As I’m sure you all know, we are in the throes of wedding season, which means I am bus-y. I am coordinating weddings pretty much every weekend this summer and as I realize in these busy times, there are a lot of things wedding coordinators want to (and maybe should) tell our brides. But we don’t because some of it sounds kinda bitchy. In fact, I am hoping that this post doesn’t piss off any of my current or past brides who may see it. But the truth of the matter is, these are tips that can help brides have an awesome wedding, and thus, I have decided to share them with you. Hopefully, it will help! (And to any of my former or current brides reading this, I love you all!)
Whatever you do, do not lie to your wedding coordinator. Think of your coordinator like your doctor. Lying to her is only going to hurt you. I have had several weddings where brides fibbed about the scope of work that needed to be done in terms of set up. I’ve had brides tell me other vendors would be responsible for set up, only to have said vendors show up, drop off and leave. I make my plan for the day of your wedding based on the information you give me. If you give me incorrect or incomplete info, I can’t do my job to the best of my ability. Be honest about what is going to need to be done on the day of so that I can insure I have the tools/hands needed to make it happen.
Trust your vendors to do their jobs. It’s really hard for wedding pros (or any pros for that matter) to do our jobs when we are constantly being bombarded by family members or bridesmaids questioning whether or not we are going to do our jobs. All the time it takes for us to reassure those family members and bridesmaids is time taken away from us actually working on your wedding. One example: I was coordinating an outdoor wedding and the day before it had rained. The chairs at the ceremony site all needed to be wiped down. I saw this immediately upon arriving at the venue and promptly added it to my to do list. The mother of the groom–at three different times throughout the set up–asked me to clean the chairs. Each time, I assured her it would get done. Each time, I had to stop what I was doing, explain to Mom that it was on my list, and then return to my task at hand. I understand that in highly emotional times, people can get a little frenzied, but you gotta trust the pros to do what we’re being paid to do. And if, for whatever reason, you don’t trust a pro, don’t hire them. Period.
If I ask for something, it’s because I need it to do my job. I have been doing this for a while now (six years). I know exactly what I need in order to have a smooth wedding. I send a checklist to all my brides a month before the wedding with everything I need from them, including two specific forms that need to be filled out. I can’t tell you how many times I don’t get everything I asked for. I’m asking for these items to make sure your vision is fulfilled. If you don’t provide me with the info I need, I can’t do that.
Family members and bridal party members are rarely as helpful as they think. This might sound harsh, but for real, sending your entourage to “help” with set up usually does more harm than good. Things they can help with: unloading/loading boxes from cars, moving/setting up furniture…..that’s about it. I don’t need a groomsman to attempt to arrange the gift table, because chances are I’m going to have to go back and redo it later (however, I am always uber grateful for groomsmen who help with load out at the end of the night!). Set up goes much more smoothly when (usually) well-meaning helpers stay out of the way.
I can’t control the elements. I am lucky to live and work in Southern California, where over my six year career I have had one wedding rained out (as in, was planned for outdoors and had to be tented as there was no other option kind of rained out). Wind is typically the biggest weather issue we face in So Cal and it can mean knocked over centerpieces, flyaway place cards, and flipped up linens. Unfortunately, there is not much than can be done to combat the wind, so sometimes you just have to go with the flow (get it?) and accept the weather for what it is and whatever limitations it may cause.
Please don’t tip everyone but me. It sucks. As most wedding vendors will tell you, I don’t really expect tips. I would say that at least half, probably more, of my couples do tip, which is amazing and I am grateful every time. However, more than once I have handed out a tip to every other vendor–DJ, photographer, bartenders–only to be the only vendor (the first to arrive and the last to leave vendor) not to receive a tip. You don’t have to tip, but if you do, don’t exclude just one person (especially not the person handing out the tips to everyone else).
Speaking of tips….I can’t tell you how many times I have had to hand over an envelope of cash to a vendor who didn’t deserve it. Part of my job is to make sure you, my couple, think the day runs seamlessly, but many times behind the scenes things aren’t so pretty. I’ve had vendors show up hours late. I’ve had vendors drunk on the job. I’ve had vendors treat me, other vendors, and venue staff like shit. And unless something really terrible happens, I’m not going to tell you about it. Ever. Not even after the wedding. I would never want to ruin your image of your perfect day by telling you the gritty details of what happened out of sight of you and your guests. My suggestion: tell your day of coordinator to award tips at her discretion. Then appoint a friend or family member to collect any unawarded tips at the end of the night. That way your friends/family can give you your money back at a later date without ruining your wedding high, and only vendors who have earned a tip receive one.
If you aren’t going to be organized, you don’t get to be picky. 90% of the weddings I work are solely day of. While any coordinator out there would tell you “day of” doesn’t just mean on your wedding day, it does mean that I am not a part of your planning or your conversations with other vendors along the way. If you are not organized with your instructions for me, or your actual stuff (think guest book, centerpieces, place cards, etc.) is not organized, then you don’t get to be picky about how things look. My general motto: You can give me thorough instructions and I will set up your wedding exactly how you want me to, or you can give me no instructions and I will set up your wedding how I want to. Honestly, both of those options are fine (I actually enjoy having control of the decor as that is the fun part of my job). What you can’t expect to be is unorganized in your preparation and super picky about how things turn out.
Prep your stuff. Again, this pertains mainly to couples hiring day of coordinators. I am seeing your decor for the first time on the day of the wedding. When I open the boxes to set up your stuff, said stuff should be ready to go. That means tags cut off, stickers removed, items unwrapped from individual plastic wrapping, etc. Also, ALPHABETIZE YOUR PLACE CARDS. It can take an hour of set up time for a large wedding guest list to alphabetize all of those place cards. I don’t plan for that, so when it happens, it puts me way behind schedule.
If you choose not take my advice, don’t get mad at me if it doesn’t work out. I will answer any questions my brides have about planning and I give my opinion freely (when asked). They are then free to decide whether or not they want to take my advice. Honestly, I don’t even get mad when my advice is not taken. It’s your wedding, do what you want. What I am not cool with is being blamed for something that happens when I advised against the situation in the first place. One example: I always recommend that place cards and/or seating charts be set up in the cocktail hour area. That way guests have the whole hour to find their seats and there is no back up when people move from cocktail hour space to reception space. Many brides want to put place cards and seating charts right at the entrance to the reception space. If that’s what they want, then that’s what I do. But then don’t get snippy with me when there’s a line of a hundred people waiting to find their names, thus pushing back our schedule and making everything else run late. And yes, in those instances, I am saying I told you so in my head.
Get everything in writing. If you have a conversation with a vendor and they tell you they will do something extra or something not in your contract, get it in writing. And then send it to your coordinator. As vendors, we have a lot of conversations with a lot of couples, and if we promise to do something out of our normal pattern, we might forget. If I have it in writing, it is much easier to make sure you get everything you were promised.
Realize that at the end of the day, if you are married, you had a successful wedding. This is my number one motto when it comes to weddings. We often forget what the day is really about. Yes, you’re spending thousands of dollars on this party, but the most important thing you are doing on your wedding day is getting MARRIED. If that happens, then you had a good wedding. Maybe things went wrong along the way and the flowers wilted and the place cards blew over and everything was an hour later than it was supposed to be. In the grand scheme of life, none of that matters. If you find yourself freaking or stressing out on the day of, think about the real reason you are there. And let your coordinator take care of the rest ;o)
In Southern California and looking for a kickass wedding coordinator? Please check out my website and send me an email! I’d love to work with you!