A day in the life of an on the day wedding planner Credit: Tina Downham Photography

A day in the life of an on the day wedding planner

by Liz Gatherer

As you know, weddings are a huge passion of mine and I adore every aspect of my role in crafting the perfect Wedition story for each of my couples. Every once in a while though, I like to get even more involved in my customers wedding story.

I first met Sarah and Andy at a showcase event at The Elvetham. They fell in love with the idea of Wedition wedding and also expressed an interest in my help as their on the day co-ordinator. I qualified as a wedding planner and events organiser many moons ago and it is something I have always wanted to take a little further. Sarah and Andy were the ideal couple for me to 'practise' on!

The bonus of a Wedition wedding planner

Of course in producing Wedition for each couple, I get to know their story really well, so taking this one step further for some couples and becoming their wedding planner makes perfect sense. I'm already in a great position to recommend suppliers to them, not just because I know the supplier is perfect for the job, but also because I know the supplier is the right match for the couple.

Let's get weddy - 6 weeks before your wedding day

Not many people may realise but an on the day wedding planner’s work starts weeks ahead of the wedding. I scheduled a home visit to Sarah and Andy’s house, of course I had already been their before for their Wedition Discovery session and I was looking forward to not just seeing Sarah and Andy, but their gorgeous Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Alfie! After much tail wagging and excitement (from Alfie!) we all sat down with a cup of tea and I went through Sarah and Andy’s plans so far. 

They had some difficulty with their suit hire and had not been able to get hold of one particular supplier since they had paid the deposit. They were still searching for a large wishing well and were also worried about the set-up of their sweet cart. No problem. This is what I am here for - to take all of these stresses and worries away. I went through all the suppliers they had booked so far as well as the rough timings for the day. Sarah and Andy highlighted that they were concerned that they were not sure when to pay the various outstanding balances to the suppliers.

You relax, I work

Over the next few weeks, I made contact with every single supplier. I introduced myself and found out where we were with the payment schedule. I found out the suppliers estimated arrival time and any special requirements they may need. I double checked the names of any assistants who were coming with them on the day and I made sure to get on the day contact numbers for all. One particular supplier was extremely hard to get hold of, Sarah and Andy were worried they would not show on the day. I advised them to purchase wedding insurance (usually around £20) as this would protect any lost deposits and I arranged for a trusted Wedition supplier to be on stand-by... just in case.

I then created a timetable which listed included all of this information as well as any questions from suppliers. For example, the sponge flavours for the wedding cake still needed to be confirmed and the florist needed to know what time she would be able to access the church; where she could park and if there was a stepladder available for her to use.

Sarah, Andy and I set up a Whatsapp group so that whenever a thought or a question popped into their head they could share it with me.

All the little details - 2 weeks before your wedding

It's getting real now! There was definitely a marked change in Sarah and Andy on this visit, a mixture of delight, excitement and nerves. It is my job to calm them.

I went through the timings with them and double checked a few items. Sarah and Andy laughed as they really felt I had thought of everything, including a toilet break for sarah before she put her dress on! By producing extensive timings I was able to flag up some important pointers.

For example:

  • the bouquets and buttonholes would be arriving with the florist at the The Elvetham. This meant Clive, the second photographer, would take Andy and Mike’s (best man) with him when he went to photograph them at home. The buttonhole for usher Jamie would travel in the car with the bridesmaids so he could receive it at the church.
  • the order of service sheets would need to be at the church before the guests arrive, we tasked this job to usher Jamie.
  • parking for the church would be in an adjacent field, there would be shoe covers for the guests to protect their feet with in case the field was wet or muddy. Another job for Jamie to be in charge of.
  • Sarah and Andy wanted a confetti shot at the church and again at the venue, I advised them to buy confetti as there is never a guarantee that the guests will bring it and we would get Jamie to take it to the church along with the order of service and shoe covers. 

The rehearsal - 2 days before the wedding

I emailed the shot list to the photographer and then phoned her later on in the day to be sure she had received it and check if she needed any more information from me. I let her know that I would be able to give her a lift to the church, as her assistant would have the car and be at Sarah and Andy's house photographing the groomsmen before heading to the church to catch the arrival of the guests.

Early evening I met Sarah and Andy at their church, All Saints in Dogmersfield. This was a fabulous opportunity to meet key family members as well as the wedding party. I had a few questions from the florist to ask the church and we were able to practice the whole ceremony.

Final venue visit - 1 day before the wedding

A last minute flurry of phone calls from suppliers who wanted to ask me a few questions about the table sash colours, chair covers and centrepieces. I then prepared everything I would need for the day ahead. I had the timings on my iPad but also printed them out, just in case there was a technology failure.

I prepared all the things that might be important:

  • tissues,
  • bottled water,
  • water spray for the flowers
  • wet wipes
  • umbrella
  • plasters, antibacterial wipes, antiseptic cream, etc
  • scissors
  • a small town (to dry the flower stems) and more. 

