WHY A WEDDING COORDINATOR?
by Doris Nixon
At every major event in life professionals are present! A doctor delivers a baby, clergy persons baptize and confirm children, city and school officials preside at graduation, directors take charge of movies and stage productions and licensed persons perform marriages and bury the dead. In each of these events rituals are involved. There is a system for each, carried out by someone trained to do so.
With the high cost of weddings and the time involved to pull all the facets together, it is all but impossible for the bride to do this while keeping her daily routine (which is already in overload) intact. Listen to some of the comments made by brides who did not have a wedding coordinator.
- By the day of my wedding I was so overwhelmed by all the things I had to do I was like a zombie. I hardly remember repeating my vows and I never did get anything to eat.
- There were so many mistakes in my wedding that could have been avoided had I hired a wedding coordinator. I never gave a thought to coordinating the arrival of the vendors, so the cake was delivered before the linens and flowers. After the linens arrived, the cake table was set up and the cake had to be moved a second time. One pillar tilted, so I had a lop-sided cake. We were shorted one bouquet and no one realized it until it was too late for the florist to deliver it. Everyone was running around screaming--or so it seemed--blaming each other. I just stood there crying. All of this could have been avoided had I hired a professional coordinator.
- A coordinator schedules the arrival of vendors--Example: The linens would arrive at 10:00 oclock, the flowers at 10:30 and the cake at 11:00. Thus the cake table would be set up and decorated before the cake arrived. She would have checked the number of bouquets against the number ordered before the florist left. In a real emergency, she could simply pluck a few flowers from floral arrangements and, using tools from her emergency kit, make a bouquet.
- I forgot my garter. I had really looked forward to having Dan toss it to his best man, hoping that catching the bouquet would cause him to propose to my best friend, Cindy, who was my maid-of-honor. Imagine her disappointment and my embarrassment.
- A coordinator always has a spare garter in her emergency kit.
- We forgot the Guest Registry Book so we have no record of those who shared our beautiful day. How sad, especially so since it was the last time my grandmother signed her name. She died the next week.
A professional coordinator has a checklist, which she uses to be sure everything arrives and is set up. Some even carry an extra Registry Book. By now you get the picture. A coordinator is trained to plan and coordinate every minute detail and oversee all of it!
Are coordinators expensive? Some brides feel a coordinator is too expensive. Compared to what? The gown? The reception? The band? Overall, the money spent for a coordinator is a small percentage of the wedding budget, which is where the coordinator begins before she offers any suggestions. Many times she can actually save you money because she knows the going price. Frequently she can negotiate prices. The following is a true story--a telephone conversation I overheard while in the office of a Certified Wedding Specialist.
CWS: No, my client will not pay $2.50 per head for that hors doeuvre. Hotel: That family has old money. They can afford it. CWS: Thats not the point. The fact is your hors doeuvres are not worth $2.50 each.
The coordinator got the hors doeuvres for $1.50 each, saving her client $450.00 on that particular hors doeuvres.
.At another wedding, the coordinator was able to negotiate the price of a golf game for the men in the wedding party by pointing out to the reception facility manager that the bride was having the rehearsal, the wedding and the reception at the one facility. When her request for a lower price for golf was denied, she turned to the brides mother and said, "Perhaps you should consider having the rehearsal dinner at another site since its obvious your business is not appreciated. A consultation between members of the hotel staff brought the price of the golf game down quite a bit.
Because a wedding coordinator brings repeat business to a facility, she often has negotiating power not available to an individual scheduling a one-time event.
Do wedding coordinators get a kick-back from vendors? Although many vendors do offer coordinators a percentage for any wedding they book with them, a professional coordinator will not take it. Instead, she will reply to the vendor, "That is so nice of you but I am paid by my client. Would you agree to offer my bride a discount? Thus the professional coordinator is working every way she can to save her client money.
