Our services as planners – particularly as “day of coordinator”– are not all that tangible at first glance – they’re more abstract than, say, a wedding cake, which you can see, feel, and taste. But the basic truth is this: when you invest anywhere from 5k – 50k on upwards in an event, you are putting real money into it. If you were a corporation paying thousands for an event, you would be very careful to make sure it all goes well – it’s a pure business decision to hire an events pro to oversee it and protect your investment.

This astounding cake by the venerable Sylvia Weinstock required multiple phone calls and emails to ensure it flew (and drove!) safely from NYC to Palm Springs for May's Korakia event.

Banquet captains, catering managers, even photographers have told me, time and time again, that they end up stepping in to help things go well when a coordinator is lacking, but they don’t have the intricate knowledge of your vendors’ jobs to make sure the videographer who ran late stays an extra hour, or can whip out the florists’ contract to show them that they’re missing a centerpiece that they promised the client. They won’t be able to call in pizza when the lunch truck you ordered broke down (just happened last month), for example. They won’t be able to intensively analyze your timeline to make sure it’s realistic and allows for travel time to the location, or catch in your shuttle confirmation that the company goofed up on pickup time just 24 hours prior to the big day. It’s not because they don’t want to do these things – it’s because these things are not their job.

The team after setting up a candy bar at a Castle Green event. We time these set ups during dinner, otherwise the goodies would be gone before first course!

When we disclose our fees to potential clients, we sometimes hear in response that “we just need someone for the day” or “ an extra pair of hands to keep things running smoothly.” However, to coordinate all these moving parts, there needs to be preparation, meetings, and conversations (not just quick confirmation emails) with all vendors, or else the event will not be your envisioned ideal. This is not a hard-sell comment – this is the truth, based on experience.

I had a bilingual, Paris-based team assisting me brilliantly for June's destination wedding at the Hotel De Crillon.

Here’s how a typical fee quoted for a wedding breaks down:

  • 30% – 4 – 8 hours of prep for a typical wedding – securing diagrams from venue and aligning timeline with DJ and catering manager, reviewing contracts for any potential issues and ensuring we know exactly what vendors are supplying, serving as primary vendor liaison, and processing a spreadsheet that has all info (bridal party names and contact numbers, payments due, timeline, etc) that becomes our bible for the event. Also a fair amount of troubleshooting, nudging flaky vendors, catching a mistake on a vendor invoice, etc…
  • 20% – Face to face meetings. We offer 1 meeting for reception planning, 1 for ceremony planning, and 1 onsite walkthrough. Gas is my top expense and this portion of the fee allows me to afford mileage for the meetings.
  • 30% – This chunk covers time, effort, and labor on the big day. There is much manual labor and energy spent, as well as logistical management. We arrive quite early to check in with the bride, and stay till the end to pack up décor and close out any issues.
  • 10% – Ceremony rehearsal. It’s about a 4-hour chunk of time, and costs us in mileage, time and effort; this adds on to the work load and our expenses.
  • 10% – assistant fees, lunch, and parking for staff on the wedding day.

Folded into all of these percentages is the client’s ongoing accessibility to the lead coordinator with unlimited phone and email contact – helping the client make key planning decisions, offering vendor recommendations, adding items to the timeline, discussing etiquette issues, passing along articles of interest or a snapshot of a cool flower we saw at the mart that they might like in their bouquet. We take a thoughtful personal interest into all our client’s weddings – after all, they provide our livelihood.

As a proud small business, we are committed to our clients 100%. We don’t take other people’s money lightly – we want to make sure our couples believe they could have paid double for us, and we would have been worth it.

The main thing, though, is this: I’d do this for free if I had to. I love what I do. I always go above and beyond for my clients, every chance I get.  However, I have many of the same burdens my clients do – health insurance premiums, taxes, insurance costs, etc.  A good coordinator makes sure to carefully price his or her fees to reflect their own expenses and time invested, without adding any more than necessary to your budget.  And in the end, you’ll have a low-stress, beautiful, and happy event – something worth its weight in gold!

Leave a Reply