Why You Don’t Need a Day of Wedding Planner
Written by Lindsay Ropella
You may not know this, but I do a bit of wedding planning and consulting on the side. I love doing this because it’s a great mix of two of (what I consider to be) my greatest skills – creativity and organization. Because of this role I have, I am often asked by people if I recommend hiring a day-of wedding planner. If you aren’t familiar, a day-of wedding planner is usually responsible for things like coordinating vendor deliveries the morning of the wedding, keeping everyone on schedule during the ceremony and reception, heading off any major disasters, paying vendors at the end of the evening, etc. Many brides (and bride’s mothers) think they need a wedding planner there the day of the wedding to take care of these tasks for them.
So, I bet your wondering what my answer to this question is, right? Well, the answer I typically give brides is no, you do not need to hire a day-of wedding planner.
Now, obviously it’s not that black and white – there are a few instances where I would, in fact, recommend having a wedding planner there the day of the wedding. Brides that are having a large wedding (I’d say over 400 invited guests or so) may want to consider having someone there the day of to corral the herd. Also, weddings that are held in big cities (just because of how much is going on not only with the wedding, but the location itself) may also want to consider hiring a wedding planner. I also think a couple that is having their wedding at a unique location may want to consider hiring some extra help, since the typical help you receive from a church, hotel, or reception hall would not be available.
Also, keep in mind that if you have hired a wedding planner to help you throughout the entire wedding planning process, he or she will often be present on your wedding day (if it’s a part of your package). And of course, if you simply just want a wedding planner there the day of to make you feel more at ease, then by all means go for it! But if you would prefer to avoid paying $1,000 to $2,000 for a day-of wedding planner, let me show you how it’s done!
What Does a Day-of Wedding Planner Do and How Can I Do It Myself?
Confirm Wedding Vendors 1 Week Before the Wedding
One of the things a wedding planner will typically do is contact all your vendors 1 week before your wedding to confirm your wedding. Now, I never actually did this for my wedding, but I can see why it’s a good idea. If you do this, it also gives you a chance to confirm your order and if something isn’t correct there is time for last minute changes to be made. Additionally, you can confirm their arrival time as well as location, so that you can count on them being there for your wedding day. The really nice thing is that since this is not a responsibility for the wedding day itself, you can totally do it on your own. If you have a lot of vendors or are super swamped the week before the wedding, give this job to your MOH or your fiance – it’s a hard job to mess up. :)
Prepare Detailed Wedding Day Itinerary for Wedding Party
Typically a wedding planner will create an itinerary for you and your wedding party, so that everyone knows when they are expected to be where. Again, this is a really easy thing to do yourself because it can be done a week to a month before the wedding. Make sure that you include things like when the guys and girls need to be at the ceremony site, when the ceremony starts, where pictures will be taken and how you are getting there, how/when you are all getting to the reception, when the grand march is and where to report, etc. You may even want to code your itinerary one color for the guys and one color for the girls, as they typically have different locations and times to report. If you are using a limo or other form of group transportation, make sure to tell your wedding party where to leave there cars and how they will be getting to and from their vehicle. Also, make sure to include at the top of the itinerary the addresses of the ceremony and reception locations – you don’t want someone to be late just because they got lost.
Meet Vendors at Ceremony and Reception Location
One of the things that a wedding planner will do the day of your wedding is to meet the vendors as they deliver things like flowers, the cake, etc. Now, if you are getting married at a reception hall, hotel, or any place that is semi-familiar with hosting wedding receptions, they will have a coordinator there to meet your vendors. Often times, reception sites must legally have a staff person present anyway along with your wedding planner to do things like supervise and unlock doors.
The only vendor that typically delivers to the ceremony location is the flower vendor. If you are getting married in a church, one of the church staff will typically take the alter flowers and place them in the correct spot. If not, you can have your wedding attendant (if you have one), an usher, or an aunt or grandmother accept the flowers and place them on the alter. Often times the florist will have agreed to help with this beforehand, especially if the arrangements are large.
Distribute Corsages and Boutonniere
One of the questions I get the most is who is supposed to distribute the corsages and boutonnieres the day of the wedding. This is typically one of the tasks a day of wedding planner will take on. However, it certainly can be done just as easily by another individual. Obviously the girls can just take their bouquets easily enough, and sometimes you can ask the florist beforehand if they would be willing to stay a few extra minute to assist the boys with their boutonnieres. If they don’t have a lot of deliveries that day sometimes they will agree. Otherwise, the groom’s parents are typically with the groomsmen and they can help with the boutonnieres. It’s the handing out of the corsages and boutonnieres to grandparents, godparents, and special guests that I think the bride is most concerned about.
