Day-of-Coordinators: the ultimate stress saver.
There's a certain set of responsibilities on a wedding day that are usually awkwardly divided among different members of the wedding party, the bride and her mom, some close friends or relatives, or scribbled onto a list that ends up crumpled into the bottom of a purse. The big picture of a wedding day is simple: show up on time, look nice, make lifelong covenantal promises, and have a good time!
I am a wedding photographer, I know firsthand how difficult it is to portray a day beautifully if it's stressful, full of arguments, or tense. Emotions shine straight through a camera. My job is to portray your wedding day memories beautifully so you can revisit them and hold on to them. At the end of the wedding, the only thing you still have are the pictures I took for you. The best way to get beautiful pictures is to eliminate all the stress you can on your wedding day.
Ashley & Thiago deserved a well-organized stress free wedding day more than anyone I know. Between issues with Thiago's Visa, which led to prolonged international separations over the course of their dating relationship, the complications Thiago's family experienced during their travels from Mozambique and other countries for the wedding, and the coronavirus stipulations on events, this couple had a long and exhausting journey to the aisle. I came in to the picture as their wedding photographer three months before the wedding when they found out their photographer was not able to journey from Brazil to photograph their wedding! I was so excited to still have their wedding date free only three months out from the wedding because I became very emotionally invested in their unique relationship and story.
Through all the bumps along the way, Ashley & Thiago were gracious to those around them, full of joy and hope, and gave glory to the Lord through their trials. I respect them so deeply for their story and the way they have upheld themselves as they walked their winding path to the wedding day.
The details of a wedding day, if not delegated well or managed thoroughly, can cause great amounts of strife. Alternatively, a well-planned wedding is a memorable joy for the bride and groom, the families, bridal parties, vendors, and the guests. The wedding of Ashley & Thiago was extremely well planned and they had a fantastic team of vendors who made sure the celebration went smoothly and that any issues were predicted and sorted out or swiftly fixed to avoid a wedding day horror story.
A wedding is like a machine, with many parts that need to be oiled and maintained so it's not a trainwreck. A coordinator is the person who keeps an eye on all the moving parts and runs preventative maintenance and does any troubleshooting behind the scenes so the bride and groom do not need to stop the celebration to solve problems.
The most sentimental parts of the wedding day often require scheduling so they can be protected, intimate settings. Organizing slow, intimate spaces in the day helps set up a safe environment so sweet moments can happen organically. It's very difficult for a photographer to walk in to a room and create a priceless image under pressure, but those precious images are exactly what the bride hopes for when she hires a photographer. Creating space for emotions to flow allows for those moments of raw emotion and celebration to bloom and be captured well on a wedding day. A coordinator is a massive catalyst in creating and protecting those spaces.
Consider the first look of Ashley and her bridesmaids and her mother. The coordinator was running back and forth to set up this moment and make sure the bridesmaids were in a good position for photography, that the space was tidier than before, that the groom wouldn't walk past and see the bride, that the bride had her crochet hook for her dress buttons, and so many other unseen tasks that keep the process running smoothly.
This was the most emotional first look I have ever seen. A safe and stressless space was created so that the only thing happening in that moment was the bride walking into the room. No one was preoccupied with menial tasks because of the quality organization of the day-of-coordinator.
Consider the following stressful scenarios that can easily be prevented by the watchful and trained eye of an events coordinator:
The videographer has the rings, veil, and the bride's shoes for some detail shots. He's somewhere on the property with those items but no one is sure where he went or when he will be back. The coordinator catches the slip-up and realizes the videographer is waiting at the correct spot for the first look with those items, and the bridal party has just not been told to join him. No time is lost because the coordinator has the phone number of each vendor and the schedule for the day on her clipboard so she quickly rectifies the situation.
Another example: during the ceremony, the highlight of the day, the whole bridal party is on stage with the bride and groom, the families are sitting down and enjoying themselves, and the bride and groom are certainly not in a position to troubleshoot. So who is on call as far as watching the timeline, making sure the playlist is correct, and preparing in advance for the group photos afterwards? The coordinator.
