The 5 Moments Your On-Site, Day-of Coordinator Will Miss
"I am not hiring a wedding planner or coordinator because my venue already provides one."
It is a common misconception in the bridal world that "Day of Coordinator" and "On Site Coordinator" are synonymous. This is so untrue that I have made it my mission to single handedly encourage the change of the title to "Venue Manager" or "On Site Manager" or at the very least "Venue Coordinator."
What's the main difference? Simply put: Coordinators (aka planners who are working the month leading up to your wedding and the day of) have the couple's best interest in mind. Venue Managers put the venue's best interest first.
But perhaps more important than the feel-good concept of someone having your back, is the idea that there are a few key moments in which your on-site "coordinator" will most likely not participate:
The moment you rehearse
In fact, you'll be lucky to find that your on-site manager even attends your rehearsal. If she does, it will probably be to unlock the door of the space, and then she will leave. And if she stays, she's definitely not going to be standing there, clipboard in hand, with all of your bridesmaid's names and processional order memorized. If you do not plan to have a full-service wedding planner or a day-of coordinator, you will want to plan ahead to lead your own rehearsal or ask your officiant to do so.
The moment you slip in to your dress
If you're hoping to have someone check in on you, offer you a glass of champagne, tell you how amazing you look in your wedding dress as your mom buttons up the back, or generally just make you feel taken care of while you're getting ready, you'll need more than your on-site manager. In her defense, she's likely too busy seeing to the staff setting up of the ceremony and/or reception to do this sort of task, but regardless, large amounts of doting just isn't in an on-site manager's job description.
The moment the stress level is peaking
One of the most chaotic and stressful behind-the-scenes moments happens when the bride's decor boxes are unloaded and everyone is trying to figure out how she wanted things set up. I think decor setup is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions in wedding planning. So, to clarify...
On-site manager: Makes sure whatever team setting up the ceremony and reception doesn't break things, disobey rules or burn the place down. She will point out things to vendors such as where certain outlets are for your DJ or where they recommend storing the cake. And while at some special venues, she may help set out the tables and chairs, she most definitely will not set up decor items that her venue did not provide. Do not assume this person will set out your guest book, decorate your escort table, place your signage or drape fabric on your chuppah. So if you consider yourself a DIY bride, you'll need someone (day of coordinator or otherwise) to execute all those projects you DIYed.
Day-of (aka month of) Coordinator: Similarly to the On-site Coordinator, this Coordinator oversees the setup of your ceremony and reception. The difference here is that she has your best interest at heart and has spent a month getting to know you and your preferences. This knowledge will help her guide your florist in making certain placement decisions, or help the caterers figure out how to fold the napkin the way you want it. If your Day-of Coordinator ends up physically setting up a good portion of your decor, you should tip her really well as it is technically not part of her basic contract and doing so is taking her away from other necessary duties. Another thought: If you have detailed design elements a la Pinterest, you definitely need a full service planner and/or designer.
Full Service Planner: Does all of the above, and is equipped (either with a staff, an assistant, additional time and/or vendor relationships) to carry out every detail of the plan.
The moment you walk down the aisle
I use the world producing because a wedding ceremony is a production. It's like opening night at the theater and you only had one rehearsal the day before. The music must be timed, the children must be wrangled, the dresses fluffed and the bouquets in place. The last thing you want is to be a bride who is instructing her bridal party to walk. Orchestrating the ceremony is perhaps a Day-of Coordinator's most important job. If you do not plan to have a Day-of Coordinator, plan to have a friend or relative who is not in the bridal party attend and lead your rehearsal, and then execute the plan the day of.
The moment the party begins (and the moment it ends)
Check your contract and then confirm with your on-site manager when she will be leaving the night of your wedding. I think you'll be shocked to find out that it's probably some time around 8 or 9pm. And if she stays, she's likely in a back office or the kitchen. The on-site manager is not at the reception, detailed schedule in hand, guiding the DJ, photographer and bridal party through every important moment. She is also not loading your car with you gifts, prettying up the bridal suite for your arrival that evening, and, very importantly, she's not cleaning up. In some cases, she will return at the end of the night to review a checklist to make sure the location is left the way your group found it. If you have a Planning team, they can see to it that the space is cleaned up properly. Otherwise, you may be leaving your deposit in the hands of fate and your Aunt Marilyn who may be two sheets to the wind.
While we don't recommend going it alone, if you decide not to hire a day-of coordinator or wedding planner, carefully review the above moments and assign tasks accordingly.