Y’all… I’m practically jumping out of my seat I’m so excited for today’s blog post! As a wedding photographer, I know just how valuable it is to have help on your wedding day. There are SO many moving parts on a wedding day, and I’ll be honest— I truly believe that it is absolutely necessary to have someone there to field the logistics and potential sticky situations that may arise throughout your planning and on your wedding day. Having the help and support of an outside party ensures that you as a couple getting married AND your friends and family can be fully present for the CELEBRATION instead of worrying about event coordination and logistics. This is a GIFT, let me tell you!
I’m sure you learned at the start of wedding planning that there is a whole glossary of new words that come with the wedding world! When it comes to wedding day support, what’s the right choice for you? Do you want a full-service wedding planner? A day of coordinator? Will your venue coordinator be enough support for what you need?! If you are scratching your head wondering what I’m talking about or are nodding along wondering which is the right fit for you… hang with me, we’ll talk through each of these roles in today’s post!
More specifically though, we’re diving deep into the role of day-of wedding coordinator! What is it, is it right for you, and how do you go about hiring someone for this kind of wedding-day support?! I’ve partnered with a pro for this post, so before I hand it off, a little introduction! Y’all… meet Amanda! She is a day-of wedding coordinator for Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination and is one of my sweet clients from my days teaching FlyBarre! She is so sweet, well-spoken, and an absolute JOY! Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your expertise and passion for day-of coordination! You have SUCH a wealth of knowledge!
I cannot WAIT for y’all to learn from her today, so let’s go ahead and get started!
Can you introduce yourself? What is your role at Capitol Romance?
Hi! My name is Amanda Fulton and I am going into my 6th wedding season as a day-of wedding coordinator at Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination! This year, I am excited to take on a new role as Chief Operations Officer, where I’ll be responding to inquiries and connecting prospective couples with our team of coordinators, managing the blog, and (hopefully!) reopening our online shop – and, of course, continuing to work weddings!
Capitol Romance was founded in 2012 by Bree Ryback and has continued to grow over the past 10 years. This year, our team is the largest it’s ever been with 6 day-of coordinators and we are so excited to introduce new packages for elopements and microweddings!
Where are you located and what is your service area?
At Capitol Romance, our coordinators are based in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Personally, one of my favorite things about meeting new couples is discovering new coffee shops and cafes for meetings. 🙂
While most of our weddings take place in Washington, DC, we are always excited to receive inquiries for weddings in Maryland and Virginia as well!
What is a day-of wedding coordinator?
I like to describe a day-of coordinator as the Project Manager for your wedding day. We are working with the other vendors to make sure that everything is cohesive and just as you’d planned, managing the timeline and flow of the day, and at the ready to jump in and troubleshoot any challenges that may arise to ensure that the wedding couple doesn’t have to worry about a thing!
How does the job of a day-of wedding coordinator differ from the job of a venue coordinator or wedding planner?
Explaining the differences between a day-of wedding coordinator and a wedding planner is one of the most important first conversations we have with our prospective couples to make sure we’re the right fit for one another.
In our minds, a day-of wedding coordinator is perfect for couples who want to be very hands-on in the planning of their wedding day but are looking for an expert that can guide them throughout their planning process with advice and insights, and provide peace of mind on their wedding day.
Conversely, a wedding planner is much more of a driver in the wedding planning process – providing everything from establishing a creative vision for the wedding day, designing invitations, choosing a venue, selecting florals and decor, attending meetings with vendors…you get the idea! Hiring a wedding planner is much more costly than a day-of coordinator, but is a worthwhile investment for couples who don’t have the time or enthusiasm for planning their own wedding.
A venue coordinator is an individual who is employed by the wedding venue to manage their space. In some cases, this individual may carry out many of the same roles as a day-of coordinator – either by design or by necessity. However, this varies widely from venue to venue and ultimately the venue is always their top priority (whereas the couple is ours). In other cases, the venue coordinator may only be equipped to provide security and housekeeping at the space, or make small adjustments to temperature or lighting. Ultimately, their responsibility is to ensure that the policies of the venue are being followed, so while they can be a great member of the day-of team, it’s best not to rely on the venue coordinator to provide all of the services of a coordinator!
In fact, many venues require couples to hire a planner or coordinator in order to rent the space so that their venue representative isn’t tasked with these duties.
What does the planning process look like with a day-of wedding coordinator?
