As a wedding planner, should you offer day of coordination or month of coordination to your list of wedding planning services? It's a question that gets asked often–and I have big opinions on it. Inside this article, we're going to talk about whether day of coordination is the right service to offer in your wedding planning business. Ready to discuss the pros and cons?
Despite what you might have heard, you actually don't need to only offer full planning and design services to have a “successful” wedding business.
Success looks different for everyone–and there are several wedding planner brands that only offer coordination.
How successful you'll be in offering this service depends on what your goals are.
I want you to know that I believe there's a service for everyone. You can build an incredibly successful day of coordination or month of coordination wedding business if that's what you desire.
I don't want you to let anyone tell you differently. There is no right way or wrong way to build and grow your wedding planning business. With that said, I also believe that we're all called to do specific work. If you only want to offer coordination, there's definitely a way to be successful.
But “day of coordination” isn't the way to go.
Why? Let me explain…
There is no such thing as day of coordination.
It doesn't exist–because no wedding planner can just “show up” on the day of someone's wedding and make magic happen. I could hop on my soapbox about this all day long, but here are just a few reasons why we need to STOP calling what is essentially a wedding day production manager a “day of coordinator”:
- Calling yourself a day of coordinator makes it hard to justify your prices. We already know that some couples think this is only “one day's work” and calling yourself a day of coordinator reinforces their confusion. Why are you charging thousands of dollars to essentially show up and babysit their vendors for one day?
- You can't do your job on the wedding day effectively if you haven't done any preparation in advance. As a wedding planner, your job is the planning of the event. If you plan an event well, the execution is a breeze. When you show up on the day of someone's wedding, how are you to coordinate an event you had no hand in planning?
- Sometimes it's too late to correct mistakes the couple has made in their planning process on the wedding day. This is why most “day of coordination” services start at least a month in advance. You need to check your couple's timelines and contracts to ensure what they think will be happening is exactly what's contracted. If they missed a centerpiece or forgot to order cutlery, you can solve those problems well before you arrive on the wedding day.
As a professional wedding planner, you can never show up on the day of someone's wedding and hope to make magic happen. From here on out, I'm going to make this really easy and refer to day of coordination as a month of coordination. This is a more accurate way to describe the scope of work you're really being hired for.
And this is a good example of why words and language are important. The title of your coordination service should NEVER be day of coordination–because you do A LOT more than just show up on someone's wedding day.
Are you with me so far now? Good. Now let's talk about the pros and cons of adding this service to your dossier.
Pros of adding ‘Month of Coordination' to your wedding planning services
First, it can help you break into the industry. It's often easier to get hired for day of coordination than it is for full wedding planning and design
That's because more couples in your city can afford a month of coordinator than a full service wedding planner. On top of that, they're also hiring more last minute (and are less likely to ask for your street credit if you're new to the field). So, if you decided to start your wedding planning business in February or March, you might even be able to book a few weddings in your first year. If you focus on full planning, it's unlikely you'll have a full wedding until late in your first or second year of business.
Therefore, month of coordination can be a good way to give yourself experience, a portfolio boost, and bring in your first set of clients.
Month of coordination can help fill gaps in your calendar.
Even if you have a solid wedding planning business already, month of coordination can help you increase your bottom line by adding a smaller service on days that you still have available after your main “booking season”. You can also limit how far in advance you book for this specific service, so you keep your “prime dates” open for full planning clients for as long as possible.
You likely won't want to book a popular wedding date for day of coordination two years in advance!
Lastly, Month of Coordination is a great way to get more work for your associate planners – especially when they are just starting out.
As you start to build a team, you might not want to hire someone and give them full-service planning clients right out of the gate. Instead, offering month of coordination is a great way to get their feet wet and see how they are on the wedding day before handing over more of the reigns.
On top of that, as you build your team, your associate planners will start part-time and keep their “day jobs”. Month of coordination is a great service for employees or independent contractors who are working a 9-5.
Cons of adding ‘Month of Coordination' to your wedding planning services
Month of coordination is hard to scale unless you have a team.
Sit down and grab a cocktail. I'm about to hit you with some real talk – you don't want to work every single Saturday for the rest of your life. Because month of coordination is typically booked by clients with lower budgets, you might need to work every single Saturday in order to make the kind of money you want.
But you'll also need to work multiple weddings a weekend. We're talking Friday, Saturday, and Sunday weddings–just to bring in the same amount of revenue a full-service client would pay you.
