Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wedding Coordinators & Timelines: Friend or Foe?

This Saturday, I had the pleasure of coordinating a wedding at The Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. The Basilica is one of the most gorgeous church buildings I have ever seen and is a beautiful wedding venue for those lucky enough to be eligible to wed there (ND students, alum or parishioners of the congregation).

The Basilica is one of those churches with very strict and I mean VERY STRICT rules about lots of things, but one of the most important is timing. The Basilica's coordinator works with the bride and groom for months prior to the wedding and everyone is coached on the routine: you arrive 30 minutes prior to your wedding time (there are weddings at 9, 11, 1 and 3 on Saturdays), your wedding will start promptly at the allotted hour and you have exactly 30 minutes following the one-hour Mass to take pictures inside before the next ceremony is scheduled to arrive.

My job is to work with the Basilica's coordinator and the bridal party to make sure this schedule is kept. We have a detailed timeline that assures everyone is in the right place at the right time and the wedding goes off without a problem.

Unfortunately for Saturday's bride, her hairdresser (who had flown in from Miami to do the wedding party's hair and apparently had no regard for the rules of the Basilica) poo-pooed the timeline and kept insisting to the bride that she didn't need any timeline; she was the bride and they could not start the ceremony without her. Fifteen minutes before the entire wedding party was to be in place; three bridesmaids still had rollers in their hair at the hotel 10 minutes from the church. When I got firm with the hairdresser insisting that he needed to hurry, I got the same "poo-poo" and the same 'they can't start the ceremony without her'. At 10:30, when the bridal party should have been in place in the vestibule of the church the limo had not yet left the hotel. The Basilica's coordinator was firm. "We start at 11 with or without the Bride". (I don't think she was joking.)

Luckily, the bridal party arrived 10 minutes before the ceremony time and the wedding proceeded, but not before the bride was in tears, her mother was visibly upset and the church coordinator was angry.

The moral of this story? Brides, your wedding coordinator is your friend. Timelines aren't in place to make you miserable, they are there so that your wedding takes place the way you (and your venue) had planned. Tears would have been avoided, blood pressures would have been lower and this bride would have had a stress free day had it not been for one person who felt timelines were a waste of time.

Timelines are your friend. Please, please, please -- make sure that everyone involved in your wedding party understands that your coordinator is there at your request and the timeline is in place to make your day run smoothly.


  1. Great post Kathy. I am so sorry that your bride had some stress and so happy that she had you to help her through it.

  2. Very important post Kathy. It really points out how important it is for clients to act as partners during the planning period, emphasizing how important it is to them that vendors coordinate with their planner and respect that what's coming from the planner IS what's coming from the bride. I'm sorry you had to go through the extra stress though! Sounds like you handled it beautifully.

  3. Wow. Great post Kathy. It's a shame that some people can't work with you as a team to ensure that the bride and groom have their special day without any glitches.

  4. I knew she was late, but I had no idea it was that bad. I agree with you Kathy, timelines are very important, and people need to follow them...especially at Notre Dame. :)

  5. Nice post. We are going to have DIY wedding and quite soon we will be visiting a few Seattle Wedding venues for our rustic inspired wedding reception party. We have never been to Seattle so getting some difficulty in finding right locations. I wonder if anyone here could help me out.