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Proud pup mom, type A creative, lover of the outdoors, Top Chef fan girl, and wedding and portrait photographer. Welcome to the blog!
HI, I'M RACHEL!
Welcome to the second post in a two part series about the difference between venue coordinators and wedding coordinators. Today I’m going to answer this question: why hire a wedding coordinator? This is a really long one, chock full of info, so buckle in!
Before getting started, I’m going to be super up front about why I’ve written these two blog posts: I am trying to help you, newly engaged couple just starting out wedding planning, understand why just having a venue coordinator is not a sufficient plan for helping with wedding coordination.
When I ask a couple if they are working with a wedding coordinator or planning to, and they confidently tell me – “no, but we have a coordinator through our venue,” my heart sinks. The confidence they have when they say this makes me think they have high expectations of what this person is going to do, and I know they are going to be let down and/or that I’m going to be doing so much extra work for them to make up for the work the venue coordinator will not be doing. And their other vendors probably will be too.
If I’m asking the question, “are you working with a wedding coordinator?” your answer shouldn’t have anything to do with a venue coordinator. (See last week’s post as to why.) Long story short: they are not the same thing and do not do the same work on a wedding day. A venue coordinator is not going to do essential things that need to happen on your wedding day, and yet, someone still has to do those things – so that’s a problem. A wedding coordinator is the answer.
The following are my top five answers to the question – why hire a wedding coordinator?
1. So You Can Enjoy Your Wedding Day!
Photos from Amanda & Nick’s wedding designed by SRS Events and Coordinated by Tilly + Teal
This is a direct quote from a bride on her wedding day to a room full of people, regarding her wedding coordinator: “She is a bargain at twice the price!” That is how appreciative she was to have competent help on her wedding day.
I want that to be your experience.
What I don’t want your experience to be is summed up in this quote from a different bride on her wedding day, as she tried to coordinate music for the ceremony over the phone with her cousin as she was riding in the limo to the church (a time when brides are usually singing to fun music with their bridesmaids…), “Ugh!! This is SO stressful!”
And that’s not the only time I’ve heard things like that from brides who haven’t worked with a wedding coordinator. I’ve heard brides multiple times remark, “I should’ve hired a wedding coordinator,” on their wedding day!
Don’t let that be you!
Close your eyes and imagine something for me: find three words that describe how you want to feel on your wedding day, and then imagine that you’re there at your wedding – feeling those feelings.
Now imagine a florist stopping you when you’re walking to take newlywed portraits after your first look and asking if you can give the ‘OK’ on how they’ve draped the greenery over the arch. Imagine being in the car on the way to your ceremony with friends calling to double check the processional music with you. Not only are they not sure of the order, they can’t find the songs on their device, and no one’s at the church to help them set it up on the audio system. That means the few minutes before your ceremony starts, you’re fiddling with a device, stressing about whether the music will play over the audio system, and facing the possibility of scrapping the music altogether. Imagine your venue coordinator interrupting your newlywed portraits to ask if you can be finished sooner because they think the guests are ready to start the reception, even though you still have 20 minutes left on your timeline for portraits and cocktail hour. Imagine no one interfacing with your DJ on the timeline, so the beginning of the reception starts late because they have no idea when they were supposed to kick things off and if everyone was ready for introductions.
Those are just some of the more disruptive and stressful incidents I’ve witnessed on wedding days with couples who didn’t have a wedding coordinator. Which brings me to my next point:
2. To Ease Stress
A wedding coordinator will help ease stress before, during, and after your wedding day. What a bang for your buck!
They will answer questions and solve problems with you and for you, before your wedding. In fact, they will provide you with info, ideas, suggestions, time savers, money savers, etc. to answer questions and solve problems you would never even think to ask or didn’t even know could pop up because this is your first wedding, but they have seen and done it all!
If you work with a wedding coordinator who you also work with to plan your wedding, that planner will review contracts of your other vendors to save you money, time, headache, and heartache. They will tell you if something is off or not industry standard or if it will end up costing you money or time. Because again, they know what to look out for because they have seen and done it all!
They will interface with vendors on your wedding day so you don’t have florists and caterers and photographers (although I try at all costs not to do this, but sometimes it’s unavoidable) and venue coordinators and DJs – should I go on? – coming to you to ask you questions. This is especially important if there is a problem or issue or if something goes wrong. A wedding coordinator is usually able to solve a problem, mitigate an issue, make a substitution, get creative, etc. without you ever knowing!
Those scenarios I listed above won’t be an issue because instead of a florist or venue coordinator interrupting your newlywed portraits, for example, to ask you questions or make suggestions or tell you a problem, they will talk to the wedding coordinator. Then the wedding coordinator will make the decision for you because they are already aware of your preferences.
They are also with you or available to you all day, so if something comes up at the last minute – a spill on a dress, confusion on how to tie a bow tie, you need reassurance that everything is getting done, you want to change something, etc. they will be there to problem solve or reassure.
Which brings me to my next point…
3. Because a Venue Coordinator Won’t Be Available to You Most of the Day
I said this pretty clearly in last week’s post, so I’ll keep this one brief. You need a wedding coordinator because a venue coordinator will not be coordinating your wedding. A venue coordinator will be coordinating for the venue, which is a whole different set of tasks.
