Last week I talked a bit about what the wedding ceremony entails and how a Day-Of Coordinator assists in that. I went into a detailed minute-by-minute breakdown of what I did that day, so I hope it gave you a good idea of what I do! The reception is quite a longer time period than the ceremony, so I will do my best to recall it.

The reception is different from the ceremony in that there is a lot of interaction between the coordinator, the caterer/venue, DJ and helpers. Changes can be made as long as all the parties are communicated to, and that is mainly my role, along with keeping track of timing and assisting behind the scenes.

It was a PACKED schedule. There was a traditional 10-course Chinese banquet meal with an activity scheduled for inbetween each course. Thankfully there were very capable MC’s involved and an attentive DJ (shoutout to Paul from Impact!). Here goes nothing! Some things might be out of order because the night went by in a blur.

So while my couple went to take photos at the whimsical Fantasy Fair, I went to set up at the reception site, Le Jardin:

Photo credit: Manuela Stefan Photography

3:00 Arrive at Le Jardin to check out the room set up and greet the DJ who is also there to set up.
3:05 Load in and set up: Favours, guestbook, photo canvas, champagne flutes, tulle for decor, menus.
3:25 Get a call from my assistant from the photo site, letting me know that the bride didn’t feel well (yikes!) and they were on their way.
3:30 Find and get introduced to the M’aitre D of the evening, ask him to set up last minute items: table for the projector, table for appetizers in foyer, tea ceremony room
3:35 I meet the Captain of the catering team from Grand Catering who will take care of service that evening. We go over the schedule and timing, and I give him my duplicate copy of the schedule.
3:40 With extra time to spare, my assistant and I decorate the staircase with some tulle
3:47 Greet decor helpers who have arrived, ask them to set up the favours
3:55 Greet bridal party to Le Jardin and find M’aitre D for the key to the bridal suite

4:10 Sound check for two people in the bridal party who will be singing a duet for the first dance.
4:20 Receive the dessert pastries from a helper to give to the kitchen.
4:30 Coordinate set up of the tea ceremony room with bride’s sister (this is a one liner but it took a lot of effort to find all the uncles/aunts involved).
4:40 Go over the schedule with DJ and M’aitre D.
5:00 Give instructions to the greeting helpers who have arrived.
5:15 Guests start to arrive and greeters are letting people into the banquet hall (not the plan!), so I went into the hall to kindly let guests know that appetizers will be served in the hall and that the room will be closed.
5:20 Check in on the tea ceremony.
5:21 Ensure the DJ has the “How We Met” video from the videographers.
5:30 Let M’aitre D know to start serving appetizers (peking duck! yum) for 6pm as room fills up
6:15 Almost ready to go, open the doors!

6:45 Go through some last minute instructions for the photographers and videographers of the rundown.
6:55 Cue DJ, MCs and venue that we will be beginning in 5. Find all of the bridal party to line up for their introduction.
6:56 A decision was made that the parents were now included in the intro’s so I went in to bring them out as well
6:59 Cue the music DJ! We are ready to go.
7:01 Let Pastor Adrian know that he will be going up soon to pray for the meal.
7:03 MCs start announcing the logistics of the kissing game. It’s this elaborate game that involves trivia, donating money and the couple following often complicated instructions. I’m thinking at that point, “Oh man, this is going to slow down the schedule a lot and was not accounted for in the schedule.”
7:15 Pastor is asked to pray for the meal and I alert the kitchen that we will begin right after this. Go go go!
7:30 After the first course is served successfully, I let the DJ know that we will play the video shortly.
7:40 Video plays and all the lights are still on, so I ask the Captain to turn the lights down for us.

Fast forwarding a bit

8:10 I have a talk with our MCs and couple about timing. I don’t think there is enough time for both of the games planned by the MCs (sorry! I am always the party pooper), so we decide to cut out the first game and jump into the second game, saving us 20 minutes, though we are still running late.
8:15 At this point, the schedule of events does not match the course it is to follow and we’re just following the string of events as discussed.
8:20 Almost time for the table toasting, so I alert the Captain to remind him to fill up the champagne flutes with tea as pre-arranged.
8:30 My assistant helps Peggy with her dress change up in the bridal suite.
8:45 Check in with the videographer and make sure we are on schedule to play the same-day-edit. The videographer’s assistant has been working on that thing the whole evening!

Fast forwarding a bit

10:35 After the same-day-edit plays (click here to view it!), the bride and groom go up to give their thank you speech. I alert the kitchen so that they kill the service and have the room quiet.
10:40 Everyone has started to head out to the foyer for dessert as the announcement was made that dessert was ready (not in the plan!).
10:45 I discuss the bouquet toss and garter toss with the DJ and the couple and we decide that since people were not in the mood for dancing yet, that the DJ would start playing some more dance music and mix the tosses in after guests were back into the room. It ends up working well and lots of guests join in the tosses and the party is up and running! The DJ did a great job getting the room’s attention back on the dance floor.
11:00 I remind the bride’s sister and parents of the items they need to bring home and where they are located. I also leave some items that were from the morning up in the bridal suite to be taken home. The night parties on and I head home to a good sleep.

So to answer the question, doesn’t a wedding run itself? Absolutely not!

As you can see, it was a lot of communication and flexibility with everyone involved to make for a successful evening. I got a lot of positive feedback from guests and from the M’aitre D that it was a very well-run evening, so that’s always good to hear!

It was a really busy evening for this couple and in hindsight I should’ve have advised against such a packed schedule. Actually thinking back, we already discussed this and the speeches from the bridal party were already cut back (but I guess it wasn’t enough!).

Anyway I hope you enjoyed the details here! If you are looking for a Day-Of Coordinator for your wedding day, do not hesitate to contact me. I have limited 2012 availability but am taking bookings for 2013. Ciao!

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.