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Wedding 101

Responsibilities of Producer/Coordinator

     Have you ever planned, or supervised the entertainment of a wedding?  A majority of people have not done so, yet many think that they are perfectly capable of doing so despite their lack of experience.  Producing, coordinating, executing, and overseeing the entertainment of a wedding (or any large, important event) is one of those jobs that everyone thinks they can do.  Often times, this is because the people that are often seen do it are experienced and make it look easy .  I often use Ryan Seacrest as an example.  Despite whatever one's opinion of him may be, when it comes to the business, he's among the best to do it.  The man speaks on camera, and adjusts on the fly to instant changes the way you and I change our socks.  He makes it look so incredibly easy.  But let me tell you, public speaking off camera (or not in front of hundreds of people in a room), orchestrating the flow and pace of a major event takes practice and experience that is definitely not acquired overnight or in any short amount of time- let alone doing it on camera with an audience of millions.  Many wedding providers are viewed the same way, they use their experience and do the job well- making it look easy so people take it for granted.  Let me tell you, this is just another of the many misconceptions that we as humans take as truth when it is actually anything but truth.  Often times, trying to do it all by oneself leads to increased pressure and stress, which often leaves people feeling miserable at a time that should be enjoyed.  The million dollar question is:  How do you figure out how much help you actually need?  Can you actually do it yourself (no)?  Should you hire a professional wedding coordinator?  Should you enlist the services of a family member or friend?  Let's dive in.

     First of all, you need to figure out what you need, establish roles for people, and make sure they know them and stay updated.  One role that is necessary is that of the producer.  Think of a producer for  a wedding along the same lines that you would think of a movie producer- they have many important roles.  First, and often primarily, the producer is the financier of the operation.  Often, as the financier, the producer has heavy influence on the role players, hires, and overall budget of course.

     Often times, it is family that helps finance part or all of the wedding.  In that case, it is you and your family that are the wedding producers.  Just like small indy films, a do-it-yourself approach and small budget may suit you just fine.  On the flip side, when you want a big budget production, you want a producer who has experience in producing successful events in the past. 


     I advise against planning a wedding oneself, especially if one has no experience doing so.  But, if you are going to throw caution to the wind, here are some things you should think about:


     Producing a wedding takes time, much more time than most people think.  Simply preparing for the entertainment of a wedding takes many hours (some insight as to why most wedding entertainment is expensive).  For the providers, the wedding itself is many times hours number 35-41 of the total amount of time they have worked on it, and then they still have post wedding work to do (all of them).  You will sacrifice many nights, weekends, and free time to planning, meetings, fittings, site inspections, and much more (that doesn't include events such as showers, parties, and maybe more depending on cultural/religious influences).  Really take time to think about how much time you want (or have) to give to planning your wedding.  If you have the free time, then great!  You may just learn something about yourself  :).


     Let's go back to the first thing I asked in this article.  Have you ever planned, implemented, and/or overseen the entertainment of a wedding before?  Do you know what you are doing?  Do you have a game plan?  Location?  Decor?  Dress?  If yes to those, then perhaps you can handle it on your own.  If those questions overwhelm you, then hire a professional.  In the end you'll be glad you did.




     Who is going to check last minute details and make sure everything is in place (placards, flowers, role players, favors, centerpieces, etc.)?  Who will safeguard the wedding gifts and make sure they get to you afterward?  Those are only some of the details that need to be addressed and covered before and during your wedding.  If you have that covered, then super.  If not, once again, a professional will help (at least a day-of coordinator, find out more here). 


     Enlisting the help of a friend or family member to produce your wedding can often elicit a love-hate relationship (at least temporarily).   First, you need to consider whether or not they have any experience planning a wedding.  Recent newlyweds, people who helped friends with weddings- all can be great fits.  Don't be afraid to ask if people know what they are doing, and if they don't, then don't enlist their help.  Secondly, often times a friend is not going to charge for helping you.  That's great, friends are awesome, I love them.  But, what if something goes wrong?  Will they say 'hey, I wasn't paid or anything'?  You have to be crystal clear about the roles and what you want from them, and don't worry about hurting feelings (if you are, then hire someone).  Even if they are doing a favor as a friend,  pay them somehow (money, gift, something).  The third thing to consider is, are you good enough friends with the person you want to be producer?  Can you friendship withstand the pressure

of what lies ahead?  Can you say 'no' to the person comfortably?  Will your

friendship stand if things go south?  If you feel any hesitation whatsoever

when answering those questions, then hire a professional.  It's better to keep

a friend and your sanity than it is to lose both and have a crappy wedding.


     Choosing the right coordinator will have a direct impact on your wedding.  A professional coordinator will help make your visions come to life, and help you choose the right wedding providers.  The main challenge is that finding the wedding coordinator that is best for you is not always the easiest thing to do.  

     First, one must consider how much wedding experience the person has.  Weddings (and most events) are a beast that is run by experience, and it shows.  Most times, I can spot an inexperienced person at an event a mile away, especially when publicly speaking.  People with experience have that 'act like you've been there' quality, and it's virtually impossible to teach.  A good coordinator will have references, ideas, and most of all, a plethora of knowledge to share.  One can usually ascertain the experience a coorindator (or any wedding provider) has by how much knowledge they have on the subject, and the diversity of the ideas they have.      

     Second, one must consider whether or not their prospective wedding coordinator is someone they can work with.  Different people provide different types of services.  Some are more controlling than others, some are direct, some are indirect, and none of those things are wrong, it just depends on one's style and taste.  Decide how involved you want to be, and the type of person you want to work with, and make your decision based on that.  Personality is big.

     One must ask whether or not their prospective coordinator will work as a team with other wedding providers.  Constant, respectful communication is key to any successful event.  When does your coordinator reach out to other providers?  Early contact from the coordinator assures other providers that your wedding is in good hands.  One who waits may cause confusion, which leads to stress, which can lead to a happy time being not so happy.  Find out what kind of challenges your prospective coordinator has faced, and how they handled them.  A good wedding coordinator has seen it all, good and bad, and should have plenty of stories to share, good and bad.  Most of all, find out what your prospective coordinator learned from his/her adverse experiences, and what steps they have taken to prevent them from happening in the future.

     Dovetailing on the last thought, does your prospective coordinator have an emergency plan?  A good, professional coordinator has seen it all, and is prepared for everything.  They usually have an emergency kit that has everything from buttons to needles and thread, candles, lighters/matches, shoe polish, deodorant, makeup, wipes, toothbrushes, gum, stain stick, and more (Ensemble Events always has one, and it's been needed many times).  Preparation like that only comes with experience, and can be the difference between a disaster and a slight speed bump, or funny memory.  Ask about preventative measures.  if they have none, I'd look elsewhere.


     Your wedding is a day that you will remember forever.  My advice is never to sacrifice potential memories due to money (I know some things are unavoidable).  If you are planning anything larger than a smaller, intimate wedding, hire a pro.  Thanks!

Outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions are the best...Just make sure you prepare for all possibilities.


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