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Getting Coordinated

Getting Coordinated

A wedding director may be just what the bride needs

By Deirdre O'Shea, Copley News Service

It's the day of your wedding and the reception is flowing smoothly. Dinner is almost over and plenty of people are dancing.

Suddenly you hear the first notes of -- it can't be -- "Macarena." You look over to see your new husband's mouth forming a perfect O. This man is your soul mate -- he knows how you feel about the "Macarena." But then, out of the corner of your eye, you see a pink suit gliding toward the band. The song fades out and the Stones come on. You start breathing again.

The pink-suited angel was a wedding coordinator, not to be confused with a wedding planner. The terms are sometimes interchanged, as the duties of these professionals are at times performed by the same person. Wedding planners, or consultants, provide a service that is familiar to most people. They choose the vendors, the reception site, the flowers and sometimes even the dresses. The couple decides on the level of involvement.

Some of the many services wedding consultants offer include budget preparation, knowledge of and possible discounts with the best caterers, florists, bakeries, and other area wedding vendors, selecting the invitations, buying the favors and bridal gifts, and creating a wedding-day timeline.

Wedding coordinators (also known as wedding directors, especially in the Southeast) attend the wedding activities. It's becoming commonplace to see coordinators at the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony. However, increasing numbers of couples opt to use the services of a wedding coordinator only at the wedding itself. They act as advocates and producers, taking care of all details and making sure everyone is happy, most of all the bride.

"A wedding coordinator is a wonderful help for the day of services, including the reception -- especially for larger weddings," says Patty Hansen, owner of A Marry Angel ( in Raleigh, N.C., which does both planning and coordination. "At the church, I'm there to pass out flowers, pin them on, get the bride ready for pictures, keep the bride and groom apart if they wish, make sure the ushers are ready when the guests start arriving, pass out programs, get the parents seated to end the chatting, light candles, and handle the timing of the music and the procession, for example."

From sessions with the couple, this type of professional knows exactly what their wishes are. At the reception, the coordinator sees that all vendors -- from the parking attendants to wait staff -- play their part correctly.

"There's a nice way to tell people what to do," Hansen says. The coordinator is a neutral party with experience and a cool head, someone who isn't distracted by social obligations. If a problem arises, the idea is that the coordinator will intervene and prevent the bride and groom from even realizing something was amiss.

"A good coordinator will be prepared for any emergency," Hansen says. "I once had a grandmother's shoe heel come off. But, of course, I had glue in my kit."

The fees for planners and coordinators are surprisingly affordable. A free consultation is the best way to learn if these services are right for you. Given the expense of a wedding, even a modest one, hiring a coordinator to be there on the big day is a small price to pay for ensuring a happy and stress-free event. The less work the couple and their family members have to do, the better.

After all, the bride and groom have so many people to visit with and the time flies by. There will be only a few precious hours to enjoy the results of months of planning, so why not stack the deck in your favor? Let a wedding coordinator glue on grandma's heel and just keep dancing.

© Copley News Service

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