Wedding & lifestyle photography

Asheville, North Carolina


September 4, 2015



Today I am SOOOO excited to share a guest blog post by Randi Russell from Carry Your Heart Events. Randi and I met in Athens, GA when we worked on a wedding together. Who would have thought we would BOTH be moving to North Carolina around the same time. I can personally say that Randi is absolutely AMAZING at what she does and after reading her guest blog post, I’m seriously blown away!! This girl goes above and beyond for her brides and that is exactly why I love her. I whole-heartedly want nothing more than for my brides to be well taken care of on the biggest day of their lives. I know there is no such thing as perfect and that things WILL go wrong on a wedding day. BUT I also know how much someone like Randi can prevent disasters and cover up any mishaps so well! I could go on and on about this topic but who better to share with you WHY you NEED a day-of coordinator than the expert! Thanks so much Randi!!

By: Randi Russell

One of the best investments you can make in yourself, your wedding day, and your family’s time is hiring a day of coordinator.  Even though you have planned your wedding down to the very last detail, you still need someone there to execute all of your planning.  You need a professional to work through the items that may have been missed.   When speaking to a bride after the wedding, the most common thing I hear is they aren’t sure how the wedding would have even happened with out the day of coordinator, and most are shocked when they find out about all the little details or problems that were solved by the coordinator.

A day of coordinator is one of those terms that means different things to different people.  Make sure that when you are talking to a day of coordinator, you know exactly what you are getting.  Some day of coordinators charge less but include less in their packages.  Some day of coordinators charge more but are really your eyes and ears months before the wedding actually starts.  Be certain you understand the level of service your day of coordinator provides prior to hiring.

7 reasons to hire a day of coordinator

1.  Freeing Up Your Family and Friends

So picture this.  You’re sitting there getting ready for the best day of your life, but your mom and half of your bridal party is missing.  They are out setting up last minute details and centerpieces before they run back to shower and get ready.  They’ve missed you getting into your dress, putting on your garter and seeing your fiance for the first time that day.  I’ve heard of brides getting ready all alone because everyone else was tasked with to-do lists.  Brides, you never get those moments back.   A day of coordinator sets up all of the details for you, as well as puts out fires and answers vendors questions.  Your family and friends spend their time enjoying the moments with you.

2.  Freeing Up Your Other Vendors To Do Their Job

I hear this from every photographer friend who is at a wedding without a coordinator.  They tell me that they spent an hour tracking down family and wedding party for photos, and then when it was time to walk down the aisle there was no one to tell the procession when to start, so they had to stand there and do it.  Do you know what happens during this time?  Photos aren’t being taken.  Sometimes a photographer brings a second shooter and an assistant, and SOMETIMES the assistant can help direct people down the aisle.  But this is rare, because photographer assistants are there to hand lenses and change batteries, and block rows so no one stands in the way of the perfect shot.  So now the photographer wasn’t able to capture everything you hoped for because they had to work two different jobs.  I promise you, photographers do everything they can to make the wedding smooth.  They are magicians in how they can improvise and create at the drop of the hat.  But they cannot create time, and they cannot recreate moments they had to miss because they were busy making sure the wedding happened.  When a day of coordinator is there a photographer can set themselves in the perfect spot where they’ve already tested light and angles.  They know that they have exactly what they need to capture the bride and her father walking down the aisle, the groom’s reaction, the exchange of the rings, and the first kiss.  That’s because they had time to prepare.  Let the photographer take photographs.  That’s what you hired them to do.

Raleigh NC Wedding Photographer_0455

3.  Taking a Break before the Wedding

The term “day of coordinator” is confusing to some, because they think day of coordinators show up on the wedding day and direct the wedding.  This isn’t the case.  In reality, we take control months before the wedding occurs, but the bride will really feel a coordinators presence in the two weeks leading up to the wedding.  Why?  Because most day-of coordinators take over all vendor communication that they can.  At this stage in planning, you’ve most likely
already finalized your flower purchase, your menu, and your dance choices.  These vendors have done hundreds of weddings and aren’t going to be emailing or calling for those items.  What they do need is a final guest count, a final timeline, times they can get into the venue, the time they have to be cleaned up and out, and the door through which they can load their items.  Caterers need to know how many vendor meals and at what time they need to be served, how early they can start using the kitchen, and if someone is setting up tables and linens.  All of these questions are points that your day of coordinator will know, and know especially well when they’ve worked in a venue before.  A good day of coordinator emails these vendors and gives them the information they need, as well as their phone number to clarify any questionable points.  The bride isn’t fielding calls a couple days before the wedding with questions that she won’t know the answer to and will eventually have to contact someone else to help.  In fact, if a day of coordinator has done their job right, the bride will only hear from vendors as a confirmation that they will be there and that’s it.  So go get a massage and enjoy the friends and family that drove in from out of town.  Put down the phone!

