by Max Tiu, June 2015
When I started performing in weddings, birthday events, and tinghuns in the late 1990’s, coordinators were scarce and almost unheard of. Having said that, all my events then require me to be self-sufficient.
Apart from hosting and singing, I make sure that all the things we need for the program are ready and in place! In fact, a lot of my clients through the years have been asking me to come up with my own team to coordinate their events. Despite the demand for me to do so, I always decline because I personally do not believe in serving two masters at one time. After all, money isn’t everything.
To this day, I ensure that I am self-reliant even if I am working with seasoned suppliers. I am hands-on when it comes to the program planning and its details. Yes! Apart from a host and a singer, I consider myself a planner when it comes to the reception program. In cases when there are no coordinators, I still end up doing everything for my beloved clients.
Having been in the events industry for almost 20 years, I have come up with some tips on how not to be a “rock star wedding coordinator”, basing on my own personal experiences.
- Stand around (or worse, sit around) doing nothing
I understand that coordinators are not in an event to hop around like little bunnies, or to run around like hyperactive puppies. But there is nothing more unprofessional than to just sit around doing nothing, when quite obviously there are things that need to be done: like ushering of guests, attending to the needs of fellow suppliers, amongst others. As coordinators, you need to be on top of everything.
- Answer “ I do not know” every time anyone asks you a question
If standing/sitting around doing nothing is bad, this is even worse. As coordinators, you need to know all the details: from the guest list, to the program flow and even the set up details. Answering “I do not know” simply tells us that you do not care enough to find out.
- Arrive late in the church or reception
As coordinators, you are required to be at the venue way before any of the guests or fellow suppliers. How else would you know if all the things that are needed are ready?
When it comes to being late in the reception, it is not an excuse to say, “We all came from the church”. It is your responsibility to deploy an advance team to the reception venue who will ensure that everything is ready by the time guests arrive. Oftentimes, with no one around to monitor the set up, problems are not addressed until it is too late.
- Do not assist the Sponsors with their bouquets & boutonnieres
In one of my events, a guest informed me that they had to grab their own bouquets at the church since no one was assisting them. In fact, they don’t even know which bouquet is for the Maid of Honor, which ones are for the Mothers, etc. Also, some of the Principal Sponsors ended up walking down the aisle without their boutonnieres.
- Ask the entourage members to line themselves up at the church
Not knowing who the members of the entourage are is not an acceptable alibi. Coordinators should have a list of names from the invites and find out in advance who these people are, then facilitate the lining up for the processional.
(Unless the church’s in-house coordinators forbid them to do so)
- Not knowing where the wedding rings are
More often than not, the safekeeping of wedding rings is not assigned to the coordinators. On the other hand, they need to know WHO has them and ensure that these are brought to the church, and are ready for the “exchange of rings” segment.
A few of my clients have already experienced borrowing wedding rings from random guests on the spot, since not one of the coordinators cared enough to make sure that the rings are ready.
- Do not remind the Bride and the Groom what they need to prepare
The fact that the Bride and Groom hired a team of event coordinators means that they need all the help they could get.
Even for “on the day” coordinators, it is your job to remind the couple to prepare the things needed for the day. If there is a Coin Bearer on the entourage list, obviously an Arrhae is needed.
- Do not print the program flow and keep it a secret from fellow suppliers
The program sequence should be printed out and distributed to all the concerned suppliers on the day of the event. Do not wait for the suppliers to ask for it before you hand them a copy. Be proactive! Besides, it is also the coordinators’ job to ensure that all suppliers arrive before anything starts. Learn to follow up.
- Simply answer “We do not know any of the Principal Sponsors”, when asked to verify if they are already in attendance
Since these tips are based on my own experiences, allow me to share one of them:
I politely asked the coordinators (who were seated and not doing anything) to double check if all the Ninongs and Ninangs have arrived, since the program will start with them being acknowledged.
After several minutes, no one gave me any update. So I went to them again to follow up. Their answer? You guessed it! “We do not know any of the Principal Sponsors.”
This is what I don’t get. Since they were in the church “coordinating” earlier, shouldn’t they know by the time of the reception who the Sponsors were? Besides, these Sponsors were wearing gowns & suits that were identifiable by the event’s motif.
Also, how hard is it to go around and check… or even ask? Mind you our total number of guests then was just a hundred. One word… “LAZY”.
- Answer back by saying, “Does it mean you will not start the program if the Sponsors are not here?”
Since the first part of the program requires me to introduce them to the audience, my answer is “Naturally”! Besides, wouldn’t it be weird “acknowledging the presence” of someone who is not there?
- Head coordinator M-I-A (Missing-In-Action)
I believe this speaks for itself. I have experienced asking the staff where their head coordinator was, all they had to say was (again) “I do not know”. So who’s supposed to know? Well, God only knows!
- Eat during the program
I find it amusing when I see coordinators enjoying their meals. Not because they’re not supposed to, but shouldn’t they be working while the program is on going? If they are busy eating, then who is working?
- Taking photos at the Photo booth during the program
In some of my events, instead of helping me cue the program participants, I will find the coordination team taking photos, doing wacky poses at the Photo booth!
- Leave program details unverified
If the program flow indicates a couple’s first dance, obviously a first dance song should be at hand. If it was meant to be played by the band, ensure that the band is advised before the event.
If an AVP is suppose to be played, make sure all the necessary resources (laptop, dvd player, video files) are ready beforehand. As coordinators, you have to “coordinate” these details with the concerned parties.
- Change the program sequence at the last minute without informing the person who planned it in advance
As the person who plans the reception program, a lot of thinking goes into each one of them. There are reasons why the segments are arranged the way they are, including their respective timing.
There is no sense in clustering all the AVPs together, while lining up four to five speakers one after the other.
Out of courtesy, coordinators should give a heads up on whatever changes are being done in the program. And when I say “heads up”, a day or two hours before the reception is not enough.
Coordinating a wedding is hard and REAL work. It is not meant to be a part time job that one can just mess up. After all, it is the ONLY day that the Bride and Groom have to celebrate with their family and friends. If you are getting paid to do the job, please make sure the couple is getting their money’s worth by acting professionally.
This article is not meant to slight anyone nor to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is a friendly reminder for those in the industry to master the ropes of the trade, and to help them improve their craft. After all, your team will reap the benefits of good reviews and testimonials from the couples, which can boost your reputation amongst a sea of industry competitors.
P.S. Kudos to those PROFESSIONAL event coordinators who always ensure a carefree and disaster-free wedding. You make these once in a lifetime moments perfect not only for the couples, but also for their guests.
Being professional is seldom learned from school; it is supposed to be picked on your own by being a diligent and passionate worker and that’s not always easy to do. Coordinators working for an event just for the fee is like stepping on land mines. Mistakes are here and there while they don’t even see them coming.
I’m a bride to be (my fiance just asked last week and in the middle of inquiring to suppliers, hehe) but I want to get the coordinator of my cousin last year, though I need to ask the name of their company, with atsi christine and ahya erik and ahya jackie there. They are always there when they have problems during the hotel church and reception. And I like them cause they know how to speak in chinese and english. Just sharing my thoughts!
Congratulations Max.. very well said and that is the reason why you are so successful…I believe that TIME is one of the most important factor in all events and occasions because time will never wait for us no matter what… Keep it up!!!!
Thank you for this Max! We have also been doing events coordination for years and I totally agree with you. Will repost this ha. Hope to work with you again soon! 😀