As important as it is to save money, the major advantage of hiring a coordinator is the time she saves you. She does the legwork for you, always working within your parameter. She does not dictate to you, but she does offer you options. The pressure of contacting the church, the reception site, the caterer, the florist, the musicians, the photographer, the videographer, the soloist, your attendants, his family, your family, the hair stylist, writing thank-you notes, etc. is overwhelming. Add to that the big day itself, and the thousand and one last minute details that take place then, and you begin to realize what a task it is to plan a wedding.
Now lets take a look at some actual wedding day scenes:
The mother of the bride forgot to change shoes and just before the coordinator sent her down the aisle the coordinator noticed the bedroom shoes. Quickly she determined that the mother of the bride wore size 8½. Slipping off her own size 8 shoes, the mother entered the church, feet pinched a bit, but the perfect picture of a Mother-of-the-Bride!
The small country church did not have an organ but the bride was determined to enter the church with great fanfare. She secured her own taped music and operator. When the time came for her to walk down the aisle, majestic music filled the air, then stopped, started and stopped again. The tape was defective! There was silence and more silence. Not knowing what to do, the person operating the tape recorder decided not to try again. The quick-thinking wedding coordinator walked about half way down the aisle and began humming the wedding march, encouraging the audience to join her. Soon the sanctuary was filled with music--not what the bride expected, but something entirely different. Misty-eyed, she walked down the aisle and later declared it to be the most romantic moment of the wedding.
The groom had a red bandanna handkerchief in his back pocket. The coordinator spyed it before he walked in. This coordinator now checks the pockets of all the men in the wedding party.
Some other stories and ideas directly from coordinators:
- One coordinator recently told me, When the bride chooses her colors, I check the underskirts of the tablecloths with the ink color on the placecards to be sure they harmonize. What a difference it makes when the colors are coordinated
- At a garden wedding on a small island, I decorated the bridge with clamp-on light posts and connected each post with tulle, fern and babys breath. It was breathtaking! states another coordinator. I share this idea with brides who are getting married in a temple or cathedral that is very colorful and ornate.
- The baker dropped the wedding cake on the front steps of the reception hall. We went to a nearby market and bought 200 Twinkies, tied thirty together with gold ribbon, and stacked them in three tiers. Flowers were added and all the guests admired the different wedding cake!
- Why not have the attendants dressed in white and use gold or silver as an accent in the bouquets? An all white wedding is beautiful and does not compete with, but rather complements, the colorful surroundings.
- If the brides mother is very controlling and there is a conflict, I ask, Is it more important to have the final decision or for your daughter to be happy on the most important day of her life? This puts the situation in perspective and usually we are able to arrive at a happy medium.
- I like adding cultural costumes to a wedding. At one Afro-American wedding I coordinated, the bride and groom wore white outfits with gold trim. Colors for the attendants were black and gold and all wore sandals. It was beautiful.
- When I coordinate a wedding and the bridesmaids differ tremendously in size and/or age, I suggest that the bride choose her colors and then ask each attendant to select a style that flatters her size and personality in the designated color. The length of the sleeves and hemline is predetermined. Everyone looks better and everyone is happy!
- Every bride-to-be attends pre-wedding parties, the bridesmaids luncheon, and the rehearsal dinner--maybe even a wedding breakfast. Think about adding those to your already over-booked, over-worked and over-whelming schedule and you begin to understand why tempers flare, smiles vanish and tears flow. No one enjoys anything; they are too busy doing. A wedding coordinator frees your time, and handles the stress. Then you are free to relax and savor every moment of the entire event.
A professional wedding coordinator has been trained to handle the unusual. For example, if a coordinator is directing a wedding in California, she will have a flashlight with her just in case there is an earthquake. She can direct the evacuation! On the East Coast thats unheard of, but the coordinator may be checking the tide schedule just to make sure the boats can dock at your island.
Brides who use trained professional coordinators (yes, she will have a certificate) find them to be their best friends. Those who dont are often filled with regret!
Doris Nixon is the President of Weddings Beautiful, an association dedicated to furthering the education of wedding consultants.
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