4.  Making Timelines

A bride will hear the term “timeline” one hundred times over during the planning process.  But how do you make a timeline for something that you’ve never done before?  A photographer makes a photography timeline, but it doesn’t include vendor arrival times, or first dance time, or cake cutting time.  Day of coordinators make an all-encompassing timeline for the entire day and then distribute it to all vendors as well as the bride and groom.  The timeline starts from the moment the day begins and ends when the venue is locked up and every morsel has been cleaned.  We take
our professional knowledge of how a day runs and how long tasks usually take and craft out a specific  list that works for all vendors and the bride and groom.  From experience, I know how long a 150 guest wedding will take to go through a buffet and eat.  I can alot the perfect amount of time for that.  Day of coordinators will work with the other vendors to get their perfect arrival times and departure times based on how many hours were booked.  And we know how to rework a timeline in minutes if the ceremony runs long or pictures take longer than expected.  I’ve cued
many bands with a new reception order in minutes because of unknown factors that happened earlier, and no one knows the difference.  Day of coordinators have expert knowledge on how to run events so use it!

Amber Hatley Photography

5.  Problem Shooting

Something will go wrong at a wedding.  It just does, despite months of planning and expert vendors.  A family member forgets to bring the guest book, or a ceremony musician breaks a string right as the processional is starting.  I’ve even had a rental company call an hour before the ceremony saying there was an emergency and they weren’t able to deliver the chairs that we needed.  Luckily I’ve been in this business for years and I was able to call a friend at another company and have chairs there within 20 minutes.  Things happen.  But unless you have a professional day of coordinator there, solutions aren’t always easily reached.  I’ve sewn buttons on grooms suits as the processional music was starting.  I’ve stood in the rain holding umbrellas over photographers so they can get inspiring shots, and I’ve had my assistants run to the liquor store more times than I can count when guests drink more than expected and the bar runs out of wine an hour into the reception.  I’ve even paid for a cake to be fixed out of my own pocket when the company refused to correct the mistake without payment.  My goal in every wedding is to make sure the bride thinks everything is running smoothly and that these hiccups aren’t happening.  She is usually told later, but would you want to be told that your ceremony chairs weren’t being delivered as you are about to put the finishing touches on your makeup?  No.  Good day of coordinators have so many tricks up their  sleeves that you’ll never know what happened until it’s all over.

6. Helping with Officiants

A huge trend in weddings is to have a special friend or family member become ordained online.  I think this is a great way to involve people in your wedding.  The only problem is that these friends don’t often know how to run a ceremony.  This is where a day of coordinator comes in.  During the rehearsal a day of coordinator will go through every step of the ceremony, directing the officiant on when to ask for the rings, who says their vows first, how to direct the congregation to sit and stand, etc.  Not only that, but a day of coordinator makes sure the marriage license gets signed, the rings actually make it down the aisle, and that ceremony musicians start playing the processional music at the right time.

Raleigh NC Wedding Photographer

7.  Providing Recommendations

This one is a little-added bonus as not all day of coordinators add recommendations to their package.  But some, including myself, do.  Here’s the reason why I ALWAYS give vendor recommendations even though I’m not planning the wedding; I WANT you to hire someone that rocks.  I can’t tell you how many times other vendors save the day on weddings.  For example, I once recommended a really stellar caterer for a brunch wedding that I was coordinating.  I knew they not only delivered awesome food, but their professionalism can’t be beat.  I got a call from the head chef as I was on the way to the venue for the rehearsal, and she said that she arrived at the venue just to make sure everything was in place for the next day but that she smelled gas.  I immediately called the venue operator, who instructed the chef on how to fix the problem.  By the time the bride and groom showed up to the rehearsal, the smell was almost gone and the problem was completely solved.  Not all vendors go above and beyond, and some just plain don’t do their job well, which makes all other vendors as, well as the wedding suffer.  I don’t want that for your day.  When the vendors are top notch, so is your day, and this doesn’t always mean paying more.  The vendor I referred to above is one of the most affordable in town, but with hands down the best food.  Day of coordinators work with vendors day in and day out, and we know what happens behind the scenes.  Sometimes the bride and groom never see the mix-ups, and that’s because the coordinator fixes them before anyone knows.  But the coordinator knows and we also know never to recommend that vendor.  Trust us on that!

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