I packed everything into my car and laid out my clothes for the next day. I met Sarah and Andy at The Elvetham and helped them unload their car of wedding bits and pieces into the storage room. I finalised a few details with Andrew, one of The Elvetham's experienced wedding co-ordinators. I reminded Sarah to fill out the breakfast request form before going to bed at The Elvetham and then departed, leaving Sarah and Andy nervously drinking tea with their parents.

The wedding day - it's here!

The morning

I was up bright and early to make sure I had a hearty breakfast and checked that I had everything I needed. I arrived at The Elvetham ahead of schedule and went to see Sarah and her bridesmaids to see how they were getting on and to check they had everything they needed, including breakfast! Mel and her two assistants were expertly doing the hair and make up which was two include Sarah, her mother and four bridesmaids.

I then made sure that The Elvetham's co-ordinator, Andrew knew that I had married and then set off to prepare the sweet cart. This was something the couple were really worried about getting right as it was something they were providing themselves. It turned out though, that Andy had been awake earlier than expected and he had already set up the sweet cart!

I collected the signing frame from the photographer once she arrived and put that into position. The morning was spent supervising the arrival of suppliers (photographer, videographer cake, florist, car) and lots of checks on Sarah and her bride tribe to make sure they were on schedule and had everything they needed. 

Little things such as showing the bridesmaids where the toilets were;, ensuring there was a vase for the flowers which arrived as a gift from groom Andy; labelling up all the bags so that when the ladies departed, The Elvetham staff would be able to relocate the items into their rooms. I photographed the cake so Sarah could see it. I helped with the zipping up of dresses; the calming of nerves; the removal of a wasp and even found myself fanning Sarah and her mother Yve as they were having hot flushes of excitement! When the florist arrived I helped her deliver the flowers to the Seymour Suite (where the bride tribe were getting ready) as well as assist in bringing all of her equipment inside.

wedition wedding planning

Midday

I waved Yve and the bridesmaids off in the car and then headed to the church taking Tina, the photographer, with me. As soon as we arrived I went to see Andy who told me he had a dry throat, no problem, I pulled a bottle of water out of my bag for him. I checked that the order of service had been handed out, a job we had delegated to usher Jamie. I also checked the confetti was where we had agreed to leave it (again, a job we had tasked Jamie with).

I could see that Yve was very worried about something, I asked her if I could help with anything and she explained that her mother and step-father had not arrived yet. I went to take a look down the road, and sure enough, I could see a well dressed couple, I went to see if they were indeed the missing guests (which they were) and led them to the church, to the relief of Yve! All the guests were now safely inside the church.

It wasn’t long until Sarah arrived with her father, I let Vicar Ben know and suddenly it was time. I took my position, the music played and I discreetly nodded to each bridesmaid to let them know when they should enter, and then the final nod for Sarah, who looked absolutely radiant. She came in with her father Trevor, they paused at the top of the aisle so that I could arrange Sarah's train. The ceremony was underway!

Towards the end, I could see that the heavens had opened, luckily I had bought a huge umbrella with me, just in case! The rain clouds had no intention of staying though and passed before anyone had chance to realise. I helped hand out the confetti and encouraged the guests to make a ‘guard of honour’ style line and throw the confetti high into the air (rather than direct to Sarah and Andy).

I then swooped round the church, collecting all the lost property and left over order of service sheets, loading it all into my car. I made sure the designated helpers had collected all the flowers that were to go back to The Elvetham to decorate the staircase and then waited in the car park to be sure that every single guest got away without any hiccups. I phoned The Elvetham to let them know everyone was on their way and then headed back myself.

on the day wedding planner

The afternoon

With everyone safety arrived at The Elvetham, I made sure that the guests knew what to do for the arrival of the new Mr and Mrs Walker, Sarah and Andy had requested a second confetti shot, this time at the venue. During the drinks reception I helped round up the various people to be sure Sarah and Andy's shot list was complete and I checked that the Library was set up as it should be and that all the candles were lit. The venue team and Chair Covers of Hampshire had set up the Library whilst we were at the church. Before the guests were seated for the meal, Sarah, Andy and I went into the Library so that they could see the room. They were absolutely thrilled! We had a special moment where they thanked me for everything I had done for them, they told me they weren't sure how they would have managed without me! High praise indeed and I was delighted with my fabulous bottle of champagne and card which they gave to me.

Whilst the guests were enjoying the speeches and the meal, it was time for me to have a quick break and get something to eat myself. Not for too long though, I needed to spray the bridal bouquet and bridesmaids flowers with water to keep them fresh and position them on the guest book table. I also needed to see how the dance floor set up and DJ were getting on! The photo booth arrived but it turned out that the one Sarah and Andy had ordered wouldn't quite fit in the space we had planned. A quick discussion and a decision was made, we would switch it for an open photo booth (rather than the pop-up one) and it would be located in the same place as the cake, after the cake cutting.

