4 reasons “day of” coordination does not actually exist

Looking for someone to come in the day before (or even day of your wedding) to oversee a year or more of your best laid plans? That person will not be able to execute anything you’ve planned in the way you think they should. Here’s why:

1. There is no such thing as an ability to show up just on the day of and be able to understand all the nuances and intricacies of what you have planned yourself.

This myth is perhaps the greatest misconception among brides as to the scope of work involved in making an event of such scale happen flawlessly. Typically clients looking to go this route are hoping to save valuable dollars by cutting out costs on the front end. However, what this ultimately does is eliminate a critical player in the management of the day: your professional labor force. We have received inquiries in the past from potential clients looking for “someone ‘just’ to come set up a ‘few’ centerpiece arrangements that Aunt Sally made because we didn’t want to pay a professional florist’s delivery and set-up fees.” The point is, someone still has to set this up the way you expect it to look, and at the end of the night, someone has to pack it back up and return it to you. Hiring a “day of” coordinator “just” to set up your DIY projects is not a feasible solution for this, and the reality is clients need much more support that set-up and tear-down. Your coordinator should be occupied with keeping you on schedule and overseeing the flow of events, not getting distracted with assembling ambitious DIY projects and setting up your tables and chairs.

2. “Free” labor does not exist. You get what you pay for.

Sure, you will always be able to find someone who says they can pull it off for $500 (or even free). But buyer beware: managing all the details of an event day and seeing them to fruition and on time is no easy feat! Those coordinators claiming they can do all of the important things you absolutely need taken care of on the biggest day of your life for a price that is too good to be true are likely underprepared to be able to deliver a quality service. Don’t skimp on your event manager, because this is the one person that can make (or break) your wedding day. Invest in experience and quality, not the cheapest person you interview. In our experience, the value of a quality event manager falls somewhere between $2500-$3500 (depending on the exact logistics of your day). We have never had a client regret booking an event manager, but we have heard horror stories of friends and colleagues who did not make investing in this aspect a priority and lived to regret it.

3. You don’t know what you don’t know.

We know that you are an intelligent, capable professional who is great at decision-making and developing a plan. However, at some point you will have to turn over the reins to someone so that you can take your place in the starring role. We also know that letting go is hard (trust me, we are very type-A over here). There is no replacement for having a non-emotionally involved third party take charge of your big day!

Having an expert by your side for consulting services throughout your planning process is an invaluable tool in your belt to ensure that you don’t make costly mistakes, and avoid committing to inefficient scenarios. From transportation snafus, late cake deliveries, and the whims of mother nature, your event manager has seen it all! We can help you prepare by answering your logistical questions along the way and point you in the right direction with your vendors so that you are set up for success long before the big day arrives. We know what choices lead to incredible disasters on the day of, and we have ideal solutions to make sure these things don’t happen. What might take you weeks (if not months) of research on your own to uncover a solution for your planning quandaries can take your event manager five minutes or less to resolve for you when planning ahead. Hiring an event manager for the length of your planning process will save you time, energy, and definitely dollars at the end of the day.

4. Your lack of preparation is not your coordinator’s emergency.

Think hiring a coordinator 30 days out from your big day means they will plan everything you procrastinated at the last minute? Think again! One month out from your date leaves very little time to reserve necessary resources to ensure your big day will be a success. Inventories are already committed to other events, service providers have had their calendars booked for months, and your resources are very limited. Your coordinator, though skilled and talented, will not be able to book hotel blocks, find your florist, book an available cake baker, or recommend a resource for 250 chairs for your seated dinner on such short notice. Avoid falling into the trap of thinking that anything you do not plan on your own will be planned by your coordinator in the final month of your engagement, especially during busy season. It is never too early to make final decisions and secure vendors you need. Your coordinator will be able to execute your plans but only if you have stayed on top of your planning calendar and secured your vendors well in advance.

WHAT YOU ARE REALLY LOOKING FOR INSTEAD OF A “DAY OF” COORDINATOR:

A “month of” coordinator is an imperfect solution in response to the “day of” coordinator mythology. Typically, a “month of” coordinator helps out in the last 30-45 days leading up to your event, with very little (if any) communication with the client during the planning process up to that month-out threshold from the event date. The reason this is an imperfect solution is that really any restriction or time limitation on a coordinator’s involvement in what amounts to be a tremendous milestone in your life is insufficient to meeting both client expectations and real-life needs. You see, planning an event of this scale on your own is one thing, then handing it over to a professional on a short turn-around leaves very little leverage for anyone involved to correct mistakes or solve problems that might have otherwise been planned more efficiently, more cost effectively, and seamlessly earlier on when there was more time to research and develop an appropriate plan.

I regret that the terminology of “month of” coordination has become so popular as an alternative to “day of” over the years, because the harsh reality is that “month of coordination” really isn’t a realistic approach either. Have you noticed that seasoned planners who have been in the business for several years and have grown successful offer “month of” services less and less? The frustrations from the planner’s perspective are too great to risk the amount of work involved in correcting issues that could have easily been avoided early on. I have to say, the planning community has really brought this frustration on itself, because the fact is that the “month of” is an arbitrary time limitation self-imposed by a group of well-meaning professionals who know better. Let’s be honest: there is very little difference in what a coordinator is able to accomplish one month out from an event vs. the week of or day of. It’s still not enough time. Clients deserve a more thoughtful and thorough process with their coordinator in order to have a mastery of all the ins and outs of the event day. Successful coordinators simply can’t do that on a short time frame. And frankly, you deserve an actual relationship founded in trust with the person in charge of every aspect of managing your big day, which can only be developed over time.

The appropriate term of art is an event manager. There is no time limit notation here worthy of mention, because whether you decide to hire an event manager a month out or a year out, you deserve access to a tried-and-true professional in the business who can advise you wherever you find yourself in the planning process. An event manager should be by your side from the moment you sign a contract and retainer to help you make cost effective, efficient decisions as you plan your event on your own. Make no mistake, though - this individual is not here to plan your event for you at a reduced price. The lion’s share of the planning is still in your court, but enhanced by having access to a professional to answer logistical questions and refer you to professional vendors that are a good fit for your needs.

In this business, we have seen it all. We know what works and what doesn’t, who among your vendors is good and who is great. Yet we also respect the fact that there are plenty of clients who are capable of planning an event on their own, with a little guidance from a knowledgeable resource. That’s why an event manager is the perfect solution for your needs. Our sister company, Ruby and Pearl Events, has focused on event management as a service to clients both local and abroad who value the advice of a seasoned professional to point them in the right direction throughout planning. In the long run, our clients have saved money and avoided mishaps on the day of an event because their event manager has served as an invaluable support system from the beginning.

I’m grateful that the industry is starting to see “day of” and “month of” terminology shift toward “wedding management” and “event management,” which is truly a more accurate description of what clients need and the service coordinators provide. And we wholeheartedly believe that every single event deserves a non-emotionally involved third party to oversee the run-of-show and manage the countless logistics on the day of. We are happy to finally see the right term of art come rise to the surface. You should be a guest at your own event, and look good as the host. Let an event manager take the reins on the rest. At Ruby and Pearl Events, that is certainly our specialty and our pleasure. Trust us, you won’t regret investing in a high-quality and experienced event producer. Peace of mind on the big day is priceless!