Day-Of Coordination is an art form. But it’s also a stressful role that many wedding planners take on for their clients. I asked an accomplished London-based wedding planner to share her top day-of coordination tips.
Meet Giada Prini, London Wedding Planner
Giada’s got her start in the hospitality space, working in a hotel. After becoming a supervisor and then a sales coordinator, Giada eventually moved to the corporate world, where she worked as an event coordinator.
While Giada long dreamed of opening her own wedding planning business, she took her time, built experience, and recently launched her own company, Enchanting Weddings and Events.
Giada says, “I have always been in love with great decors and details. I truly believe that every small occasion can be transformed into a great party!“
I asked Giada before we discussed her day-of coordination tips, why wedding planners are so crucial to a special event.
“A wedding is a special occasion,” Giada says. “There are so many details involved, and clients don’t want something plain, so they come to a wedding planner. They need a professional to make their day special.”
Anyway, let’s get to Giada’s top 10 day-of coordination tips!
Tip 1: Use The Venue Access Time Wisely
You’ll have a limited time at the venue before the event begins. Use this time as efficiently as possible. Giada recommends asking the venue for access the night before. While common in the corporate events space, it’s not always possible with wedding venues.
So budget your set-up time wisely, and plan around whatever time possible. Consider the vendor set up but also what help you’ll need from the venue too. And the venue will absolutely help you maximize this time. You just need to work it out with them in advance.
But if you have any access the day before, take advantage of it. The more you do in advance, the more time you’ll have for the details on the day-of.
Tip 2: Communicate Access To Vendors
As Giada puts it, “What can’t be done in advance will be done on the wedding day.” Sounds obvious, but I’ve heard from venues and vendors alike, that they often don’t get as much information as they’d like.
“You need to communicate different information to all the various suppliers. For example, florists are the last ones to set up because the flowers need to be fresh on the day. But other suppliers, they can actually set up and prepare the day before. So my job is to effectively communicate with each vendor and coordinate their access to the venue.”
And communication itself is essential. Giada always calls vendors the evening before the event and confirms they know what to do. In these calls, she’ll go over the details like loading bay access, and any staircase issues and the set-up times.
Giada’s Communication Tips
- Follow up every call with an email with details from the discussion
- Answer questions fast to avoid vendors getting stuck
- Ask vendors to be early
- Do a team briefing when possible
Tip 3: Do Your Homework Before The Event
Be prepared. Giada says, “check and recheck, check and recheck.” This is a habit Giada developed in the corporate planning space that she carried over to weddings.
“You need to check that all the information is accurate. For the reception, the ceremony schedule, and all the information you gave to the suppliers. I use a checklist usually because they’re effective at visualizing all the tasks I need to do. At the end of the day, couples paid you for a hassle-free event. So this is your job. And your homework is clarity of mind, knowing what you need to do and communicating with everybody what they have to do as well.”
Tip 4: Confirm With Everyone The Day Before
Yes, we’ve discussed calling vendors to go over access, this day-of coordination tip is about aligning everyone. Getting everyone on the same page.
Giada calls the vendors and makes sure they know who each person in the bridal party is. She also confirms that everyone knows where they need to be, what they need to do, and when.
“It’s important to talk to each other, make sure every single part and every single supplier understands what they need to do on the day. It can be a disaster if even one person does not understand something.
Tip 5: Call The Couple The Night Before
Soon-to-be-newlyweds can be pretty nervous the night before their wedding. So Giada recommends you give them a call the night before.
“They will be anxious. It’s good to have a call the day before and reassure them that everything is fine, and the timings are all set.”
Let the clients know you’ll be there at the venue, and what time you’ll be arriving. Run through the timeline with them and let them know the vendors are all confirmed too. Remind the couple that everything is under control.
And project a sense of calm. Giada says, “When you do this kind of call, the night before the wedding, you need to be extremely calm and go through everything. Just one by one. They need to feel that you are in control of everything.”
Even if you’re feeling stressed, you need to let your clients know that they’re in good hands.
Tip 6: Eat A Nutritious Breakfast
This is one of my favorite day-of coordination tips. Many event planners are so focused on their clients that they forget to eat. Come late morning, and you’ll be stressed, cranky, and feeling weak. Giada makes the point that low blood-sugar levels will lower the quality of responses. In emotional situations, you might give in to anger or, at the least, have negative body language.
So eat well, and take the odd snack break. Your self-control depends on it.
Tip 7: Arrive Early
As Giada puts it, “Arrive early on the wedding day and inspect the venue. Make sure that all is in order and make sure suppliers arrive on time. And when you see them, greet them with a big smile. You have a long day of working together – your presence and confidence will put them at ease.
The first thing Giada does is to check the condition of the room. And the earlier you arrive, the higher the chance you’ll have of setting any problems right.
And sometimes these problems are minimal, a carpet needing to be taped down. Or a stain to cover up. But the details matter, right?
Tip 8: Keep Close Track of Time For Both Suppliers and Guests
Giada makes the point that vendors usually don’t need much oversight here. They’re likely experienced and know what needs to be done. But regardless, it’s still good to keep an eye on the time. If a vendor is falling behind, it’s an opportunity to get them the help they need.
Wrangling guests is much more difficult. They’re there to enjoy the wedding, not worry about the schedule.
“And managing the guests,” Giada says, ” is one of the most important things that need coordination. When they arrive, they don’t know where to go, where the toilets are, where they are supposed to sit.”
“So you are there to smile and greet them. Tell guests where their places are and describe what is going on. Guests need to be managed regarding the timeline. When it’s ceremony time, you’re the one telling everybody to start.”
If guests are slow to get to where they need to be, Giada recommends asking the venue waitstaff for help. The venue is excellent at managing guests.
Tip 9: Act Fast On Your Plan B
Giada references the typical rainy weather in Britain. Her clients have a love of marquee weddings, but the weather is always a risk. So when it comes to critical day-of coordination tips, Giada recommends setting up the plan B option before things get serious.
Because setting up the seating and catering and decor takes time, start organizing the switch early. The last thing you want is for guests to hover about while everything gets set up around them. Nor do you want the guests to get wet because you waited too long.
Tip 10: Body Language Speaks Volumes
Giada recommends you maintain an image of what you represent at the event. “You are the wedding planner. You are the person in control and in charge.”
And Giada recommends reflecting this image in your body language. Whether it’s through a smile or standing straight. And your body language needs to be guarded too. “So if anyone approaches with a negative attitude, your response needs to be clear and calm, without fomenting emotion.”
Always In Control With These Day-Of Coordination Tips
These day-of coordination tips are all about helping you feel in control amid a breathtakingly stressful job. One thing that helps is excellent event planning software that keeps your task lists and timelines organized. Good luck out there. You got this!
And for new event planners out there, check out Event Planning 101: A Guide For New Event Planners in 2020.