At my own wedding the church coordinator handed out all my “special” flowers. I know my dad also helped her by pointing out who the guests were that needed flowers. If you don’t have a coordinator there at your ceremony location, this is a great job for an attendant or usher to take care on. It only takes a few moments and often times those “special people” are at the church much earlier than the other guests anyway. Just take a few moments the week or two before the wedding to figure out who will be in charge of this task, and make sure they understand their instructions beforehand.
Distribute Final Payments for Vendors
Many vendors receive their final payments the day of the wedding. This is something a wedding planner would typically handle, but it’s also super easy for someone else to take care of it as well. Some vendors will accept their final payment to be delivered the day before the wedding. If you are comfortable with doing that, see if any of your vendors would accept early payment and take care of that the day before your wedding so it’s one less thing to worry about. Otherwise, just put someone in charge of that one task on the day of the wedding. For my own wedding that was my father’s job. If your father will either not be present for your wedding or thinks he will be too busy to worry about distributing checks, try asking a grandfather, godfather, godmother, aunt, uncle, or another trusted family member to take care of that one job for you. Often there really aren’t more than 5 or 6 checks to hand out.
Help to Stick to the Schedule
Staying on schedule is another area of the wedding day many brides worry about. I will start off by saying that you can help avoid this problem months before the wedding day. When you are scheduling your wedding day and working on the timeline, make sure to leave more time than you think necessary for things like photos and travel time. This will keep you from feeling rushed on the day of your wedding. Also, if you create an itinerary for your wedding party like suggested above, everyone should be where they need to be one time. Most people are respectful enough to realize that this is a very important day and that punctuality is key. At the reception, your reception coordinator and DJ will keep everything from dinner, to the first dance, to the cutting of the cake, to the grand march on schedule. If you are having your reception at a location that has held weddings before, you will not need to worry about sticking to your reception schedule at all.
Provide a Wedding Day Emergency Kit
One little “perk” that a day-of wedding planner comes with is their wedding day emergency kit. This kit is basically full of everything you could need to fix any outfit malfunctions the day of the wedding. Think of Jennifer Lopez’s opening scene in “The Wedding Planner.”
The good news is you can create this emergency kit all by yourself and give it to your mother or MOH to be in charge of on the wedding day! It should include things like clear nail polish, deodorant, tampons, pins, bobbypins, hairspray, super glue, etc. For a full list of what to include in your own wedding day emergency kit read this post, or you can just purchase one here or here.
One thing I would recommend adding to your emergency kit is duct tape. I know that sounds crazy but it came in handy at my own wedding more times than I ever would have imagined. For example, the sole of my dad’s rented shoe came right off his foot an hour or so before the wedding. Duct tape is a strong product my friends…let me tell you.
Basic Decor Setup
This is one of those things that most brides assume a day-of wedding planner takes care of, but actually that is very often not the case. Some wedding planners will do very basic setup as part of your day-of package, while other will charge a separate fee. Other wedding planners will set up your decor, as long as your purchase or rent it all from them. Basically what I’m saying is, don’t automatically assume that your decor will be taken care of just because you have hired a wedding planner for the day of your wedding.
There are many different options for getting the decor set up, but if you are
a control freak thorough like me, you will probably want to be there yourself for a lot of it. I was able to get into my venue the day before our wedding to set up a good chunk of the decor. I brought along a team of about 20 million people (bridesmaids, a few groomsmen, husband-to-be, mother, father, mother-in-law, grandmas, aunts, cousins, you name it) to help me get it done fast. My reception coordinator then took care of setting up the few last-minute things the morning of the wedding (she was AMAZING). My dad also did go back the morning of the wedding to take care of a few details I thought of at the last second.
If you can’t get into your reception location the day before to set up, assemble a team the morning of the wedding to take care of it for you. This isn’t the best option, but it’s still very doable. Push to get into your reception location as early as humanly possible. That way you and your bridesmaids will have a little bit of time to help setup before you have to rush off to beauty appointments. Have one person in charge (maybe an aunt or close family friend) who will not have to be getting ready for wedding activities all morning be in charge of the setup crew. This person should know where everything is supposed to go and how you want the tables setup. Typically a reception coordinator will also be there to assist.
In my experience, I found that people are more than willing and super excited to help you on your big day; however if you can’t find enough people to set up for your on your big day, consider professionals. Often times the company you get your decor rentals from will be willing to setup your decor for you for a fee. However, this fee is typically much less than paying for a wedding planner to be there the entire day.
All photos taken by: Danae Herrmann Photography
Whew! Is your brain about to explode? Let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
If you are looking for more wedding day insight, check out this post on What Really Happened the Morning of My Wedding.