Dear Fairy Godmother: What is the difference between a venue coordinator and a wedding coordinator? -- Angie
Dear Angie: Just think if you were remodeling a house: The difference between hiring an electrician and a contractor is that an electrician is trained to do a very specific part of the job, while the contractor is there to oversee everything and make sure all of the pieces work together. When you book your ceremony/reception venue, the site may include what's known as a venue coordinator. The venue coordinator's primary function is to make sure everything goes smoothly there on site: with the room, staff, food, tables, etc. They are not there to take care of your needs or those of your wedding party.
We often hear, "Oh, the venue coordinator will take care of everything." Remember, they will not be there during the planning process of your wedding to orchestrate an off-site ceremony, to deal with a bridesmaid who feels faint, or to help with your train, shoes or veil. Venue coordinators are a great help at the venue, but they normally do not get involved in all of the pre-planning and the details of your wedding day. A wedding coordinator or day-of coordinator is a mediator, an orchestrator, a consultant, a sounding board, a friend and an organizer all rolled into one. Wedding coordinators plan and work out every aspect of your wedding. They create a detailed timeline for your wedding day, and manage and work with your vendors. They take care of everything you need to ensure your day will be perfect!
Dear Michelle: First, make sure your budget is detailed and realistic. Your wedding planner will have a budget outline that lists every expense item imaginable, or you can find one online. As you set the budget, my best advice is to prioritize things. "A" is for the items you can't live without, "B" is for those that are important, "C" is for the items that can be negotiated. It will save you time and money if you are up front with your vendors about your budget for their particular service. Remember that this is your day, and be willing to let go of some of the traditions and expectations. For example, instead of champagne, invite your guests to toast with the drink they have in hand. If you really want to invest in the best videographer, skip the party favors. Sticking with what's important to you will leave you forever saying, "That was money well spent!"
Dear Fairy Godmother: Is there any advice you can give to future brides that can help relieve some stress on their wedding day? -- Josephine
Dear Josephine: A wedding is likely the largest event you will plan in your entire life and the stress behind it can be unbearable. What should be a happy and exciting process, can turn into a nightmare. There are three key things to keep in mind: plan, pick and push. Start by purchasing a wedding organizer (found at any book store). This simple tool will help you develop a plan and stick to it for the coming months. Next, pick your vendors, church and venue, and book them early. Also, pick your bridal party carefully. Of the hundreds of weddings we've coordinated, we've found the ones where the bridal party is truly there for the bride are the most joyous. Finally, in your mind, push your wedding date up a month. Trust me; unexpected things will come up in the final weeks, so try to get the to-do list clear with 30 days to spare.
Dear Fairy Godmother: A lot of my recently married friends are encouraging me to get a wedding coordinator. My mom and sister are really organized, and I know they'll be helpful the day of my wedding, so I'm not sure I really need a coordinator. What can a wedding coordinator do that my friends and family can't? -- Lisa
Dear Lisa: The day of your wedding, you probably want your sister, mom or friend to enjoy the event, not have to work at it! It is not fun acting as the "wedding coordinator" while everyone else is visiting, dining and soaking in the day. I don't think your sister wants to schlep things around the venue; your mom probably doesn't want to oversee setup and call vendors; and your friends would probably rather not deal with the inevitable emergencies. By hiring a wedding coordinator, you will have access to an expert who can assist you with every detail of your wedding, and keep your day moving without a hiccup. This person will be an experienced adviser who has vendor connections, will know all of the hot spots to get married, and who can be a coach, a friend and an objective mediator at critical times.
Dear Fairy Godmother: How do I pick the perfect vendors? There are so many! -- Becky
Dear Becky: You are so right. The services offered in the wedding world are extensive, and they can be overwhelming. First, prepare a list of questions to ask each vendor when you meet with them. Do your homework. Check their website, their Facebook page and references. Referrals are a great way to pick your vendors, and will refer other vendors with a good reputation. Ask other newly married brides for recommendations. Make sure you are offered a contract (and read it well), as it will protect you. Choose services in the order of priority. If amazing photographs are very important to you, research and book the photographer first. If you have your heart set on a unique venue, make that appointment right away. Your wedding planner/coordinator has had exposure to hundreds of vendors in action and they will also have a list of their most trusted sources.
-- Colleen Bauer is the creator and primary wedding planner for this enchanted business.