Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Coordinator's Job

I seem to be getting lots of inquiries lately from people who are unsure of what exactly a Coordinator or Planner even DOES. I mean, they know we Coordinate and Plan, but what exactly does that entail? And how do we come up with these astronomical prices that we charge? Well, I can't answer for ALL Coordinators or Planner's, but there IS an answer. And here it is.

Question#1: What Exactly does a Coordinator's Job Entail?

Answer: A LOT.
Well, that's pretty vague still huh? I'm not going to list every single little thing here that we do, I'd run out of bandwidth I'm pretty sure. So lets break it down into more general duties.

First, to decide what a Coordinator is going to do for you, you must decide how much help you want. Most Coordinators have a range of packages designed to fit your needs. They are generally:

  • Day of Coordination
  • Month Of Coordination
  • Event Design
  • Full Planning
With the Exception of Event Design, all of these will include someone being on-site the day of the wedding and at the rehearsal to make sure that the Timeline is followed, that the Vendor's all have what they need to do their job, and stepping in as needed to get the stuff set-up and ready for your wedding. 

As I'm sure your able to figure out, Day of Coordination is just that, the Coordinator really only works with you for about a week beforehand, you've done all the planning and research, contracting, etc. You usually hire her about 2-6 months before the wedding date, to ensure she's available for your wedding, although if you have a popular date (think 11-11-11, 9-10-11) or the Coordinator you want is REALLY good, you may want to hire her earlier, to get your date. She will start working on your wedding a week or two before your wedding, although the good ones usually start about a month before so as to not be rushed that last week. She will spend time on the phone with your chosen vendors, making sure she understands the contracts you have with them, finding out what they need to have ready before they get to the Venue to be able to do their job more effectively, as well as what time they plan to arrive, and how much time they need to be ready. Your Coordinator will take all this information and compile it into a Timeline. She will have it down to the minute who needs to be doing what at what time. She will have copies available for the vendor's, and all need to know Bridal Party Members. She will have copies of all the contracts, and be able to step in and be the deciding factor if there is a disagreement between anyone. 

Month Of Coordination is the same as Day Of Coordination, but it includes more services. Usually More time is involved, with the Coordinator coming on Board a couple months before the Wedding. She will typically do Contract Reviews for you, and help you hire on the last few vendor's you may need for your event to be a success, and make suggestions on some of the Event Design that you have done. Different Coordinators will include different services from here on out, depending on what she Specializes in. 

Event Design is a Catch all phrase and can be either more expensive or less than Day Of or Month Of, depending on what it may entail for you. You can hire a Planner to simply design your event with some input from you, then you can take that design and go hire the appropriate vendor's and be done. Or perhaps you and your spouse are REALLLLY busy and just don't have the time to research vendor's to find those in your budget range and location who also meet the requirements you have for your design. You should hire an Event Designer at least a year in advance, so that she has the time to do her job with plenty of time to spare for you to hire the appropriate vendor's. 

Full Planning. Pretty Explanatory. It encompasses all of the above. You will have someone on-site the day of the wedding and at the rehearsal, she will design your event, do the research for 2-3 vendor's for each category for you to interview and choose from that fit your budget and needs. She will review all contracts, before you sign them to make sure they protect you. She will design your entire event, including all the extra parties like the Bachelor/Bachelorette parties, the Honeymoon, the Bridal Shower, Engagement Party, etc (Planning these may have an additional charge, as most fee's for full planning only include the time spent for the wedding planning - 90% or better of today's brides are either not having these extra parties or are planning them on their own, so Coordinator's have stopped including the time usually spent on these parties in their quotes) Your Coordinator will create the timeline, stay on top of your budget, making sure you don't overspend, she will oversee your guestlist, and keep you on track, or you can always choose a Platinum Full Planning Package (Many Coordinators have 2 Planning options, the general one as above, or a Platinum version, where you sit back and just give your planner general direction and she handles the rest) Platinum Versions (Sylver Weddings Platinum Version is the Diamond Package, so don't expect it to always be called a Platinum Package!) usually take the Full Planning Package up a notch or ten to leave the Bride and Groom completely stress free. The Coordinator does everything, with the bride and groom doing the bare minimum. Signing Checks and Contracts, doing the Dress and Tux fittings, etc. 

Question #2: Why do Coordinator's/Planner's charge so much?

Answer: Time and work spent, plus Business Expenses

Let me elaborate. Lets JUST take the Day Of Package. Your average Coordinator's contract says 10 hours for the Wedding, plus 2 more for the rehearsal. There's 12 hours. Add in the Time spent on the phone with Vendor's, the time spent creating the timeline and getting it perfected, add another average of 8 hours to that, for 20 hours. Plus about 3-5 hours in consultations with you, for about 25 hours. I'm going to use my standard pricing, assuming the wedding DOESN'T need an assistant (meaning less than 100 guests). Now, I'm an experienced Professional, and expect to be paid more for my work than an inexperienced Entry Level Planner you may find on Craigslist advertising for 1/4 of what I charge. Remember, you get what you pay for. Now my Pricing for a wedding such as this would average about $500. That's about $20/hour. Now, I personally usually end up staying longer and doing more work than my contract specifies I do, so I'm a little bit of an anomaly, and I usually work for about $15/hr or sometimes less. 

Now lets just take that $20/hr and look at how it's spent. Yeah, I know most brides don't care, but I don't want you to think that I'm living high on the hog on your wedding. I'm not. And this is why when you feel your Wedding Coordinator has done a great job, you should tip her, even though she owns her own company. 
  • Business License
  • Insurance
  • Continuing Education
  • Association Dues
  • Cost of accepting your payment (Bank fee's, Paypal Fee's, Credit Card Processor Fee's, etc)
There's more, but Again, I am TRYING to keep this Blog short enough to read it in a single day!! ;-) So after all of that, I'm going to actually make only about $7/hr. Now think about how hard I worked for your wedding, or will be working, if you haven't hired me yet. I'm making less money than the servers who are paid hourly by their employer, and you will end up tipping them something.  

And if you think I have it tough, try being any one of your vendor's who have to lug around heavy equipment, while dressed in tuxes.... 

The Moral of this story? BE KIND TO YOUR VENDOR'S, and don't expect us to work for you for free. 


  1. Your break down of operating costs, insurance and LLC, travel and time etc. can be applied to every professional wedding vendor. Thank you for blogging/saying it.

  2. Thanks for sharing the post about a Co-ordinator Job. The information might be useful for the co-ordination as well as newly engaged people willing to plan the wedding. The wedding planning is not an easy one. They may use the wedding planner iPhone apps to overcome the wedding difficulties.