27th February 2013 . Utterly Wow

Utterly Wow: On The Day Coordination

Howdy folks.

I’m trying something new today and kicking off a little series focussing on Utterly Wow; the  wedding planning and styling business I’m ferreting away on behind the scenes and shall be launching in the next month or two.  Over the coming weeks I want to share with you the range of services I will be providing, along with other business-related posts such as how I came up with a name, getting my first clients etc etc. Not to educate (erm… as I’m still learning myself) but because I thought it might just be of interest- not only for those who may be considering using a wedding planner, but also those in the process of setting up (or thinking of setting up) a small business themselves, and not forgetting those who are quite simply enjoying following my career-building utterings.

I’ve chosen to start with the most commonly used/needed/afforded service a wedding planner can provide- On The Day Coordination. And this post couldn’t be timelier- as on Friday I shall be hot-footing it down to a fort on the Cornish coast where I shall be coordinating my first professional wedding ‘gig’. Exciting times!


So what does this ‘on-the-day coordination’ lark involve then?

Well, it’s a service that does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. I’m there to ‘coordinate’ or ‘manage’ the wedding day as it unfolds, which isn’t actually as dramatic as it sounds. I do have a clipboard and a Wedding Kit (for the all-important schedule, contact sheet of numbers, potential emergencies etc), but much to my friends’ disappointment I won’t have a headset or be crying ‘Release the doves!’ à la Franck from Father of the Bride. (Although, erm, if there were an actual dove release I probably would have to do that.)

Instead, the role of wedding coordinator can be likened to that of a Stage Manager- a subtle but essential backstage role that involves giving actors and technicians their cues, managing scene transitions and set changes, liaising between cast and production and ensuring everything runs to time.  And if metaphors ain’t your thang, in the wedding world that would translate to cueing the friend-turned-MC to announce the speeches or the caterers to begin serving, managing the room changes (if turning ‘ceremony space’ in to ‘reception space’ for example), liaising between the bride and groom and their suppliers, and, erm, ensuring everything runs to time. To name but a few of the many things a wedding coordinator is responsible for.

Of course, the working hours of a day-of-coordinator aren’t confined to just the wedding day itself. Like any event, preparation is key, and a good deal of pre-planning, advising, scheduling and liaising will take place in the weeks leading up to the wedding.  And in the months before (if you were to book me in advance) I’m here for a sound-off or an update or just a wedding-related chat. I know that the brides I’m currently working with are grateful to have an un-biased and entirely interested ear to talk weddings with. Because let’s face it, our friends, family and partner can only take so much 😉

But who actually needs an ‘On The Day Coordinator’?

What? You mean you’re not already sold? Well, like a play needs a Stage Manager, every wedding will benefit from having someone backstage running the show. But IMHO, the weddings that need a day-of coordinator are those taking place at a blank canvas venue (barn, warehouse, marquee in the garden etc) or those that require a large amount of styling and production.

You may have planned your wedding day to perfection and loved every minute of it, but who is actually going to light all the reception candles whilst you’re off being photographed, or replace them when they’ve burned out? Or greet the band when they arrive during dinner and show them where they need to go? Or pay the DJ? Or call the marquee company when the generator goes? Or cue the dove release?? I jest, but in order for you and your partner and your Mum and everyone else involved to be able to relax and enjoy the day as you all so deserve, a wedding coordinator is a necessity, not a luxury or an extravagance as some people (I’m talking to you, grooms!) may think.

And hey, even I’ve got one! My lovely friend and fellow UKAWP-trained planner, Laura, will be coordinating for me in May. I don’t want to be running around like a mad woman the morning of my wedding. I want to be supping Bucks Fizz and getting pampered with my bridesmaids, and enjoying the beautiful and calming surroundings of the lovely B&B I’m paying a fortune for. It will be up to Laura to hang ribbons in the trees and ensure the tables are set just as I want them and greet guests as they arrive and have a panic attack if the caterers don’t show up. Me? I’ll be luxuriating. Or trying to anyway.

So how do I choose a Wedding Coordinator?

Well, I can’t tell you that.  You may hear a recommendation, or really like someone’s website, or go for the cheapest (not necessarily recommended!) or just ‘get a feeling’. My beautiful Cornish bride, Jenny, contacted me after reading this blog post back in November. Whereas one of my lovely July brides got in touch way back in May last year after stumbling across my blog and realising she had a ‘wedding twin’.  Both ladies are taking a leap in going for someone not yet officially launched and with no ‘portfolio’ as such to share, but they’ve obviously seen something in me which they feel they can trust. Which is the most important thing.  And a pretty awesome thing at that.

On The Day Coordinators will typically charge anything from £250 up to £800 depending on the workload required and perhaps their name and reputation.  Whatever the price you want to pay, I know that having a dedicated and passionate wedding coordinator is worth his or her weight in gold, and paying someone to ensure your day runs smoothly is not something to be scoffed at or begrudge. But hey, I am one, so I would say that, wouldn’t I? 😉

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.