Mel, the make up specialist, came back to do touch ups for Sarah and her mother, it was then time to round everyone up for the cutting of the cake and then the party started! I chatted with guests, made sure everyone was happy, and even had a little dance myself! Throughout the evening I collected the cards and gifts from guests and made sure they were delivered to the bridal suite.

At the end of the evening I collected all the small items and the particularly important ones, such as the guest book, and made sure these were safely stored. The Elvetham would work through the night to put everything else into the storage room. I ensured that Sarah's bouquet and the two boutonniere were stored in the wine fridge as in the morning Sarah would take them to Precious Petals to turn into wall art and two paper weights. They needed to be kept as fresh as possible.

the elvetham wedding menu

A review from the new Mr and Mrs

"We first came across Liz when we attended a wedding fair at The Elvetham. She approached us with a very unique idea, which we thought would be a nice personal and special touch to our big day. From the off Liz was approachable and very prompt with her responses, which when planning a wedding is very important to the couple in question. We maintained contact with Liz for over a year and she would come to our home to discuss Wedition as well as her desire to be a wedding planner. We asked Liz if she wouldn't mind helping us out with a little bit of planning and she agreed. No job was too big for Liz and if you asked her to do something that was causing issues then she would do her best to rectify it whilst keeping you up to date with any developments. For example I was having issues contacting my car supplier and it came to the point she had someone else on stand by if we happened to be let down with the company we had originally booked.

Liz was most certainly a very important part in helping organise the wedding in the final weeks and I don't know what we would've done without her. She took a lot of pressure off my partner and I. Not only did she do a wonderful Wedition she also did a cracking job at being a wedding planner. I cannot recommend Liz enough to anyone who is considering using her. Thank you Liz again for everything you have done for us." - Andy

A final thought to having an on the day wedding planner

Having the reassurance of an on the day wedding planner means that you truly can relax and enjoy your wedding day. Below is an outline of what I am able to provide for you:

On the day coordination (commencing 6 weeks before your wedding)

  • Two pre-event meetings:
    • 6 weeks ahead - Lets get weddy... (the initial formal meeting)
    • 2 weeks ahead  All the little details
  • Contact via phone/email throughout
  • Accompaniment on final venue visits
  • Assistance in the sourcing of any outstanding suppliers (Wedition suppliers included in service, new suppliers chargeable due to research time)
  • Identification of possible issues and suggestions to remedy the
  • Creation of timed day schedules and running orders. This is a timeline that tells everyone involved in the planning process. (Vendors, members of the wedding party, you, and your families) when to do what
  • List of 'important people' for photographer and list of 'must have' shots
  • Important people list to wedding venue (so they know the name of key family members)
  • Correspondence with the venue and suppliers on your behalf, who will also be given a detailed schedule of the day
  • Overseeing the venue set up and liaising with suppliers to ensure your vision is implemented. (Supervising vendors, setup, and delivery)
  • Handling emergencies
  • Soothing nerves
  • Full coordination throughout your event, allowing you to relax and enjoy the whole experience, knowing that all the plans are in hand
  • Hand out confetti and assist photographer to arrange guests for shot
  • Take care of engagement ring on the day
  • Have bride's belongings to hand (tissues, lipstick, essentials)
  • Making sure all personal belongings, gifts etc, at end of event have been collected and stored in an agreed safe place
wedding menu the Elvetham

Further wedding planning services

Optional extras, if it is not mentioned below, please ask for a quote:

  • Setting up a realistic wedding budget
  • Insurance advice
  • Administer timely collection of payments from couple to suppliers
  • Venue sourcing (showing you the best and most original locations in the area, considering your wedding size, budget, and vision)
  • Supplier sourcing (finding the best florists, photographers, caterers, bands, DJs and other vendors in your price range)
  • Entertainment/music selection
  • Getting good deals with suppliers
  • Dress shop assistance
  • Grooms attire assistance
  • Other outfits/personal shopping: wedding party, guests (and pets!)
  • Considering transport arrangement for suppliers, guests, equipment and parking
  • Gathering equipment before the event and arranging safe storage
  • Reading over all your vendor contracts to make sure everything is there, correct, and in accordance with your best interests.
  • Negotiate any amendments on your behalf
  • Guest list management (handling the invitations, from the wording and ordering to the addressing and mailing, as well as tracking RSVPs)
  • Accommodation arrangements and sourcing hotel rooms
  • Seating/table plan help
  • Floor plan
  • Reading/ceremony advice
  • Ideas and inspiration
  • Implement your theme and colour scheme
  • Counselling you on proper wedding etiquette
  • Gift co-ordination (received)
  • Gift co-ordination and ideas (for wedding party)
  • Hen do/stag do arrangements
  • Serving as your spokesperson, conveying your message to vendors or family members
  • Devising a wedding master plan that maps out all the little details, from ceremony music to favours
  • Helping to plan and book your honeymoon