This is a topic that I find myself explaining over and over again. Many people ask me “Why do I need a coordinator?” or “What does a wedding coordinator actually do?”. Let me tell people – weddings do not run themselves!

During the ceremony, a couple walks through a set of traditions that involves them and their bridal party, often accompanied by a minister and sometimes parents. There isn’t a lot of audience participation, but there is a lot of audience viewing. Because of this, everyone involved (all the above mentioned) needs to understand their role and simply play their role, whether that is to walk, stand or say vows. Everything needs to be set up before guests arrive and everyone needs to understand their role.

Romantic wedding at St. Paul's Basilica Toronto
Photo credit: Elizabeth Kaye

To give you a small glimpse into what a wedding coordinator does, let me try to recall my last wedding. Keep in mind this was a SIMPLE wedding.

09:00 Arrive at the church
09:01 Greet helpers who have arrived early to help with last-minute set up.
09:03 Load in from the car: Programs, Photo canvas, aisle runner, extra decoration pieces, emergency kit, clipboard.
09:05 The church is dark and no light switches are found (geez!). Can’t set up without lights!
09:10 Call AV contact at church who is surprised that I am there so early. He clearly is not there yet. Tells me the switch is hidden in the switch board near the AV booth. Yay, we have light!
09:20 Give direction to the decoration helpers to finish up some last minute decorations as set out by the couple ahead of time
09:25 Greet florist who arrives to set up pew decorations.
09:30 Set up the greeting table.
09:45 Greet ushers (helpers) and give them instruction on greeting guests and giving our programs.
09:47 Florist leaves me with instructions to find the parents to pin boutonnieres on them.
09:50 The band slowly trickles in and gets sound check.

10:00 Greet the pastor.
10:01 Look for the parents of the couple to pin boutonnieres.
10:10 Place the marriage certificate on the signing table.
10:20 Lay down the aisle runner only to find that the aisle runner the couple gave me wasn’t long enough (it was borrowed), yikes!
10:21 Head to my car to bring in my extra aisle runner (yes, I brought one just in case!), while the decoration team assists in rolling up the old one.
10:25 Lay down my aisle runner and tape down the ends.
10:30 Remind ushers of their instructions since guests are starting to arrive.
10:40 Waiting by the window of the church, expecting the bridal party any minute now.
10:45 Photographers and videographer arrive, followed by the limo with bridal party.
10:46 Greet the lucky man and the beautiful bride (she looked great!). Open up the room for the bridal party. Remind them to take a few moments to chill and get composed.
10:47 Greet the photographers and videographer and let them know of last minute but pertinent details
10:48 Groom is a bit emotional, so I tell him to take some time to get composed, we are not in a rush.
10:55 Let parents, bridal party, ushers, band, photographers, videographers, pastor and AV know that we are starting in 5! Let’s get this show on the road.

11:00 A couple bridesmaids need a washroom break (It’ll be fast, right?).
11:01 I go to let the parents, bridal party, ushers, band, photographers, videographers, pastor and AV know that we are starting in another 5.
11:02 I cue everyone; we are ready to start finally!
11:04 Bridesmaids and parents line up and ready for the processional. Remind them to smile and walk slowly.
11:05 Andddd go!
11:10 Lock up the moneybox in the bridal suite.
11:30 Ceremony is going on, I look up and I see that a bridesmaid is missing from the stage. Missing from the stage?? I speedwalk up the front (from the wings) to find a bridesmaid sitting down. She tells me she does not feel well and feels like passing out. Uh oh!
11:31 I get my water bottle in my emergency kit to give to her along with a bag of candy.
11:35 It does the trick and she feels a bit better. I tell her to join the bridal party as they head out for the recessional.
11:40 Remind ushers to open doors for the recessional.
11:45 Bring back the money box.
11:50 Recessional, a long photo list and clean up. Off to the reception site to set up!

Wow that was a lot to jot down.

OK, so some of the above is not all too common (like the missing bridesmaid or the aisle runner not being long enough), but they are real-life scenarios that have happened at ceremonies I have coordinated.

The rundown doesn’t even include the coordination of the wedding rehearsal with all the helpers and the numerous meetings/emails prior to this day. See, what did I tell you? This ceremony did not run itself! A wedding coordinator is there to problem solve, communicate and lead all the different parties involved.

Tune in next week, and I’ll do my best to recall the reception!

Rebecca Chan is a Toronto event designer and event planner. If you have a brand activation, media launch event, design project, trade show or a special event, connect with her today to see how we can collaborate on your next project.