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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Is the Role of A Wedding Coordinator?

Unlike what you might see on the TV shows and movies about Wedding Coordinators, our job is not as glamorous as one might imagine.  It is exciting, however, and an honor that we get to spend more time with a bride than any other vendor for her wedding.  We do what we do because we are passionate about helping a bride and groom, their families and friends so that everyone can truly enjoy their wedding day rather than work during that special day.  It is impossible in one blog entry to go into every detail of what the role of a Wedding Coordinator is, but I will try to at least give you a glimpse.

Most Wedding Coordinators will offer three basic variations of planning packages with a few more that are a blending of those basic packages.  This is just to give you a picture of what a Wedding Coordinator can do for a client and everyone involved in her wedding.

The first level of of planning packages is more than likely just to help a bride in choosing vendors/venues in which the Coordinator will offer a selection of 3 or so for a set price per vendor category search.

The second package is probably along the lines of a Day-of-Coordination (DOC).  These packages are popular when a bride has chosen the vast majority of her vendors, except for maybe a couple of them.  This bride feels that she needs some help pulling everything together, is somewhat overwhelmed thinking about her wedding day and has concerns about how everything is going to come together on her wedding day.  Unlike it sounds, a Day-of-Coordination involves on average 30-80 hours of work, not just showing up on the wedding day!  Some planners include directing the rehearsal with this and others do not.  I visit the venue as well as take a quick glance at the contracts from vendors primarily to look for a potential problems.  It cannot be considered a legal review.  From information we have gathered from them, we sometimes have to be the bearer of bad news, but that's better than on your wedding day not being able to do half of what you had planned on for decorating, just as an example.

The third basic package would be a Full Coordination in which the Coordinator helps a client choose a vast majority of her vendors.  It could even include assistance in choosing the wedding gown, attire for the bridal party, reviewing a venue, meeting together with the bride and different vendors and anyone who might be closely working with the bride.   Coordinators generally offer in this type of package to direct the rehearsal.  A Coordinator will be there specifically for the bride and groom on the day of the wedding and act as a liaison for them and their guests with any vendor and the venue.

With the two previous planning packages mentioned, a Coordinator will work closely with all of the vendors and a bride to develop a timeline for the entire wedding day so that things stay on schedule.  This can save a bride a lot of money because if you have to pay for an extra hour for a DJ or a limousine that's sitting outside the building because things are behind schedule those extra dollars can be significant.  If a venue charges you extra for an additional hour, pretty soon you could have hundreds of dollars added to your venue bill.

Sometimes it's the little things that make a difference when there is a Coordinator on the scene.  We realize that your guests are the most important people in your life and will go out of our way to make sure everyone is comfortable.  If you have a grandmother going through a particularly hard time who you think could use a hug, we'll be glad to get acquainted and give her an extra smile and a hug.  At one wedding that I accompanied my husband to that he was officiating, the mother of the bride said that they wouldn't need me to bring a bridal emergency kit but I always do anyway.  Perhaps she was thinking it would cost money, but I wouldn't do that because I thinks it's just good customer service.  Within five minutes of arriving, I was helping a bridesmaid get makeup off of her dress and also making repairs to the bride's dress so that the bustle would stay in place.  Again, it's the little things that make your day easier.  Each Coordinator will have his or her own special ways of dealing with everything to set their client at ease.

Back to the unglamorous part of being a Wedding Coordinator, we handle other types of emergencies or situations that come up.  Since are usually the first to arrive on the day of the wedding and the last to leave, we make those discoveries that have appeared overnight.  Imagine surprise graffiti, someone took off with the garbage cans, the city employee didn't unlock the restroom doors as promised and so forth.  Think of Murphy's Law.  We do our best to make you unaware that Murphy ever showed up!  We like to take care of problems in such a way that you might not even know that there was a problem.

One more thing!  When do you think we hear the statement from a bride or her family that they wish they had hired a coordinator?  It is just before a wedding and right after a wedding!  By hiring a Coordinator early on you can save yourself a lot of stress, save money through discounts we can pass on to you, and save some relationships.  Yes the latter is sad but true when nerves get raw,  emotions run high, and when anyone in particular feels overworked or even exhausted from someone constantly changing their mind.

Wishing you the Greatest of Days!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Brides First! The Honest Truth Might Surprise You!

