Why You Should Consider Hiring a Day-of Wedding Coordinator

We asked California event designer Wayne Gurnick of Moments by Wayne Gurnick to give us the 411 on working with a day-of planner.

bride and groom in tent
Photo Credit: Joe Mikos for Desiree Spinner Events

What does day-of planning entail? Does everything happen on the big day?
Not quite. While this is commonly referred to as “day-of,” a better description is “coordination for the day of the wedding.” It starts with a comprehensive consultation with the bride at least three to four weeks prior to the wedding. From there we assemble a detailed timeline for the wedding day and work to ensure that everything comes together just as the bride envisioned it. As well, some wedding venues have a requirement that a couple hire a planner or at minimum, a coordinator for the day of the wedding.

What do day-of planning services generally cost?
Day-of coordination can range from $800 to $2,600 depending on the region, the planner’s experience and the specifics of the wedding. Are the ceremony and reception in one place or two? Are there extra details like dessert-bar setups, midnight snacks or food trucks? Will the celebration last until 2 a.m.? These aspects can all affect the cost.

What are the key benefits?
The biggest: having the peace of mind that all the details will come together as you envisioned. The amount of resources budgeted toward a wedding can be substantial, and with just 5 to 10 percent of the cost going to coordination for the day, couples can ensure that countless hours of planning time will be made easier and that they get the most for their money. Think about it: In addition to being the center of
attention, you two are also the hosts of the celebration, unlike the days when parents took charge of wedding day festivities. If a last-minute snafu crops up, having a coordinator on board allows you to be charming, gracious hosts, rather than frazzled, last-minute problem solvers. You'll be able to truly enjoy every moment of the day.

All in a day's work
On the big day, Gurnick’s team often handles the unexpected:

  • Party crashers are ordering drinks at the bar and need to be asked to leave.
  • Groomsman is missing his tux shirt, so we implore the rental company to do an emergency delivery.
  • Bandleader arrives two hours late: We work with the lead singer to get the party going.
  • We direct traffic in the middle of the street so the photographer can capture the perfect shot.
  • Mother of the bride disappears just as the couple is ready to cut the wedding cake — we find her and bring her back.
  • The lights in the ballroom are too bright; we work with the lighting engineer to create a warm ambience.

Day-of planning at a glance

Formulation of wedding-day timeline and distribution to all vendors.

Coordination of all wedding professionals selected by bride and groom.

Conducting the wedding rehearsal the day before.

Coordinating all activities, including:

  • Assisting the bride and wedding party with dressing, photo schedules.
  • Guiding the bridal party through processional and recessional.
  • Checking details both big (final head count for caterer, number of place settings) and small (placement of favors, menus and napkin folds).
  • Checking floor plans, lighting levels, cake placement.
  • Cueing all wedding professionals.
  • Collection of gifts and personal items, inventory and safe removal. “The coordinator is usually the last person to leave,” Gurnick says.