 5 hours a week to devote to wedding planning?
- Do you have very little knowledge of what planning a wedding entails?
- Is your engagement very short, leaving you a small timeframe in which to plan your wedding?
- Are you planning on having a destination wedding, or having your wedding in a unique place (not a hotel, restaurant or banquet hall)?
- Do you have a lot of people weighing in on what they think your wedding should be like and need someone to help you say no?
- Are you unable to envision what you want your wedding to be like?
- Do you feel you need a professional to guide you with their advice and expertise?
Should I Hire A Day Of Coordinator?
While a wedding planner is your consultant from the very beginning and constructs a timeline for the overall planning process, a day of coordinator steps in just a few weeks beforehand and constructs a timeline for the actual wedding day. She’ll be the point of contact for all vendors, confirm logistics, review contracts, run the rehearsal, make sure everything goes according to plan on the wedding day and pack everything up afterwards.
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A day of coordinator is a good idea if you feel comfortable planning the bigger aspects of your wedding, such as choosing the venue and hiring a wedding photographer, but you want the support of someone in the final weeks leading up to the big day to make sure things go smoothly and help alleviate some of the stress you’ll be feeling. If you have already begun planning your dream wedding, but have realized that you need someone with the knowledge and knowhow to see everything through, a day of coordinator is the right person for you.
Note that some venues provide an onsite coordinator to help things run smoothly on your wedding day. If your venue does provide an onsite coordinator, find out exactly what this person will be in charge of and think about whether or not you need someone to take care of more than that. If so, you still may want to hire a day of coordinator.
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Day of coordinators, because they enter the planning process later and spend less time overall, are less expensive than full service wedding planners. Depending on the amount of involvement you’d like and the region you live in, day of coordinators can cost about 5-10% of your total budget. When considering hiring a day of coordinator, ask yourself these questions. If you answer yes more than no, a day of coordinator may be the right fit for you.
- Do you want to be active in your wedding planning process, but have someone there to review your work and take care of any last minute details?
- Are you able to allocate some of your budget to a planner, but not 10-15% of it?
- Would you like to have someone direct the rehearsal and the actual wedding day?
- Would you like to have peace of mind knowing that if something does go wrong, someone else will take care of it?
- Do you feel you need a professional to guide you with their advice and expertise?
Should I Hire Both?
As you may have noticed, the responsibilities of a wedding planner and a day of coordinator overlap quite a bit. The primary difference is that a wedding planner is there from the very beginning, while a day of coordinator steps in just a few weeks beforehand. Most full service wedding planners also take on the role of a day of coordinator, and therefore if you are going to hire a wedding planner then you most likely will not also need a day of coordinator.
Remember that while your venue may provide their own onsite coordinator, you still may want to hire your own third party planner or coordinator. The venue coordinator’s job includes things related to the venue, such as suggesting floor plans, working with the caterer, knowing where to place the DJ, finalizing tastings and menus, etc. Aside from things related to the venue, they likely won’t help with much else.
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A wedding planner or day of coordinator will work with all of your vendors to make sure they fulfill their contractual obligations and smooth over any road bumps that may occur on your wedding day. They’ll be there to help set up, make sure all the décor looks great, remind you and the photographer when it’s time to cut the cake, ensure the DJ has the correct songs queued, pack up your gifts and settle vendor bills and tips. When researching wedding planners and day of coordinators for your special day, see what kinds of packages are offered to determine what you need. Your wedding planner or day of coordinator will be there to make your dream wedding come true.