Many of the couples and organizations we work with have expressed gratitude for the advice to hire a day-of coordinator.
In case you don’t know, a “Day-of Coordinator” is a person (or a team) who plans and executes your event – whether it’s a wedding reception or another kind of special event. Sometimes “Month-of Coordinator” and “Day-of Coordinator” are used interchangeably and usually it means the same thing.
Day-of coordinators are an indispensable resource to anyone who is organizing any kind of large event. They know all the details of your event, how it’s supposed to flow, and who is supposed to do what. And if your event is a wedding, the Day-of Coordinator essentially makes sure you and your family members don’t have to work on your wedding day.
The First Step: Find the Right Fit For You
A day-of coordinator is someone with whom you need to be able to communicate effectively, and truly rely on, so it’s very important that you find someone who is a good fit for you personally.
- Get recommendations from sources you trust. This could be from friends or family who have worked with someone in the past, or other wedding professionals you are working with like your caterer, photographer, or venue manager. Tell them the kind of couple you are so they can make recommendations that are likely to be a good fit.
- If your venue requires you to choose a day-of coordinator from a list of approved vendors, check out all of the options before selecting someone. Consider asking for an exception if you find another professional who you truly want to work with.
- Don’t use a friend or family member as your day-of coordinator unless it’s your only option. Day-of coordination is a lot of work and on a day when expectations are running high, you won’t want to be let down by someone close to you.
- It’s OK to interview multiple candidates and ask the prospective day-of coordinators lots of questions!
Some Key questions to ask:
- How many hours will you work on the day of? A full 12 hours is ideal.
- If I need you longer, what is your rate for the additional time?
- How do you handle unexpected tasks that might arise?
Some day-of coordinators are real “team players.” They don’t hesitate to jump in and help with tasks that aren’t necessarily in their job description. Others are unwilling to do anything outside their designated duties.
Find out how your prospective day-of coordinator works, so it matches your needs and your personality.
What to look for in a day-of coordinator: A checklist
Go over the checklist below with your day-of coordinator candidates to make sure they will cover all these tasks. If there are things on the list that they don’t do – you’ll need to make sure those things are covered by someone else.
These are the tasks that need to be done for a typical wedding:
- Start working with the couple about two months before the wedding day
- Identify any gaps in the planning or design and correct any issues before the wedding day
- Make a list of all the vendors and get all of their plans and itineraries
- Finalize a day-of agenda (i.e. the timeline for the sequence of activities on the event day). It can include activities happening on the day before as well.
- Do a site visit/walk through of the event venue and create a space layout (include ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception). Make sure the floor plan encourages smooth traffic flow around food and beverage stations.
- Make sure the venue has all necessary tables and chairs. Document couples’ choices of table shapes and sizes, spaces being used, and any other venue inclusions (suites for getting ready, what they coordinate, etc)
- Get all policies from the event venue in writing, especially their cleanup policies and procedures. Specifically:
- Will the venue have their staff on site? If so, what are their staff hours and what tasks do they do throughout the day/night. If the venue does not provide any staff, make sure all tasks are delegated and taken care of.
- Does the venue have dumpsters? If so, who is responsible for taking trash to the dumpster? If not, make sure trash hauling is booked.
- Document what is expected of the renter and all vendors, and communicate that to everyone, including the couple (renter), if the venue doesn’t take care of that.
Day of the Event
On the event date, the day-of coordinator is responsible for the following:
- Be the first to arrive on site on the event day, based on the timeline
- Make sure the venue spaces are laid out correctly according to the plan
- Place linens and table décor/centerpieces (including place cards)
- Place china, cutlery, and glassware (if not being done by the caterer)
- Make sure vendors are arriving on time and finding their designated tables/areas
- Make sure family and vendors are sticking to the timeline (i.e. heading to the ceremony on time, transitioning from cocktail hour to reception on time, etc)
- Communicate announcements to the DJ or person in charge of audio
- Dismiss tables for buffet service or communicate to catering staff which tables to serve first for plated meals
- Make sure guests are leaving on time at the end of the event
- Remove décor and pack in designated car
- Remove linens and place in linen bags for pickup
- Coordinate late night snacks, if applicable
In general, the Day-Of coordinator is responsible for making sure things are running smoothly during your event. They should “put out any fires” or troubleshoot problems that may arise, so you and your guests can have an enjoyable experience.