When Should I Hire A Day-Of Coordinator?

September 28th, 2010

I do a lot of day-of coordinating of weddings.  I have been hired six weeks before the wedding and I have been hired 18 months in advance.  What is the optimal time for you to hire a day-of coordinator for your wedding?

Your day-of wedding coordinator should know your taste.

Your day-of wedding coordinator should know your taste.

That is a complicated question, but one thing I know for sure is that you should not wait until two weeks before your wedding to hire someone.  I have gotten calls from (rather desperate-sounding brides) who need to hire someone right away.  Unless it is the depths of winter, chances are a good coordinator is already booked within six weeks.

Most of the calls I get for coordinating are from couples getting married within six to 12 months.  I don’t generally book a job if it is much more than a year away.  (There are exceptions to that rule, though, so if you know that you want to hire me, feel free to get in touch.)  But any time within that range is usually a good time.

My rule of thumb is that you should have your date chosen and your ceremony and reception locations booked before you hire a coordinator.  That way you can lock in a date with the coordinator.

Of course, if you are planning to hire someone to help with the planning, in addition to coordinating, that is another matter.  Hire that person as soon as you start planning.

One thing I have noticed is that couples get a lot more service from me if they book farther in advance.  Because my contract always includes unlimited phone calls and e-mails, if you hire me a year in advance, you will get a full year’s worth of advice, counsel, recommendations, and feedback from me–at no extra cost to you.  The nice thing to me about that is that I really get a chance to know you and know what you want, like, and expect.  That way, when it comes to your wedding day, I understand your taste and your wants and can make sure things are the way you like them.

To me, coordinating your wedding is all about communication.  The more time we have to communicate with each other, the better the result will be.

The Bored Wedding Guest

September 15th, 2010

It seems to me that there are two kinds of wedding guests.  There are close friends and family, who feel involved in everything at the wedding and the reception.  And then there are the more distant guests:  acquaintances, associates, friends of the family, and people there with a date.

Some of my clients have been acutely aware of the predicament of the more distant type of guest.  They have instructed me to keep the reception activities moving along and interesting so people don’t get bored.  There are also a few other things you can do to help those guests, if you want to.

Few people are bored when there is a band playing.  Photo courtesy of christytylerphotography.com.

Few people are bored when there is a band playing. Photo courtesy of christytylerphotography.com.

Just playing music, either live or from a DJ, can help the guests have something to do.  If there are performers, there is something to watch. And if you are in an interesting location (a historic house or building, a park, etc.) your guests may find ways to amuse themselves without any help.

If you’re having a seated meal, try to seat your guests at tables where they have something in common with another guest.  If you are having a cocktail reception, ask a member of the wedding party or a close friend to keep an eye out for the people who look like they aren’t talking to anyone and introduce them to family or friends.

And think about whether or not you ask your acquaintances to bring a date.  A guest who doesn’t know anyone will enjoy themselves much more if they bring someone to talk to.

In the end, though, your guests will have to fend for themselves.  Most people know what they are getting in to when they go to a wedding where they don’t know anyone.  The outgoing ones among them will meet people.  The rest will have a pleasant evening.

How to Hire a Caterer (Part One)

September 10th, 2010
Can you find a caterer to do this?  Photo by Happy Buddy PhotoArt.

Can you find a caterer to do this? Photo by Happy Buddy PhotoArt.

I find that one of the hardest things for my clients in planning events is hiring a caterer.  I admit that it can be a complicated process.  If you break it down into smaller steps, it gets a little easier.

One of the first things you can consider when choosing a caterer is whether to hire a big catering firm or a smaller one.  Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

A small caterer is likely to be more flexible in menus and pricing.  Sometimes they can come up with a special dish just for you.  You are more likely to get the personal touch from a smaller firm.  There is also more variety:  Small companies specialize in different things and each one is different.  On the flip side, some small caterers can not handle very large crowds.  They don’t always have the office staff to return calls promptly.  And they aren’t on the preferred caterer list of many of the larger venues.

Large caterers often have an event coordinator/sales person on staff who is your contact from beginning to end.  This person is not generally a substitute for your own event planner but is another pair of hands and another experienced professional working for you.  The largest caterers also often hire extra serving staff.  I just worked on a wedding with catering by Wolfgang Puck.  They hired at least 20 servers for 175 guests, including one server who only looked after the bride and groom.  It’s great to have extra people working at your event.  But you pay for size and service.  And you generally have to work with the caterer’s preset menus.

If you’re planning to hire a caterer soon, take a look at the size of the catering company.  See what they have to offer.  That ought to help you narrow down your choices.