So that’s the first service Utterly Wow Wedding Planning & Design will be providing in a nutshell. Over to you now! Would you consider using a coordinator? Are you using a coordinator? Or perhaps if your wedding has been and gone, would you hire a coordinator if you could do it all again?? I’m very interested to hear from you as I make the final preparations for my trip to Cornwall in a few days time…

Wish me luck!

Sama xxx


Sama x

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8 Responses to “Utterly Wow: On The Day Coordination”

  1. Stef

    Great post! Really clear and well written. You have me convinced!
    My venue however is a wedding venue business machine so they are concerned about their reputation and by reference you day – it must be better than your greatest expectations. They do this by only allowing you to chose caterers out of a list of 4 (I mean they don’t want the reputation of supplying bad food when in fact they have no control over the food).
    But also the staff work as your on the day coordinator, setting up the tables and decorations for you, liaising with everyone and doing all the stuff you have described (and I should blooming well think so with the price).
    Having met the lovely Jane I trust her to make my day awesome at all cost, it is that trust, gut feeling that is so important as it allows you to relax and luxuriate on the day with out a care in the world knowing all is in control…someone else is dealing with the s**t.

    • theutterblog

      Ahh, thanks Stef! And you speak very wise words too. If your venue already has a super-dooper coordinator, hiring someone just to coordinate isn’t really necessary (although a full planner is another story!). It’s aaaaall about luxuriating and being able to let someone else deal with the s**t xx

  2. Jane

    One of the things that I am stressing about most is the set up on the actual day of the wedding, in fact it’s given me all of the wedding dreams/nightmares that I have had so far…!

    My friend who I was hoping to ‘use’ after I did her wedding flowers a couple of years ago, has selfishly got pregnant and will be due to pop pretty much in August –dam her!!

    Also I don’t really want to rely on family members as the venue is not really close to anyone and I want them to relax and enjoy the day too without having to man handle a wish tree/several birdcages/flowers/cake/candles etc
    We can only set up from 11am on the morning of the wedding and the ceremony is at 2pm, so we don’t really have long to sort everything out!
    (I did consider doing it myself, but even for a DIY bride like myself, I think that would be one step too far!)

    The venue themselves sound like they are pretty good regarding the running of the day from when we arrive, but it’s the set up that’s the stress!!

    I have looked at hiring someone, but I have to be honest they all sound quite expensive for what I actually need and like many brides, the budget is tight!!

    O gosh, I didn’t mean this to be such a long ranting post –sorry –but I have successfully raised my blood pressure and almost started grinding my teeth!!

    • theutterblog

      Hey Jane, where is your wedding? I completely understand about the stress- I’m lucky in that we get the keys to my venue for a week, so lots of time to set up, but it must be terrifying when you only have a few hours the morning of! Maybe have a proper chat with someone there about how much they can help with the set-up?
      Otherwise it’s all about finding a planner/coordinator close to the venue and approaching them about putting a ‘package’ together for you that is only for those first few hours of setting up. As long as it’s not too far to travel I’m sure there would be someone willing to help for a lower cost than if they were needed the whole day! xx

      • Jane

        Yes I think I need to actually call some companies to see if they can offer me something a little more bespoke, as so far have just gone off what I can see on their websites, although another part of me just thinks maybe I could try and convince someone I know to do it for a few quid….!?

        I’m getting married in Knutsford, Cheshire —you don’t fancy a trip ‘Ooop North’ do you?!

  3. Amanda

    As someone talking from the other side (I got married 2 and a half years ago) I can only agree that day coordination is important. We had a very detailed schedule of how our day had to go, and a dear cousin agreed to act as an MC/ coordinator…. In the end of course he was also a guest and he kind of started enjoying himself (which is what we wanted ) and unexpected things happened (the speeches which were a surprise, took longer than expected and they had not been scheduled, the multimedia presentation (also a surprise) had trouble starting on the projector and a few of our engineer friends had to sort it out… all of this resulted in our first dance being our last dance and the “dance party” for which we had prepared a playlist did not really happen because with all this surprises and delays we ran out of time… it was a day reception that had to end around 18h30). Of course it did not matter, I was floating in a cloud of joy and I loved our wedding, but, but, I did learn that organization and spreadsheets and a stage manager are key to set this times and to take necessary decisions when things happen.

    Later when my sister got married I used all this experience to stage manage her special day, together with a person at the venue who was actually in charge of this, and with the DJ, and it went well, but it was stressful and for the first part of the wedding (mostly during the pre/preparations and ceremony when I was the main responsible person and I did not have extra “hired” help, it was hard to concentrate on the actual event because I was busy and focussed on not forgetting anything). Of course I did it happily and I was glad to be able to help. But I think, from my previous experiences, if you can afford it a day coordinator who is external is a great investment to everyone’s mental health and to the smoothness of your day. Otherwise, I am sure you can find a friend or family member who will lovingly do it for you, I would do it in a heartbeat, but coordination / stage management are important.


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