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This post has been years in the making. I’m currently at the Toyota dealership waiting on my car to be serviced and it suddenly dawned on me that I can no longer contain my thoughts on “day-of coordination.”
First, let me say that this post is not to offend any of you who currently offer day-of services. Sometimes when I look back on my pricing and packaging systems, I think “What was I thinking!?” The truth is that I had to make all the mistakes in order to clearly understand and have confidence in how I run my business now. The Wedding Biz Buzz is a safe place, but also an honest one, so here I go.
My top reason why I believe day-of coordination is detrimental to our industry is that it leads to confusion and chaos every time. As professionals, our job is to provide expertise, guidance, organization and excellent communication throughout the entire wedding weekend. If you are a believer in day-of coordination, then my question to you is: how can you effectively coordinate all details related to timeline, vendors, design setup, wedding party, family and teardown stepping in just 30 (even 60 days) before the wedding date?
Let’s say my son (eek! I’ll have a son in April!) turns 16 in two months, which means he will take his driver’s license test. Think of the danger that would ensue if I waited just weeks before he took that test? He would not be prepared AT ALL because he has no experience, no reference or knowledge of how to drive a vehicle safely. As wonderful, organized and energized our clients might be, they still have zero experience managing a wedding. (Side note: no matter how many baby showers and birthday parties that gal pal has planned, she still has no idea, nor is ready for the billions of details that need to be taken care of and possible mishaps could arise on a wedding day). Essentially by offering day-of coordination, you are setting your business and your clients’ best day ever up for failure.
What about month-of packages? My thoughts on the packaging pricing model is for a whole other day, but I believe that to successfully manage a wedding, planners need to begin coordinating at least 90 days (three months) out. One meeting simply cannot provide you with the amount of detailed information you need to make last-minute decisions for your bride, answer (at minimum ten per day) vendors questions on the spot and create a detailed itinerary. After all, how can your client trust you with this huge emotional and financial investment if they have not had the opportunity to get to know you?
Additionally, beginning three or more months out allows us to catch mistakes and redirect the flow of the day before it’s set in stone. Backtracking is no fun. For example, if a bride has planned for a 7:00pm Catholic mass in November and her and her fiance have decided not to do a first look, then this might be a problem, considering they will not have time or natural light for desired photos. Guests do not want to wait forever for refreshments and to greet the newlyweds. Additionally, the thought of giving couples just two hours to enjoy their reception makes me want to cry. These little details are super important and can make or break the organization and hinder captured memories your clients will have forever.
My last point concerns price & profit. What are the alternatives to day-of coordination? It simply comes down to title and investment. If you charge $1000 or less for a day-of coordination package, then calculate your total hourly invested time and determine what you make hourly. As planners, we work so incredibly hard on wedding days; we’re true hustlers! At the end of the day it’s our job, and we need to be appropriately financially compensated. Depending on your experience, you should be making $25-$150 per hour (perhaps more in the ultra luxury market). Let’s (please!) consider day-of coordination doesn’t exist anymore, so you switch to whatever you decide to call your service that offers planning, but not full-service. I urge you to stick to your minimum and charge additionally when necessary (tenting, increased guest count, etc.) People see value in you when you value your work. I bought the best preggo leggings I could find because I care about comfort and quality. Think how much more a bride’s wedding means to her? (Well, maybe. These leggings are pretty amazing)
Have you ever offered day-of coordination? What have been your struggles with this service? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below, on the Facebook Group, or feel free to DM me at @leslieherringcrabb or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.