 When I hear generalizations about what brides want for their weddings, it almost makes me cringe.  A wedding is not something that is dished up from a menu.  First off, who I am to know what a bride wants until I have spoken with her and perhaps her family at some length?  That is the most important part in my mind when offering to plan a wedding.  Listening!

I have to laugh when someone says, "Doesn't a bride always choose her (fill in the vendor) first?  A photographer can think she chooses a photographer, a bakery thinks she chooses her cake first, a venue manager will think that it is a venue.  People will also ask me if I have a preferred vendor for this or for that particular service.  I tell them, "No".  The client is so important and I don't want to match a bride up with a vendor that I think she will be uncomfortable with.  People have actually said to me, "Brides don't really care about decorations that much, or this or that, do they?"  To one bride it won't be important, but to another bride it might mean everything.  I figure it's my job to be led as well as to lead.

Planning a wedding is an emotional experience on many levels.   When a bride is consulting with her vendors, I want a bride to feel like she is walking through the door of her own home, wearing an old pair of comfortable shoes and talking to a good friend who knows what she's going to say next but listens as if they can read her mind.  I must explain further, I would never say that a vendor is purposely going to make anyone uncomfortable.  I think I happen to know some of the most amazing vendors who do a wonderful job and I have the greatest respect for them.  But, I'd compare it to thinking back to school and who was your favorite teacher.  There was something about that teacher that touched your heart, made you feel important or inspired you.  That's what I feel it should be like with various vendors and that doesn't happen accidentally.  

A bride will know when she is comfortable with a vendor or not, but why put her through unnecessary stress when you've gotten to know her likes and dislikes first?  If I sense that she is intimidated by opinionated people and would crawl into her shell and end up settling for something she didn't like, I'd feel terrible.  If she is bursting with ideas, I know she's going to want to talk to someone who will validate her ideas and get excited along with her and share her vision.  If she is so nervous about absolutely everything, then I want to put her in the hands of someone who is comforting and has no problem being patient and understanding and be willing to do a little hand-holding.  Again, I must say that most vendors are passionate about what they do and go out of their way to make a bride feel comfortable, but not all personalities match.

Would I myself ever turn a bride down?  When we first started our business, I will admit that I didn't feel like I could turn anyone away, and it's still difficult at times because I genuinely am a people person.  Just like my Dad!   A bride doesn't want to be treated with disrespect and neither do I.  I used to  reschedule an appointment  when a bride missed her first and second scheduled consultations.  Now I don't.  If a second scheduled initial consultation is missed, I figure that it just isn't meant to be.   I will of course call to make sure she is okay and that nothing happened to her.   I know that my time is valuable and I do not want to risk having this be a pattern for the next year or so.    

Those of us in the wedding profession wouldn't be in it if we didn't absolutely love it.  Sometimes that is the best of it and the worst of it!

Wishing you the Greatest of Days!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Things You Should Know When Searching for a Venue!

I have at least 50 questions in my mind when I research venues.   I don't have a written list any more.  It's in my head!  I may only ask ten or more of these questions, but the other questions are being answered just from my walking around a venue.

I would say that the number one thing you need to know to prevent surprises down the road when it comes to venues, is to truly identify what the word provide means in the venue's terms.  Provide does not and I repeat, does not always mean free.  They can provide a million things, but you might pay for the extra chair, table, or an unexpected amount of money for anything you might consider to be very simple.  Sometimes these lists of charges might feel like you are looking at a bill from a hospital.  If you are prepared you won't be saying, "It cost how much for that?!"  I cannot tell you how many times I've heard from a client, "I wouldn't have ever thought of that!"  Those are the very same things that can really cause stress when it gets closer to your wedding.  It's not what you know but what you don't know that can hurt you.

I won't go into all of my questions that are going through my mind on a tour of a venue.  Suffice it to say that every venue is different.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard a venue ask, "If you can think of anything we should do, please tell me".  I am happy to because that helps their clients.

What are some of the most obvious things you might want to know about when you are venue searching?  Listed below are just few things that come to mind.  You might actually have things that are more of a concern to you that are not listed here.

1.  I always want to know if a venue is handicapped accessible because sometimes they are not. Don't assume that because your guests, young or old, are in good physical shape that you don't need to take this into consideration.  Your wedding is probably several months away.  Anyone can break a leg or injure a knee and end up using crutches.  Not to be negative here, but being prepared is what will give you peace of mind.  We've heard enough horror stories!