A stress-free ceremony is a sweet gift a couple can give to themselves. They only have each other to focus on, and how perfect is that? Ashley & Thiago had the most joyful and worshipful ceremony. Part of the ceremony was in English and part was in Portuguese because the groom and his family is from Brazil. The best man translated the marriage sermon which was done by the father of the groom.
After a wedding ceremony, the family often all trickles off to go to cocktail hour- but they are typically supposed to come up to the altar and head off together to the family portrait spot. Instead of losing uncle Joe to the bar and having to hunt in all the bathrooms for grandma, the coordinator can salvage the timeline and announce a spontaneous reminder that the family needs to gather for photos before they head off to cocktail hour.
Reminding the VIP guests of places they need to be prevents wasted time of the photographer, the bride and groom, and the family members. The family photos are completed efficiently and then the couples portraits begin. Ashley & Thiago's wedding was the most well-coordinated wedding I have photographed in a while, as not a single family member was lost and the whole family photo list was finished in only minutes. Believe it or not, family members commonly go missing right before the family photos no matter how many reminders they are given about the family photos. Coordinators eliminate that.
Streamlining the part of the day that is designated for photography is important because the whole point of the day is to celebrate with loved ones, so while there needs to be space set aside for portraits with the new bride and groom, that shouldn't take out a massive chunk of the day because of course they want to spend time with their guests. A coordinator protects the portrait time and helps the photographer by keeping track of the schedule, solving any scheduling issues, and keeping the photographer hands-free so the photographer can continue without having to check the time, the schedule, or be interrupted by questions from guests or the bridal party.
All these portraits were accomplished in two 10 minute segments on the wedding day! That is a very difficult task- but I was served so excellently by the coordinator that I was able to get very diverse, personal, and emotional portraits of the bride and groom even though I didn't have a huge chunk of time to work with.
During the reception the bride and groom never saw all the organization the coordinator did behind the scenes, but I did, because as the photographer I work closely with coordinators. Ashley & Thiago were able to dance and celebrate without watching the clock, checking the schedule, or tracking down missing items.
Every bride has her own personal things she needs to keep track of during the chaos of a wedding day. Maybe she wants to retouch her makeup immediately after the ceremony. Maybe she wants to switch to more comfortable shoes. Maybe she wants to gift her bouquet to her mother after the dance. A coordinator takes note of all these wishes and keeps track of the time frame and all of the items. If the bride has a professional assistant, she doesn't need to fill her mind with petty tasks on the wedding day. Her lipstick and comfortable shoes can be delivered on demand. A coordinator is a trusted person who reminds you of all the things you don't want to forget, and don't have time to remember.
The coordinator streamlines for the other vendors. If there's a glitch in the timeline, the coordinator is the person with a skillset that can efficiently rearrange the events of the day and make sure the other vendors are aware of the new plan. Many times, a coordinator has pulled me aside and explained a hangup that affects me and we have worked together to come up with an alternate plan before a moment of pressure hits.
The vast majority of brides are first time brides- meaning they have not planned a wedding before. There are many shortcuts to planning a wedding that ca be taken if you have connections and experience planning a large scale event. A first time bride does not have the ability to plan a wedding with the same level of skill as a person who plans and coordinates 30 weddings per year. A coordinator has seen it all, and is able to speak into every situation with fresh ideas and creative solutions to problems.
Ashley did a quick touchup and dress change as the guests were being arranged for the sparkler sendoff by the coordinator. She totally surprised Thiago with her second wedding day look!
Ashley & Thiago's wedding coordinator helped me do my work as a photographer very excellently by proactively communicating with me about my needs so I could serve the bride and groom well. One example is the sparkler exit. It's not my job to put down the camera and organize the guests so the sparkler send-off goes well. It's my job to hold the camera and capture precious moments. The coordinator did a fantastic job communicating my needs so the send-off would be efficient and look spectacular, and because of that, I was able to continue doing my job and take photographs that Ashley & Thiago are going to cherish.
Congratulations, Mr & Mrs. Naque!! Parabéns! Enjoy married life! Your story is incredible, your wedding was incredible, and I very much enjoyed celebrating you!
Recommendations for day-of-coordinators who I personally trust and enjoy working with:
Best Day Details. Emily DeRitter. https://thebestdaydetails.com/
Simply Events. https://simplyeventsinc.com/