What does a wedding day coordinator actually do?

  • Jan 21, 2022

 

I often struggle with posting enough on social media because it's difficult to showcase in pictures what I actually do on a wedding day. So much of the visible beauty at weddings is thanks to the venue and florist, or a DJ's fabulous up-lighting, and it can be difficult to point to something tangible and say "I did that!"

 

All that to say, I do a whole lot. Here's a small breakdown of what I do in ten hours on a wedding day:

 

  • Upon arrival, greet the bridal party and drop off the emergency kit, make sure everything is going smoothly
  • Check in each vendor as they arrive and direct them to their setup location and assist in unloading/set-up if necessary
    • If any vendor is 5 minutes or more late, I'm on the phone with them to see what's up
  • Set up any and all personal décor items belonging to the couple, including (but definitely not limited to): guest book, card box, welcome sign, seating chart, centerpieces, photos, unity ceremony supplies, aisle markers, table settings, lawn games, favors, exit items, specialty barware, etc. Once we even set up a champagne tower!
  • Routinely check in with bridal party to ensure that they're on schedule for their portrait call time
  • Triple check with each vendor that they have a timeline in-hand and that all details are on track
  • Check in with the venue about any challenges (bathroom out of TP or soap, burnt out light bulbs, fountains that need to be turned on, heat or AC turning up or down)
  • Triple check that the ceremony site is clean and ready
  • Pull the bridal party to line up for the ceremony and double check that everyone is in order, shoes on, hair & make-up perfect, bouquets beautiful, and everyone's hydrated
  • Check in with the DJ and photo/video teams to make sure they're ready for ceremony start
  • Stage the bride behind the bridal party and make sure the groom doesn't see her while also making sure she's in a place where she won't be rushing to the aisle
  • Cue the DJ to start the ceremony processional music and signal each bridal party member to start walking at the exact right time
  • Close chapel doors, situate the bride's gown and veil behind her for the best possible entrance, and then open chapel doors
  • Close chapel doors behind the bride
  • Run back to the reception area to make sure that all ducks are in a row for the cocktail hour - bar ready with full ice chests and chilling beer & wine, caterers ready with appetizers, all décor and table settings perfect, seating chart in optimum placement for viewing as they enter the reception hall
  • As the ceremony ends, escort the newlyweds to their private moment alone and corral the bridal party and family to wait for other guests to leave before starting portraits
  • Escort the newlyweds to the portrait location (usually back into the chapel) after the rest of the guests have exited
  • Make sure the marriage license has been signed and is in the hands of whoever is responsible for getting it filed
  • If the photographer is solo, assist during portraits by gathering folks for photos, adjusting poses or the gowns, and generally being a second pair of hands for them
  • Snag cocktail hour appetizer plate for the newlyweds and bring them waters and/or a cocktail during portraits
  • If there's only one bartender, check in regularly to see if they need more ice, trash taken out, or any other assistance
  • Escort the bride to the bridal suite to assist in bustling her gown
  • Check in with DJ and photo/video team to make sure everyone's in place and the lighting is beautiful for the grand entrance and first dance
  • Line bridal party up for the grand entrance
  • During first dance, fetch the newlyweds their dinner and deliver it to their table, or coordinate with catering team to ensure it's been taken care of
  • Make sure everyone else has gone through the buffet line or been served their dinner
  • Check in with newlyweds before eating to make sure they don't need a refill, spare silverware, etc.
  • Check in with the DJ and bartender(s) to make sure they were able to get a plate, and bring them one if not
  • Grab my own plate to scarf in the kitchen as fast as I can
  • Check in with newlyweds after eating (same as above)
  • Check in with bar staff again
  • Give a five-minute warning to anyone expected to give a toast after cake cutting and make sure they know in which order they'll be presenting
  • Check in with DJ and photo/video team to make sure they're ready for cake cutting, toasts, and dances
  • Escort newlyweds to the cake table for cake cutting after dinner
  • Take the cake into the kitchen to be cut and set aside the top layer
    • While I'm happy to cut a cake, I always recommend asking your caterer if they're able to, especially if you've got a big one! They can be very time-consuming to cut properly.
  • Give a five-minute warning to anyone who will be doing a scheduled dance with the bride and/or groom
  • While the dance floor is open, clean up the ceremony space and pack up décor
  • Check in with bar staff again
  • Keep an eye on guests in case any need to be flagged with the bar staff and/or security officer
  • Check in with venue about cleanliness standards
  • Routinely check in with the newlyweds to be sure they're drinking enough water, if they need a refill, if I can grab anything for them, and just to remind them of the time
  • Check in with the bridal party to ensure that the newlyweds have bags packed and ready to get into the exit vehicle upon arrival
  • Check in with bar staff re: last call
  • Check in with photo/video team about the exit location and lighting
  • Check in with DJ about exit time, plan, and songs
  • Check in with couple 30 minutes prior to exit time to let them know it's almost over!
  • Prep exit items - sparklers, bubbles, etc.
  • Check in with driver upon arrival to confirm destination
  • Pack water bottles, snacks, leftover plate, and maybe cake in the exit vehicle for the newlyweds, as well as any bags they need
  • Coordinate with the DJ to direct guests to exit the venue and get ready for the grand exit
  • Ensure that all guests exit in a timely manner and give the bride & groom time for their private last dance
  • Coordinate with photo/video team to set up lighting and shots for the grand exit
  • Signal guests to start lighting sparklers, blowing bubbles, etc. for the grand exit as soon as photographers are ready
  • Signal newlyweds to make their exit
  • After they drive away, go back into the venue and coordinate with bridal party and family to pack personal decor and clean up the venue

 

All of the above is on a wedding that goes perfectly smooth and doesn't include tackling any issues that may come up. Some of the challenges I had in the last year were:

 

  • A DJ that was 3 hours late
  • A broken bustle
  • Floral delivery that was short 2 boutonnieres
  • Ran out of bottled water (multiple occasions)
  • Surprise rain resulting in having to move a DJ's entire equipment setup
  • A rented tux missing a button
  • A cake baker that was 5 hours late (and never answered the phone)
  • A belligerent UberX driver that arrived 45 minutes early for a scheduled pick-up
  • Bartender forgot a wine key (at a wine only reception)
  • Venue had a recently-broken ice machine that no one was notified about
  • A missing wedding ring RIGHT before the ceremony
  • A family member not realizing that they were holding up the entire processional
  • A toddler ring bearer who was just not having it that day
  • Caterer didn't realize the venue did not have a good location for their gas grill setup
  • A food truck that struggled to quickly cook & serve food to the guests
  • An extra windy day that kept blowing the cloth napkins out of position
  • Fire ants at the ceremony site

 

All of the above ended up being only minor hiccups in a wedding day rather than something that could have ruined the entire day, or at minimum kept a member of the bridal party or immediate family from fully enjoying the reception. Most of these weren't even brought up with the couple on the day-of either. When your stress level is already hovering around 9 just from planning your wedding, it's my goal to keep it there or drop it down to a 5 or less over the course of the night. The only occasions where I feel it prudent to mention is if a vendor makes a glaring mistake and the couple deserves to know for monetary reasons -- and even then, I'll send you an email the morning after.

I hope this helps answer the question of what a coordinator actually does and why hiring one is important! If you have any questions about how I can make your wedding day easier, reach out today!


  • Category: Complications
  • Tags: Wedding Day, Coordinator, Coordination