A day-of coordinator can definitely be a bit of a misnomer! Contrary to how it sounds, our relationship with the couple – and our work – begins well in advance of the wedding day.
Some couples reach out to book our services as one of their first vendor connections; other times, we are booked much closer to the wedding date as a couple realizes the magnitude of responsibilities that fall on the wedding day and they are looking for additional support to ensure the day goes off without a hitch.
Regardless, we serve as a resource for couples – largely via phone, email or video chat – from the day they sign a contract with us. This might include providing vendor referrals, offering advice on questions from other vendors, or sharing insights from our past experiences.
About 6-8 weeks in advance of a couple’s wedding date, we schedule our “final consultation” meeting, which is an approximately 2-hour planning session where we create a timeline for the day – from waking up to leaving the venue after the DJ plays the final song and lights go up. We also mock-up layouts for each of the wedding spaces – ceremony, cocktail reception, dinner, and dancing. Some couples may already have some of this work drafted in advance of the meeting, but it’s 100% ok to show up with a blank page! It’s a great opportunity to walk through everything in-depth, with plenty of time to catch anything that still needs to be addressed before the big day.
After that, we’ll attend the final venue walkthrough with the couple, assist with ceremony preparations and answer final questions at the rehearsal, and then on the wedding day, we are on-site at the venue as soon as it becomes available for vendors!
What typical wedding day tasks do day-of wedding coordinators take on for couples on their wedding day?
On the wedding day, we are on our feet almost the entire day! (I am a strong proponent of VERY comfortable shoes ;)). Ultimately, it is our job to execute all of the plans that the couple has put in place. That means:
- Serving as the point-of-contact with other vendors, answering questions, and making sure everyone is on the same page
- Light decor setup – this might include setting out items like the card box and guest book, laying out escort cards, putting signs on easels, placing framed family photos on mantels or tables, etc. This is an area where it’s important for us to set boundaries because ultimately doing any setup too complicated may keep us from being able to keep track of time and the other vendors. We encourage couples to make plans with friends or family to execute more complicated tasks, or we can bring an assistant with us for an hourly fee.
- Managing the timeline – lining up the couple to start the processional, moving guests from cocktail hour to dinner, coordinating toasts and the start of dancing, cake cutting, etc – and within these tasks, we are working with vendors to ensure that everyone is where they need to be (the photographer and videographer are stationed where they need to be to get the right shots, the DJ is cued up and has all the necessary information for announcements and introductions, and catering is ready to serve dinner or dessert, whether that’s plated at tables or set up on a buffet)
- Being proactive and reactive to challenges as the wedding day is happening – this could be anything from notifying the venue coordinator that the bathroom trash cans are filling up, to grabbing catering to clean up a spill on the dance floor, to helping an elderly relative navigate the dinner buffet, and more!
- Packing up items at the end of the night – making sure that cards, gifts, and the marriage license are safely in the hands of a family member and getting decor items to the designated individual to take from the venue
- Serving as a point of contact for the couple and bridal party – it is essential for us to remain in close contact with the couple, checking in to make sure they are ready and comfortable with each next step in the wedding day. We’re ready to adapt the schedule as needed to accommodate golden hour photos, a bathroom break, or even a wardrobe change!
What are the benefits of hiring a wedding coordinator?
I can’t even tell you the number of times a couple has told me after a wedding “I wasn’t sure about hiring a day-of coordinator, but now I think it was the best decision I could have made.” The peace of mind that having a day-of coordinator brings to you is invaluable. It allows the wedding couple, their family, and their bridal party to enjoy every moment of the wedding day (that they spent so much time and money planning and waiting for).
Additionally, a day-of coordinator brings knowledge and experience, so you can benefit from our pre-existing relationships with vendors and best practices we’ve learned from things that have worked well and not so well.
Is there anything else you think couples should know about wedding coordination and hiring a wedding coordinator?
There are a lot of amazing day-of coordinators out there who could very successfully execute your plan on your wedding day, but there’s an intangible x-factor in finding a coordinator who just vibes with you. I have learned that the most successful coordinator/couple relationships are the ones where we just click! Don’t hesitate to look into different companies, meet with coordinators, and hire someone who feels like a good fit for, not only your budget, but also your values and your personality.
Where can we find y’all online?
You can visit www.capitolromanceweddings.com, follow us on our new team Instagram account @capitolromanceweddings, or you can find me @caproamanda.
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