Despite almost every bee before me advising that their day of coordinator was one of the best investments they made in their weddings, I just refused to listen. I considered myself a laid-back bride. I definitely thought that if things went wrong during our wedding day, I would just be able to roll with the punches. This is NOT what having a DOC is about. Anal or not, someone will have to take on this task on your wedding day, whether you pay them or not, especially if you’re a DIY bride. This is my experience, and I hope that if you’re on the fence as to whether or not to hire a DOC, this helps you make your decision!
Our wedding was very DIY in almost every aspect. Our florist was not on-site, our friend was our DJ, and other than the cake and groom’s cake bakers delivering our cakes, the only real vendors on site were people associated with our reception venue. With so few vendors on site at our wedding, someone had to take the reins and make sure everything was in place… and that person was NOT me. Don’t delude yourself (like I did) into thinking that you can swing by the ceremony site in the morning and run around and set everything up as a DIY bride. It’s unrealistic, and really, it takes away from the experience of your day, I think. At crunch time you should be spending time with your closest friends and family, primping and preening!
I was pretty selfish when it came to planning out the setup of our wedding day. There were so many people that told us that they were available to help set up the wedding, that I was just oddly confident we could all just throw something together at the last minute. After all the sweat I put into all those DIY projects, I thought, ‘we’ll just throw it all out there.’ I have no idea why. Finally, during the week of the wedding, I realized that it was unrealistic to send out a massive gang of my family members out to the site (most non-English speaking) and have them just throw it all together. They really had no idea what I had been planning all along, and describing it to a gaggle of Thai relatives just didn’t seem like the right thing to do. So, I realized I had to put someone in charge; someone who already had a real idea of what I’d envisioned.
I LUCKED OUT tremendously on this front. Obviously I’d been blogging my whole wedding process, and my friend Jenny Louwheeeeeeeeeze had been following along, as she’d been planning her own gorgeous wedding to take place a few months after mine. I put together a quick Google document (viewable here) and begged of her assistance setting the reception up. She happily obliged (and had no idea what she was getting herself into).
I took several steps in order to help ease her process:
- I created the directions document (above)
- At Mrs. Lemon’s suggestion, I packed each table’s contents up in 19 individual boxes (one per table) so each box could be plopped on each table, unpacked, and everything that I’d provided for each table would be available. Each box was marked clearly with the table number, and who was to be seated at that table, so contents could be double checked.
- I spent a late night the night before the wedding (after the RD) at Jenny’s house recreating the centerpieces with her so she knew exactly how it was all to work.
The individual table boxes were genius—and I don’t have any pictures of them in action, but we use them for storage now, so here’s what they look like today:
Each labeled box included a table number and stand, the centerpiece glass, 6 votive holders and candles, and 6 favors, and had them delivered to the reception site the day before the wedding.
I showed up early to the site—although by then I had my hair, makeup, and dress on, and couldn’t really help. I unrealistically thought I’d show up to the site in work clothes to help set up, but it just didn’t work out.
On the day of, our friends and family (officiant, my dad and a couple uncles, Jenny, our DJ) showed up to set up. None of them were professionals, but I was confident that whatever happened, I’d be happy with it. And they did a fantastic job. There were small hitches, but none big enough to revisit nor dwell upon. To me, it was perfect. But to our “friendors”, it was a different story, and being good friends, they hid it from me, but the truth came out once it was all said and done, and I was really upset about it.
The site coordinator (included with our venue) was extremely rude to my friends and family. I don’t know if she thought that our friends and family were actual professionals, and therefore she felt that she could treat them like “workers”, or what, but I heard from several people that she was yelling at them and treating them really poorly. At the last minute, I emailed our DJ friend, Chris, a playlist of ceremony music, and for whatever reason, he didn’t get it. No worries, he thought… he would just talk to us (by now it was an hour before the ceremony) and ask us if we had any ideas for alternative music. The site coordinator had other ideas. For some reason, she said, under no circumstances, was he allowed to talk to us. I guess this was a communication error on my part, but I never expressed to the site coordinator that these were my friends, not wedding professionals, and I was absolutely available at any time for them to chat with us about logistics. By that time, we were just hanging out, waiting for the ceremony to start, in a room off to the side. We weren’t doing ANYTHING and frankly, I didn’t give a crap if our guests saw me before the ceremony. If someone needed help, I wanted to be there. But the site coordinator acted as a barrier to my friends and family. I had no idea because I was behind closed doors. Chris ended up in a panic, being yelled at by the site coordinator, and was forced to play a 20 second loop of the non-instrumental version of our ceremony music. It sounded awful, and had he been able to run in and ask us what we wanted, we could have easily told him that he was free to just play the full vocal version of the song that he happened to have on hand. After all, it was my fault for emailing him the set list so late… but instead, he was being punished. Jenny reluctantly reported (she didn’t tell me, but her sister told me) that she was also treated the same… and that the reception was much more work than we both thought it’d be to set up.
I was devastated. This was not how I wanted a good portion of my closest friends and family to remember our wedding day… being barked and yelled at by some inexperienced site coordinator. Honestly, if they’d all been professionals, and the site coordinator treated them poorly, I would have probably felt a little bad, but not that bad. After all, it wasn’t my fault that the lady was less-than-cordial. But because these were our closest friends, doing us tremendous favors on our wedding day, I was crushed.
I think what I learned was that if you have your friends and family setting up your wedding, let EVERYONE know that you’re available to talk, chat, and answer questions, at any given moment during the setup process. If this isn’t something you’re willing to do, and you want to be unavailable to “help” on your wedding day, then a DOC is definitely for you. It was my fault for failing to alert the site coordinator of the fact that I was happy to be available to work logistics, even though this wasn’t something I even thought to tell her before the wedding. I understand her reasoning—she felt it was her job to make sure that my day was stress-free, and didn’t want “vendors” bugging me with pesky questions, and in a way, she did a great job. I had no idea that all this was going on. But, in the end, not just hiring someone to be our DOC was something I’ll always regret. I feel horrible that our friends were yelled and snapped at on our wedding day. Plus, we were a bit in over our heads with setup. I was convinced that having Jenny on site 3 hours or so before the ceremony was supposed to begin would be enough time for her to set up the tables. What did I know? This is something that a good DOC would know—and she/he would have probably realized that this was not enough time. Everything got done, but not without a lot of panic on Jenny’s end.
If you do have a lot of vendors on site on the day of your wedding, there is a chance you could get away without a DOC. With an experienced person handling each of their duties: flower set-up, rental set-up, catering manager, DJ, etc., it may be possible that everything will run smoothly. AT LEAST you should designate a friend, not directly involved in your day (perhaps an attendant or a close friend that has been enthusiastic about your wedding plans but isn’t a bridesmaid) and give all your vendors that friend’s cell phone number. Ideally, she’d be on site at your reception site a few hours before the wedding, overseeing things, and would have a clear idea of YOUR vision for the decor and feel of your wedding.
So, here I am, another married bee, suggesting that if you DIY your wedding, that you hire a DOC.
What say you? Have you decided to hire a DOC? If you’re a married DIY bride that chose not to have a DOC, how’d your wedding day go?