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How far in advance should I hire a wedding coordinator?

Choosing A Wedding Coordinator

Carol Rosen (Professional Wedding Coordinator) gives expert video advice on: Who usually pays for the wedding coordinator?; Do I sign a contract with a wedding coordinator?; Can a wedding coordinator also help me plan my wedding shower? and more...

How far in advance should I hire a wedding coordinator?

A wedding coordinator should be hired as soon as possible. Even if you're not going to use that coordinator for a full service package, if you're not going to work with them all the way through, you want to hire them up front so they can at least make sure that you're headed in the right direction. When somebody waits until the very end to hire me, and then I find out they've already booked a certain thing or they've already made an arrangement for something, I feel like I wish I'd known, because I would have given them a better company to work with, I would have given them a better idea. At least have your wedding coordinator on hold and know that there's someone that you can go to for information and for feedback as you're in the planning process.

How is a wedding coordinator paid?

A wedding coordinator is paid generally on a flat fee basis. We have packages very often that we will present to clients, and the package will consist of a certain number of services or a certain number of hours for those services. A wedding coordinator might also be paid on a percentage of the total cost of the event. In the Bridal Association, we truly discourage the percentage procedure because as you know, if somebody said to you, "I'm going to charge fifteen percent of the total cost of your wedding," you would start to feel as though you were referring vendors to you that were more expensive so they would get a higher percentage. We don't ever want anyone to feel that way even though we wouldn't do that. By giving you a flat fee for wedding coordination services, you know up front what you're going to pay and exactly what services you'll receive for that amount.

What are the going rates for a wedding coordinator?

Costs for wedding coordinators differ greatly from coast to coast, from state to state; it depends on what part of the country you're in. In Los Angeles, most coordinators are going to start at about $1,500 and go up from there. However, we have some younger girls in the Bridal Association that are maybe interns; they're just starting, they're just learning. They might be very willing to do something for less than that because it's going to get them the experience they need to have. That becomes a decision that the client has to make: "Would I be willing to go with someone who's not so experienced, who's on a learning curve, in order to pay less money, but I don't mind working with that?" Or, do you want someone with a lot of experience and might be a great deal more costly, but has certainly been in the wedding coordinator business a very long time, and perhaps has more resources, and certainly has more knowledge.

What are wedding coordinator 'packages'?

The wedding coordination packages are very often done on three levels, which, as you can imagine, are low, medium, and high. It depends on the coordinator you are meeting with. If a wedding coordinator has a series of packages, the lowest might be something like a Core Plan, which would give you some meetings before the event and then coverage on the day of your wedding. There's often some terminology used where clients call up and ask for a Day Of Coordinator, and as you can imagine, nobody walks into your wedding on that day and runs the show. That's why we have something like a Core Plan, which gives you some prior meetings to the wedding and then the coordinator knows what to do for that day. A Middle Plan would probably encompass more services, more hours, more time; that wedding coordinator might spend time going with you to different vendors, maybe meeting with photographers with you, or with florists, doing more walk-throughs at your venue, etc. A Full Service Plan would encompass even more and that wedding coordinator would work very closely with you on every aspect of the wedding.

What are wedding coordinator 'package fees'?

Wedding coordinator package fees are based on the amount of time and the number of meetings that the coordinator is going to give you. Package fees might start at something like $1,500 and go up. Full service fees could be anywhere from $10,000 and up, depending on the complexity of the wedding, the number of guests, and the number of venues that you have. If it's a church wedding and then a reception in a hotel, you have a split venue situation so that takes more energy. All of those are factors that get included in figuring out what the fee is going to be for the client of the wedding coordinator.

Who usually pays for the wedding coordinator?

The wedding coordinator is paid either by the bride and groom or by the bride's family, although once in a while I will have a groom's family who says this is their gift to you; they're going to pay for the coordinator. I don't think there is any usual person who pays for it.

Do I sign a contract with a wedding coordinator?

A contract should always be signed with anybody that you hire to work for you, so you sign a contract with your wedding coordinator. That will say exactly what the services are going to be, what they agree to do for you, and it will ask for a deposit of some amount of money in order to hold that date and to begin working with you.

If my parents are paying, does my wedding coordinator work for them or me?

If your parents are paying for the wedding coordinator, sometimes they feel as though the coordinator is working for them. But most coordinators will work with the parents and with the bride, and generally what I say to the parents is: "I know you're paying for it, but it's really their wedding, so let's give them as much freedom as we can to plan the wedding the way they want it." If there's something very specific the parents want, we discuss that, and if necessary, we do a little mediation.

How important is it for me to have a good relationship with my wedding coordinator?

Your relationship with your wedding coordinator is really very important. One of the things I say to my clients is, "We're going to be best friends until the day after, and then you can drop me." So you really want someone that you can work with, that you're comfortable with, that you feel like you can ask questions of, that you're going to be confident in their answers, and that you get along well with. Why would you want a doctor that doesn't have a good bedside manner? It's the same thing with your wedding coordinator. You really want to feel comfortable with that person.

What type of vendors does a wedding coordinator hire?

The wedding coordinator hires vendors for your event, on your behalf, sometimes. Most of the time, what we do is refer to the vendors that you need to have, and then you choose what you want. For instance, one of the vendors you're going to hire for your wedding is a photographer. We will give you a couple of referrals for that. We might go with you to the meetings, and then you choose which vendor you're going to hire. There aren't too many vendors that I would personally hire for a client without having them meet each other and give me an okay on a budget, or a price, etc.

Will wedding coordinator arrange the fittings of my bridal party?

A wedding coordinator might orchestrate the fittings for your bridal party but that would really depend on the kind of service that you've hired that person to do. If you are at a lower level of service, that isn't built into that package, let's say for the amount of time that she is going to spend with you. If you want full service, if you need someone to really hold your hand all the way through and do things like that, it's certainly one of the things you could ask your wedding coordinator to do.

Does a wedding coordinator set up my appointments and go with me?

Wedding coordinators set up appointments all the time. We coordinate our time with your time. We set the appointment with the photographer, with the florist; whatever it is. We will definitely go with you. It's a matter of which package have you chosen, how much service are you having from that wedding coordinator.

Can a wedding coordinator also help me plan my wedding shower?

A wedding coordinator can help plan a wedding shower. That's generally a little bit out of the realm, but very often I will say to my brides, "If the person planning your shower needs some ideas for places to have it, or if they want to do favors, or invitations, they can certainly contact me." I'm happy to give them references for things they need.

What questions should I ask when interviewing a wedding coordinator?

When you interview a wedding coordinator, you want to ask them a whole myriad of questions. One of them would be: Are you going to stay for the entire party on the day of my wedding? Or do you leave early? Do you have an assistant with you? You want to ask that coordinator: How do you charge? What are your fees? Do you work on a package or do you work on a percentage? Will you go with me to appointments and to meetings? One of the most important things that I think you should ask the wedding coordinator is: Are you a member of your professional organization? Are you involved? Do you know what's new? Do you know what's happening? You wouldn't want a doctor who wasn't a member of the AMA, and I don't think you should have a wedding coordinator who isn't involved in the Bridal Association.