You need someone around to help manage the flow of the day, problem solve, interface with vendors, maintain the timeline, manage set up and breakdown, etc. Sometimes a venue coordinator will help with portions of those tasks, but not as an overall cohesive manager or point of contact.
And conveniently, that kind of brings me to my next point:
4. So Your Other Vendors Can Focus on Their Jobs
Photos from Ashley & Todd’s wedding, planned and coordinated by Kim Newton Weddings, linked at the bottom of the post
If you’re not working a wedding coordinator, you’re still going to need questions answered and help with logistics prior to your wedding. And google can’t do all the heavy lifting because there are details pertinent to your specific wedding day that search engines, blog posts, Instagram, and TikTok just won’t have the answers for.
So here’s what happens:
You’re going to spend so much extra time researching, asking friends and relatives, trying to come up with an answer yourself. Think of the amount of time this will take! You’re spending your time doing someone else’s job.
And/or you’re going to ask your other vendors for the answers. Now you’re asking your other vendors to spend their time doing someone else’s job.
Without fail, when couples don’t hire a wedding coordinator, I spend extra hours of my time answering questions, making decisions on their behalf, giving my two cents, presenting options, etc. about things not related to photography – the thing you actually hired me to do. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only vendor who that’s happening to. I’m willing to bet florists, caterers, and DJs do a lot of this work as well. And bottom line: it’s just not fair to be asked to do work you’re not being compensated for. (Hence why I’ve started extending savings on my wedding package for couples who work with wedding coordinators – because I end up doing less work!)
And that’s all happening before the wedding day!
On the actual wedding day, when a couple doesn’t have a wedding coordinator, a lot of random things fall to me to take care of that are technically outside my purview; distract me from my work; make me have to rush to make up time, which takes away from your enjoyment of the experience; and result in you getting less time in front of the camera/fewer photos of important moments.
I have done everything from track down family members for the couple while they’re getting ready; track down the venue coordinator to ask them questions; get the wedding party lined up for the ceremony processional; coordinate with the DJ and venue coordinator on the reception timeline; single handedly kept the timeline on track; answer questions from florists; track down bouquets and boutonnieres; help get a stain out of a wedding dress; on and on. It’s hard to say I’m not happy to do that stuff if my help is needed. But at the end of the day you want your photographer focused on their actual job – not on managing your wedding!
You get the best out of your vendors – you get your actual money’s worth, if they are able to do their specific job and don’t have to take on extra work to pick up the slack of a missing wedding coordinator. We all want you to have the perfect wedding day so we will step in where needed if that becomes necessary. But that should be a rare exception and not the expectation.
5. To Preserve Relationships
Photos from Naina and Josh’s wedding, planned and Coordinated by Chancey Charm – Alana Futcher, now with Lane Steward Events, linked at the bottom of the post
I’ve occasionally seen one or two members of the wedding party, family, or friends step in as the designated point(s) of contact for the wedding day, essentially doing a lot of the things a wedding coordinator would do. In my humble opinion, that is never a good idea. These people often seem stressed out, flustered, and frustrated. And if they don’t have expert experience as a wedding coordinator, it makes sense they would feel that way!
Coordinating a wedding day on behalf of a friend or family member is a big undertaking! More than most people realize when they agree to take on the job. Of course your loved one is going to want to help out if you ask them to. It’s kind of unfair to make that request without really being able to tell them how much work and pressure it’s going to be!
AND when you assign those duties to a family or wedding party member, you’re taking away their ability to enjoy the day as well. You’re making them work, they aren’t getting paid, they aren’t able to relax and enjoy how the day is special for them too, they’re not able to enjoy the day with you, and you’re setting up the possibility for tension to be created between the two of you if things don’t go as you envisioned them.
I can actually speak to this from experience. Years ago, I was the maid of honor for my best friend at the time, who needed a lot of help with various aspects of planning her wedding, as well as some coordination the day before and the day of. I bit off way more than I could chew, and even as her most organized friend, I still struggled – a lot. We definitely had some tense moments before the wedding, on the day of, and even after the wedding. I was so stressed out, I ended up getting really sick immediately following her wedding.
Save yourself the tension and the possibility of something interfering with your friendship or family relationship, and hire a wedding coordinator.
It’s a challenge for me to share such strong opinions on these topics because I don’t want to create fear or come off as too harsh. I share them so emphatically because I have seen so many couples who don’t bring in sufficient support for their wedding, and end up having a lesser experience than they could have, had they hired professional help. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking to witness.
I love taking care of my clients, and one way I can do that is by being honest and sharing my behind the scenes viewpoint. If I fill you in on the things I have seen work and not work, I’m setting you up for a really wonderful experience on your wedding day.
You’re already spending tens of thousands of dollars – why risk your own enjoyment of the huge investment of your wedding by skipping out on the one vendor on whom your true enjoyment depends??
I’m not going to leave you hanging here; I have several wedding coordinators to refer, who I’ve worked with before and who I highly recommend. Any of these ladies and their teams will take great care of you!
Did this post get you excited to book your own wedding, micro-wedding, elopement, or engagement session?! If yes, send me a note and we can chat about what you have in mind: contact me
Hi – I’m Rachel! A wedding, engagements, and headshots photographer in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and northern Virginia. I love taking photos of elegant people who love to laugh, as well as of much in-love couples. If you’re a dog owner, that’s a plus! I’m currently booking 2022 portrait sessions, as well as 2022 and 2023 weddings.