2.  Do they provide a licensed bartender for your wedding or event? If so, what is involved on your part?

3.  Do they allow candles?  Most do not!

4.  What are their rules for decorating?  This is big issue!  Get ready to hear them say that they do not allow tape, nails, tacks, glue, etc.  This can destroy a lot of what you might have visualized your wedding and reception to look like.

5.  How much time will you have to decorate?  Be sure to realize that two hours is nothing when you are dealing with decorating a venue.  This isn't the Thanksgiving dinner table you are used to decorating.

6.  A big thing I look for is parking. This could make the difference between your guests arriving on time or not.

7.  Do they have a shuttle service arrangement with local hotels?

8.  Do they have linens in other colors than just white that you won't have to pay extra for to compliment the colors of your wedding?

9.  If you hear that they have a good sound system, please don't assume it will be good for a wedding reception.  A professional DJ is worth his or her weight in gold!  The house sound systems quite frankly frighten me and I find them to be unreliable all too often.

10.  If you hear "we let you bring in your own food" be sure to clarify that!  They might really mean they allow licensed caterers from outside of their venue provide the food.  It doesn't necessarily mean you can cook your own food and bring it to the venue.

The more you know about your venue, the greater your wedding day will be!  It's easy to get into that mode of hearing what you want to hear, but it's better to step back and take a deep breath and really examine things closely.

Wishing you the Greatest of Days!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

10-10-2010. What is in a wedding day?

The 2010 wedding season will be more popular in October than normal. That is because of the novelty of 10-10-10 and it helps that that day falls on a Sunday.  I've found it interesting that some brides and grooms who have chosen this date for their wedding, are surprised that they find themselves in such large company.  It makes sense because it's just fun to have an unusual date for a major moment in one's life.  The groom might pitch in with, "I wanted to have a day that I would remember!"  I wonder if it is similar to parents choosing a name that they are certain no one else will be using to name a child.  How is it that these names end up being so popular and their child is one of many with the same name in a classroom a few years later?  I'm sure that someone has an answer to this phenomenon, but at the moment I don't really know.

It's not uncommon to find that people think that a long weekend is a good time to get married especially for those who have to travel.  But is it? Traffic is more congested from everyone else being on the road.  Airlines know when to increase prices just as the oil companies raise the price of gasoline.  I'll never forget a wedding that was delayed by 2 or more hours because of holiday traffic that the father of the bride was stuck in.  Granted, it didn't help that his car broke down or maybe it was the traffic that contributed to it breaking down!  That's not the worst part.  He was driving what was supposed to be a surprise gift for the bride and groom!  Popularity of a particular date or holiday can bring on an extra element of stress, and a better chance of your guests experiencing delays.

You want to know if your vendors are going to charge extra for their services on a holiday.  Are they going to make regular deliveries on a particular day and are they going to have less experienced help performing the tasks.  These may be things that you are willing to work with but it doesn't hurt to find out what you are in for.

We want our wedding days to go perfectly.  But it is best to remember that some things you can control, some things you cannot.  Mother nature can often render the worst storms when you are certain you've chosen your wedding day to be one with the best chances of good weather according to all the statistics.  If a bride is getting nervous, I try to gently remind her that though we want everything to go perfectly, does the average day go perfectly that has only a fraction of the details and emotions involved as their wedding day?  Probably not.  Chances are that with a lot of effort, 99% of everything will go wonderfully and no one will be the wiser to any unplanned events.  The secret is to be prepared for the most likely unexpected happenings.

No matter what the wedding date is, I find for myself that a positive attitude is a good companion to going with the flow, turning on a dime, choosing to laugh instead of scream, remembering to smile and above all, keeping a good sense of humor!  I guess I would stress one thing to brides. Sometimes those moments you would rather not live through, are the moments you are going to remember with a good laugh for years.  I threw my bouquet on the roof, but I'm still married years later!  Those years later are what your day is all about.  Planning is so important, but life happens and no one should feel guilty about that.  Keep It Simple and Steamlined!

So what is in a day?  A good mixture of everything you put into it.  By the way, next year "the day" will be 11-11-11.

Wishing you the greatest of days!