Although wedding planners are often involved throughout the entire duration of the wedding planning process, Kim Williams of K.I.S.S. Weddings has found that her “on the day” consultation services are increasingly in demand.
It’s a title, though, that Kim points out is somewhat misleading. “Usually the on-the-day coordinator does not step in at the very last minute. Instead, they’re generally called in at least a few weeks before the day to meet with the couple.”
In the meeting, the planner will discuss with the couple everything that has already been arranged, and will take down a list of suppliers whom they’ll then contact in order to confirm and clarify any arrangements. Once this has been done, the planner then consolidates all of the details into a formal Wedding Day Schedule that is then distributed to the couple and all the suppliers.
It’s a job that’s undertaken with something akin to military regimentation, but Kim asserts that nothing less will do–particularly when couples are juggling myriad vendors and schedules in what’s often not a highly coordinated manner.
“Anyone can google a florist, photographer, or venue, but what seems to couples is how to coordinate them,” says Kim. “Most of the time when I contact a supplier, all they’ve been told is the date of the wedding and very little else, which means that there are plenty of blanks to fill in.”
Kim says that it’s the role of the on-the-day coordinator to make sense of all of this–leaving the couple to enjoy their day. “Most couples, and brides in particular, don’t want the stress of managing these issues, so having a planner who can deal with any problems that may arise can be a huge help.”
And Kim has the testimonials to back up her words. “Every bride I’ve worked with has told me how relieved they were to see me when they arrived at the ceremony. It helps instill that little bit of confidence that nothing will go wrong. A good wedding coordinator is organised, experienced, and unflappable person–and someone the couple feels comfortable with.”
So what does an on-the-day wedding coordinator oversee? According to Kim, the following tasks are the norm:
-Picking up overnight bags from the couple and checking them into their hotel for their honeymoon night
-Calling the limo drivers on the way to the ceremony to confirm their arrival time
-Making final payments to suppliers (although this is preferably done before the day)
-Arriving early at the ceremony site to ensure the set-up is per the couple’s instructions
-Liaising with photographers, musicians and the celebrant before the ceremony
-Calming the couple
-Making sure the best man has the rings
-Making sure the bridal party enters correctly
-Helping the bride with her train
-Checking the reception venue set-up
-Liaising with the venue coordinator, MC, DJ etc so that everything runs smoothly and to time
Kim says that anyone with a perfectionist mentality should opt for a day-of wedding coordinator: “It is such a special day and everyone should be able to enjoy it without worrying about anything going wrong.”
Smaller events or events without venue changes or elaborate lists of suppliers may not require such services, says Kim, although in such cases organisation is skill key. “You can forego a coordinator if you’re totally organised and have family or friends who are willing to take on all of the tasks, or perhaps if the ceremony and reception are to be held at the same venue ,” she says.
Kim suggests that even those who have been liaising with a venue coordinator can’t rest on their laurels: “the venue representative the couple has been working with is rarely the same person who attends the event. The in-house coordinator generally does not liaise with all of the outside suppliers, either.”
Kim tells us that she’s read literature that suggests that around 70% of newly married women say that if they were to do it all again they would use a wedding planner, which causes us to wonder what the differences are between an on-the-day coordinator and a wedding planner who helps see through the entire process.
“Working with a planner throughout the whole wedding coordination ensures continuity for the wedding, and ensures that there is someone there to make certain that the couple’s vision is there. Being a couple’s best friend, confidante and sounding-board for six months can be a very personal and bonding experience,” she says.
In contrast, the on-the-day coordination experience generally involves a more business-like approach. “The planner has probably only met the couple once or twice and has had little or no input into the day,” says Kim. “The efficient running of the day is the main focus in this situation, and the planner is striving to gain all the required information from the couple and the suppliers.”
Kim notes that there are obviously pricing differences involved, but that it’s generally easier for her to provide a quote for on-the-day services given that there are a set number of hours for the day, as opposed to an ongoing project-based planning process.
“All of my fees are worked out on an hourly basis – a sliding scale depending on the number of hours. It is quite difficult to know exactly how much time you will spend over six months or more, and usually it ends up being more than quoted. But I always stick to my quote unless the couple have asked for something extra that will take more time.”
Kim tells us that it’s essential that a wedding planner ask as many questions as possible about the day: ”one of the downfalls of on-the-day planning can be not knowing each and every detail the bride has arranged,” she says.
Kim speaks from experience, recalling an amusing anecdote from a wedding she attended in Bowral.
“Everything had to be brought in to the venue,” says Kim. “The bride was very organised and I had lists and run sheets for every element of the day. The flowers arrived from Sydney–the bride and I saw them arrive and ticked them off on our lists. But about half an hour later the venue coordinator called to ask about the vases, as none had been delivered with the flowers. As I had not made any of the bookings with the suppliers, I had only touched base to confirm the day and delivery details; I wasn’t aware of any further details regarding the flowers.”
Not wanting to put the bride under any stress, Kim first spoke to the bride’s mother, but upon finding that she also knew nothing about the vases, had to speak to the bride. “She said that she had ordered vases, but the florist denied this and there was no way anyone in Bowral was going to be able to help us with 15 vases!”
Fortunately, the groom came to the rescue. “He was arriving from Sydney by helicopter, so he picked up the vases on the way to the airport and arrived with them safely in tow.”