As I head into my third wedding season, I take stock of my business and realize that I am no longer a "rookie wedding planner", but someone with knowledge, experience, and insight. The wedding industry is unique in and of itself, and so it should be no surprise that wedding planning can be even more unique. With each wedding that I triumphantly place underneath that proverbial belt I gain confidence and a greater understanding of how my services work. And one of the greatest lessons I have learned thus far is that there really is no such thing as "day of" coordination. I believe we as wedding planners are doing our clients (and ourselves) a disservice by not accurately communicating all that we do for them. If we start clearly communicating how much time and work goes into being our client's advocate then we can educate them thereby allowing us to serve them better. Knowledge is power and the key to elevating our individual work and the industry as a whole. Read on to understand why I believe that "day of" coordination is a myth, and how we can change the way we communicate about it.
For almost all of my "event management" clients, I spend anywhere from 20-30 hours of work (more if the wedding is large in size or budget) from initiation to completion of my services. There is quite a lot that goes on behind-the-scenes, most of which clients are not involved in. An average breakdown of my hours looks something like this:
- 1 hour reviewing a client's planning questionnaire (and updating my software)
- Conducting at least one site visit with the client, venue coordinator, and catering manager around 30 days out (again more visits if there are more logistics) that typically lasts 1.5-2 hours (some of this time is spent alone with the client reviewing details)
- 2 hours creating and finalizing their itinerary (this usually involves a few back and forth emails with the clients to confirm)
- 1-2 hours contacting and confirming vendor information
- 1-2 hours spent gathering, updating, and sending personal planning documents that I have created in house
- 1-2 hours spent reviewing floor plan, seating chart, ceremony order, etc.
- 1 hour for the rehearsal, and
- Up to 12 hours or more on the wedding day (including production)
This breakdown does not include anything that may happen after the wedding is over, collecting decor items prior to the wedding, getting my assistant up to speed, or drive time to and from the venue or meetings. You can see how quickly this time adds up!
One of the things I am always striving for as a business is to provide excellent customer service and the highest level of quality possible (this is a constant learning process that happens through a series of successes and failures). And in order to provide that high level of service, I need to begin somewhere around 30-45 days out from the wedding gathering, collecting, and synthesizing as much information as I possibly can. There is no such thing as providing your wedding planner or coordinator with too much information. The small details are what makes up a wedding and in turn what allows it to run smoothly and seem effortless (or in contrast be a hot mess). The more I know about about a wedding the better equipped I will be to anticipate problems and create solutions, communicate effectively to all necessary parties, and execute the wedding seamlessly. This process takes time, and for me it is merely impossible to do in one day.
I think as planners we should educate our clients through our marketing initiatives, pricing guides, website content, and client consultations about what exactly it is we are providing them. When we use the term "day of coordination", we are shortchanging ourselves and creating confusion about our services. One of the things I have started to do is call "day of" coordination "month of" with the eventual goal to phase that out to "event management". Using these terms gives a more robust description of what is being offered. Wedding planning can feel ambiguous and amorphic to folks because there simply is no tangible "final product" that clients receive. But we are giving our time (and lots of it), and so it is up to us to elevate the industry by educating our clients and other vendors. Then we can all serve our clients better and with greater enthusiasm! Few things make people work harder as feeling valued!
Thank you for stopping by. If you are a planner, I would love to hear your thoughts below.