It's hard to scale month of coordination in your business unless you have a team of planners. With this team, they can assist multiple clients on one weekend–increasing your revenue.
Month of coordination limits your involvement which means you have no way to control what you are showing up to on the wedding day.
Poor planning leads to problems – I don't have to tell you that! When you offer month-of coordination, you never really know what you're signing up for. For the women I coach, I often recommend adding a few parameters to their month of coordination services. Feel free to ask to see which vendors and venue they are booked at BEFORE accepting the new booking!
Oftentimes, your clients may have hired less than desirable wedding vendors. Or – they hired their uncle to be their caterer or something equally disastrous. You just have to show up and make magic happen. Even though you had absolutely no control over the hiring process. With a smile on. Yes, in the month before, you'll often go over the timeline, vendor schedule, and contracts just to ensure absolutely nothing was missed. But at the end of the day, you weren't involved from step one.
When you work with a client for longer, you have more control over who they hire and how the wedding day will flow.
Month of Coordination has been known to burnout planners – and fast!
I believe when you start your business as a wedding planner, you want to be in it for the long haul. You don't want to work every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday just to pay the bills. Especially when you are new and likely undercharging (learn more about my pricing thoughts here!). It's a stressful job. It can be hard to get started. You deserve to build a business and life you feel excited about.
But working at the pace month of coordinators do–with double/triple header wedding weekends filled with problems and issues–is a sure-fire way to burn yourself out. One minute you're living your dream, and the next minute your dream becomes your nightmare.
The biggest con of all? It's hard to make big money on low-cost services unless you can handle large volumes.
I've touched on this with the first three, but I really want to drive this point home. I believe that when you think about adding month of coordination services to your service menu, you should be intentional. Will this new service lead to the kind of business and life you truly want?
How many month of coordination clients do you need to book to make that dreamy salary number you have? You know the one–to replace your full time job. The best way to quickly figure out of month of coordination is for you is to do the math.
If you're charging $1,500 a wedding and want to make $100K a year… that's 67 weddings, sister. Don't forget about your expenses and your taxes.
So, should you add month of coordination to your wedding planner service menu?
Like I said, there is a business for everyone, so ultimately, it's up to you. I provided the pros and cons based on my experience; now, let me ask you some questions!
Ask yourself, do I…
- Desire to grow a team and handle a large number of weddings per season? If yes, then maybe it's for you. Month of coordination can be great for those who are always on the go and love the quick wins.
- Want to plan less weddings and make more money? If yes, it's likely that that Month of Coordination is not for you. Instead, go all in on what you really want. Not only will you do a better job, but you'll also love your business more.
- Need to be more involved in the planning process and have more control? If yes, Month of Coordination is not for you. Hello, fellow control freaks. If the thought of showing up on a wedding day with absolutely no control over the vendors hired has you breaking a sweat, this is likely not the service you want to add to increase your bottom line.
- Have to get a few weddings under my belt to build my portfolio? If yes, then maybe offering Month of Coordination is the right move for you – at least for now!
- Need to fill gaps in my calendar? If your answer is yes, consider adding month of coordination to your service menu but with a few restrictions. I recommend you have a limit to how far in advance couples can book the service. Maybe 6-12 months in advance? Just don't let somebody book up a prime Saturday date for month of coordination, two years in advance. You don't know how many ideal clients are going to be knocking down the door by then.
- Want to work with DIY clients? If not, then Month of Coordination is likely not for you. Let's be honest: most of the couples hiring you will be on tighter budgets. If they didn't hire a wedding planner, that is likely not the only place that they skipped out on. If the idea of budget weddings makes you cringe, I want to encourage you to skip this service.
Are you excited to build the wedding planning business you want yet?
There's a lot of noise in this online space! I know that it can be overwhelming. But you don't have to do all the things, and you should be making your business offerings decisions intentionally. You don't want to offer month of coordination because Sally in a Facebook group told you to. I know that's not why you got into business!
If your brain is overflowing with ideas and you are ready to stop playing small, make sure to join us inside The Planner's Playbook today! Inside, you'll learn everything you need to know to plan, design, and coordinate high-end weddings like a pro.
If you are looking for a business coach who will unapologetically tell you to go after whatever the heck you want, you just found her. Get wedding planning advice (for wedding planners!), a community of incredible people, and live monthly coaching with me for one low monthly price inside. Cheers to never doing business (or happy hour) alone!